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.

A Dialogue on framing sustainability from the South - PART- II

Marcel Burstzyn

14/01/2015

About the Lecture

Abstract 1:Interdisciplinarity plays a major role in the debate about the crisis and the future of the University. If the 20th century can be identified as an era of specialization in Academia, there is a tendency now to add interdisciplinary spaces to the traditional disciplinary organization of research and training. Non-academic research institutions are showing more flexibility than universities to respond to problem-oriented demands. A rigid disciplinary academic framework prevails and enhances limitations to the need to tackle complex demands, such as sustainable development. Young universities, such as those from the so-called “South”, can play an important role in showing how to build paths to integrating rather than opposing disciplinarity and interdisciplinarity. Abstract 2 : By many measures, including infant mortality, under-nutrition, and life expectancy, human well-being is improving in many places throughout the Global South. Too often, sustainability scientists from the Global North overlook the central importance of human well-being. Rather, they focus on the negative impacts of development on environmental indicators such as greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss. This view understandably alienates those in the Global South. A framing of sustainability needs to recognize that meeting human needs are the first and foremost concern. The core question for sustainability is whether there are alternative paths to economic development that are less damaging to the environment and more socially-just than the existing model. To date, there is no clear answer to this question. Sustainability therefore needs to focus on incremental approaches that foster improvements in human well-being while minimizing negative environmental impacts. Abstract 3 : Millennials appear to have bought into sustainability as a critical issue, even if sustainable practices are not yet first choices in their daily lives. This emerging openness of minds is a prime opportunity to begin to transform learning. Giving students no choice but to incorporate social, economic, ecological and institutional thinking into their studies, projects, analyses, and exams is an apparently simple but profoundly complex first step in changing the ways institutions of higher education can play their central role in addressing sustainability for coming generations. The practice of the pyramid (the three well-known “legs” of social, economic, and ecological factors, topped by the “point” of institutional issues) will not come naturally or automatically to either faculty or students. Resistance already ranges from simple ignorance to complex political posturing involving creation of real and artificial institutional barriers. Rather than approach the pedagogy of sustainability from the perspective of the “expert provider” I assembled a diverse group of public policy graduate students (from India, Indonesia, Vietnam, North America) in the School of Public Policy at Oregon State University to provide the perspective of “receivers” or “engagers.” The students raised challenging themes and questions, which will form the basis of my talk.

About Speaker

The speaker, Marcel Bursztyn, is a professor in the Center for Sustainable Development at the University of Brasília.

A Dialogue on framing sustainability from the South - PART-III

Marcel Burstzyn

14/01/2015

About the Lecture

Abstract 1:Interdisciplinarity plays a major role in the debate about the crisis and the future of the University. If the 20th century can be identified as an era of specialization in Academia, there is a tendency now to add interdisciplinary spaces to the traditional disciplinary organization of research and training. Non-academic research institutions are showing more flexibility than universities to respond to problem-oriented demands. A rigid disciplinary academic framework prevails and enhances limitations to the need to tackle complex demands, such as sustainable development. Young universities, such as those from the so-called “South”, can play an important role in showing how to build paths to integrating rather than opposing disciplinarity and interdisciplinarity. Abstract 2 : By many measures, including infant mortality, under-nutrition, and life expectancy, human well-being is improving in many places throughout the Global South. Too often, sustainability scientists from the Global North overlook the central importance of human well-being. Rather, they focus on the negative impacts of development on environmental indicators such as greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss. This view understandably alienates those in the Global South. A framing of sustainability needs to recognize that meeting human needs are the first and foremost concern. The core question for sustainability is whether there are alternative paths to economic development that are less damaging to the environment and more socially-just than the existing model. To date, there is no clear answer to this question. Sustainability therefore needs to focus on incremental approaches that foster improvements in human well-being while minimizing negative environmental impacts. Abstract 3 : Millennials appear to have bought into sustainability as a critical issue, even if sustainable practices are not yet first choices in their daily lives. This emerging openness of minds is a prime opportunity to begin to transform learning. Giving students no choice but to incorporate social, economic, ecological and institutional thinking into their studies, projects, analyses, and exams is an apparently simple but profoundly complex first step in changing the ways institutions of higher education can play their central role in addressing sustainability for coming generations. The practice of the pyramid (the three well-known “legs” of social, economic, and ecological factors, topped by the “point” of institutional issues) will not come naturally or automatically to either faculty or students. Resistance already ranges from simple ignorance to complex political posturing involving creation of real and artificial institutional barriers. Rather than approach the pedagogy of sustainability from the perspective of the “expert provider” I assembled a diverse group of public policy graduate students (from India, Indonesia, Vietnam, North America) in the School of Public Policy at Oregon State University to provide the perspective of “receivers” or “engagers.” The students raised challenging themes and questions, which will form the basis of my talk.

