The INK Conference hosts President Obama

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President Obama in discussion at the Democracy and Open Government Expo

On Monday, the INK Conference (which is being held in partnership with TED) and the Rajeev Motwani Foundation hosted US President Barack Obama at an Expo on democracy and open government. The organizers were tasked with the critical job of showcasing new Indian innovations that might improve the relationship between citizens and government.

The result? President Obama and India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launched a US-India Partnership on Open Government and the US government made an initial commitment of approximately $1m to support Indian civil society in sharing their best practices internationally. Also, Sam Pitroda is matching that commitment with an in-kind contribution to help governments use technology to improve services and increase accountability.

An excerpt from President Obama’s speech at India’s Parliament on Tuesday, Nov 8, that featured the content and the spirit of the expo:

In the United States, my administration has worked to make government more open and transparent and accountable to the people. Here in India, you’re harnessing technologies to do the same, as I saw yesterday. Your landmark Right to Information Act is empowering citizens with the ability to get the services to which they’re entitled and to hold officials accountable. Voters can get information about candidates by text message. And you’re delivering education and health care services to rural communities, as I saw yesterday when I joined an e-panchayat with villagers in Rajasthan.

Now, in a new collaboration on open government, our two countries are going to share our experience, identify what works, and develop the next-generation of tools to empower citizens.

The INK Conference is being held December 10-12 at the beautiful Lavasa retreat, near Mumbai and promises to pick up where TEDIndia left off. TEDIndia in 2009 was a thrilling experience, attracting a sold-out audience of 1000 attendees from 46 different countries. But it was always planned as a one-off to bring TED to South Asia. We’re delighted that it’s led to a thriving community in India and Asia who are now passionate about the spread of ideas, a host of TEDx events, a massive increase in the numbers of Indians watching TED online …and now INK.

The event is being planned by TEDIndia’s co-host Lakshmi Pratury and all of TED will be cheering her on. The theme is “Untold Stories,” and confirmed speakers include scientific visualization pioneer Alexander Tsiaras, innovative science teacher Arvind Gupta, the world’s youngest school headmaster Babar Ali, prolific author Deepak Chopra, entertainment icon James Cameron, academic and author Jennifer Aaker of Stanford, Lego designer John-Henry Harris, technology mavens Joi Ito and Kevin Kelly, venture capitalist and philanthropist Kamran Elahian, visual communication expert Nancy Duarte, spoken-word artist Rives, surgeon Susan Lim and award-winning innovator Tom Wujec.