Videos

The Azim Premji University regularly organizes seminars, webinars and colloquium lectures involving members of the faculty as well as academicians, activists, artists and other distinguished personalities from a wide array of fields. This section consists of video recordings of  major events conducted at the Azim Premji University.

Limits of the Secular: Social Experience and Cultural Memory

Kaustav Roy

18/01/2017

About the Lecture

Kaustav Roy will be speaking about his recent book, Limits of the Secular: Social Experience and Cultural Memory (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).  The book facilitates a missing dialogue between the rational (or empirical) dimension and the transcendental (non-empirical) dimension of human experience. It argues that the eclipse of the latter dimension from public discourse destroys phronesis or lived wisdom, leading on one side to social malady and on the other side to extremism and fundamentalism. The book approaches the problem from the angle of social phenomenology and hermeneutics. The book’s ISBN is 978-3-319-48697-0.

About Speaker

Kaustuv Roy earned his Ph.D from Michigan State University. He taught at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge for several years before joining Azim Premji University where he teaches sociology and curriculum theory. His previous books are Teachers in Nomadic Spaces (2005), and Neighborhoods: War, Politics and Education (2009). His current project focuses on the nature of philosophical action.

Theory, 'Capital' and the Global South

Aditya Nigam

13/01/2017

About the Lecture

Basically, I will address two questions in the talk. (1) What it means to do theory from or in the global south, with special reference to the empirical/historical as distinct from the universal/ philosophical. (2) In the specific instance of Capital and its relation to the global south, why and how its universal history can be challenged. Here the emphasis will be on why capital is theorized the way it has been, given the paraphernalia of Western thought and how a possible alternative story can be produced.

About Speaker

Aditya Nigam works in the broad field of social and political theory. His work attempts to theorize the experience of politics and democracy by moving away from the standard mainstream frameworks that base themselves on notions of popular will and sovereignty and focusing on the mundane and the everyday. A parallel part of Nigam’s work has been concerned with alternative histories of capital, from the vantage point of contemporary experiences in India and the non-West in general. As part of this endeavour, Nigam has also been working collaboratively with some other colleagues at CSDS, in exploring thought in the conceptual universe of Indian languages. He works with the Centre’s Indian Languages Programme and its Hindi journal Pratiman. He has published The Insurrection of Little Selves: The Crisis of Secular Nationalism in India (2006), Power and Contestation: India Since 1989, with Nivedita Menon (2007), After Utopia: Modernity and Socialism and the Postcolony (2010), and Desire Named Development (2011).

Theory, 'Capital' and the Global South

Aditya Nigam

13/01/2017

About the Lecture

Basically, I will address two questions in the talk. (1) What it means to do theory from or in the global south, with special reference to the empirical/historical as distinct from the universal/ philosophical. (2) In the specific instance of Capital and its relation to the global south, why and how its universal history can be challenged. Here the emphasis will be on why capital is theorized the way it has been, given the paraphernalia of Western thought and how a possible alternative story can be produced.

About Speaker

Aditya Nigam works in the broad field of social and political theory. His work attempts to theorize the experience of politics and democracy by moving away from the standard mainstream frameworks that base themselves on notions of popular will and sovereignty and focusing on the mundane and the everyday. A parallel part of Nigam’s work has been concerned with alternative histories of capital, from the vantage point of contemporary experiences in India and the non-West in general. As part of this endeavour, Nigam has also been working collaboratively with some other colleagues at CSDS, in exploring thought in the conceptual universe of Indian languages. He works with the Centre’s Indian Languages Programme and its Hindi journal Pratiman. He has published The Insurrection of Little Selves: The Crisis of Secular Nationalism in India (2006), Power and Contestation: India Since 1989, with Nivedita Menon (2007), After Utopia: Modernity and Socialism and the Postcolony (2010), and Desire Named Development (2011).

India’s 3E Regime : Challenges and Opportunities in Employment, Employability and Education

Manish Sabharwal

11/11/2016

About the Lecture

The talk will highlight the challenges in India’s employment, employability and education regime and throw up possible solutions. It will also try to make connections between the 3E’s and will make the case that is that India does not have a jobs problem but a wages problem. Fundamentally the productivity challenge means recognizing that the government is organized vertically but this problem needs thinking horizontally. Despite 1 million kids joining the labour force every month for 10 years, it makes the case that the demographic dividend is a real possibility.   

About Speaker

Manish Sabharwal is currently the Chairman and co-founder of Teamlease Services, India’s largest staffing and human capital firm. Teamlease has over 120,000 employees in 5000 cities and is implementing India’s first vocational university in Gujarat and first national PPP apprenticeship programme.  Manish Sabharwal is also a member of the National Skill Mission chaired by the Prime Minister and serves on various state and central government committees on education, employment and employability. He is a columnist for the Indian Express and got his MBA from The Wharton School in 1996. He is also an alumni of Shriram College, Delhi and Mayo College, Ajmer.

