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.

Promoting Sustainable Development in Thar Desert: Experiences from URMUL

Arvind Ojha


About the Lecture

In the harsh and inhospitable regions of rural Rajasthan in the Thar Desert, URMUL Trust has been innovating models for inducing community-driven developmental changes by devising programmes, strengthening them, sustaining and handing them over to communities. Urmul’s work is guided by the spirit and trust placed in people’ s capabilities to bring about the much-needed social change with their own efforts. Most of the work is focused on vulnerable and marginalized sections of the society. Following the integrated development approaches, Urmul works on all the Sustainable Development Goals with over 1000 villages focussing on the issues of health, education, livelihood, environment, Animal husbandry, food, fodder, water security, disaster mitigation, women’s socio-economic empowerment, capacity building, improving access to basic services, early childhood care & development, child right issues including child marriages and child protection. Urmul along with community participation and support, has innovated, designed and demonstrated various vital and successful models in diverse developmental themes, to name a few- barefoot doctors; Formal & Non- Formal Education Centers, Balika Shivirs for adolescent girls with the collaboration of Shikshakarmi and Lok Jumbish programmes; long term constructive campaigns for gender equality, Child Rights and Livelihoods. Urmul led non-farm livelihood initiatives in the region are now full-fledged enterprises and are successfully ensuring sustained income to thousands of families in the Thar desert. Urmul has been supporting and training the community cadre, to help strengthen efforts with villages like Community Health Workers, Anganwadi workers, Youth forums (Kishori Prerna Manch and Bal Manch, Prerak Dals), Village Health & Sanitation Committees (VHSCs), School Monitoring Committees (SMCs) and SHGs.

About Speaker

Arvind Ojha is the co-founder and CEO of URMUL, one of the most successful NGOs in India. Arvind has been working in the desert of western Rajasthan for more than three decades on the issues of rural development focusing education, health, livelihoods, climate-change, promotion of people’s intuitions in the region. He is a leading advocate for ending child marriage and ensuring gender equality. He presently chairs the Girls not Bride-Rajasthan Alliance. He is also the executive member of several government committees concerning rural development and has responsibility of many other development agencies as Trustee. He has been State advisor to National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), India and also sits in the Rajasthan State Crafts Council. Arvind was pioneer in initiating and promoting rural tourism with the focus of community development in the Thar Desert. His concern for desert issues and advocacy urged him to promote a research-based initiative called Desert Resource Center. Arvind brings in over 40 years of sectoral experience, knowledge and values.

Making a Difference: On Becoming a Professional Today

Rajesh Tandon


About the Lecture

In common parlance, it is assumed that a professional is one who has completed certain qualifications in a profession—a formal degree does not alone make a competent professional today. How we acquire and use our expertise in making a difference in the world we live in are also important considerations in continuing to become ever-so-competent professionals. How do we make a difference in the world we live in, as a professional?

About Speaker

Dr. Rajesh Tandon is founder-president of Society for Participatory Research in Asia, New Delhi (PRIA He is also Co-Chair of the UNESCO Chair on Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education since 2012. The UNESCO Chair grows out of and supports UNESCO’s global lead to play ‘a key role in assisting countries to build knowledge societies’. He was appointed member of the Subject Expert Group on Curricular Reforms and Educational Institutions Social Responsibility under Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (UBA). A pioneer of participatory research, Rajesh Tandon has given new meaning to academic research by redefining the relationship between the researcher and the researched. He has championed the cause of building organisations and capacities of the marginalised through their knowledge, learning, and empowerment, contributing to the emergence of several local, national and international groups and initiatives to promote authentic and participatory development of societies. Dr. Tandon has authored more than 100 articles, a dozen books, and numerous training manuals. He was honored with the prestigious Nehru Literacy Award for 2015 by the Indian Adult Education Association (IAEA).

Panel Discussion: General Elections 2019

Sarayu Natarajan


About the Lecture

About the Panel:

Title: Key Electoral Trends in the Southern States (Sarayu Natarajan)

The talk will examine the five southern states - Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka - to highlight relevant trends in the 2019 General Elections. From looking at the state elections in TN, Telangana and AP, to the the fall out of the recent Assembly elections in Karnataka, this talk will explore a few relevant factors state-wise such as incumbency, coalitions, caste equations and underlying social trends.