About Speaker

The speaker, Sally Duncan is the director of the OSU Policy Analysis Laboratory (OPAL). OPAL is designed to support real-world experience for policy students, helping them better understand the differences between theory and practice, and boosting their experience as they begin their job searches.

Indian Sign Language: Problems and Prospects

Samar Sinha

29/12/2014

About the Lecture

The cumulative philosophical, historical, social discrimination that the Indian Deaf1 community has passively resisted has resulted in the suppression of Indian Sign Language (henceforth, ISL). This has resulted in further violation of their right to education through mother tongue, a violation of linguistic human rights. Consequently, linguistic violation has become a hindrance in empowering Deaf community in India. The most important question regarding empowering the Indian Deaf community is the most appropriate way to impart education. The key political issue in relation to policies in education and beyond in India continues to be a battle, on the one hand, between signing vs. oralism, and on the other hand between ISL and other SLs viz. BSL, ASL, and Total Communication.The educational methodologies practised so far in India are far from realising their very purpose of empowering Indian Deaf community. Oralism has been professed to ‘normalize’ deaf children by teaching them spoken-written language. Along with misconceptions and ignorance of the nature of SL, such a pedagogical practice arises from perceiving SL as a threat to ‘normalcy’ because it separates the child from the rest of the society. As a matter of truth, oralism violates right to mother tongue education, the most important linguistic human right and may push Deaf communities towards a linguistic genocide (Skutnabb-Kangas 2000). ISL in particular is excluded and suppressed as a result of misconception about ISL and due to the lack of pedagogical materials and support. In lieu of ISL, implanted sign languages like ASL and BSL or Total Communication are the medium of instruction at educational institutes for Deaf operating in India. These institutional efforts, in the name of benevolence, by altering, shifting, and consequently uprooting the language of the community is no better than oralism as it also results in a violation of linguistic human rights.With the establishment of institutions like Indian Sign Language Cell (ISL Cell), Mumbai, language policy formulation is carried out along the lines of the ‘Recommendations of the Commission on Sign Language’ of the World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf. The development of course materials (marks the onset of the standarisation process) for teaching/learning ISL, teacher training, and linguistic research on ISL are some of the Cell’s core area of activity currently. However, such efforts both at the activists’ and the institutional level are not free from problems as linguistics is embedded within it.The proposed paper aims at highlighting the problems faced in the efforts towards recognition of the linguistic human rights of the Indian Deaf people in empowering ISL and how linguistics can supplement in solving these issues. Finally, the paper calls to the linguist’s community to address the contemporary problems regarding ISL by translating problems into prospects (Cf. Dasgupta 1999) and in maintaining linguistic rights and linguistic ecology, to which scholarly analysts are accountable.1 The lower case ‘d’ is used for audiological deafness. The upper case is used as a linguistic and cultural entity.

About Speaker

Dr Samar Sinha teaches linguistics in the Dept. of Nepali, Sikkim University. His Ph.D. thesis 'A Grammar of Indian Sign Language', a pioneer work on Indian  Sign Language, is a detailed   grammatical   study of Indian Sign Language and Indian Deaf Community. His research on Indian Sign Language has  contributed  significantly to   our   growing understanding   of   natural   human   language   in   general   and   Indian Sign Language in particular, and towards the empowerment of Deaf community in India. He is also associated with the development of a Part of­ Speech tagset and a Lex tagset for annotating Nepali corpus as well as for Indian Sign Language text based on the EAGLES framework for all Indian languages. His areas of interest are syntactic theory, lesser-known languages, language technology, and Himalayan Studies. He currently heads the Centre for Endangered Languages as its Coordinator.

