Sharing Ideas

Sarfaraz Hassan writes about aglobal community who believe in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and the world.

If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.-George Bernard Shaw

The human society has come a long way from living in caves in small groups to today’s large global community connected by the internet and mobile phones. In this journey of human evolution, from the discovery of fire to the invention of the wheel, ideas have played a crucial role. It’s only through sharing of ideas we learned how to build a spear or how to hunt.

Our world today, is a combination of smaller ideas. Everyone knows a little bit about making a small part of it. Be it something as simple as a pencil or as complex as a better society. Yet in today’s world, ideas have become possessions. We protect them like our territories. We put fences around them and put up a “trespassers will be prosecuted” sign on the fence. We call them our own. We protect them with patents or lock them in up in our cupboards fearing someone might steal them and call it their own. We are comfortable sharing events of our life on social networks yet we keep our ideas to ourselves. This perhaps is slowing our progress as a modern society.

In contrast, meet the TED community. It’s a global community who believe in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. They believe that a group of networked minds can shape a better future than an individual imagination.

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas worth spreading. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has broadened. Today, along with the award-winning TED Talks video site,, TED includes the two annual conferences, the TED Conference and the TEDGlobal Conference; the TEDx program; the inspiring TED Fellows and the annual TED Prize.

People who know TED these days mostly know it best from the “TED Talks”.TED Talks began as an attempt to share what happens at TED with the world online. They rapidly attracted a global audience in the millions. It’s now giving everyone on-demand access to the world's most inspiring ideas. As of November 2012, TED Talks had been viewed more than one billion times. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Shashi Tharoor, Sugata Mitra, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

As part of its outreach initiative, TED created theTEDx program that gives communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. TEDx events are planned and coordinated independently.

In the later part of 2012, TED gave its clearance for TEDxSaraighat to take shape. Since, and since then a slew of TEDx events have been happening in Guwahati. TEDxSaraighatLive (Simulcast of TED 2013) and TEDxSaraighatChange, happened on 27th Feb and 4th April respectively. While the first event was a Live Simulcast of the annual TED 2013 Conference that happened in Long Beach Performing Arts Center, California, TEDxSaraighatChange was organised around TEDxChange by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In addition to the simulcast of TEDxChange, the event also had local speakers, Arman Ali (Disability Rights Crusader), Gayatri Buragohain (Women's Rights Activist) and Lueit Parasar Hazarika (Musician) who took to the stage of TEDxSaraighatChange and shared some disruptive ideas. The videos of these Talks would soon be a part of the TEDx Talks channel on Youtube.

Presently, preparations are on for the next events, TEDxSaraighatLive and the main event, TEDxSaraighat. TEDxSaraighatLive on Wednesday, 12th June 2013, will be a simulcast event of the annual TEDGlobal 2013 Conference from Edinburgh, Scotland. Speakers of TEDGlobal 2013 include some extraordinary individuals like, Apollo Robbins, Mariana Mazzucato, Bernie Krause, Sonia Shah, Yaron Herman, Dina El Wedidi, Siddharthan Chandran, Naomi Wolf et al. TEDxSaraighatLive, is among other TEDxLive events happening in Asia, including TEDxCUC (Beijing), TEDxSJTU (Shanghai), TEDxNCCULive (Taipei), TEDxDhakaLive (Dhaka) and TEDxChiangMai (Chiang Mai). It is an invite only event.

The main event, ’TEDxSaraighat’, themed ‘The Dreamers, Doers and the Fearless’ will happen on Sunday, 18th August 2013 in Guwahati. On that day, local speakers primarily from northeastern India will take the stage and talk about their ideas and initiatives. No more than 100 attendees will be allowed take part, as per existing rules and limited invites will be sent out. The event will be webcasted live on the internet for the TEDx community worldwide and if you are in Guwahati, this event is not to be missed.


The writer Sarfaraz Hassan is a technocrat and a keen follower of TED. He can be reached at