One Two ka Four: From Inception to Conception, Knowledge Factory has been a lot like Motherhood

There must be a reason why thinking and motherhood have a word in common. To “conceive” is to go through some pains. At Knowledge Factory, we feel the process of producing a fascinating festival of insights and ideas is a lot like pregnancy: it involves nourishment, nurturing, some anxious moments, labour pains and then, a moment of pleasure when the outcome happens. We have done it three times, and it is time to look back on what we did –including the stuff that we did not quite intend to do.

The YouTube videos are on there to give you an idea of how we tried our best to take the boredom out of intellectual stimulation. Look at the array of topics we have covered: the Constitution of India, climate change, green living, the history of storytelling told like a story, rural problems, future of travel, millennials, Deccan history and culture, water crisis, Shakespeare, popularising classical music…

Wait, that doesn’t tell you enough. Did you know Rahul Ram sang a naughty song on demonetisation at KF2017? Did you know Richa Chadda provided an insightful, researched speech on climate change? Did you know we actually had a session mixing cocktails? Or that we threw in some stand-up comedy by Papa CJ somewhere? Did you know how we put two researchers on stage in 2019 that is resulting in a new book based on their collaboration? Or that a spiritualist and a psychology prof talked on terrorism in a face-to-face session moderated by an actor?

Told ya. Conception. That.

Yet, it doesn’t even begin to tell the story of a passion that began one lazy afternoon when we thought of putting disparate subjects together in a meaningful yet somewhat random pursuit of knowledge that builds intelligent citizens. Where the audience, which was not quite prepared for what to expect was pleased with the way they encountered topics and speakers they had never met before. It pushed their creative frontiers without their knowing how. Unless you counted the smiles, the ahas and the rapt attention. Sheesh, forgot to tell you about the quizzes. Anyhow.

We kind of knew all this would happen, but were not sure. Just like pregnant mothers.

There were other things we did not quite know. Like how we would burn money in the first outing and learn how to be financially disciplined. Like how one or two star speakers would report sick and the show will still go on. Like how we started in Delhi and moved to Mumbai and then to Bangalore.

We are ready to host the fourth one in Mangalore. We never planned it that way, but knowledge is about discovery. So is Knowledge Factory. Sometime during the Mumbai gig, Raj Nayak, former CEO of Colors TV, told us how the idea is such that we should take it to smaller towns where the hunger for such events is more. So is the need to spread the idea of spreading the engaging pursuit of knowledge, we thought.

As it happens, one thing led to another. At Bangalore, we had students coming over from Mangalore, Raj’s hometown (pure coincidence, we tell you). The students were from St Agnes College, which coincidentally is celebrating its centenary this year. The oldest all-women college in southern India now wanted us to take Knowledge Factory to their new auditorium.

So there we are: #KF2020 in coastal Karnataka.

What remains constant is our meaningful tagline and what it promises: Mind. Mischief. More.

This article was first published on the Knowledge Factory blog.

Madhavan Narayanan
N Madhavan is a senior journalist and editor who has worked for Reuters, Business Standard and Hindustan Times. He is currently an independent media entrepreneur, consultant and columnist.

He is listed among the top 200 Indian influencers on Twitter. He tweets as @madversity.

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