Gandhi: Putting Courage at the Center

Uday Singh Mehta

16/12/2014

About the Lecture

About Speaker

Uday Singh Mehta is a political theorist, whose work encompasses a wide spectrum of philosophical traditions and issues, including the relationship between freedom and imagination, liberalism’s complex link with colonialism and empire, and, more recently, war, peace, and nonviolence. He is the author of two books, The Anxiety of Freedom: Imagination and Individuality in the Political Thought of John Locke (1992) and Liberalism and Empire: Nineteenth Century British Liberal Thought (2000), which won the J. David Greenstone Book Award from the American Political Science Association in 2002 for the best book in history and theory. In 2002, he was one of ten recipients of the “Carnegie Scholars” prize awarded to “scholars of exceptional creativity.” He is currently completing a book on M. K. Gandhi’s critique of political rationality. Dr. Mehta received his undergraduate education at Swarthmore College, where he studied mathematics and philosophy, and holds a Ph.D. in political philosophy from Princeton University. He has held teaching positions at a number of universities, including Princeton, Cornell, MIT, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, and Hull. He came to the Graduate Center in the fall of 2010 from Amherst College, where he was the Clarence Francis Professor in the Social Sciences.

The Economics of Sustainable Transportation

S. Sriraman

27/11/2014

About the Lecture

Efforts are being made all over the world to increase the sustainability of development patterns. In many countries, particular attention is being paid to the critical role played by transportation. And sustainable development policy framework when applied to transport systems requires the promotion of linkages between environmental protection, economic efficiency and social progress. This paper makes an attempt to examine some of the economic issues within this framework like realistic pricing procedures, promotion of an integrated transport system, etc. which need to be looked at closely with a view to provide some guidelines which would also be useful in the formulation and development of a more sustainable transportation system while at the same time recognising full concerns regarding environment and societal issues.

About Speaker

Professor S. Sriraman is Walchand Hirachand Professor of Transport Economics, University of Mumbai. His areas of research interest include Transport Economics ( Railways, Roads, Road Transport, Ports, Shipping and Urban Transport), Applied Microeconomics (Pricing in Public Utilities, Social-Benefit Cost Analysis) and Regional Economics (Regional Planning, Location Analysis). His current research work includes: Role of Transport in India’s Export Competitiveness; Project Financing in the context of Infrastructure Projects in India; Estimating the Health Costs of Exposure to Urban Pollution: A Case Study of Mumbai in collaboration with the National Environmental Engineering Institute, Nagpur, amongst many other projects. He has published extensively in academic journals.

A Tribute to V K Murthy 

Uma Rao, G. S. Bhaskar

21/11/2014

About the Lecture

VK Murthy is a legendary cinematographer who is known especially for his work on the films of Guru Dutt. A few of these examples include, Mr and Mrs 55, Sahib Bibi aur Gulam and Aar Paar. He won widespread acclaim for his innovative use of light in Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa and Kaagaz ke Phool, the first cinemascope film made in India. VK Murthy did the camerawork for other major films like Pakeezah and Shyam Benegal’s Bharat Ek Khoj and Govind Nihalani’s Tamas. Born in Mysore in 1923, he obtained a diploma in film making at Sri Jayachamarajendra Polytechnic Institute, Bangalore in 1946. Recipient of numerous prestigious awards, he was the first cinematographer to win the Dadasaheb Phalke Award (2008), the highest award given by the Government of India in recognition of achievements in the field of cinema.

