On Wednesday the 23rd, the Center for Knowledge Societies partnered with the American Center to bring the eleventh edition of Pecha Kucha Night to Delhi. The theme of the night was “global perspectives leads to innovation in thought.” The ten speakers of the night, though extremely varied and wide-ranging in their experience, thought and work, all share an international perspective, having spent time living and working abroad.
The evening began with conversation in the reception area, aided by a round of drinks, after which participants moved in to the auditorium where the presentations began. These followed the usual PechaKucha 20×20 format, where each speaker presented 20 slides, each for 20 seconds. Speakers, in sequence, included Indian-American author Tania James, lawyer and policy adviser Chakshu Roy, Happy Hands founder Medhavi Gandhi, Hole in the Wall founder Ritu Dangwal, activist and theatre personality Sanjay Kumar, outspoken and entertaining Gunjan Sharma, who works on issues of gender and sexuality, scholar and scientist Matthew Belmonte, WSJ India correspondent Amol Sharma, artist, designer and teacher Kathleen Fritz, and Vimlendu Jha, founder of the non-profit Swechha.
Even though the total time for presentations was over an hour, each one was so interesting and fast-paced that the time seemed to whiz by unnoticed. The wide range of work presented was truly inspiring, in addition to being touching, entertaining and even, at times, hilarious. Tania James read out a beautifully rendered and highly amusing excerpt from one of her most recent writings, which focused on language, especially foreign and non-native languages, and the and the many endearing mispronunciations and mistranslations we make when speaking them. Chakshu Roy spoke about the different approaches to democracy and government in India and the West, highlighting the relationship between religion and politics in India.
Medhavi Gandhi then spoke about the Happy Hands foundation and their efforts to revive cultural traditions, artisanship and craft, giving myriad beautiful examples of such work. Ritu Dangwal then spoke about the various initiatives to bring education to the masses by using computers and other technology and making them accessible to children who would not normally be able to use such platforms for learning. Sanjay Kumar then spoke about his experiences with activism and theatre, showing how drama can be a great way to reach out and have a real impact on audiences of all sorts. Gunjan Sharma then gave an energetic and highly theatrical performance/presentation where she humorously (but very effectively) spoke about women, gender rights, and much more.
Matthew Belmonte followed with a more sobering presentation about autism, and how cultural differences can influence acceptance and understanding of mental illness. Amol Sharma then spoke about the difficulties with being a foreign correspondent in India, the changes in media overall through the successes of social media, and on how to report both sensitively and truthfully in these tumultuous times. Finally, Vimlendu Jha spoke about Swechha and their “upcycling” initiative, Green the Gap, which recycles materials like old truck tires, rice sacks and much more into quality products like bags and wallets. He advised everyone to think about reusing and recreating new meaning from our waste, and to “think, before we all sink!”
Once the presentations were over, participants migrated once again to the reception area, where animated conversations were had over drinks and snacks. The evening ended on a very positive note, with all participants expressing their desire to be a part of future PechaKuchas!