Snapshots from legendary actor Robert De Niro’s visit to India for THiNK 2013
T 1287 - THINK by Tarun of Tehelka, a forum where the brightest of brains world wide participate..a truly innovative idea ! Well done Tarun — Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) November 8, 2013 At superb THiNK lit festival in Goa. Shoma Chaudhuri's a brilliant interviewer. BBC's Newsnight should try to recruit her! #THiNK2013 — David Priestland (@DPriestland) November 10, 2013 Amazing energy,synergies,discoveries and protests at the #THINK2013.Thank you @Tehelka @THi...
The Comedy of Errors Ram Jethmalani, who made quite a splash at the festival dressed in a yellow jersey and shorts with knee-high socks, sat next to Robert De Niro at an afterparty and told him, “I think you were a little too harsh on America.” De Niro, whose session was slotted for the next day, was bemused and said, “I’m yet to speak.” While Jethmalani digested that, it was left to Tehelka’s Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhury to clear the riddle. “Ram, I think you are mixing ...
They say about her that she has mastered the art of giving. Rohini Nilekani made news a few months ago when she raised nearly Rs 163 crore by selling off her shares in Infosys for philanthropic work. She explained it away by saying it is her moral obligation to give the money away. Over the past decade, she has invested in causes that span the environment, education and water. A former journalist and the wife of former Infosys CEO and current chairman of the Unique Identification Authority o...
Sandhya, Rape Survivor ...
Binalakshmi Nepram, founder of the Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network, belongs to the new generation of Manipuri women, who are not just fighting against brutal injustice, but also asking for women’s political representation in discussions about war and peace. Through her work, Nepram has highlighted the need for a women-led disarmament movement in India
Palaniappan Chidambaram probably has the most unenviable job in the country. The veteran Congressman is one of the main pillars of the party as it readies itself for the 2014 General Election. Here, Chidambaram talks about Narendra Modi, the Congress’ next generation and the economic crisis
Think of the Internet as a vast medieval capital. Labyrinthine alleys separate shops selling wares from every corner of the known world. Touts, pimps, slave traders, assassins, spies lurk in every corner. You are a young farmer’s son, come to make your fortune in this great city (or, in an example closer to home, an immigrant in Delhi or Mumbai). You meet people who take you in, guide you through the utterly discombobulating experience, and offer you a modicum of stability. They help you n...
The decrepit state of education and a false case drove Thimbu Oraon to join the banned Maoist Communist Centre in the mid-1990s. He rose to the rank of zonal commander before he was arrested. A one-year stint in jail helped Oraon realise that his mission would be best served in a democracy. After his release, the tribal from Ghagra in Gumla district of Jharkhand decided that he would focus on bringing better education to children
Being married to a rebel is not easy. Subhasree Panda had no contact with her husband Sabyasachi, a former Odisha state secretary of the banned Maoist party. Nevertheless, she was put in jail for two-and-a- half years on charges of being a conduit for her fugitive husband. After getting bail, she is studying law and campaigning to contest the Assembly election from Ranpur as an independent candidate.
A Fedex package containing a tube of skin cream, a slightly scratched CD of house music, a brown plastic hairbrush and a Polaroid photo of a bathroom sink led psychoanalyst Sam Gosling to conclude correctly that the owner of these objects was an Asian or Hispanic, fairly young, gay male. In short, Gosling has cottoned onto a code each of us sends out through the spaces we inhabit. Code that says an embarrassingly large amount about who we really are. After years of careful research, the psychology professor from Texas turned his theory into a book called 'Snoop', which explores the intrinsic relationship between how we live and who we are. Some of this may seem obvious at first glance, but the devil is in the detail
Robert Grenier has been on the sidelines of modern history. In 2001, he was the CIA station chief in Islamabad where he planned and controlled the post-9/11 covert operations in support of the US invasion of Afghanistan. A year later, he was appointed the CIA’s Iraq missions manager, where he was in charge of covert missions in support of the 2003 US invasion
Dressed in a blazer and pants, no trace of makeup on her face, hair tied back severely, Golshifteh Farahani bears none of the trappings of the global movie star. Despite her classic beauty, she blended right into the crowds at THiNK, where she was part of a session on women and the body as a weapon in occupied territories. On stage, Farahani displayed the searing honesty and intelligence that have made her a spokesperson for women’s rights in Iran. A role she chose as much as it was thrust...
