Friday 27 March 2009

Speaking of TED..

..have you seen the cost of registering for the TEDIndia conference?


That's Rs 120,984.80.*

For four days.

It includes housing (they don't say where), food and an airport pick-up-and-drop. It's happening at the Infosys campus, so we guess that's where attendees will be staying. But even if not, and let's assume that they don't have sponsors (they do), a top-end hotel room in Mysore costs in the neighbourhood of Rs 4000, if memory serves us right. You'd be hard-put to spend more than 2k on khana-peena a day. So, stretch that a bit—a massage, a guided tour—and it's like 8k a day. Add in a couple of grand to get in from Bangalore airport in luxury. That's like 35k. What on god's green earth is the rest of that dosh for?

Sure, they're going to have a rocking line-up of speakers, if their record is anything to go by. And sure, they're financing fellowships and suchlike, and chances are that a TED Fellow is likely to change the world and all that. And sure, there's a great agenda:
* Which local innovations are destined for global impact?
* Who are the young thinkers and doers capable of shaping the future?
* Can there be economic advancement without environmental destruction?
* Can a pluralistic democracy survive in the face of rising fundamentalism?
* Can we make money and be good? Really?
* What should we learn – or fear? -- from China’s investment in Africa?
* Do we have enough water for everyone?
* How do we keep our youth challenged and our aged healthy?
* How can anti-poverty solutions be brought to scale?
* Is there wisdom to be found in traditional medicine??
* Which other ancient traditions can illuminate modern life?



A lakh twenty one.

Are they effing insane?

There's a recession going on. This is the developing world. The bit they called the Third World before they got all PC, like. You can live off that much money for several months, including house rent, in most cities in India. Heck, you could become a local aristocrat with that much money in some parts of the country.

Who's going to be able to pay to get in? Loaded westerners who will probably go off, pre- or post-TED to do a bit of palace tourism and maybe some Slumdogging in Dharavi for colour. Malodourously plutocratic Indians who will happily pay up to be seen there.

And most of the folks who are actually doing their bit towards making a better future, people who would benefit from the atmosphere, the contacts and the experience; for them, it could just as well have stayed in Monterey.

Yes, we know that a lot of the people who will be invited to present will benefit, and they deserve it. Yes, we'll get to see the presentations on the TED site eventually.

But we have to say that the pedestal we had TED on is looking kinda clayey.

Yes, we're bitter.

* As per today's exchange rate on XE Universal Currency Converter.


pragzz said...

I greatly appreciate everything you’ve said in your post. Believe me when I say that the $6000+ pricetag is FAR beyond what most Americans or Europeans can afford as well.

TED is a non-profit organization. I’ve been told that the costs are so high for many reasons, like to pay for the quality of the event that they have (which is understandable once you attend it), but more importantly, to help subsidize the many other things that the organization does, including the TED prizes, their book club, and putting the talks online (which is a very expensive endeavor).

Also, TED has a new program for people like you and me, called the TED Fellows program, also funded through the dues collected from paying attendees. I had the good fortune of attending the annual TED conference in February, as a TED Fellow. At TEDIndia, they will be taking 100 Fellows, all innovative, young people (on average between 21-40 y/o) from around the world, but with a focus on South Asia.

Please apply, and encourage any outstanding, innovative young visionaries to apply to the program. It will change your lives.

Applications open April 20th; all the information is available on

If you have any questions, feel free to email myself or fellows AT ted DOT com. I look forward to hearing from you.


km said...

Puzzling indeed. Maybe part of the fee is going toward venue and VIP security?

The Traveling Quad said...


Is this Nilanjana's blog?
I just tried to connect from Akhond of Swat.

Coming to the question about cost of TED - the choice to go or not to go is entirely personal, right? I did not understand the premise and that is most probably because I am missing something obvious. We can discuss, however.


pragzz said...

@km, the event fees include security and venue (and food, lighting, stage, etc).