Sparking ideas for TEDxGurugram

Antje Pfahl, official organiser for TEDxGurgaon this October invited us all to spark ideas worth spreading in and about the place many of us call home – Gurgaon!

By the end of this year TEDxGurugram will take place in Gurugram/Gurgaon, India. It is part of the global platform TED – the world’s biggest grassroots network for discovering and spreading ideas. TEDxGurugram will bring the focus to this rising part of India that’s so closely connected to India’s capital.

Our tribe of DW’ers came together last Wednesday to share their perspectives, experiences and wisdom about the topics that can be addressed in such an event. It was fascinating to see the different thoughts coming up that we have for the place where we live, how each of us sees the city and what we want to get out of it while we’re living there.

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From farmland to tech hub

Gurugram is called the ‘Millennial City’ where more than a million people live in thousands of acres of glass high-rises, gated communities, and unauthorised settlements. Its growth has been steroidal – not only increased the population at an extraordinary rate but also the property market and the national and international companies which settled here. Twenty years ago Gurugram was only farmland. Today it’s a global tech hub with its own benefits and challenges. Challenges that are obvious to most of us like air pollution and traffic. And challenges that don’t show much in the daily live, but get uncovered through discussions like ours.

Concrete islands

Corporate and apartment complexes get built and seem to be islands within states. All of them have their own backup system. Companies like DLF take over the government’s role by providing essential services to neighbourhoods. These islands are disconnected. from each other and like ‘ghost cities’. Is this the right way to build a city? Where does Gurugram go from here in ten years? How new is the concept of a tech hub anyways? Will India become great in pockets and silos? What will neighbourhoods and communities look like in the 21st century in this environment? If we design in silos what does that mean for the environment which doesn’t seem to be taken into account nor the people who inhabit the space.

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Responsibility

Gurugram lies in the state of Haryana where conflicts in gender, religion exist as well as corruption. Building houses and buying land is a popular way to invest black money. The government doesn’t do enough. When will this topic get addressed and from whom? People continue to criticize, but don’t take action. They want things, but don’t want to do something about it. There is a general lack from inhabitants to take responsibility for the occurring challenges. Which brings up the question – can people change as fast as their country does? And how likely are you willing to change yourself? There’s a pre-conditioning in India that doesn’t even let you say ‘I’m wrong’. How can we break away from such conditioning? Exposure and awareness won’t help when you have to make your ends meet. Are more resources needed in this case?

Welcoming the world

Becoming a global hub and attracting talent and corporates doesn’t help much to attract an audience beyond the office spaces. Malls and a golf course are not enough to welcome the world. Can bird sanctuaries and a biodiversity park be part of the answer? What has the city to offer beyond making our lives busier and more complex? Where is the heritage of Gurugram?  What’s its culture? Does it have a culture? Are we getting lost in the cracks? How can we break away from this?

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We collected so many views that are setting the spark for TEDxGurugram. I’ll try to weave them in a day where ideas get shared and humans connect.

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