Mansoor Khan insists his theory is not about ethics or morality, but a pragmatic view on energy and growth. The filmmaker, who chose to walk away at the peak of his craft to take up organic cheese farming, explains why money and growth are false constructs of the mind and why minimum is good, because maximum is dead.
Zach Smith thinks of 3D printers as creativity multipliers. And by giving people access to his source codes, he wants to ensure that more people have access to the technologies that are revolutionising the world
Jyotirmaya Sharma is professor of political science at the University of Hyderabad. A prolific academic and writer, he is perhaps best known for his body of work examining the contemporary face of Hindutva and Hindu nationalism, the 19th century reinterpretation of Hinduism, and the ideas of Swami Vivekananda and how he has been appropriated today
David Priestland is a historian with a penchant for disagreeing. In 'Merchant, Soldier, Sage', he doesn’t just re-examine our history, he tweaks the angle of our vision, just enough to bring a different part of the picture into focus. He warns why social discontent could explode in India
While the definition of the book itself is up for grabs, the move from the printed page to the screen is not a particularly significant thing
Haifa Zangana was the only female political prisoner under the Saddam Hussein regime, and her experiences of being tortured, beaten and interrogated have become a part of her writing. She has also been a vocal opponent of George Bush and Tony Blair, whom she holds responsible for the destruction of Iraq
John Pilger, 74, is an icon because as a journalist he relentlessly demands it of you to be aware of the lies your governments tell. To be aware of inequalities and injustices inflicted and perpetuated by big brothers, big money and big media
Wondering why embroidery wasn’t considered a form of art, Shanta Bai, a Lambani tribal woman, began exploring the possibilities of turning it into a dignified source of livelihood
During his UN stint, Toshi Nakamura dealt with policymaking as well as the gritty ground realities of the organisation’s work. And yet the more he saw, the less convinced he was that this was the route to making a difference. Exit the UN, enter Kopernik, which seeks to bring together donors, seekers and tech providers. Using the crowdfunding model, Kopernik harnesses the power of the Internet and makes technology designed for the developing world accessible to last-mile users.
A researcher at Harvard University, 29-year-old Evgeny Morozov has often been described as an Internet troll. A fierce critic of technological utopianism, Belarus-born Morozov wants the world to realise that virtual reality is more real than virtual, with very messy, everyday implications
Vijay Mallya’s persona remains a mystery to those who know him, and even those who don’t. Is there a gap between the image of Mallya and the truth about him?
For 35 years, Medha Patkar has been synonymous with people’s movements across the country. Be it standing in the neck deep waters of the Narmada, protesting the dams, or agitating against the demolition of a slum in Mumbai, she has always stood for justice for the unheard voices. Patkar talks of these millions of voices and what they represent, and how ignoring them could cost us dear. Edited Excerpts from an Interview In a life of activism, you have fought for a myriad causes. If yo...
In his 36-year stint with the IFS, Shyam Saran enjoyed multiple portfolios, but his knowledge of Mandarin gives him a special insight into Indo-China relations. The diplomat shares his views on the unstable relations between the two Asian powers
"It turns me on to please a man,” said Toni Bentley wickedly, subverting every gender stereotype there is. The cliché is, to be in control, you have to be the dominant one in any gender equation. Control equals dominance, equals power. “No,” says Toni Bentley, and The Surrender, the book that shot her to fame is an ode to just that. You may miss it if you get lost in the plot and the vivid descriptions of sexual surrender she experiences through anal sex. But there is a larger politic...
