TEDx LSRCollege: From Nude Art to Rape to Staying Unhappy!

Photo by Eeshani Kochhar

Photo by Eeshani Kochhar

They bring the world together.

They create; they co-create with the universe,

Painting across its canvas a myriad hues from a million brushes.

They are the breath on the fogged glass; the music that was once lost.

They inspire freedom without boundaries.

They challenge the world with the word.

They are ideas; small, big, new, old, one, many, flowing together through the shaft of time.

Rekindling the lost fire in our souls and minds.

And as TED puts it, they are ideas worth spreading.

– Swastika Jajoo

The morning of September 13, 2014 saw Lady Shri Ram College for Women organize its first independent TED event on the theme of ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’. TEDx LSRCollege was open only to students of LSR and around 100 privileged guests and students witnessed the beautifully organized and extremely enriching event. TEDx LSR College was an independently organized TED event under free license from TED Talks lead and organized by the Department of Psychology, Lady Shri Ram College.

Anupriya Jain, final year psychology student, who was the primary licensee and lead organizer of this event said, “Organizing a TEDx event was a great opportunity because it’s not every day that people are willing to sit with you in a coffee house and explain their idea to you in a two hour long conversation. And it feels great that we could replicate that experience for the attendees (although under 18 minutes) through TEDx LSRCollege.”

The event had 6 speakers lined up from varied fields of expertise who brought out different ideas and shared unique perspectives on the otherwise neglected things of daily life.

Photo by Rhea Yadav

Photo by Rhea Yadav

  • Mihir Srivastava, Journalist on Conversations in the Nude

A journalist by profession, Mihir believes he was bored in life. He was always fascinated by the human anatomy and used to make sketches of the same until one day when a French couple asked him to sketch them. In the nude. And over the course of the next 3 months wherein he regularly went to their place and sketched them as they went about their business without the realization that they were naked in front of a stranger, Mihir’s hobby turned into a fascination so deep that he now wants to travel the world and document his conversations in the nude. He talked about the power equations that exist between him and his subjects, the mirroring of emotions between them, the shedding of inhibitions and profound conversations being naked leads to and how ultimately, when his subjects forget that they are naked, it leads to orgasmicsketching.

  • Kanika Ahuja, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, LSR on Mirror Mirror on the wall, I’m sex,y damn you all!

Dr. Ahuja raised the alarming issue of how society is increasingly contributing in normalizing Fat Talk. Being unhappy with one’s body has now become an acceptable thing and girls as young as 8 years old are seen avoiding butter because it would make their ‘arms loose like jelly’. But is body image always negative or is it affected by external stimuli? She talked in detail about a psychological experiment she conducted wherein undergraduate female students were shown images of super models and talked to about weight loss and dieting and exercise and their perception of their body image was assessed as against talking to them simply about the weather. Encouraging a friend when she thinks her bum looks too huge in a jeans by saying that yours is huger than hers is part of the problem. Fat is fab, and she spelled out how one can embrace one’s own body for one’s own happiness.

  • Parul Bansal, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Lady Shri Ram College on Are We Free? Images of Individuality

Dr. Parul Bansal ideated upon whether concepts of individualism can exist in collective cultures like those that exist in India. When our identities are so closely linked to religion, family, caste, class, gender, then is it possible to carve a way out or are those who attempt that taken down more often than not? Is the quest for spirituality the answer and does madness lie in a state of resistance? Is freedom related to individuality or can individuality also be found within the clutches of the norms of collective culture as they exist?

  • Aseem Shrivastava, Ecological Economist and Author on The Dignity of the Earth

We all live in a very fast moving digital and modern world where we’re all busy thinking that we’re building a smarter and better planet but is that true? Are we in fact moving farther and farther away from our balanced relationship with nature? Dr. Shrivastava talked about how the concept of sustainable development leaves a lot of gaps between the hands of gloves, so to speak. Sustainability is a terrible yet accurate euphemism for what is wrong with our community today. He discussed on how we can resume our relationship with nature instead of returning to it and explores human cruelty towards animal depicting the state our world has come to.

  • Matthew Whoolery, Professor of Psychology at Brigham Young University on How to be Unhappy?

Dr. Whoolery brought out a very unique prospect, one of remaining unhappy. He enlisted easy steps to remain unhappy which included living in the past and leading a sedentary life among others. He elucidated upon situations and emotions to avoid and cautioned against volunteer work and talked about the importance of focusing on one self and only one’s own self.

Dr. Whoolery’s talk, with an ideal interplay of humour, wit and rhetoric, sent across a powerful and much-needed message to the audience. He reiterated the need for learning how to be unhappy by interesting suggestions, “Though many of you feel like you are already good at this skill, we all have room to improve (or in this case dis-improve?). “He also shared some of his positive experiences as a teacher and warned the audience against their hazards, for them may allow some happiness to creep in.

Swastika Jajoo, in her interactions with Dr. Who (a pet name he has grown to become fond of), asked him for some advice: “Just write everyday. Make it a point. Just one paragraph, but write it beautifully. And keep writing.”

  • Shreena Thakore, Co-Founder, No Country for Women on Is Saying Rape is Wrong Enough?

Shreena Thakore picked up the hotly debated topic of rape but when she asked the very basic question as to WHY rape is wrong, did the real picture come into view. So, why does rape occur and why is rape wrong? Shreena raised these two questions and warned against reasons such as violation of gender norms, gender based boundaries and cultural boundaries. She said if you think rape is wrong for the wrong reasons, you are part of the problem. Rape is not about sex, rape is the symptom of a larger social disease.  Saying rape is wrong is not enough, is the not she ended on.

 

The event was wonderfully organized and was sponsored by Indian Oil, The Alum Store, Chai Point and Teach for India. The attendees heartily interacted with the speakers and fellow attendees and the event saw a productive flow of ideas and sharing or experiences of all present there. A few attendees present felt that the first session was a little less enthusiastic as compared to the second and that the speakers could have been more forthcoming and less conscious while sharing their ideas in the very less 18 minutes that they’re given according to TED mandates. The talks were interspersed with two video TED Talks, one on ‘Why is X the unknown?’ and the other on ‘How to Create a Movement’. These videos were much loved among loud cheers and were hugely discussed in the refreshment break. The favourite speakers varied from someone left completely awestruck by Mihir Srivastava and his unique hobby while someone else smitten by Dr. Whoolery’s charming narration of his volunteer work for handicapped children. All the attendees were also given lovely goodie bags with diaries, mugs and certificates of participation.

“Spread the ideas! Spread them like cheese-spread!” said the vibrant anchor as the session came to an end and the attendees embarked on their mission to spread and spark ideas.

– Rhea Yadav and Swastika Jajoo

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