Title: The Oppositional Politics under the Second-Dominant Party System
The rise of the BJP in 2014 and its subsequent victories in many states of India indicates the onset of the fourth party system. As the BJP continues to occupy the centre-right ideological space of Indian politics, the centre-left space is undergoing a massive churning. This talk will focus on the predicament of the Congress and the other opposition parties in 2019 and beyond. Drawing on the pre-poll surveys, the talk would provide a peek into the re-organisation of competitive space in key states.


Title: King in the North? The BJP’s Prospects across the Hindi Belt and Beyond (Gilles Verniers)

The talk will look at the contest in the Hindi Belt and the state of oppositions and alliances across Northern India, starting from recent state elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. It will focus on some of the significant developments in electoral politics post-2014, such as the resurgence of traditional elites via the rise of the BJP and their consequences for state governance. The talk will then focus on the prospects of the BJP to compensate nearly certain losses in the Hindi belt by expanding its hold over other regions, particularly in the East. 

About Speaker

About the Panelists

Dr. Sarayu Natarajan is the Founder of Aapti Institute that does research at the intersection of technology and society. Her doctoral work examined the relationship between political intermediation and housing, and used that to explore the ways in which the BJP is growing in urban India. She co-hosts a podcast called Ganatantra, which is running a special series for the upcoming elections. 

Rahul Verma is a Fellow at Centre for Policy Research. He is also a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley, and his doctoral dissertation examines the historical roots of elite persistence in contemporary Indian politics. His book, Ideology and Identity: The Changing Party Systems of India (OUP: New York, 2018) co-authored with Pradeep Chhibber develops a new approach to defining the contours of what constitutes an ideology in multi-ethnic countries such as India. His research interest includes voting behavior, party politics, political violence, and media. He is a regular columnist for various news platforms and has published papers in Asian Survey, Economic & Political Weekly, and Studies in Indian Politics.  Before starting his PhD at Berkeley, Verma completed his MPhil in Political Science from Delhi University, MA in Development Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai and a BA from Kirori Mal College, Delhi University.


Gilles Verniers is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Ashoka University and Co-Director of the Trivedi Centre for Political Data. His research interests include mechanisms of representation and participation in India, state politics, democratisation in South Asia, sociology of elected representatives, controversies and problems in India's democracy, ethnic and post-identity politics, minority politics, and political parties. He completed his B.A in Economics, Social and Political Sciences from the University of St. Louis, Brussels in 2000. He earned his M.A. in Political and Social Sciences from the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL), Belgium in 2004. After finishing his M. Phil in Comparative Politics and Societies with a specialization in Asia from Sciences Po in 2005, he completed his Ph.D. in Political Science from Sciences Po, affiliated with the Centre for International Research and Studies (CERI), Sciences Po. He has been a visiting scholar at the Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley and a part of several research projects including a project on the visuality of Democracy funded by the Alliance Program at Columbia University, co-coordinator on a project on the sociology of Representatives in India conducted jointly by Sciences Po, LSE, King's India Institute, JNU and Ambedkar University, Lucknow. He is the co-editor of a forthcoming book on the sociology of elected representatives in India, with Prof. Christophe Jaffrelot and Dr. Sanjay Kumar, CSDS, New Delhi.


The Play: In Search of Dariya Sagar (Duration: 120 minutes)



About the Lecture

About the Play

In Search of Dariya Sagar is a meditation on memory, loss, exile and the elusive idea of home. At a time, when the world is witnessing unprecedented migration, the biggest moral conundrum that confronts the world is that of giving safe refuge to these ‘outsiders’. To give them a home, away from home. But can you ever re-create home? Can home be ever retrieved? Does it become more elusive as time passes and hence more vivid? Does home mean different things to different generations? These are the questions at the heart of this narrative, an attempt to turn the pages of history to understand the scars it has left in the present. And like most narratives, this one too is a journey of self-discovery, where the self is inextricably bound to the larger Self of the community and where redemption lies perhaps in recognizing the same.

Synopsis of the Play

Jatin is a tour guide at the Gateway of India. He has just one problem. He is a Sindhi. Something he hasn't come to terms with all his life and so leads an isolated existence in a dingy room at Colaba Causeway, away from his privileged family house. Till a strange vision, almost an epiphany of sorts, descends on him at the very shores of the Gateway of India while giving a tour, a destination, where most Sindhis landed from Karachi in ships, leaving their hearths and homes behind and carrying dreams of a better future with them. Tina is a teacher in an international school. She teaches Language and Literature to her students with a deep social conscience. She moans the loss of her language and identity and her access to the lost world. Jatin and Tina know each other since they were kids. They studied in the same college too. But haven’t ever been able to sustain a conversation beyond a point. Their journeys are in the opposite direction, one wanting to retrieve her heritage and language, while the other wanting to disavow it. Till a certain mystery behind Jatin’s grandmother’s property, which she left behind to be decoded, brings them together. And there begins a fresh voyage into the past, where more secrets, memories, unlikely stories are discovered, giving some perspective on the fractured present and rottenness which Jatin feels lies at the heart of the ‘deterritorialized’ community.