Beyond the Development Trap? Ten Years of Community Radio in India

Vinod Pavarala

04/11/2016

About the Lecture

It is over 10 years since a putative community radio policy was announced by the Government of India, in 2003, allowing ‘established educational institutions’ to apply for a license to broadcast over a limited-power FM frequency. It took three years after that initial announcement was made for the government to concede the same right to community-based organizations, which were not any more seen as ‘a threat to the security and sovereignty’ of the nation.  Civil society organizations, media activists and advocates who ran a campaign for opening up of airwaves from mid-1990s up until the early 2000s had emphasized the potential of using community radio for development, rather than foregrounding what seemed to be the more radical framework of communication rights. This talk will review this history and examine some aberrations that have emerged in the Indian community radio landscape.  It will explore questions such as: whether the NGOization of community radio reproduces the same top-down pedagogical approaches to development that were adopted by the post-Independence governments in India?; has the new access to means of representation ushered in, as was expected, an alternative, subaltern public sphere?

About Speaker

Vinod Pavarala is Professor and Head of the Department of Communication and, since 2011, has been the UNESCO Chair on Community Media at University of Hyderabad.  For over a decade, through his research and policy advocacy, he has played a significant role in furthering the discourse on democratization of airwaves in India and elsewhere. His much reviewed book, co-authored with Kanchan K. Malik, Other Voices: The Struggle for Community Radio in India (Sage, 2007) documents community-based efforts across India to carve out an alternative public sphere.  In the last four years, the UNESCO Chair, the only one of its kind in the world, has been working not only in South Asia, but also, more recently, in East Africa, and contributed to policy advocacy in Europe as well.  He serves on the editorial boards of many international journals in the field and furthers communication education in several institutions in an advisory capacity.Prof. Pavarala has dual masters in Sociology and Communication and a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh (USA). He taught at the University of Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA), and Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, before joining the University of Hyderabad in 1995. 

FOURTH DABHOLKAR-KALBURGI MEMORIAL LECTURE

Sushil Joshi

02/11/2016

About the Lecture

When it comes to everyday life, even educated people are often superstitious and gullible. They just forget what was mandatorily learnt by them in the science classroom. On the other hand, the people especially trained and skilled in the practice of science also exhibit utterly unscientific, if not anti-scientific, ways of doing things. The most blatant example being a replica of Mangalyan being taken to Tirupathi Balaji for blessings. Or the practices of the medical establishment, including doctors, which threatens to put us back in the pre-antibiotic era. This schizophrenic behaviour needs some explanation.Many a time it has been suggested that people act in irrational/unscientific ways because they are ignorant. From the examples above it would be clear that ignorance may not be the only cause for belief in superstitions and auspiciousness. There may be other causes. One could be lack of alternatives, when the rational behavior has a cost you are unable to bear. That cost need not necessarily be financial; it may be social, cultural, familial. One other cause may be vested interest, such as over-prescription of anti-biotics, steroids, tonics etc. There may also be political vested interests behind the claims that mythology is an authentic account of Scientific and Technological achievements. Sadly, therefore, mere educational inputs may not be sufficient to tackle the menace of belief in superstitions and auspiciousness.

About Speaker

Born in September 1955 at Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh), Dr Sushil Joshi completed his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai in 1982. He worked in Kishore Bharti, an organisation which harbingered creative science education programs, till 1985. He has been an active member of the team that designed the Hoshangabad Science Teaching Program and has written a book on it called Jashn-e-Talim (2008). Besides this, Dr Joshi has been a freelance writer, translator and editor. He presently edits Srot (literally meaning Source), a journal supported by Department of Science and Technology and published by Eklavya.

The Political Economy of Labour Law

Babu Mathew 

19/10/2016

About the Lecture

Post neo-liberalism we witness rapid deterioration in both conditions of work and conditions at work. Pauperisation and proletarianisation on the agrarian front fuel the ever growing migration to urban and semi urban centres. There is a ‘race to the bottom’ in many precarious forms of employment such as construction, garments, plantations, security services, housekeeping, domestic work, etc. There is rapid erosion of freedom of association, tripartitism, conditions at work, real wages, social security and job security. We will, through reflection around a few key concepts emerging from our rich labour jurisprudence of the early post-colonial period, examine how we are reduced to reproducing ‘modern forms of slavery’ through the hegemonic discourse of ‘flexible labour’. Are there any signs of hope and what ought to be the future trajectory?

About Speaker

Babu Mathew comes from a background of trade union and civil society work. He was Vice-President of Trade Union International affiliated to the World Federation of Trade Unions for Asia-Pacific region for two terms. He has led collective bargaining in small and medium scale industry, large private and public sector undertakings, MNCs and the service sector and signed scores of wage settlements ranging from the plant level to the national level. He specialised in organising labour across a wide range of employments, and in bringing the field experience gained, to the class room through the teaching of labour law. He has been awarded the Nehru Fellowship.Babu Mathew has been a Human Rights activist focusing on the marginalised. He set up the “Centre for Child and the Law” at the National Law School of India University, Bangalore (NLSIU) and held the Government of India Chair on Juvenile Justice. He played a key role in drafting the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 and in child related law reform processes. He went on to be the Country Director of Action Aid in India in which capacity he coordinated human rights work across 24 states of India for two terms. He is a founder member of both the South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication and of the Working Group on Human Rights. He has been active in cleaning electoral politics.He has been teacher of Law for the last four decades. He is a gold medallist in Labour Law and Administrative Law and he earlier was the Registrar of NLSIU. Babu Mathew sustains a special interest in the political economy of law with particular reference to Labour Law, Constitutionalism, Law & Development, Human Rights, and Child Rights. He is presently Resident Professor at NLSIU, coordinating the Master’s programme in Public Policy.

