The second edition of The International Kindness Festival, organized by The Kindness Foundation, was held on February 24th and 25th 2024 at Sri Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall, Harrington Road, Chennai. The festival highlighted the practical role and powerful impact of kindness across different aspects of life, with a focus this year on themes such as science, politics, ethics, technology, the arts and education. It presented unique perspectives from top speakers from across the world and India, representing diverse fields, as well as a well-curated range of interactive experiences.

The featured speakers included Suhasini Maniratnam (Actor and Philanthropist),Con Conlon (technology entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Merit Group Limited), Sh. S Gurumurthy (editor of Thuglak magazine), Lalitha Kumaramangalam (politician), Nawabzada Mohammed Asif Ali (the Nawab of Arcot), Siddharth Ramaswamy and Swati PS (wildlife photographers and conservation enthusiasts), Kiran Khalap (co-founder of chlorophyll brand consultancy), Natasha Jethanandani (fintech leader and co-founder and CTO of Kaleidofin),Kiiran Patel (functional nutritionist and founder of Wellness Cube), Nibin Mathew (blind tennis athlete and digital accessibility professional), Vasanthi Hariprakash (podcaster and founder-CEO of Pickle Jar Media), Robin Chaurasiya (social activist and co-founder of Kranti), Arvind Subramaniam (national sailor and senior product manager at Brevo), Nithya Shanti (spiritual teacher, seminar leader and facilitator), JD Madan (para-athlete and former racer), Rajesh Setty (Author, Mentor, Bionic Comedian and Co founder of Audvisor), Abhijeet Iyer Mitra (Defence Economist & Author), Sudha Shankar (Director of Non Violent communion Trust), Sharmilee Palaniswany (Psychotherapist), Ganesh Subramanian (Founder & Director of Ganesh IAS Academy), Kavitha Karira (ICF certified coach), Anjali Thomas (Clinical Psychologist), Mark Brown (Toastmaster World Champion), Thirupurasundari (Architect & Urban planning Specialist), Sarvesh Sarva Yoga (Internationally respected spiritual teacher) and Vasanthi Hariprakash (Journalist and Motivational speaker).

In addition to enlightening panels, keynote lectures and dialogues, the festival also showcased a silent auction fundraiser, live music and literary performances, live art installations, open mics, a bazaar, food stalls and a visual art gallery. Workshops and networking opportunities, with a focus on community-building and personal growth, were also offered.

“The ethos of The International Kindness Festival is to empower people by shining a light on how compassion and connection are resources that can help us deal with the intricacies of life, work and relationships. We have a wide array of exciting and insightful events lined up this year to inspire people to embrace the concept of kindness in myriad manifestations,” said Mahima Poddar, founder of The Kindness Foundation. “Kindness isn’t always straightforward; it can involve complexities, vulnerabilities and hurdles. Navigating these challenges might involve embracing empathy, fostering open communication, and cultivating a non-judgmental mindset. This is a journey that involves acknowledging our own and others’ struggles, fostering a more empathetic understanding of the world in the process.”

Speaker Bios

Con Conlon is a technology entrepreneur who established his first company, Dynasoft, while still a university student in Ireland. He is a non-executive director and board member of Merit Group PLC (UK), a market leader in big data collection and transformation, and is also non-executive director at four other businesses in India and the EU.

Sh. S Gurumurthy is the editor of Thuglak, a Tamil political weekly. He is the co-convener of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, a pan-Indian movement on economic issues, and serves on the board of directors of the Reserve Bank of India.

Lalitha Kumaramangalam is an Indian politician. She was previously the National Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party as well as the former Chairperson of the National Commission for Women. She runs an NGO, Prakriti, which works with transgender and HIV-infected people.

Nawabzada Mohammed Asif Ali is the Nawab of Arcot, and is the founder and trustee of the Arcot Foundation, a charitable organization that works to eradicate the disparities between privileged and underprivileged people.

Siddharth Ramaswamy and Swati PS are conservation enthusiasts who express their support for this field through awareness-raising photography and writing, and financial contributions. They are deeply involved with anti-poaching organizations in Kenya.

Kiran Khalap is co-founder of the brand consultancy chlorophyll, which has differentiated over 400 brands, created over 50 brands from scratch, has four IPs and has its own innovation lab. He is also passionate about writing, rock climbing and spiritual evolution and is the author of three books of fiction.

Natasha Jethanandani is the co-founder and CTO of Kaleidofin, where she focuses on building solutions to make financial services inclusive, especially for the unbanked. She worked at Fortune 100 companies like Microsoft and Google in the USA before bringing her expertise to India.

Kiiran Patel is a functional nutritionist and the founder of Wellness Cube, a holistic health centre in Mumbai that brings together cutting-edge medical and therapeutic techniques and ancient healing methods and serves as a sanctuary for those seeking balance and rejuvenation.

Nibin Mathew is a blind tennis athlete who has represented India at the IBSA World Games 2023 in the UK. He is also a digital accessibility professional working towards inclusivity and equality, and a member of the Bosch User Experience Network.

Vasanthi Hariprakash is an award-winning journalist, show host, podcaster, motivational speaker and the founder of Pickle Jar, a media company. Through her work, Vasanthi documents a changing India, as experienced through interactions with everyday Indians, especially through her passion for solo travel into rural regions. She received a Radio Excellence Award for India’s Best English RJ in 2007.