About Speaker

About the Blind and The Elephant Theatre Group

Having worked in theatre for the past several years, Gerish Khemani, founded his own theatre group,The Blind and the Elephant, in 2015, which is dedicated to creating original work based on solid research, searching for forms to tell stories that emerge from their cultural context and that continue to shape us, and in raising fundamental questions about the self and its relation to community in this increasingly alienated world of ours.  An extensively physical approach to creating work, using the collective imagination in the room and a constant playfulness to develop a strong ensemble and crafting a layered visual universe lie at the core of our work. 

“Conscious Connections”- An Indian perspective to Arts Based Therapy

Gitanjali Sarangan


About the Lecture

When we look at what cannot be seen or recall that which cannot be remembered, one is much convinced that there is more to perception than meets the eye. What would it mean to look at therapy not as treatment but instead a multi modal approach where all those involved in the process co-create spaces that allow auto-learning, discovery and examination. Holistic approaches are more effective than any stand-alone line of treatment. A new science of mind is emerging from Indian traditions of introspection and contemplative practice along with a strong empirical support from western science.  This session outlines the Arts based therapy approaches that have been implemented at community, institutional and clinical levels across India. Given the cultural diversities and the heterogeneity of the special populations, using the Arts in healing has emerged as a new language in therapy.  This principle of integrated therapeutics augurs to a possible future where the modern, alternative and complementary health systems in concert make a crucial difference to both the healthcare and education sectors. 

About Speaker

Gitanjali is the founder of Snehadhara Foundation, an educationist, a social entrepreneur, an Arts Based Therapy (ABT) Educator, Practitioner and Guide with over two decade’s experience in teaching a diverse population of children and adults. Snehadhara Foundation, a registered non-profit organization based in Bengaluru, India is the first and only Centre in India that uses Arts Based Therapy as the primary methodology to work with children and adults with disabilities. The twin goals of the Foundation are - Arts Based Therapy and Education for Inclusion. Over the past 6 years Snehadhara has worked with around 800 children through direct and weekly interventions, with over 50000 children through indirect interventions in schools and other receptive environments and trained over 1800 professionals in learning institutions across 250 organisations across the country.Gitanjali is a recipient of the Millennium Alliance Grant 2017 as a social innovator of one of the top five Innovations in the country for Education for the project ‘Kala Samavesh -Inclusion and Education of Disabilities. She has been conferred the Super Achievers Award, 2017, by the Association of People with Disability (APD) in memory of its founder N.S Hema, to recognize her outstanding contribution in the field of Disability in and outside Karnataka. Gitanjali has been an ACTIVATEE speaker at the 45th International Association for Experiential Education (AEE) Conference in Montreal in November 2017. Gitanjali has presented at the prestigious TEDx platform at BITS Hyderabad on ‘The Goodness of Life’. Gitanjali is the recipient of the NGO Leadership Awards 2017 as recognition of leaders who have contributed value & made a change as a strategic tool for sustainable growth. She has been awarded as one among the 50 Most Impactful Social Innovators (Global Listing) by the World CSR Congress and Awards. Gitanjali is also the recipient of the ‘Dr. Amarnath Annual Award for Inclusion’, 2016. She is one among two artists to be awarded the Artist’s Grant 2014 for the ‘Art in Education Program’ by the India Foundation for the Arts and the Artist’s Grant 2014 by India Foundation for the Arts. She has been recognised by Global Ethics Forum and Indian Institute of Management, for working towards establishing an impartial and fair world. Gitanjali is on the panel of experts of the ‘Arivu Disha’ a two-Pronged Program by Headstreams to Improve Learning Outcomes and Career Prospects of government school children in Karnataka. She has mentored and trained educators, special educators, therapists, teachers, educational assistants across 100 organizations in India.