About Speaker

Uma Rao is a well known modern Kannada writer. Her publications include, Agastya, Kadala Haadi & Ceylon Susheela (short story collections), Nooru Swara(novel), Rocky Parvathagala Naduve Cabaret (travelogue), Mumbai Diary(Collection of Columns), Avala Surya (translations of Canadian Womens short stories),Vanajammana Seatu (novella) and Bisilu Kolu (Biography of cinematographer V.K.Murthy),and Dalai Lama (A biographical sketch). Having lived in Mumbai for 30 years, she was also active in kannada theatre and worked as a freelance advertising copywriter. Her weekly column,‘Mumbai Diary” which appeared in Lankesh Patrike was highly popular. Uma, who now lives in Bangalore, has also written, directed and hosted some TV shows. Uma is the winner of Andrews Fellowship for Creative Writing and Arts (1994) from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver,Canada. She has won several awards including the Karnataka Sahitya Academy Award (2006) for Bisilu Kolu and the H.V.Savithramma Birth Centenary Award for Ceylon Susheela (2014). GS Bhaskar is a reputed cinematographer. Trained at the Film and Technology Institute, Pune, Bhaskar has worked as cinematographer on several films such as Koormavatara (2011, Dir: Girish Kasaravalli), (Ijjodu, 2010, Dir: MS Sathyu), Hyderabad Blues 2 (2004, Dir: Nagesh Kukunoor), Saaz (1997, Dir: Sai Paranjape), Nagamandala (1996, Dir: TS Nagabharana), Disha (1990, Dir: Sai Paranjape), and Bannada Vesha (1988, Dir: Girish Kasaravalli).

Living with A Southern Music

T.M. Krishna

20/11/2014

About the Lecture

A Southern Music: The Karnatik Story was born out of my questioning of my own existence, beliefs, conditioning and understanding. These questions, these thoughts, were and are part of my life’s journey. The book is about music, but takes a look at life through the window of Karnatik music. As an artist I feel life through art. I experience the idea of emotions beyond the personal through the music that permeates existence. At the same time in my relationship with the art and beyond, I am aware that I am trapped within the same insecurities and insensitivities that we all possess. I have tried to understand this world that is trapped and also traps through the music’s journey and practice. Through this journey I was placing myself within the art and outside the art.From when I can remember Karnatik music has been my life, my all. It has carried me, up on the high waves and down into the silent depths of its shoreless sea. Now, standing on an islet called 'authorship' with my book in my hand, I hear that ocean ask me : 'Do you think you are carrying me ?' and, in answer to that, I dive right back into the sea.

About Speaker

Thodur Madabusi Krishna is a vocalist in the Karnatik tradition. He studied at the Krishnamurti Foundation’s The School in Chennai, and Jiddu Krishnmurti’s philosophy of ‘pathlessness’ has unmistakably influenced Krishna’s un-preconditioned journeys over the Karnatik continent. Krishna’s musical grounding was honed into mastery under the tutelage of Vidvans Seetharama Sarma, Chingleput Ranganathan and the legendary Semmangudi Srinivasier.

Exploring Economic Inequality from Piketty through Arvind Adiga to Gandhi

Devaki Jain

13/11/2014

About the Lecture

This paper reviews some of the thinking on economic inequalities , refers to some of the reasoning and measures that lie behind the analyses , considers some of the solutions proposed and then proposes a modern version of Gandhi’s package for generating sustained GDP growth , with justice. Drawing on current data on sources of livelihood at the ground level, in India at the present time, it makes a case for a bubbling up theory of growth, in contrast to the trickle down theory of growth.

About Speaker

Devaki Jain is a development economist and activist. She graduated in Economics from Oxford in 1963 and taught at Delhi University for 6 years. Since then, her academic research and advocacy, influenced largely by Gandhian Philosophy, have focused on issues of equity, democratic decentralisation, people centred development and women's rights. She has helped co-found a wide range of institutions such as Development Alternatives for Women for a new Era (DAWN) - a third world network of women social scientists who provided an alternative framework for understanding the location of advancing the cause of poor women of the South. Indian Association of Women's Studies (IAWS), Kali, Feminist Publishing House and Institute of Social Studies Trust (ISST) - a research centre in Delhi where she was Director until 1994. She was awarded the Bradford Morse Memorial Award by the United Nations at the World Conference at Beijing for outstanding achievements through professional and voluntary activities in promoting the advancement of women and gender equality. Her publications include, Harvesting Feminist Knowledge for Public Policy (2011) Sage Publications (co-authored with Diane Elson) and Women, Development and the UN: A Sixty Year Quest for Equality and Justice (2005) Indiana University Press. Devaki Jain was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2007.

