The New Asia 21 Class: In the Presence of ‘Game-Changers’

Asia Society Executive Vice President Tom Nagorski welcomes the crowd at the 2013 Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit in Zhenjiang, China, on December 6, 2013.

By Tom Nagorski

ZHENJIANG, CHINA — Of course the meaning of leadership – and the potential and challenge for true leaders – are the real reasons why we gather the Asia 21 network, and the newly-minted Asia 21 Young Leaders are an impressive and inspiring group.

To take just a few snapshots of the 2013 class: Humaira Bachal, whose Dream Foundation Trust fights for the rights of girls in rural Pakistan to a proper education; Ibrahim Bernardo, founder and CEO of Sari Software Solutions, who has brought solar energy to far-flung, off-the-grid areas, and used technology to teach blogging to slum children, and create “virtual visits” between prison inmates and their indigent families; Scot Frank, Co-Founder and CEO of One Earth Designs, which brings clean-energy, problem-solving products to remote Himalayan communities; Akash Goel, who led the launch of a program that brings life-saving medications to HIV/AIDS patients across India; Tania Hyde, a former officer in the Royal Australian Air Force who is director at the consulting firm Taylor Street Advisory (n.b.: Tania has already offered excellent – and pro-bono – consulting for the Asia 21 initiative itself); and Dhruv Kazi, whose “heartMAP” uses IT and behavioral economics to provide personalized support to South Asians with heart disease.

The list goes on, a catalog of global game-changers, and I was going to leave it at that for now – but then I spent some time this afternoon with Deepak Ravindran. All Deepak has done, in his first 25 years of life, is found Innoz, a mobile technology company that created an SMS service which has made it possible for more than 120 million people in the “offline world” to gain access to the internet; and then, for good measure, he co-founded Startup Village in Kerala, an incubator for new small businesses. The goal was to create 1,000 startups in a decade; now, just 18 months in, they have already created 1,100.

“It’s another Silicon Valley,” I said, to which Deepak replied, “actually we call it the ‘Silicon Coast.’ You must come and see us – we are by the sea, and the companies are great.” No doubt they are, Deepak. The new fellows were joined today by roughly 70 Asia 21 veterans; together they are tackling an ambitious agenda here and charting a course for the year ahead.

The 2013 Asia Society Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit continues through Sunday. Expect more coverage, including photos and video, in the coming weeks.

Related links
Asia Society Gathers Young Leaders in Zhenjiang for 8th Annual Asia 21 Summit
Asia Society Announces 2013 Asia 21 Young Leader Awardees
Bios, Asia 21 Young Leaders, Class of 2013-14


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