Fifth Annual Martyrdom Day Lecture : Bhagat Singh’s version of nationalism and what it may mean for Indian education

Amman Madan


About the Lecture

Bhagat Singh was a remarkably well read young person. He brought a sharp and informed mind to his political activism. This talk will proceed through a look at some of his writings and use them to explore what nationalism meant to him. The differences between his “revolutionary nationalism” and some other commonly held interpretations of nationalism will be highlighted. The talk will examine how Bhagat Singh is commonly portrayed in the Indian education system and argue for a fresh look at the message he was trying to convey.



About the Martyrdom Day Lectures

The Martyrdom Day lecture is organised annually to remind and inspire ourselves regarding the ideas and activities of India's freedom fighters. As a part of this series, in 2018, Prof Sudha Bharadwaj delivered a lecture on 'The Role of the Working Class in the Freedom Struggle". In 2017, the well-known social activist Ashok Choudhary delivered the lecture on "Remembering the Nationalism of Republican Socialist Revolutionaries". In 2016, Prof Mridula Mukherjee spoke on "Bhagat Singh and the Ideological Redefinition of Revolutionary Nationalism". In 2015,  the Inaugural lecture was delivered by Prof Chaman Lal. He spoke on "Relevance of Bhagat Singh's ideas in our Times".

About Speaker

A Social Anthropologist by training, Prof Amman Madan is known for his work on the relation between education and society. Prof Madan's research interests are currently in social stratification and education, social theory and the politics of identity in education. Amman did his M.Sc. in Anthropology with Divyadarshi Kapoor from Panjab University, Chandigarh and then did his M.Phil and Ph.D. with Avijit Pathak at the Centre for the Study of Social Systems at JNU. 


A keen student of History, Prof Madan is interested in various forms of Indian nationalism both as a social theorist and as a citizen. An active researcher, he has several publications, both in English and Hindi. His latest book is entitled "Shiksha aur adhunikta" (2018), whose English version "Education and modernity" is forthcoming.


The Education of the Indigenous People in Brazil: Recent Transformations

Rita Gomes do Nascimento


About the Lecture

There has been a significant change in the education of indigenous people in Brazil over the last two decades. The political and social changes witnessed in Brazil during this time have enabled these communities to take control of their education, with a majority of teachers in primary education hailing from these communities. A significant feature of these transformations was the encouragement of universities to create a special teacher-education programme for indigenous communities. This teacher education programme sought to train teachers who could provide inter-cultural education to the children from indigenous communities.  This lecture will provide an insider’s perspective on the transformation of the system of education of the indigenous people of Brazil.

About Speaker

Rita Gomes do Nascimento, a native Brazilian of the Brazilian indigenous people `Potyguara', was formerly General Coordinator of Indigenous School Education, Ministry of Education, Brazil (2012-2015) and Director, Indigenous and Ethnic-Racial relations, Ministry of Education, Brazil (2015-2018). She has been sent back to her state cadre in January 2019 as part of the recent changes in the ruling regime in Brazil.  Rita holds a Master’s degree in Education (UFRN) and a Doctoral degree in Education from the Federal University of the state of Rio Grande do Norte. UFRN, and Post-Doc from the Program of Postdoctoral Studies (PEP) of the Tres de Febrero National University, Argentina (UNTREF / AR). She has ample teaching experience in basic and higher education and done research in the areas of ethnic and cultural diversity and education, teacher training and ethnic and cultural diversity, educational policies, social and ethnic inequalities; cultural policies and education; social movements and education, human rights and education, with an emphasis on indigenous issues. She has colloborated with different research groups and serves on various editorial boards and published extensively.

The Story of Antaryami

Tridip Suhrud


About the Lecture

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's Autobiography The Story of My Experiments with Truth written originally in Gujarati and translated almost simultaneously in English by Mahadev Desai occupies a unique place in the Autobiographical tradition in the world. The lecture would try and capture the process of reading Gandhi in Two Tongues, the relationship between the two texts and the process by which the cadence of the original is sought to be captured in the English translation with help of notes. Apart from the question of translation of texts the lecture would seek to explore the notion of Gandhi's quest to see God face to face, its relationship with Ashram observances and the presence of Antaryami which guided his actions. 

About Speaker

Tridip Suhrud is a scholar, writer and translator who works on the intellectual and cultural history of modern Gujarat and the Gandhian intellectual tradition. As the director and chief editor of the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust (2012-2017), he was responsible for creating the world’s largest digital archive on Gandhi- the Gandhi Heritage Portal. He has authored 28 books, of which include the critical edition of Hind Swaraj, Narayan Desai’s four-volume biography of Gandhi, My Life is My Message, and the four-volume epic Gujarati novel, Sarasvatichandra. His most recent work is a critical edition of Gandhi’s autobiography My Experiments with Truth in two languages; Gujarati and English.

