The end of the week together in Nashik is also a commencement


Today marked the end of a very full week. However, this is just the beginning. Friendships were formed and strengthened. New professional connections were made. Ideas were generated, and solutions were tested.


Some innovators will progress their solutions to prototype and perhaps commercialization. Other solutions will change dramatically. And still others will fail. In any case, the innovators will move on and use what they have learned – to follow their passions and to make a positive impact.


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“The direction is more important than the plan. Jump in the water and start swimming. You don’t need to know everything in order to move forward.” – Ramesh Raskar

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The day began with inspirational TED Talks displayed on the video screen, while innovators continued to work together to finalize their work before the end of the day when their teams would disperse. Several MIT partners shared information about their vision and plans to work together with the Kumbhathon. Those included professors, government officials, and corporate and NGO leaders, and medical doctors from a variety of disciplines. Educational institutions represented included: Symbiosis Institute of Operations Management, The Welingkar Institute of Management (weSchool), IIT Bombay, and Nashik District Maratha Vidya Prasarak (NDMVP). Government officials included the Commissioner of Police and the Collector of Nashik. Corporate partners included TCS and Winjit.


The Commissioner of Nashik Municipal Corporation had recorded a video, and that played to the crowd. He made it clear that the City of Nashik is pleased to partner with MIT. The City will do whatever it can to pave the way for the Kumbhathon innovators. He is excited about the benefits that we can realize together.


Professor Uday Salunkhe of Welingkar Institute of Management (weSchool) commented that WE has a new motto that “WE is the new I.” WeSchool is pleased to partner with MIT and the Kumbhathon.


Dr. Vandana Sonwaney, Director of Symbiosis Institute of Operations Management (SIOM) commented that hesitation can hold you back. Talk about your dreams and plans. It’s important to voice your dreams. Institutions want to enable students to address their needs and dreams. She offered space at SIOM for innovators to come and work and meet with their teams and mentors. They’re also interested in running brief business-oriented courses if there is a need. The audience gave a resounding “Yes!” in response to whether this would be of interest.


Ramesh Raskar reminded the innovators: “When you talk about things, be clear about what you like and dislike, and what you would change. Just saying that you like something is not sufficient.” This approach encourages critical thinking and constructive feedback, which will lead to improved solutions, as well as increased respect from colleagues.


When I asked Pooja Kanawade, one of the innovators who’s a computer engineering student at K.K. Wagh College in Nashik, to tell me in a few words how she would describe the Kumbhathon, she said: “Working in groups with smart and motivated people on actual implementations opened my eyes to the world of innovation.”


A couple of announcements were made after lunch. NDMVP – The Nashik District Maratha Vidya Prasarak – is ready to contribute space for an innovation center. Azoi is donating 20 Kito devices worth about 250 US dollars each. TCS announced a product called Gappagoshi, a crowd-sourced messaging platform, which will be deployed during the Kumbh Mela.


Ramesh Raskar asked the innovators to speak to the camera and share their thoughts about the week. Many of them stood up and made comments about how transformational the week was for each of them. Words like: energy, enthusiasm, and excitement were common themes. There was a sense of collective learning and accomplishment, as well as great promise for the future.


To close out the Kumbhathon, Bollywood music played, and the stage filled with exuberant participants, volunteers, mentors and leaders dancing to celebrate the Kumbhathon.


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