Saturday, February 23, 2013

A whole lot of INK

A fascinating array of speakers, from different walks of life, will be participating at the INK (Innovation and Knowledge) Conference, to be staged from October 25-27, at Kochi. A preview of the event was staged recently

Photo: Dr. Nitin Ron 

By Shevlin Sebastian

When little Bruce was born at 26 weeks, he weighed only 600 grams,” says Nitin Ron, neonatologist and associate professor of paediatrics at New York Methodist Hospital. “He did quite well after he was born and we were able to take off his breathing tube within a week. One month later it looked as if he was going to recover.”
But then Bruce developed a condition called necrotising enterocolitis. That means, in a premature baby, the blood supply to the intestines abruptly stops, and large parts of it becomes black with gangrene and die. “This condition could be fatal,” says Nitin. “We took Bruce to the operating room, opened him up and saw that almost all of the baby’s intestines were gone. We were dismayed because there was nothing we could do.”
The baby was stitched up, and taken back to the intensive care unit. “At this moment his breathing and all other organs were supported by machines and medication,” says Nitin. “I told Mummy Bruce that the baby may not survive. She said, ‘Doctor Ron please do your best and I will make sure that my love, compassion and kindness for my baby will heal him.’”
For the next four weeks, this mother sat next to her baby reading, caressing and speaking to him. She slept for only one hour in the afternoon and two hours at night.
And one morning, the baby smiled. “Unlike adults, little babies cannot fake a smile,” says Nitin. “I thought there may be something right happening in the baby’s abdomen. We re-opened his stomach and, wonder of wonders, large parts of the baby’s intestines had healed and rejoined. We have never ever seen anything like this before.”
Three weeks later, Bruce came off the respirator and after another period of convalescence, he was discharged. Today, Bruce is four years old and doing well. “I do know that Bruce was saved because of the advances in science and technology,” says Nitin. “But I also understand that it was the mother’s love, compassion and kindness for her little baby which made the child heal. So, Bruce is my hero and role model.”
Nitin was speaking at the Ink (Innovation and Knowledge) Conference, 2012, at Pune, where some of the world's accomplished people, like film director James Cameron and author Deepak Chopra, as well as unknown genuises came together for three days of talks.

So, there were people like Subhendu Sharma, who gave up a well-paying job in Toyota in Japan and has been planting urban forests in India and different parts of the world. Then there was D'bi Young Anitafrika, a Jamaican born, Canadian dub poet and monodramatist, whose one-woman show, shown on video, during a preview show by INK, at the Casino Hotel, recently, stunned a Kochi audience, with her powerful stories of rape, incest and being afflicted with HIV. And who can forget the charming Arunachalam Muruganatham who has made a low-cost sanitary napkin.

The first conference was held in 2009 under the auspices of TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design), the world's leading platform for ideas and innovations. “Around 1200 people from 40 countries converged in Mysore,” says Anson Ben, director of Programmes at INK. Now INK is coming to Kochi with a three-day conference from October 25-27 at the Le Meridien hotel.

There will be 50 speakers in total,” says Anson. “We search for people who are doing fascinating work, from Kuala Lumpur, to the Congo, from the jungles of the Amazon to the island of Japan.” Each speaker is given a time between 3 to 18 minutes, with the average being 12 minutes. “We know the attention span is not very high these days,” says Anson.

The only note of dissonance to this fascinating event is the Rs 1 lakh entry fee. “The fees are high,” says tech entrepreneur NR Joseph. “Not many ordinary people will be able to take part. This is more so for creative people who usually do not belong to this affluent bracket.”

Says Anson: “We are committed to conducting top-quality events rarely seen in India. We fly down over 50 speakers from around the world - some in first class and some with their entourages. Our production teams come from the UK and India to put this together. All this costs a lot of money and ups the price. But we have an offer of a 50% discount for a few days. And for young people, for a nominal amount, there will be a live telecast of the event close to the main venue, which includes interactions with the speaker.”
To know more, check out

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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