Tridip Suhrud is presently translating the diaries of Manu Gandhi, covering the period between 1942 and 1948, compiling a series ‘Letters to Gandhi”- of unpublished correspondence to Gandhi- and working on an eight-volume compendium of testimonies of indigo cultivators of Champaran. He is currently professor and director, Archives, at CEPT University, Ahmedabad and serves as Chairman of the Governing Council of MICA.

Emerging Trends in Skill Development in India

Dr. K. P. Krishnan


About the Lecture

Low literacy rate, lack of skill training, creating employment opportunities for millions of youth entering the work force annually and ensuring inclusive growth are some of the challenges that India faces in its transition to a knowledge based economy. Policies and programmes that ensure high quality education, vocational education and skill development are imperative in this context. This lecture discusses the education-skill-employability gaps and the need for skill development programmes in India and the public policy and institutional frameworks necessary for that and also reflect on the emerging trends in skill development in India.

About Speaker

Dr. K.P. Krishnan is the Principal Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. Dr. Krishnan was educated in Economics at St. Stephens College and Law at the Campus Law Centre University of Delhi and joined the IAS in 1983. In 2002, he obtained his Ph.D. in Economics from Indian IIM, Bangalore. He has served in various positions in the Government of Karnataka, Government of India and World Bank.  Before becoming Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, he served as Special Secretary, Department of Land Resources, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Secretary, Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council and Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs. He has authored a number of reports on the Indian financial sector and published many academic papers. In the year 2012, Dr. Krishnan held the BoK Visiting Professorship in Regulation in the University of Pennsylvania Law School. On 28/10/2017, Dr. Krishnan was conferred the Distinguished Alumni Award of IIM Bangalore.

The Classical in the Popular: Understanding Indian Film Music

M D Pallavi


About the Lecture

A large part of Indian music is created within the frame of Indian classical music. The aesthetics of popular music are better understood when its invocations of musical grammar from classical music are recognized. An understanding of Indian classical music and, in particular, the raga system, helps appreciate how popular music is composed, how emotions are translated into music and finally how music is heard.  A focus on the uses of Indian classical music in popular music offers a valuable orientation to a key dimension of Indian culture.

About Speaker

MD Pallavi is a singer, composer, actor, editor, sound designer and filmmaker from Bengaluru. She has Bachelor's Degrees in English, Journalism and Psychology (Bangalore University) and in Hindustani Classical Music (Benares University). She has trained with Pt. Ram Rao Naik and Raj Bhau Sontakke for Hindustani vocal and with Mysore Ananthaswamy and Raju Ananthaswamy for Sugama Sangeetha. She has been performing Sugama Sangeetha on stage for the last 22 years. She has acted in two long running Kannada TV serials, Mayamruga and Garva and won the Aryabhatta Best Actress Award for her role in the latter. She has also acted in the national award winning Indian English film, Stumble (2003) and in the Kannada film, Gulabi Talkies (2008). Pallavi has also acted in several plays in Kannada and English such as Translations, Hamlet, Chidambara Rahasya, Sankranti, Avasthe, Maanishaadha, Fire and Rain, Balidaana, My Fair Lady, Gaajina Gombegalu, Vakra, Good Woman of Schezuan, Picasso, Copenhagen, Swayamvaraloka, The Boy with a Suitcase, C Sharp C Blunt, Muktidhaam and recently Taayavva. In 2014, Pallavi won the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Award for Best Actress for her role in C Sharp, C Blunt. Her theatre collaborations include C sharp C blunt, a multi-award winning theatrical solo-performance in collaboration with Sophia Stepf; Tayavva, a theatrical musical with renowned director Prasanna as a part of the protest against the new sales tax on handmade goods, Playgrounds, a multi-award winning short film in collaboration with Shamik Sen Gupta; A Boy with a Suitcase, a theatrical collaboration with Shnawwl (Germany) and Rangashankara (Bangalore) and Tathagat, a street play collaboration with Abhishek Majumdar and Jana Natya Manch and a musical conversation with Bindumalini Narayanaswamy. She is keen on multi-disciplinary collaborations and is currently working on a new bhavageethe album.