Awakin Talks » VR Ferose, Janessa Gans, Vineet Saraiwala

VR Ferose, Janessa Gans, Vineet Saraiwala

Jun 20, 2020: Designing For Deeper Inclusion

Watch: Video Recording

Read: Call Transcript (See also: Summary By Vaishali Bhayani Shah)

How do we design for deeper inclusion? Typical pleas for inclusion are either a call for sympathy, or a call for efficiency, or a call for boosting market oriented goals. But we want to hold space for deeper questions that are pertinent, not just in context of temporarily-abled bodies and differently-abled bodies, but in a much larger context of us-versus-them that is currently playing itself out in dramatic ways around the globe.

To explore all the above questions and more, please join the Conversation (in English) with VR Ferose, Janessa Gans Wilder and Vineet Saraiwala moderated by Parag Shah, on Sunday Jun 21, 2020 at 9:00AM IST. We are also humbled to offer a sign-language live interpretation of the talk, by Nithin Madhu.

Armed with no MBA degrees but "empathy and high emotional quotient", VR Ferose saw a swift professional rise, becoming the youngest ever Managing Director at a global software company SAP. However, life’s twist came in soon when Ferose discovered that his new-born son Vivaan was on the autism-spectrum. "I remember coming home from the doctor's office and going into the bathroom, and crying for half an hour straight," Ferose shares candidly. What ensued was not a break-down but rather a break-through. As Ferose puts it, Vivaan “brought the family together” and professionally, it made me work with a “larger purpose.” What sparked as an experiment employing 3 people, soon rippled out into a first-of-its-kind global commitment by SAP : 1% of its hires on the autism spectrum; and United Nations nudging other business leaders to all make similar public commitments. Ferose has also co-authored a book, Gifted: Inspiring stories of people with Disabilities. He founded the India Inclusion Summit in 2012, a beloved platform bringing together many heads-hearts-and-hands for inclusion.  Underneath all his path-breaking work, “seeing a self-less act of giving” makes him come alive and he believes “our intention has infinite capacity to organize”. Read more - Five questions we asked Ferose

After 5 years as a CIA Officer questioning insurgents including 21 months in the warzones of Iraq from 2003-05, Janessa Gans Wilder discovered that eliminating the “enemy” did not lead to peace - nor did it solve the more immediate goal of counter-insurgency. Sitting by the Euphrates river, she had an epiphany “What will you choose? Death and destruction Or the River of Life?” She chose the river, and started The Euphrates Institute, a peacebuilding organization that builds bridges of understanding; and nurtures a global network of change-makers across 30 communities in 15 countries across Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and North America. After a life-time of witnessing the way people encountered her special-needs brother as an “other”, she feels that peace and love begins inside one’s heart. To glimpse beyond the ‘veil of separation’ into our universal one-ness is the way forward to turn the Other into a Brother. She believes in the power of ‘small steps’ in one’s immediate communities and also helps her community “unlearn” certain behaviors as a coach with Educare Unlearning Institute. Based in California with her husband and three young children, she treasures time in nature, running, and yoga. Read more - Five questions we asked Janessa

As a graduate from India’s leading b-school, Vineet Saraiwala was a big-shot corporate leader in the making. Not to be an all-work-no-play kind of a person, Vineet’s sports adventures - like 550kms cycling in the toughest Himalyan peaks, multiple treks and marathons - will make any professional endurance sports person proud. Yet, what is almost un-believable that Vineet has achieved all these feats while dealing with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a disease which has progressively left him 90% visually-impaired. Uncharmed by multiplying top-lines & bottom-lines, he soon found himself more interested in using his gifts to serve the marginalized. His efforts manifested as an unprecedented national-level inclusion projectSabke Liye’ at India’s largest retailer, touching lakhs of people with disability (including his favourite quiet-hours). He says that destiny is controlled by mind and not by eyes. His list of achievements will make any Indian parent proud, yet he inquires how he can cultivate gratitude towards his mother. :) Vineet is not one of those rare-stories of transcending the disabilities to be ‘successful’, but an even rarer story of accepting one’s limitations, and tapping into his invisible gifts to serve everyone with joy. His biggest inspiration and widest smiles come from seeing ordinary people, performing simple acts of kindness. Read more - Five questions we asked Vineet

The conversation will be moderated by Parag Shah. At a first look, one sees that he is a diamond merchant and a savvy businessman. As one looks deeper, its not hard to see that what he really cares about is infusing the spirit of giftivism in all elements of his life-- whether in launching a WisdomBook Store, galvanizing the IB school he co-founded to pilot Karma Kitchen, and holding space that ignites powerful ripples in his community. He is one of the anchors of MovedbyLove community in India and Laddership Circles. He's also an avid reader of Krishnamurti and lives with his wife and 2 sons in Surat, the younger of whom was born with partial disability and has taught Parag valuable life lessons on acceptance and sensing the grace of God in all situations. Read more - Five questions we asked Parag

Nithin Madhu will be our interpreter for the talk. He completed sign-language interpretation course from National Institute of Speech and Hearing. He holds a post-graduate diploma in journalism, and is currently working in the Agricultural Department of Kerala. Sign language interpretation is his passion and he to use this gift to serve others. He has also made a sign-language invite of the talk, you can watch it here.

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