Awakin Talks » Rohini Nilekani, Ravi Venkatesan and Friends

Rohini Nilekani, Ravi Venkatesan and Friends
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May 23, 2020: Reimagining Abundance


Watch: Video Recording

Read: Call Transcript (See also: Summary By Zeal Shah)


Coronavirus has uprooted the fabric of our lives. The global pandemic has unveiled gaping holes in our economic and social systems, unleashed humanity's capacity for goodwill, and propelled us into an uncertain future. How do we embrace not-knowing, recognize fear without giving into it, and respond with a heart of compassion? What would Gandhi do? How do we align with the laws of love and nonviolence in such times?

Join us with social change luminaries and "love warriors" to dive into questions, and more. In this Awakin Talk webinar, our panel will be composed of ...

Rohini Nilekani is a philanthropist, former journalist, TV presenter, author, social activist and a full time mother. In the equation between society, market, and government; Rohini has dedicated her work to enable a stronger society (samaj) by supporting ideas, individuals and institutions that have integrity, ethical leadership, clarity and accelerated impact. She is the founder-chairperson of Arghyam, a foundation for sustainable water and sanitation; co-founder of Pratham books, a non-profit children’s publisher and of EkStep, a non-profit educational platform. She truly believes in the importance of dialogue and collaboration. She has been instrumental in bringing together leaders from diverse fields to address India’s challenges through her book (& show) Uncommon Grounds. She speaks extensively on how Indian Philanthropy needs to shift to address the extreme inequality between the ‘have-everythings’ and the ‘have-nothings’ in India. Rohini continues to support work in diverse areas such as governance and accountability, environmental sustainability, education and research, and independent media and arts.

Read more about Five Questions We Asked Rohini

Ravi VenkatesanRavi Venkatesan is UNICEF’s Special Representative for Young People and founder of the Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship (GAME), a multi-stakeholder coalition, which aims to create an entrepreneurial movement with 10mn new entrepreneurs in India by 2030. His work is rooted in Gandhian values of "being the change you wish to see in the world". Ravi is the founder of Social Venture Partners India, a pan-India network of engaged philanthropists, a partner at impact investor Unitus Ventures, former Chairman of the Bank of Baroda, Microsoft India, Cummins India, and former co-chairman of Infosys. He is also an author of a book titled Conquering the Chaos, that examines what it takes for MNCs to do well in India. Beyond all these weighty labels though, what gives him joy are "New Ideas. People. Nature. Music. Solving tough problems and a love of learning". At 45, he had a deep realization that true satisfaction lies in understanding one’s own ordinariness and accepting it. In pursuit of that insight, he believes that "if we were kinder to ourselves, to others, to animals (especially street dogs, renowned for their resilience), and to nature, the world would be profoundly nicer." 

Read more about Five Questions We Asked Ravi

We are also delighted to have two musicians and two everyday heroes on the call. Brinda Govindan found her calling 21 years ago as a teacher in the Department of Biology at San Francisco State University. In her class and life, she never shies away from cultivating a student-mindset to deepen in empathy and wisdom (and is a seasoned flutist as well). Shaalini Srinivasan  is a passionate mother, educator, and co-editor of the MovedbyLove newsletter and a community anchor. A full-time volunteer, her life is rooted in simplicity and deep (and fun) experiments in nurturing values in children. Vineet Saraiwala is an alumnus of IIM Bangalore, India’s leading b-school. One of the rare visually-challenged students to achieve this feat, soon he stepped aside from lucrative business roles towards unprecedented work for a more inclusive society. Counting his blessings, deep self-inquiry and grit helps him in defying all odds to be in joyful service to all. Jordyn Alexandria is a music lover (and teacher) in Salt Lake City, US. She is inspired by Paramhansa Yogananda and finds strength in authentic connections and small offerings with great love.   

The talk will be moderated by Nipun Mehta, founder of ServiceSpace, a global community at the intersection of technology, volunteerism and gift-economy. Most recently, their pandemic response has showcased the unique beauty of its global ecosystem. Nipun was honored as an "unsung hero of compassion" by the Dalai Lama, not long before former U.S. President Obama appointed him to a council for addressing poverty and inequality in the US. Yet the core of what strikes anyone who meets him is the way his life is an attempt to bring smiles in the world and silence in his heart: “I want to live simply, love purely, and give fearlessly. That's me.” [more]

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