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.
A Story of a Social Intervention: The Promotion of Self-Reliant Organic Farming in Haryana
About the Lecture
Social change is multi-faceted and equally diverse are the strategies for bringing that about. This talk offersa story of trying to bring about change within civil society rather than change the state policy. It is a story ofhow an informal group, without external funding or a organizational structure, challenged the dominant development paradigm. It is story of a campaign that evolved from being owned by a single individual to being owned by at least a few dozen. Neither unique nor amongst the most successful ones, it is a storyof challenging the Green Revolution in its heartland, in an area that does not have a history of socialmovements.
Rajinder Chaudhary is an alumnus of Panjab University, Chandigarh, Gokhale Institute of Politicsand Economics, Pune and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He is former Professor ofEconomics, M D University, Rohtak, Haryana and is presently Advisor to Kudarti Kheti Abhiyan, Haryana. Guided by an urge to find ways of making society more democratic, more just and more equitable, I have tried to combine academics with intervention at grassroots level. His doctoral thesis was on the class character of the Soviet Union. His interest in the forms of economic organization has led him to document real (not just de jure) cooperatives across states. Besides, he has actively participated in the Total Literacy Campaign, the Teachers’ Movement, Self-Help Groupsand now self-reliant organic farming. He has published articles in Economic and Political Weekly,International Journal of Rural Management, Alternative Economic Survey, Samayik Varta, among others.
Globalization Lived Locally: A Labour Geography Perspective
About the Lecture
This presentation is based on my recent book, titled ‘Globalization Lived Locally: A labour Geography Perspective’. And the abstract of my book/presentation is given below-The various meta-narratives of globalization project hyper-mobile capital as the leading factor for global economic integration, ignoring the role of labour. Questioning this paradigm, my research reasons that labour becomes actively involved in the very process of globalization and capital expansion. Based on the broad theme of globalization and labour, particularly female labour, I apply the ‘labour geography’ approach to examine contemporary forms of labour control, conflict, and response under a globalization regime in Kerala through four diverse and in-depth empirical case studies set in this state. The geographic perspective sheds light on local variability and uneven development in labour market, helping chart the complex landscapes within which contemporary workers live, work, and struggle. In view of dramatic changes in the labour scenario in Kerala over the second half of the twentieth century, this research constructs a collage of trends in Kerala’s labour scene, in an analysis that departs from economic orthodoxy and borrows from sociological, anthropological, and partly ethnographic approaches to highlight the role played by seemingly unlikely actors in the process of globalization.
Neethi's research interests engage in globalisation and labour, women's work, informal labour markets, everyday work politics, alternative labour movements, and other related themes.She has completed her MPhil and PhD at the Centre for Development Studies under JNU. She also spent a year as Fulbright Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Georgia in the United States, during her PhD at CDS. Her doctoral research employed the 'labour geography' framework to understand certain contemporary episodes around the new forms of labour control, conflict, and response, in Kerala. This has recently been brought out as a title Globalization Lived Locally: A Labour Geography Perspective by Oxford University Press.
Liberal Nationalism: An Oxymoron?
About the Lecture
The talk will revisit ideas of liberalism and nationalism in their historical context, with a particular focus on India. It will touch on the manifestation of these ideas in antiquity through the age of enlightenment in Europe and in contemporary times in a cross-section of countries. This discussion aims to better contextualize the current events in India.
Narayan Ramachandran is Chairman of RBL Bank, a fast growing new age Bank. He is socialentrepreneur, columnist and emerging market investor. He worked on Wall Street (mostly at Morgan Stanley) for over 20 years, most recently as head of global emerging market investing and then country head of Morgan Stanley in India. Ramachandran is chairman of the initiative to deworm millions of school kids in india, and serves on the board of the largest water foundation in India. He is co-founder and fellow of the Takshashila Institution, a public policy think tank. He is also co-Chairman of Unitus Capital, an investment bank that intermediates capital for bottom of the pyramid businesses. He writes a bi-weekly column called A Visible Hand for the Mint Newspaper.
Finding Alternatives to Wildlife Dependent Livelihoods: Problems and Solutions
About the Lecture
The Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 completely changed the way wildlife was managed in India. While, it was, and is, internationally one of the most progressive pieces of legislation from a conservation point of view, it unfortunately looked at nature in isolation turning a large number of wildlife resource dependent communities into “criminals” overnight. Unfortunately, the law made no provision for their rehabilitation and it was left to individual state governments to deal with this.The lecture looks at three case studies related to projects trying to provide alternative livelihoods to Shahtoosh workers in Kashmir, Bear Dancers in central India and Star tortoise collectors and sellers in the southern states. It discusses ways of looking at the problem, intuitive methodologies, solutions, and problems of scaling up.