Mummy, Why did Rama send Sita to the forest if he loved her?

Arshia Sattar

14/10/2016

About the Lecture

Like all good stories, the Ramayana is multi-valent, speaking on many levels and in many tongues. It also speaks directly to children, even without our interventions. What changes when we write for children? How self-conscious do we need to be? What are we afraid of when we write for them -- that they will understand too little or too much? What do children expect from a story and can we, as adults, deliver that? These and other concerns are foregrounded when one retells a beloved and complex tale like the Ramayana for younger readers. Given that the ownership of the Ramayana has been politicized in our times, it becomes critical to ensure that a new generation of Indians engages with this story that underpins the majority culture in India. Is children's literature an appropriate site to address issues of inclusion and exclusion? How do we negotiate our own anxieties and aspirations when we speak to children?

About Speaker

Arshia Sattar has a Ph.D. from the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. She has worked with the Valmiki Ramayana for 30 years. Her critically acclaimed translation of the Valmiki Ramayana is published as a Penguin Classic. Penguin also published her collection of essays, "Lost Loves: Exploring Rama's Anguish" which read the Ramayana as a tragic love story. Her translation of Valmiki's Uttara Kanda, "Uttara: The Book of Answers" will be published by Penguin in November. "The Ramayana for Children" is her fourth book for young readers and is published by Juggernaut.

Mental Health Care for All - Can Civil Society take over from the Professionals

Manoj Kumar

07/10/2016

About the Lecture

With yet another World Mental Health day almost upon us, a taking of stock is required. As the treatment gap for almost all mental disorders continues to be huge, even in the developed nations, the only pertinent question is how do we provide minimum mental health services to all citizens of the world. The choice of 'Psychological first aid' as the theme this year seems startlingly irrelevant in this context. However, in India, there is a sense of hope as there are encouraging signs of civil society organisations taking charge in areas where previously it was left to the government to lead the way. This talk is about novel ways where communities are coming together to organise care especially for the disadvantaged. 

About Speaker

Dr Manoj Kumar is the Clinical Director of The Mental Health Action Trust  (www.mhatkerala.org) a not-for-profit Charitable Trust based in Calicut, Kerala.  An alumni of the Calicut Medical College, the Christian Medical College, Vellore, Dr Manoj Kumar started training in Psychiatry over 25 years. He has worked as faculty at the Christian Medical College, Vellore till 1994 during which time his clinical and academic focus was on the Psychiatric aspects of HIV and AIDS. He has worked for over a decade in the United Kingdom and during his time in Leeds, he was instrumental in setting up a clinical Psycho-oncology service there. In later years, he focused on the Psychiatric aspects of Palliative Medicine and was involved nationally and internationally in research and training activities in this field. During this period, he also developed strong links with the nascent specialty of Palliative Care in India, working mainly through the Institute of Palliative Medicine in Calicut, which is the WHO Collaborating Centre for Community Participation in Palliative Care and Long Term Care. He has been involved in various teaching activities in India and is on the National Faculty of the Indian Association for Palliative Care.

Commons that provide: The importance of Bengaluru’s wooded groves for urban resilience

Seema Mundoli

05/10/2016

About the Lecture

This presentation is based on ongoing research anchored by Harini Nagendra at the Azim Premji University. The research examines the process of urbanization in Bengaluru city and the resulting transformations of   urban commons.  Urban commons constitute important social-ecological systems for the resilience of cities in the global South. However, rapid urbanization has led to large-scale degradation and transformation of many of these spaces, impacting the resilience of traditional and vulnerable users. This presentation examines the changes to one such commons, gunda thopes (hereafter ‘thopes’) or wooded groves that constitute important yet neglected peri-urban commons of Bengaluru city. These thopes provide a range of ecosystem services supporting traditional livelihoods and subsistence use by local communities, urban poor and more recently migrants into the city. They were central to the social and cultural lives of local residents who have lived for generations adjacent to the thopes, and were involved in collective management of these commons. We examine the impacts of the changes, to the status, management and perceptions of thopes leading to a decline in the ecosystem services they provided, and especially the impacts on the urban marginalized who depend on these commons.  We posit that the loss of urban commons and their prioritization increasingly for recreational use undermine the social and ecological resilience of cities.

About Speaker

Seema is a Research Associate at the Azim Premji University. At the university, she is engaged in research that examines the historical transformation of urban commons, and in understanding the social, ecological and institutional interactions that could contribute to protection or degradation of urban commons. In the past, she has worked with different NGOs engaged in conservation, natural resource management, and advocacy on issues of mining and education.