Nandan Nilekani is not new to public life. Yet, he continues to feel the trepidation one associates with having to attend the first day at a new school as he prepares to stand for elections in 2014. “When you have spent all your life in the business environment and have been a technocrat, this is a whole new ballgame. Ultimately, that’s the biggest lever of change you may have.” Was this a role Nilekani always wanted to play? Was it part of his original ambition to be in public serv...
Harsh Pant has been critical of the way India has approached its foreign policy. Having closely studied India’s role vis-à-vis the changing dynamics in Asia, Pant has been advocating the need for India to clearly articulate its own strategies.
It nearly didn’t happen. Abdul Salam Zaeef, founder member of the Taliban, ambassador of the Taliban regime to Pakistan and prisoner in Guantanamo Bay for six years, nearly didn’t make it to THiNK. In the end, the Indian government relented, reasoning that it is perhaps time to start talking to the Taliban and stamped his visa at the last minute. And that’s how a tired, jet-lagged Mullah arrived from Kabul straight to the plush Grand Hyatt in Goa at 3 in the morning. Several hours a...
When you put Dangerous Dave on stage, you always run the risk of ruining your best-laid plans. And so it proved on the final day of TH iNK as the spotlight fell on evolutionary biologist David Barash. The audience had come to hear about whether humans were hardwired for infidelity, war and revenge. But Barash veered off topic and regaled the crowd with quotable quotes on ovulation, breasts and the Big O. If you want to go on an evolutionary mystery tour, there’s no better guide than Bar...
In his tenure as the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), Vinod Rai breathed new life into the institution, turning what had been reduced to a mere accountancy firm into a watchdog of fiscal waste and corruption. His revelations ushered in a period of incredible social churn, with the citizens of the country demanding accountability from the leaders they elect. He says that instead of accusing him of bombast, the government should have taken steps to ensure that such a situation never came...
From owning just a pair of Rs 300 boxing gloves to becoming a five-time boxing World Champion and an Olympic medallist, Mary Kom has come a long way. Born in the conflict-ridden state of Manipur, her rise to the top has been through sheer determination and grit
Not too long ago, nearly everyone thought it was the Asian ape that jumped through the evolutionary ring to turn bipedal, thus becoming human. But, no. “As homo sapiens, we have been around only for 200,000 years,” says Louise Leakey, a paleontologist, on a visit to India to attend THiNK 2013 at Goa. “If you actually look at how long we have been around as an upright walking ape, which is going back eight million years, our species has been here only this tiny window in time.” And ba...
A decade ago, the government of Israel declared Moran Cerf dead. Today, he is a part of some of the most cutting-edge and innovative research on the human brain. The 37-year-old has been a pilot, a radio host, an inventor, a filmmaker, a furniture designer, a hacker and a computer security expert for the government of Israel in the past. This was before his near encounter with death and meeting with a Nobel Prize-winning scientist. Cerf is a neuroscientist at the New York University and t...
THiNK — Tehelka’s annual event in Goa — was born three years ago with a specific ambition. We wanted to create a space that would celebrate the centrality of thought and ideas as the most crucial foundation of a civilised society. We wanted to bring together some of the most brilliant and diverse minds from across the world and revel in the synaptic fireworks their meeting would trigger. We wanted to challenge our audience to think new and fresh; to think like heretics and fantasists...
Garry Kasparov keeps me waiting for half an hour before he comes for our interview. He’s busy watching the opening moves of Game Two of the World Championship match between 44-year-old Vishwanathan Anand, a longtime rival in the latter half of Kasparov’s career, and 22-year-old Magnus Carlsen, the chess wunderkind he previously trained and has been raving about for years, who “combines the positional knowledge of Anatoly Karpov with the determination of Bobby Fischer”. The day before...
Eminent Islamic theologian Mahmood Madani has been trying to fight the perception that Islam preaches violence and is practised by violent people. He convinced the Darul Uloom Deoband to issue a fatwa against terrorism in 2008, to separate the vast majority of Muslims from the actions of a fanatical few. Recently, he asked secular parties to stop using Muslims to further their own political ends.
