x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Science (f)or People

This event occurred on
January 19, 2019
Mumbai, Maharashtra

The Indian Institute of Technology Bombay [IIT Bombay] is a leading public higher education institution with expertise across science, engineering, technology, design, humanities, and management. The Institute was founded in 1958 and is currently celebrating its Diamond Jubilee [10 March 2018 to 10 March 2019].

As a public Institution of higher learning established with specific goals, we would like to introspect; spark conversations about the role of public academic institutions in general, and IIT Bombay in particular; and seek feedback from the community, both academic and the general public, about our current and future roles. We believe that a TEDx event, in which our faculty, staff, students, and alumni share their experiences, viewpoints and critiques, will be the right platform to carry out this process and reach out to the community, especially the youngsters, and share with them the passion for science and engineering.

Topics that will be discussed at the event:

1) Role / relevance of public institutions

As a publicly funded Institute started with the mandate of producing engineers for the nation building exercise, IITs have also branched out to be Institutions of advanced research. In this topic, issues such as the relevance of public institutions and their role with specific reference to the fulfilling of the mandate and the need for revisiting the mandate will be discussed.

2) Traditional practices in contemporary research

India has a long and varied history of scientific and technological advancements in several fields including linguistics, astronomy, mathematics, medicine and metallurgy and some of these traditional practices continue to be of relevance such as in the fields of medicine and metallurgy. How far these traditional practices are of importance and relevance to contemporary research and what contemporary researchers can learn from and contribute to these traditional practices is the issue that will be addressed in this topic.

3) Innovating affordability

Affordable technologies have a major role in technology penetration in any society as well as in producing new livelihoods and opportunities for the communities. Technological innovations which keep the affordability as their focus in order to solve the existing problems and inequalities in the society can go a long way in building a vibrant and robust community that solves problems at the local level and integrate such local communities in the global framework in a meaningful and fruitful way. In this topic, some of these issues will be addressed.

Blurbs of IITB's TEDx talks:

1) Vernacular Science: The Science of Delivery (Prof. Milind Sohoni)

Milind explores the connection between the questions of development, i.e., sadak, bijli, pani and the ways of doing science. He looks at the frontier model of scientific knowledge and the recent emergence of "Big Science". He argues that Big Science has a "delivery problem"- It is not clear how Big Science will impact positively the problems of the bottom 80%. He then proposes "Vernacular Science", i.e., a science which begins not at the frontiers of science, but at the people most needing it, and of understanding the material reality, of subjects of science, its implementation by the government or private agencies and the problems which need a solution. He then argues that such an interdisciplinary and accessible methodology of science is the way to a more sustainable world.

2) Face-to-Face with the Agariyas: the Iron People (Prof. N. B. Ballal)

Dialogue with knowledge residing in people can be deeply enriching and can lead to new understanding. Every tradition has its own way of discovering and codifying knowledge. People’s technological knowledge is often embedded deeply with their lifestyles and socio-cultural milieu. The traditional practice of making iron by the Agariyas is an example.

3) Why I consider myself as a family physician – of those old times (Dr. Sheetal Kale)

Sheetal believes that it is important for doctors to remain updated on the learnings of Medicine, & have a holistic approach when treating patients. She shares her experience of how these twin beliefs have helped her to focus on understanding the root cause of a disease while treating her patients; and when faced by treatment approach dilemma – to focus on improving the quality of life of her patients.

4) Can there an equitable industrial revolution? (Ms. Suhani Mohan)

Menstrual hygiene crisis in India is widespread with more than 70% women in India contracting reproductive tract infections. Around 3 years ago, a new concept was explored - looking a decentralized manufacturing using high-tech automatic and smart machines to improve unit economics for local production and increase last mile access. Can this concept of manufacturing of products aimed towards bottom of the pyramid yet making them profitable and sustainable?

