(February 15, 2022) Ideas are everywhere. And the world is nurtured through them. The confidence and power to unleash those ideas into reality is something few possess. One of the best ways to spread the power of these ideas is through speeches and talks; TED talks is among the most recognised and celebrated platforms. From inspiring people to changing lives and perspectives, each talk coaxes one to step out of their comfort zone. A whole crop of young Global Indian children are unleashing the power of their ideas through these TED talks. Times Kid of the Year, Gitanjali Rao, innovator Neha Shukla, achiever Ishita Katyal and others, there is no dearth of confident young Indian-origin children taking to the stage to create awareness, and get the world to sit up and take notice.
Young and raring to go
Recently, five-year-old Indian American child Kiara Kaur became the world’s youngest TEDx Speaker on Unboxing Curiosity at a TEDx event in Maharashtra on November 2021. Before that, it was 10-year-old Ishita Katyal, who held the distinction of being the youngest Indian to deliver a TED talk. Her topic: Why you don’t have to wait till you grow up.
It’s true. These young ones aren’t waiting for adulthood to make a difference. Their time to act (… or speak) is now, and they’re grabbing every opportunity to make a difference. Age is not a factor when it comes to initiating change too. Gitanjali Rao’s TED Talks, India Nayi Baat in 2019 witnessed the young leader expound these very ideas. “I don’t think there should be an age barrier to solving problems. I hope that with the right focus and approach to continuous learning, we can all be superheroes, saving lives,” she had told Shah Rukh Khan at the event.
In fact, several of these teens are quite enamoured by the entire platform and are adding to it through Indian TED Talks. Manasi Patil, a young author and STEM enthusiast avers, “TED talks display diverse perspectives of people all over the world. Bringing forward crucial messages and breaking stereotypes, I love the power every single TED talk has. Moreover, gaining insights into how people think and present themselves is an added bonus. TED talks are a cocktail of excitement, inspiration, changemaking ecosystem and simply a powerhouse for thinking beyond the box.”
Influencing minds, one talk at a time
Stressing on the importance of getting young people to innovate was Global Teen Leader Neha Shukla when she took the stage at TEDx Atlanta. “Our generation has just begun to embrace innovation. Gen Z already knows what challenges to care about; they just don’t know how to channelise their passion into tangible solutions,” she said during her Indian TED talk, adding, “Now more than ever we have the power to harness cutting edge science and technology to create positive change in our communities. With more people involved in the innovation process, the more problems we can solve, the faster we can do it.” Incidentally, Neha has impacted over 22,000 students and industry leaders through her talks and workshops. She was also honoured by NASDAQ.
An entire generation of thinkers and innovators are getting inspired. For instance, Yathaarth Murthy, a two-time Limca Book of Records holder for singing the highest number of anthems in the world, said that he loved watching TEDx videos as a young child. He wanted to be on the hallowed platform himself and his dream came true when he was invited to give his first TED talk at age 12 on being an anthemologist. His fourth talk was in 2020 when he spoke about pursuing one’s dreams.
For Tamil Nadu’s Young Nutrition Ambassador and YouTuber, TED turned out to be a dream platform. The 13-year-old motivational speaker had for long been a fan of the platform and drawn inspiration from it and its speakers. So, when she was invited to speak twice on TED, she considered it a huge milestone in her young life. “Being able to speak on TED has been very special for me,” says the teen, who also talks about the kind of hard work that goes into delivering what might seem like a simple talk. “On the face of it, it might just look like a simple 20-minute talk, but there’s so much planning and preparation involved. It took me six months to be able to shape my speech and prepare for my talk.”
Leading by example
The fact that platforms like TED also afford these young speakers’ visibility and leverage is an added bonus. Manasi, who herself has enjoyed watching several TED talks by Shashi Tharoor, Tim Urban, and Rohini Godbole, says, “I have always believed that once you are on the stage, in the spotlight, you have this undefined power to get people on board with your dreams, your vision. The TED platform is one of the most powerful ways out there to do this. It’s fascinating how your voice, from one part of the world, can be heard throughout the world through a video that is never more than 18 minutes. I intend to reach many GenZers and ‘reinforce the GenZ potential’ in a much wider sense through my TED talks.”
Top 5 Indian TED talks to watch
- Motivational: Sparsh Shah on How a 13-year-old changed Impossible to I’m Possible
- Life: Ishita Katyal on Experiences of a 12-year-old author
- Invention: Deepika Kurup on A Young Scientist’s Quest for Clean Water
- Positive Thinking: Manoj Dora on Never Give Up
- Innovation: Anwesha Das on The role and Opportunities of child innovators