De Niro is a character actor. Unlike most superstars, he doesn’t play a version of himself in every movie. Maybe it accounts for why he’s so reluctant to give of himself in interviews, finds them so invasive
Shai Schiller runs WebintPro, an Israeli company and has developed an online equivalent of the real-world intelligence agent to track the ‘bad guys’ — terrorists, smugglers, drug cartels, paedophilia rings — and infiltrate their networks
The next time you are stuck in a conversation on whether India was ruled by oppressive Muslim kings or not, whether Hindus were converted en masse to Islam in medieval India, just ‘Richard Eaton’ the phenomenon and you will get your answers
The Tarun Sehrawat Award for Journalism of Courage and Conscience 2013 was awarded to Rahul Kotiyal and Brijesh Singh of TEHELKA and Chandan Khanna of The Indian Express, at the THiNK fest in Goa on 8 November
Tehelka's Shaili Chopra talks to Jay Panda at THiNK2013 about state of the economy and demographic dividend.
Vijay Mallya in conversation with Tarun J Tejpal
A presentation by Toshi Nakamura
A presentation by Shai Schiller
Mary Kom faced racial comments with the same strength with which she defeated opponents in the ring, she says in the final session of THiNK 2013 which also featured Bollywood starlet Priyanka Chopra
Tarun Tejpal in conversation with business tycoon Vijay Mallya on his journey so far, his experience in Parliament, the Kingfisher Airlines debacle and the India Story
Shoma Chaudhury in a panel discussion with Karim Adel Essa, Nariman El Bakry and Nusrat Durrani on music and its role in rebellion
Sam Gosling keeps the audience engaged with his presentation on human behaviour and personal spaces
Shoma Chaudhury talks to the irrepressible Mansoor Ali Khan and Vikram Mehta about the energy situation in India and across the world
Shai Schiller tells Shoma Chaudhury that the real battle against terrorism has to be fought in the virtual world
An engaging presentation by Toshi Nakamura on how simple technology can transform the lives of many deprived communities, and how to get that technology to them
In the morning of the final day of THiNK 2013, the audience gave a standing ovation to Medha Patkar’s attack on corporate greed and the ravaging effects of irresponsible business on the country’s poor. In the evening, the same audience gave a standing ovation to Vijay Mallya’s attack on the government’s refusal to dig Kingfisher Airlines out of a deep financial hole. Mallya’s session, a conversation with TEHELKA's Editor Tarun Tejpal, could be divided into three parts. In the f...
Call it coincidence, but the first thing I found on television after returning from Day Two of THiNK 2013 was Mike Nichol’s wonderful film Charlie Wilson’s War. A biopic about the United States Congressman who led a campaign to arm the mujahideen in Afghanistan in order for them to fight the Soviet invasion, it ends with a quote that perfectly sums up the US’ efforts: “These things happened. They were glorious and they changed the world… and then we fucked up the endgame.” Wil...
Why evolution favours female breasts and humans babies are averse to getting toilet-trained: David Barash in a candid discussion with Tarun Tejpal
Rohini Nilekani, Tushaar Shah and Jones Spartegus engage in a panel discussion on the water crisis in India
Shoma Chaudhury in conversation with the incredibly talented and iconic Robert De Niro at THiNK 2013
Robert De Niro in conversation with Shoma Chaudhury
A presentation by Alan Russell
Priyanka Chopra and Mary Kom in conversation with Shoma Chaudhury
Karim Adel Essa, Nariman El Bakri and Nusrat Durrani in conversation with Shoma Chaudhury
Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef in conversation with Shoma Chaudhury
Rarely has a man embodied the spirit of spirit quite like Dr Vijay Mallya. Heir to the United Breweries Group, it is Mr Mallya himself, rather than the chiselled faces and long legs that have endorsed his brand; who is transfixed upon the public imagination as the King of Good Times, recent debacles on the business front notwithstanding. To focus on what has gone wrong for Mallya would be to miss the woods for the trees: this is a man who took the reins at his father’s company on the lat...