Aniruddha Mookerjee has been working with forest and wildlife dependent communities for over two decades. He is a wildlife crime and trade investigator, and designs Wildlife Crime Prevention training modules for forest staff as Chief Mentor of WTI’s Guardians of the Wild program. With a degree in economics and a diploma in documentary film making, he started his career as a print journalist working for The Telegraph, Time and Reuters, among others, and moved on to television as a producer and an independent documentary film maker. He has a deep interest in the anthropology of food and is currently researching the cultural practices, economics and techniques of producing indigenous alcohols in India. He has won awards for his writing and films and lives on the edge of Kanha National Park.
Teaching Mathematics for Social Justice
About the Lecture
Based on nearly three decades of teaching in inner city, bilingual elementary schools in a Midwest industrial city in the United States, Dr. Peterson will suggest multiple ways to interject social justice issues and concepts into core mathematics curriculum that simultaneously draw on children’s lives. Furthermore the he will share anecdotal evidence to argue that this approach increases motivation and interest in the study ofmathematics. Finally he will assert that even in an era of scripted, standard-based, data-saturated curricular mandates, social justice mathematics is both possible and necessary.
Dr. Robert (Bob) Peterson is a teacher, writer and community and union organizer. He has taught for 30 years as a bilingual 5th grade teacher in the Milwaukee Public Schools. In 1986 he was a founding editor of the journal, Rethinking Schools. He also founded La Escuela Fratney, an innovative, anti-racist, two-way bilingual public school in Milwaukee. For the past four of years he served as President of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association. Dr. Peterson has written multiple articles and books chapters. He editedRethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers. He has also edited several other booksincluding Rethinking Columbus, Rethinking Globalization, Rethinking Elementary Education and Transforming Teacher Unions: Fighting for Better Schools and Social Justice.
The Paradox of Culture and Development and the Spread of Gender Inequality: Questioning Tradition in The Sudan
About the Lecture
Concerns around women and development often underscore the so-called challenges that traditions seem to pose, stifling change and continuing women's social and economic marginalization. Much of the literature indevelopment has assumed that it would be possible to change women's lives merely through the a priori tools of modernization, without regard for the productive potential of women. This talk seeks to understand the meaning of development, progress, and change for rural families in the context of their understanding of culture and values in North East Africa.
Lina Fruzzetti is Professor of Anthropology, Brown University. Her research interests are in the areas ofkinship, marriage, ritual and the construction of gender, race and ethnic relations in India and North East Africa. She has done extensive work on caste and the life cycle rites of Hindus; and is now addressing therecent structural changes in the institution of marriage and notions of personhood. Her most recent book on India, When Marriages Go Astray: Choices Made, Choices Challenged (2013), is based on more than four decades of research in rural West Bengal and addresses questions within feminism, nationalism, religious identity and citizenship in post-independent India. She has also taught at the universities of Khartoum, Dar Es Salaam, University of Helsinki, ISCTE (Lisbon), and IIT, Gandhinagar. Besides academic publications, she has directed six documentary films including In My Mother's House(2015), which was based on ten years of ethnographic and documentary work on her mother’s life in Eritrea under Italian colonial rule andEthiopian occupation, her life as a refugee in Sudan, and finally her return home to independent Eritrea.
Interaction with Shri Naseeruddin Shah
About the Lecture
An alumni of the National School of Drama, Shri Naseeruddin Shah began his acting career in theatre and then made the transition to cinema. It is relevant here to mention that he is also an alumni of the Film and Television Institute at Pune, popularly referred to as the FTII, Pune. Mr. Shah is an outstanding example of being one of the few actors in the world of performing arts to have made the successful transition from theatre to cinema. He has been an intrinsic part of the growth and development of what has been popularly referred to as ‘parallel’, ‘middle’, ‘art’ (used more to condemn rather than appreciate!) cinema movement – obscure terms coined by befuddled film reviewers that tend to mislead rather than enlighten – that emerged in India from the late 1950s, which had a long and distinguished run up until the late 1980s. Mr.Naseeruddin Shah’s evolution as an actor of both the stage and cinema, which he entered around the mid-1970s, continues to set the standard in terms of the calibre, even as it continues to raise the bar of the art form he has chosen, well into modern era of the post liberalised India.