Scientific Rationality and Ethical Rationality- Dr Narendra Dabholkar Memorial Lecture - Part 1

Sundar Sarukkai and Sudesh Ghoderao

11/11/2014

About the Lecture

Contemporary debates on rationality, particularly those that deal with its opposition with superstition and faith are deeply influenced by the idea of scientific rationality. This should not be surprising since right from its origin rationality in western thought has been intrinsically associated with and modelled on mathematical and scientific ideas of reason and knowledge, which are primarily about the truths of the world. This form of rationality is not necessarily the same as the rationality behind human action. The philosophy of social science has engaged with many different forms of rationality including critical, instrumental, practical and economic rationalities, but the invocation of rationality in the public discourse in India is often understood almost entirely as scientific rationality. Given the narrowness of this understanding of rationality, we can see why there is a constant conflict between this discourse and social practice. I would like to suggest that it may be more useful for such movements to invoke a more complex understanding of rationality, one that integrates scientific and ethical rationalities. This may not be easy task but it is perhaps the only way of dealing with the growing problem. While some philosophers have attempted to ground ethics itself in some form of universal rationality, the challenge for social movements on the ground is far more complex. Firstly, the relation between science and ethics is itself contentious. Secondly, one of the primal sources of human action lies in the ‘irrationality’ of death and desire, two fundamental human conditions. Thirdly, there are different kinds of ‘scientific’ rationality available in other Asian traditions. The real challenge for us is then is to find ways of integrating these different possibilities in order to develop a meaningful and ethical framework for social change in India. 

About Speaker

Prof Sundar Sarukkai is the Director of the Manipal Centre for Philosophy & Humanities, Manipal University. He is the author of the following books: Translating the World: Science and Language; Philosophy of Symmetry; Indian Philosophy and Philosophy of Science; What is Science? and The Cracked Mirror: An Indian Debate on Experience and Theory (co-authored with Gopal Guru). He is an Editorial Advisory Board member of the Leonardo Book Series published by MIT Press and the Series Editor for Science and Society, Routledge.Dr. Sudesh Ghoderao, Secretary, National Coordination, Maharashtra Andhshraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANiS) to introduce his organization and share some snippets on the life of Dr Narendra Dabholkar.

Scientific Rationality and Ethical Rationality- Dr Narendra Dabholkar Memorial Lecture - Part 2

Sundar Sarukkai and Sudesh Ghoderao

11/11/2014

About the Lecture

Contemporary debates on rationality, particularly those that deal with its opposition with superstition and faith are deeply influenced by the idea of scientific rationality. This should not be surprising since right from its origin rationality in western thought has been intrinsically associated with and modelled on mathematical and scientific ideas of reason and knowledge, which are primarily about the truths of the world. This form of rationality is not necessarily the same as the rationality behind human action. The philosophy of social science has engaged with many different forms of rationality including critical, instrumental, practical and economic rationalities, but the invocation of rationality in the public discourse in India is often understood almost entirely as scientific rationality. Given the narrowness of this understanding of rationality, we can see why there is a constant conflict between this discourse and social practice. I would like to suggest that it may be more useful for such movements to invoke a more complex understanding of rationality, one that integrates scientific and ethical rationalities. This may not be easy task but it is perhaps the only way of dealing with the growing problem. While some philosophers have attempted to ground ethics itself in some form of universal rationality, the challenge for social movements on the ground is far more complex. Firstly, the relation between science and ethics is itself contentious. Secondly, one of the primal sources of human action lies in the ‘irrationality’ of death and desire, two fundamental human conditions. Thirdly, there are different kinds of ‘scientific’ rationality available in other Asian traditions. The real challenge for us is then is to find ways of integrating these different possibilities in order to develop a meaningful and ethical framework for social change in India. 

About Speaker

Prof Sundar Sarukkai is the Director of the Manipal Centre for Philosophy & Humanities, Manipal University. He is the author of the following books: Translating the World: Science and Language; Philosophy of Symmetry; Indian Philosophy and Philosophy of Science; What is Science? and The Cracked Mirror: An Indian Debate on Experience and Theory (co-authored with Gopal Guru). He is an Editorial Advisory Board member of the Leonardo Book Series published by MIT Press and the Series Editor for Science and Society, Routledge.Dr. Sudesh Ghoderao, Secretary, National Coordination, Maharashtra Andhshraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANiS) to introduce his organization and share some snippets on the life of Dr Narendra Dabholkar.