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.

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 3

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 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.

Social Cohesion, Information Diffusion, and Technological Progress: A Case of Handloom Weavers' Clusters in Southern Kerala

 Anant Kamath

29/10/2014

About the Lecture

This study applies the concepts of social capital and embeddedness, as well as homophily, in understanding learning and information diffusion in a low-technology cluster. It studies how social cohesion can be an obstacle to economic and technological progress. We work towards understanding an embeddedness–homophily connection with the support of a case of the decline of a formerly dominant handloom weavers’ community in southern Kerala -- the Saliyars. We build the evidence that the Saliyars’ networks were characterised by ‘homophilous-embeddedness’, which, we show, has been relayed and reinforced across generations. Due to this attribute, the Saliyars are placed as an example that counters the standard line in the literature that community cohesion has been historically congruent to technological progress and knowledge diffusion in handloom in India. This study also promotes an economic-sociology understanding of technological progress and learning -- an area that is still nascent.

About Speaker

Anant Kamath completed his PhD in the Economics and Policy Studies of Technological Change at the United Nations University / MERIT (UNU-MERIT), Maastricht, The Netherlands, in 2013. Prior to this, he studied economics and social science in India for his MPhil at the Centre for Development Studies (Trivandrum), for MSc at the Madras School of Economics (Madras) and for B.A. at St. Joseph’s College (Bangalore). He also spent a year as Visiting Researcher at the Department of Sociology of the University of Georgia, United States. His current research interest is on the social construction of innovation, learning, and technological progress. He has various peer-reviewed publications to his credit in this field, and his book on this theme, based on his doctoral research and published by Routledge (UK), is due to release in early 2015.

First Cry (Paheli Aawaaz) [Screening of a Documentary Film]

T. G. Ajay

16/10/2014

About the Lecture

“Of the people, by the people, for the people” are grand words that rarely find a meaning in reality. Shahid (Martyr’s) Hospital is a rare exception. In 1981, under the leadership of Shankar Guha Niyogi of the Chhattisgarh Mazdoor Shramik Sangh (CMSS), the mine workers of Bhillai Steel Plant in Dalli Rajhara in Chhatisgarh, India, acted on a need sorely felt by them, to have a hospital that would not turn them away, to cater only to the “middle classes.” Over 10,000 daily-wage contract mine workers voluntarily donated their wages and labour to build the hospital, brick by brick, with their own hands. The workers invited doctors like Dr. Binayak Sen, Dr Saibal Jana and others to join and they themselves trained as auxiliary staff to assist them. Today, the hospital runs itself and provides the best of modern healthcare to workers, adivasis and the poor, at minimal cost. First Cry, tells us the remarkable story about how this hospital came into being and how it continues to be an oasis of hope even today.  It traces the history of the making of the hospital, critical events that shaped it, and the experiences of the doctors and worker- paramedics who manage this oasis of hope.

About Speaker

Born in Kerala (Thirusur), Ajay T.G. has lived in Chhattisgarh (Bhilai Nagar) since 1979. Actively involved in local politics since his school days, Ajay is an independent filmmaker. Between 1999 and 2002, Ajay was trained in all aspects of film production at the European Union-sponsored film training diploma course in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh. Subsequently, he has worked in varying capacities – as Producer, Director, Cameraperson and Editor for 17 documentary films.  In 2011, his film – Andhere Se Pehele (Before the Dark; Director) which documents the struggles for livelihood of adivasi peasants in Raigharh district (Chhattisgarh) won second place award at the Jeevika Livelihood film festival.  This film has been screened at various other film festivals. Some of Ajay’s other films include: Living Memory (Co-director, screened at a season of South Asian Documentaries and Films, King’s College and the Cambridge South Asia Forum, Cambridge, UK, 2003); Safar (Co-director, screened at Sheffield International Film Festival, 2001). Before becoming a filmmaker, Ajay was a still photographer. In 1996, his photo-exhibition titled “Potters in Chhattisgarh” was hosted at Shepherd’s Bush public library and Hammersmith public library, London, UK.. Apart from filmmaking, Ajay is also a human rights activist (currently, he is the Joint Secretary for the Chhattisgarh PUCL).