5) Inclusive design: A multi-sensory approach (Ms. Chandni Rajendran)

Chandni shares the story of how getting to know a blind person at her workplace changed the way she looked at smartphones, and discovered surprising ways in which tech enhances and empowers the lives of people with disabilities. Since then, her work has often centred around visual impairment and designing digital products that serve unconventional, uncommon purposes. In a broader sense, it's a reflection of how exposure to diverse kinds of people enhances our work, thinking process, and capacity to be more creative.

6) Teaching in IITs : A Student's Perspective (Mr. Tejas Kotwal)

With almost five years of experience as an undergraduate student, Tejas hopes to offer his perspective on the current teaching system for technical institutes in India. What was the main objective behind setting up these technical institutes – are we achieving that goal? Does our current academic system need a revamp? Do students have the right attitude toward learning, for this cause? Do they end up becoming actual engineers - moreover, do they enjoy their field?

Open Air Theatre - IIT Bombay
Student Activity Center, Hostel Rd, Powai, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400076
Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400076
Event type:
University (What is this?)
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Dr. Sheetal Kale

Chief Medical Officer, IIT Bombay Hospital
Sheetal did her MBBS from Nagpur University in 1995 and her Diploma in Radiology & Electrology from the College of Physicians & Surgeons in 2005. She has worked at Government Rural Hospitals & Private hospitals, before joining IIT Bombay hospital as a Medical Officer in 2006. She is an experimentalist chef, and has interests in singing and dance, and loves to travel with a backpack.

Mr. Tejas Kotwal

Student (Mathematics), IIT Bombay
Tejas is a final-year undergraduate from the Department of Mathematics at IIT Bombay. Originally a Mechanical Engineering major, he switched fields after his sophomore year to further pursue his interests. Currently, his areas of interest include dynamical systems, classical mechanics and applied mathematics. With a deep fascination for pedagogy, Tejas hopes to stay in academia and become a full-time teacher and researcher. He is also a big fan of travelling, animal wildlife, photography and cooking.

Ms. Chandni Rajendran

Co-Founder, Tactopus (IIT Bombay Alumnus - IDC School of Design)
Chandni is an interaction designer working on accessible education for children with vision loss, with the help of interactive tactile image representations. Her work bridges the physical and digital using computer vision, making tangible objects interactive, providing an immersive learning experience grounded in the physical environment. Such learning resources have been found to enhance learning for all children, making them truly inclusive and encourage social interaction across children with or without special needs. She founded Tactopus Learning, where her team is now working on early learning material with an accessibility-first design approach.

Ms. Suhani Mohan

Co-Founder & CEO, Saral Designs (IIT Bombay Alumnus - Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science)
Suhani is the co-founder and CEO of Saral Designs, a Mumbai-based start-up providing access to quality affordable menstrual hygiene products to low-income women in India using decentralized machine technology developed in-house. Suhani is an Acumen India Fellow, recognized as 2018’s top 25 trailblazing Indian women by Forbes and winner of the National Entrepreneurship Award 2016 by Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. An ex-investment banker, Suhani holds a bachelor’s degree in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay.

Prof. Milind Sohoni

Professor (Computer Science & Engineering), IIT Bombay
Milind teaches at the Computer Science and Engineering department of IIT Bombay as well as CTARA, an academic center of the Institute devoted to technology and development. As a development practitioner, he specializes in the area of drinking water and its linkages to technical and social areas as groundwater, water for agriculture, planning and policy. As a computer scientist, he has worked in applied geometry and optimization. He also writes in English and Marathi newspapers.

Prof. N. B. Ballal

Professor (Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science), IIT Bombay
Ballal is an emeritus fellow at the Department of Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science at IIT Bombay. Prior to this, he taught at IIT Bombay for a period of about 35 years. He obtained his PhD degree from IIT Kanpur in 1979, and his Bachelor of Engineering degree from NITK (erstwhile KREC), Surathkal, in 1971. His research interests are primarily in the area of Iron and Steel Making, and the related process engineering and mathematical modelling. He has consulted several big and small industries and governmental research institutions.

Organizing team


Mumbai, India
  • Arun Kunjunny
  • Sudesh Balan