The Natural World at a Time of Crisis and Opportunity
About the Lecture
Meera Subramanian's multimedia presentation will explore the human and global health implications of India’s ravaged ecological landscape. Her narrative nonfiction book, Elemental India: The Natural World at a Time of Crisis and Opportunity, is based on travel across the country, learning about the ordinary people and micro-enterprises determined to guide India into a sustainable future. Meet an organic farmer who is reviving his land after the onslaught of the Green Revolution; villagers in Rajasthan who are resuscitating a river run dry; cook stove designers questing after a smokeless fire; and biologists bringing vultures back from the brink of extinction. And in Bihar, one of India’s most impoverished states, meet a bold young woman teaching young adolescents the fundamentals of sexual health. By investigating these five environmental crises, framed around the five elements, Subramanian discovers individual stories that renew hope for a sustainable future.
Meera Subramanian is an independent journalist based in the US. She writes for national and international publications including Nature, The New York Times, Orion, Caravan and others. Her first book is Elemental India: The Natural World at a Time of Crisis and Opportunity, published by HarperCollins India in 2015. (And as A River Runs Again: India's Natural World in Crisis, from the Barren Cliffs of Rajasthan tothe Farmlands of Karnataka, by PublicAffairs in the USA). More details at www.meerasub.org
Including Children’s Languages
About the Lecture
Language teaching in India focuses on rote memorization, choral repetition and copying/ handwriting practice. There is little focus on meaning-making. Children are largely passive. These ‘safe’ teaching strategies do not support strong language and literacy development in the early grades. Classroom language situations are quite varied in our country in terms of children’s first languages, medium of instruction and language used in the teaching-learning process and language background of the teacher. Children who come to school with a different home language background and/or little exposure to literacy at home face a big disadvantage in the early years. Many of these languages are considered inferior and the children are considered deficient and lacking in ability to acquire strong literacy skills in the school language. The teaching-learning of language needs a thorough overhaul and children’s languages need to find a place in the classroom.
Dhir Jhingran is the Founder Director of Language and Learning Foundation, New Delhi, an NGO focused on professional development in language, literacy and multilingual education. He has worked in the primary education sector for over two decades, within and outside the government. He served as Principal Secretary, Education in the Government of Assam and Director in the Ministry of Human Resource Development as an officer of the Indian Administrative Service. He has been part of the development and implementation of several EFA (Education for All) programmes in the country including the District Primary Education Programme, Janshala and the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. He has been involved in policy making and systemic reform in the education sector, both in Assam and at the national level. As Chief Program Officer for Room to Read, an international education NGO, Dhir led the conceptualization, design and implementation of early grades reading programmes in 9 countries in Asia and Africa. He has helped guide early language and literacy projects in Nepal and Assam. His work in primary education has focused on improving the quality of education, specifically the teaching-learning of literacy and language in primary grades. He has made a significant contribution to multilingual education in the country and inclusion ofchildren belonging to vulnerable and marginalized groups. Dhir strongly believes that equity issues need to be strongly addressed to help all children learn. He has authored two books based on empirical researches in primary education and contributed to many books and journals. Dhir holds a Master’s degree in Economics and a PhD in Education.
The Bayes-Laplace legacy: induction, information, and the quantification of ignorance
About the Lecture
In the late 18th century, the two thinkers in our title planted a time bomb- a model of how we learn about the world, based on deceptively simple probability arguments. Uncontroversially, data plays a key role, but more contentiously, so does our prior notion about what we are seeking. The adjective 'Bayesian' resurfaced in the twentieth century in the context of statistical inference and has driven a deep rift in the community of practitioners and theorists. Prior knowledge underlies Shannon's hugely influential theory of communication of information. His key ideas of coding, compression, and channel capacity lie at the heart of the digital revolution that our fingers invoke daily. In parallel, Bayesian thinking has encroached on the foundation of physics, wherever there is disorder and uncertainty. The talk will go over these developments, including, briefly, my own encounters with such matters.
Rajaram is Mumbai born, with six years including early schooling in Calcutta and then middle and high school in Adyar, Chennai with significant influence of the Besant School and the theosophical movement behind it. A BSc in physics from Vivekananda College was followed by an MSc in physics from the Madras IIT in 1969. After which it was to Bangalore for doctoral work at the National Aerospace Laboratory followed by twenty five years at the Raman Research Institute (RRI). Much of his research work has been theoretical, in areas of physics relating to light and to astronomy and hence involves mathematics and/or computation. Rajaram has enjoyed collaborating with students and colleagues, many of them experimenters, and many outside his own institution. Much of the motivation for what he has done has originated in discussions with them.