– Closing Keynote Address by Kalyan Varma

It was an unusual way to end a predominantly techie meet…the (Free and Open Source Software annual meet which happens at the J N Tata Auditorium) closed with a keynote address by Kalyan Varma, who is well-known in software,photography, and wildlife circles.

The tagline for this year’s meet was, "Talk is cheap. Show me the code"!

After the "workouts" discussions and reports were over, the well-"connected" audience settled down for the keynote address:

Kalyan, about whom I have written in Citizen Matters here and here , put the finishing touches to his presentation:

He then talked about "Free World:Sharing and Caring".

He started out with the example from Nature, about how wasps evolved from being solitary creatures to social ones, where sharing tasks meant more security. Security, indeed, was the hot topic of today, he added, and said that most people just didn’t understand either was real security was, or how to ensure it. He demonstrated how easily internet security could be breached, and fraud perpetrated.

He then drew parallels between the principles of free and open software, and those of photogpraphy, including tenets like "Rely On Your Friends".

He then went on to show some the images he and his friends have taken in the forests of India, and opened the audience’s eyes to the immense impact of how the simplest things about our lifestyles impacted the environment. He took the example of a cup of tea….the tea meant that large tracts of rainforest were hacked down to make tea plantations; water often means damming of rivers and resultant loss of forest areas; milk means more cattle, grazing in the forests and preventing new plants from coming up, and sugar meant more deforestation, and subsequent man-animal conflict, as the animal’s habitats were reduced.

He asked the audience to be more ecologically aware of their actions, and concluded a crisp presentation that was laced with very striking images, including the one of jumping ants that won him the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award in 2005.

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