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Posted at 12:08 PM ET, 01/31/2011

Conservation, culture and conversations

By Anjali Chandrashekar

British Council Global Changemakers is a network of young social entrepreneurs and community activists from 110 countries.

I overslept today to find myself skipping a breakfast session, but that's only because I have no memory of my director waking me up, which she says she did. So we all go to the Congress Center on what might have been the chilliest morning of the forum so far. We went to a session on health with Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono, three people I have been dying to meet. It covered a number of key health topics, followed by Bill Gates donating about $100 million toward the cause of fighting polio.

We immediately run to the social entrepreneurs corner to find Katherine Garett-Cox, the chief executive of Alliance Trust Plc. The best part of all the meet-the-leader sessions is that we get to sit down and talk to all these wonderful entrepreneurs -- many who have had humble beginnings, some who even got into business by accident and today run very successful enterprises. It is just a great feeling to have a one-to-one conversation with them to find out more about what drives them. Most of their stories are very inspiring, and it's awesome to meet women entrepreneurs like Katherine.

I spent much of my time after that reading up for one of my speaking roles. I was a panelist in a session called "Art and the Natural World," which basically focused on how artists can bring about change toward conservation. I found it absolutely ridiculous doing so much research for my speech, because I realized I did not need it. I had to talk about 10 paintings on environmental conservation that I held closest to my heart. The session had Silas Birtwistle and Greg Stone. We spoke about the connection between art and the natural world and had a question-and-answer question when the audience could ask us more about our work or our environmental initiatives.

This was followed by dinner. I was one of the many discussion leaders at this Cultural Leaders dinner. What was so unique about this dinner is that it was in a very different format. We "speed dated" -- all the discussion leaders shifted from one table to another after each course. I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Mr. Romero Britto, a Brazilian artist, and many other leaders like Platon. We discussed the role of arts and culture in improving local communities and society as a whole. We also spoke about old artists and the impact they had and still have, and how today's artists are completely different.

It was amazing to just sit and listen to so many views that were at the table. Some of the aspects I agreed with, some I didn't, and some I didn't have a clue about. However, I think arts and culture form an integral part of our world.

Anjali is a two-time national award-winning visual artist and activist and has been using her artwork to raise funds and awareness for many national and international organizations. She believes that art is a universal language and a tool that cuts across barriers of language, religion and literacy. Anjali is passionate about the environment and the preservation of biodiversity, and she uses art as medium of education. Her paintings have also been used in international auctions to raise funds for diabetes research, buying insulin for children in developing countries and funding free dialysis for poor kidney patients. The sale of related merchandise has benefited numerous organizations that work against child abuse, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease and smoking. She is a Rotary youth ambassador and gives talks at various schools and forums to help empower youth. In addition she helps integrate and rehabilitate orphans and physically and mentally challenged children by teaching them art. She has represented India at the World School International Forum and the International Diabetes Federation. Anjali is currently in the 12th grade at Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan Junior College in Chennai, India.

Return to the Insiders' Guide to Davos 2011 page

By Anjali Chandrashekar  | January 31, 2011; 12:08 PM ET
Categories:  Anjali Chandrashekar  
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