Inked in gold

DECCAN CHRONICLE | NAYARE ALI
Published Jul 5, 2015, 10:07 am IST
Updated Jan 10, 2016, 8:38 am IST
Lakshmi Pratury
 Lakshmi Pratury

Don’t get fooled by her homely Kanjeevaram clad looks. This feisty female is determined to dispel the clichéd notions the external world has about India. And Lakshmi Pratury believes that the change in perception has to begin at home. “We need to look at the new India with new eyes and focus on bringing digital access to everyone and cater to the needs of the youth in a whole new way. We need to give them a platform to shine and we need to listen to them more,” says the charming lady.

 Lakshmi, has been attending TED since 1993, decided to bring it to India in 2009. She compares this feeling to one of bringing your best friend home. “The independence that Chris Anderson gave me to co-curate, identify the stories and interact with India opened my eyes to the stories that exist here and need to be told.  It also showed the power of the stories — Pranav Mistry’s talk is still very popular. Talks by people like Devdutt Pattnaik and Sunitha Krishnan catapulted them from being local intellectuals to being global personalities,” she recollects.

 

When asked by actor/director Farhan Akhtar to talk about what drives her, Lakshmi admitted her love for theatre fuelled the creation of a single stage which would connect innovators and knowledge-seekers from all around the world. In December 2010, Lakshmi curated and hosted the first INK Conference, in association with TED. This was a massive large-scale effort and she attributes its success to two factors. “You need an audience who values a great experience and you require corporations who see the value of being associated with the conference. Initially, it seem tough but in the end, it was a great collaboration with TED to bring close to 1,000 people from over 40 countries to India,” she states.

INK has always been on the lookout for out-of-box thinkers who are creating an impact in this world. Some of the speakers at the INK Conference include Bhavesh Bhatia — visually-challenged entrepreneur, Arunima Sinha — mountain climber, Rajkumar Hirani — filmmaker among others. “To date, we posted over 250 videos on inktalks.com as well as other platforms with over 17m views. It is truly gratifying when I travel across India and have young people tell me how much they love the videos that we post — that they are proud to have new role models,” she reveals.

In 2010, Lakshmi was listed as one of the 100 most powerful women by Forbes magazine. How did it feel to be on the power list with other eminent women? “It is always wonderful to get public recognition for the work that we do. No matter how great the work that we do may be, without the right recognition it just remains a best kept secret and never achieves the scale that you hope.  So I loved the recognition and am thankful for it,” she says.

There is a restless soul that exists within this multifaceted personality who has straddled various mediums be it theatre, literature, creative writing, marathon running, rock climbing, snow climbing, river rafting and a whole other range of habits. “Each activity taught me how to be with a different set of people, learn the rules of the game, know when to push, when to hold back and taught many valuable life lessons.  I get bored of things easily.  Also, I do not have the need to be the best in any one area.  I love a little bit of a lot of things so that I can UNDERSTAND what motivates people in that area.  So every year, I used to take on a different activity to keep myself engaged and learn forever,” she adds.

With so much going on in her life, does Lakshmi find the time for simple pleasures in like travelling and no agenda holidays? “I love spending time with my son and travelling with my family.  I always make sure that I have my quiet time every day and also two-three times a year, I spend time alone for a couple of days.  Also, I make sure that I keep in touch with people who really matter and stay with them when I travel.  It’s all about knowing who matter and doing what it takes to keep the relationships live.  The best wealth that one can accumulate is of those who truly care for you and my happiness is totally derived from the moments I spend with those who care.  I also am always looking to find good people and delegate the work to them so that they can shine.  That relieves me of work and also the work benefits from new ideas,” she says outlining her blueprint for life.





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