Robin Chaurasiya is co-founder of Kranti, an NGO which empowers girls and young women from Mumbai’s red-light areas to become agents of social change. She received a Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law in 2019 and was a finalist for the 2016 Global Teacher Prize.

Arvind Subramaniam is a sailor who has represented India in the Sailing World Championships. He is also a senior product manager at Brevo, a marketing automation platform.

Nithya Shanti is an internationally respected spiritual teacher, seminar leader and facilitator. He was ordained as a Buddhist monk and stepped out of his robes to share teachings for transformational living. Through his “joyshops”, he has personally coached thousands of people and addressed diverse audiences worldwide. He is the co-author of the book Unburden: A Book Of Joyous Awakenings.

JD Madan is a social activist and a para-athlete. He became a noted tennis table player following a paralyzing injury, before which he had a career as a race car driver. He won a silver medal at the National Para Table Tennis Championships in 2021.

Rajesh Setty – Rajesh Setty is the rarest of humans: he’s a 20x author (and published his first book when he was 13), serial entrepreneur who’s started 12 companies, a mentor to over a dozen startups, a stand-up “bionic” comedian. Currently Co-founder of Audvisor. But, the most interesting thing about Rajesh is none of the above. It’s a way he can take the pain and turn it into joy in everyone’s life that he touches. It’s the way he makes anyone who speaks with him become the best versions of themselves.

Abhijeet Iyer Mitra – Abhijit Iyer-Mitra is Senior Fellow at the Institute of Peace & Conflict Studies. A Defence Economist, He appears regularly in print and on TV, is the author of two books and is doing his PhD at kings College London. He has regular columns in News 18, Firstpost, Print, Economic Times, Business Standard, Mint & Money Control as well as by-lines in all major national dailies. He also has co-authored two books, and has several academic publications to his credit dealing with defence and foreign policy.

Sudha Shankar – Sudha Shankar is a Certified Trainer, Assessor-in-Training and Member, Assessors Coordinating Circle, of the Centre for Nonviolent Communication, USA, and is one of the six Certified Trainers in India. She has been facilitating a weekly NVC practice group, based out of New Delhi, India, for over 13 years, which has led to the emergence of a vibrant NVC community. Sudha is the founding Executive Director of the Nonviolent Communication Trust, the main aim of which is to spread awareness of NVC consciousness and facilitate the emergence of NVC trainers in the subcontinent.

Sharmilee Palaniswamy – Sharmilee Palaniswami MBPsS, APA international affiliate member Sharmilee is a psychotherapist with 8+ years of experience in dealing with clients with interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships, stress and work-life balance, grief/loss, adolescent issues, self esteem and emotional wellbeing. She applies an eclectic approach in therapy and believes in inclusivity and compassion for all irrespective of gender, race, sexuality or ethnicity. She loves traveling and is curious, constantly exploring diverse cultures to broaden her perspective.

Kavitha Karira – Kavita Karira is an ICF Certified Coach and Founder of “Being Myself”, a company for Mental Well Being trainings for corporates and communities. Kavita is a keen observer and can observe and understand the finer nuances of human interactions. Everything she speaks comes from personal experience and learning. She strongly believes that the “human” aspect of human beings is somewhat lost and needs a re-focus, in order to bring out their best self and hence their potential.

Ganesh Subramanian – S. Ganesa Subramanian is the founder and director of Ganesh’s IAS Academy, with extensive experience in teaching Indian Constitution, Public Administration, and Ethics. He has been a trusted mentor to countless civil services aspirants and has delivered numerous invited talks and lectures on various aspects of competitive exam preparation. Ganesa Subramanian’s dedication to empowering individuals from all walks of life to pursue careers in public service has earned him accolades and recognition throughout his illustrious career.

Mark Brown – Mark Brown is a dynamic presenter and executive speaking coach who helps people overcome their fears to reach their maximum potential and achieve
ever-increasing levels of excellence.

Anjali Thomas – Dr. Anjali Thomas is a first-generation immigrant from India living in the New York City, and has her Master’s in Psychology from New York University and her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Yeshiva University. Her area of expertise is in psychodynamic theory (specifically object relations, self-psychology, and relational psychology) and trauma-informed practices, and is also trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy. Dr.Thomas uses these techniques in her work as a psychologist at Elmhurst Hospital’s forensic intensive inpatient unit for women from Rikers Island. She is committed to working towards finding alternatives to incarceration and prison reform.

Thirupurasundari – Thirupurasundari Sevvel is an architect and urban planning specialist. She is also a storyteller and educator. She runs an architectural consultancy, “Studio Conclave” and a social initiative called – Nam veedu Nam oor Nam kadhai, “Our home, our city, our story”. She started her graduate studies at SRM University in Chennai in Architecture. An exchange semester at the University of Birmingham allowed her to discover the United Kingdom, but it was in France that she went to do her master’s degree in urban and regional planning at the University of Tours.

Sarvesh Shashi – Sarvesh Shashi is an Indian Yoga Entrepreneur who is SARVA’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) (prev, ZORBA). He is a fitness trainer and started as an entrepreneur in 2013 with the studio Zorba. Eventually, he established 100+ yoga studios in India and abroad. Moreover, he is India’s youngest CEO to have been funded in the Yoga sector by a listed company. He is named in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia, Fortune 40 Under 40 India, and Business World’s 40 Under 40 India. He is ranked in GQ’s 50 Most Influential list.


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