Up Close & Personal: Jay Herratti, Executive Director, TEDx talks about TED and TEDx Anchor Program in India

Up Close & Personal: TED: Technology, Entertainment, Design is a global community with a  mission is to spread ideas. Every year, TED hosts a conference in Vancouver, Canada, where speakers take the stage to give short and powerful talks in 18 minutes or less. TED was originally founded in 1984 as a conference covering technology, entertainment, and design. Today, all topics, right from the science to business to global issues are talked about at TED.

TEDx Anchor Program in India is a cultural ideas exchange to celebrate TEDx events around the world and it has a strategic partnership with Infosys.

Mr. Jay Herratti, Executive Director, TEDx, is here to give us details about TED and the new TEDx Anchor Program in India and we are very much thankful to Mr. Jay Herratti for his valuable time and guidance:

What is ‘x’ in TEDx?

The “x” in TEDx stands for independently organized.

In 2009, TED launched the TEDx program as a platform for local voices to share ideas and innovations. TEDx organizers apply for a free license from TED and individually curate their events with a combination of live speakers and TED Talks videos. Though TED provides general guidance for the TEDx program, TEDx events are independently organized and inspire communities to discuss big ideas in a wide range of subjects – education, health, community, science, design, technology, entertainment.

What has been the contribution of India in TED till now?

India is – and has always been — an important country for TED and TEDx. In 2009, TED hosted a special TEDIndia event to spotlight the global influence of the east. It was a one-time event and featured the technology and cultural and economic innovation coming out of India, China and the rest of Asia.

There have been more than 700 TEDx events in India since 2009, with dozens more scheduled to take place in the first half of 2016 alone. Some of our talks have also become YouTube sensations, in particular, this one from TEDxBangalore, which was tweeted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I attended TEDxGateway in 2014 and saw firsthand the enthusiasm and excitement for TEDx. And we know from local TEDx organizers that their communities are hungry for great ideas. There’s an entrepreneurial spirit in India that’s fueling this thirst for innovation and new ideas that aligns well with what TEDx stands for.


The best Indian speaker with the best idea you have seen in your event till now:

It’s hard to pick just one. A few come to mind immediately:

TED Prize winner Sugata Mitra’s TED 2013 talk about building a school in the cloud:

Dilip Ratha’s TEDGlobal 2014 talk about international remittances:

both are by speakers from India and both of these ideas impacted countless people's everyday lives.

There is also a great talk from Aditi Gupta at TEDxGatewayWomen on talking about menstruation – a subject that’s often seen as taboo:

What is TEDx Anchor program?

I’m really proud of the TEDx Anchor Program. We launched it as a cultural ideas exchange to celebrate TEDx events around the world - and we are starting with India.

Thanks to a partnership with global tech leader Infosys, we’ll be able to provide dedicated mentorship, scholarships and training to TEDx organizers in major cities across India. They also enabled us to bring 120 TEDx Organizers from across India together a couple of weeks ago at the Infosys campus in Mysore. The weekend featured talks, breakout and education sessions and even a Bollywood gala, which brought together the TEDx community in India - many meeting each other for the first time.

When was it launched?

We announced the program at TED2016, which took place February 15-19 in Vancouver, Canada.

How did this idea come to an existence?

TEDx is a global program powered by volunteers. It started as a grand experiment and has seen explosive growth over the past 7 years. To understand and enhance the model, we keenly watch trends and data patterns. One trend we have observed is that if there is a very high quality and established TEDx event happening in a major cultural city, we see many smaller events popping up around it. These large scale events act as a beacon or anchor for the TED brand in that region. Organizers often mentor each other and encourage university students and the next generation of TEDx organizers to create their own events for their local communities. So in essence, the concept of anchor events was born from our community - this is the first time we are supporting that growth both from TED office in New York  and with the help of a partner in India to make it all possible.

What was your first move towards it?

Firstly, identifying the right country to test the model in, and then finding the right partner. In Infosys and India we found both - along with a network of highly talented local curators and event producers. India is the ideal place to launch the program because it has such a strong network of TEDx events with so much potential for further expansion and growth – it is a big country with a lot of great ideas we are keen to discover and help spread.

Why did you choose Infosys for the partnership?

Both Infosys and TED believe in ideas, human potential and optimism. So it’s a natural fit that one the world’s leading innovative technology companies should be our presenting partner for the TEDx Anchor Program in India.

Infosys as a company is a strong advocate of technology as the enabler and amplifier of our uniquely human abilities. Technology presents us with the opportunity to leave the repeatable activities that can be modeled and precisely formulated to artificial intelligence and automation, freeing us up to pursue new ideas, new ways of making.

Which are the 14 Indian cities you will be organizing events in?

The 14 cities we are looking to host events in are Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Mangalore, Mumbai, Mysore, Pune and Thiruvananthapuram.

The first TEDx Anchor event will take place at the Infosys Bangalore campus in collaboration with TEDxBangalore this May.

What is the procedure for the participation?

For participation as a TEDx organizer, we’re looking for passionate, community-minded individuals who believe in the power of ideas worth spreading and feel driven to organize local TEDx events. Potential organizers are invited to apply through our online application form: https://www.ted.com/participate/organize-a-local-tedx-event/apply-for-a-tedx-license

For more information on the Anchor Program in India or to get more information about attending local events visit: https://www.ted.com/about/programs-initiatives/tedx-program/tedx-anchor-program-in-india

We, the C4N India team, congratulate TEDx for the brilliant idea and their upcoming program. We wish them all the very best for their innovative goals!