Once, when someone asked an 8-year-old Ishita Katyal what she would want to do be when she grew up, she said, “I think this question has an inherent problem. We are telling children that it is okay to wait to do what you want. It diminishes or undermines what the kid is capable of doing today and his/her present identity.”
Ishita, now 10, became the youngest Indian to deliver a talk at the TEDYouth Conference in New York on Saturday, which, incidentally, happened to be Children's Day in India.
Ishita delivered her 4-minute talk talk titled ‘What do you want to be now’, challenging the system which thinks children are too small to make any difference to a packed audience.
When she was nine, Ishita attended an event organised by TEDx Pune, founded in 2009. The fifth-grader then organised a TEDx event at her school aimed at making things easier for people through use of technology.
After the event at Pune, Ishita asked the organisers if she could also be a part of their team. "To be honest I didn't quite understand what the talks were all about. But it was the experiences shared that sparked my curiosity," she said in one of the talks.
The organisers told her that she can only if she passes two rounds of Skype interviews, conducted by TED team members. "She cleared both the rounds to become the youngest organiser of TEDx Youth events in Asia-Pacific region,” Ishita’s mother Nancy Katyal told The Indian Express.
“When I finished my speech, I was relieved because it was exactly how I imagined it to be. It was midnight in India, but my friends and relatives called me after the talk to convey their best wishes,” the 10-year-old said.
Well, Ishita really does seem to know what she's talking about.
The fifth grader he has leveraged her learning’s to take care of her less privileged friends. Encouraged by her mother, she participates in weekly sessions at Pune's Balewadi Community to conduct mini-workshops with everyday material.
The avid reader, who can't put her Ruskin Bond and Enid Blyton, down wrote a book when she was all of 8 years old. The book titled 'Simran's Diary' is about a little girl and how she interprets the happenings around her.
Listen to Ishita speak at one of the TEDx events below.