In an age of 140 characters,blogs and instant bytes,the Express Adda takes us back to the coffee houses of old times,where intelligent conversations and debates were the main items on the menu. As Shekhar Gupta,Editor-in-Chief of The Express Group,said in his opening remarks at the first session in the series,informality was the whole purpose of Express Adda. The inaugural event,held in association with the Olive at the Qutub,kick-started a brand new form of interactive debates between select invitees representing the movers and shakers of India and guest speakers who represent global thought leaders,key decision-makers,strategists and newsmakers. The exchange is meant to be freewheeling but also intense and focused on contemporary issues,an interesting mix of cocktails and conversations.
The first of the series,held last Friday,featured a man who everyone wants to hear from,considering his status as the founder and head of one of the worlds biggest communication groups,WPP,that is present in 144 countries. He is also someone with first-hand knowledge of India and China,two of his main markets. Sir Martin Sorrell energised the evening with his wit and understanding of how countries needed to brand themselves in an era of economic and political turmoil. Sorrell was the chief speaker,flanked by lyricist-writer and ad guru Prasoon Joshi and Uday Shankar,CEO,Star India,who were interjecting,while Gupta acted as referee to the debate. The questions ranged from Sorrells views on the Anna Hazare movement to the recent riots in his home country,Britain,Indias cricket disaster and what next for Brand Obama. Apart from his fellow panelists,Sorrell was grilled on a range of issues by the guests present,including MPs,media personalities,diplomats and businessmen.
Sorrells warm manner made it a relaxed affair and inspired questions that may not have been voiced elsewhere. If London were not an option,where would you like to live India or China? asked Shankar. While Sorrell took his time to find a fitting rejoinder,his charming wife,Cristiana Falcone,interrupted by saying,Why not ask the wife!
Informality remained the dominant mood of the evening as India,China,education,branding,markets and international business trends took centrestage.
Memorable comments that came from the audience managed to stay above conversational chatter. Like Medicitys founder Dr Naresh Trehans: Corruption,Anna Hazare,India-China is all very well,but the two pillars on which the country will eventually stand are health and education. Both are being left behind in the din of the new movement.