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.

Reaching beyond the converted: Saving wild tigers through wider partnerships

Sanjay Gubbi


About the Lecture

A paradox of conservation, especially in the biodiversity-rich but socially-complex tropics, is that conservation practitioners often find themselves preaching to the converted, when they should in fact be reaching beyond them. In the real world, conservation practice is expected to run the race where conservation science leaves off and take it to the finish. Mitigating threats to flagship species like the tiger, therefore, involves action in varying contexts and at multiple levels, most of which lie beyond the ambit of science. Tiger conservation in India intersects staggering social, economic and political complexities, and conservation strategies need to be crafted, not just based on science, but also based on a solid practical grasp of social realities. How does one navigate this vast, complex, and mostly uncharted arena to bring about effective and lasting conservation outcomes? And what are the wider lessons one may draw from such explorations? These are two broad questions that I address in my talk. I present pragmatic, on-ground examples of how we have engaged key stakeholders in wider society—comprising not only the traditional constituency of policy/decision makers, but also social/religious leaders, elected representatives, the media and conservation volunteers—to play critical roles in tiger conservation. Forging creative partnerships takes patience, planning, consistent follow-up, timely action and reasonable compromises. But once forged, such alliances can stand up even to powerful economic and political forces. Through such partnerships, we have together helped minimize the deleterious effects of habitat fragmentation on tigers and their prey, to expand protected area coverage, to create habitat corridors, as well as to strengthen law-enforcement efforts by improving the welfare of protected area frontline staff.

About Speaker

Sanjay Gubbi’s research interests include large cat science, human-wildlife conflict, conservation policies and impacts of developmental projects on wildlife. Recipient of the 2017 Whitley Award, author of Second Nature: Saving Tiger landscape in the 21st Century, he has worked with various stakeholders to bring about on-ground changes for wildlife conservation in the state of Karnataka. He likes to use his scientific understanding of wildlife to bring about changes in conservation policies. He is particularly interested in popularizing wildlife science and conservation in local languages. He has authored two books in Kannada in addition to several popular articles. He currently works with the Nature Conservation Foundation under the Western Ghats programme.

The Surrogacy Story in India: Reproductive Rights or Reproductive Justice?

Mohan Rao


About the Lecture

The talk briefly traces the story of commercial surrogacy in India, linking it, as few do, to the global bio-economy. The global bio-economy is dependent on women’s body parts, many of which are derived from reproduction or IVF. Policy prescriptions, and indeed most feminist responses, draw on the notion of reproductive rights and choice. These ignore a salient framework, namely reproductive justice.

About Speaker

Mohan Rao was, till recently, a Professor at the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health (CSMCH), School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. A medical doctor specialised in public health, he has written extensively on health and population policy, and on the history and politics of health and family planning. He is the author of From Population Control to Reproductive Health: Malthusian Arithmetic (Sage, New Delhi, 2004) and has edited Disinvesting in Health: The World Bank's Health Prescriptions (Sage, New Delhi, 1999) and The Unheard Scream: Reproductive Health and Women's Lives in India (Zubaan/Kali for Women, New Delhi, 2004). He has edited, with Sarah Sexton of Cornerhouse, UK, the volume Markets and Malthus: Population, Gender and Health in Neoliberal Times (Sage, New Delhi, 2010). With Sarah Hodges, he has edited Public Health and Private Wealth: Stem Cells, Surrogacy and Other Strategic Bodies (OUP, 2016). His latest work is the edited volume The Lineaments of Population Policy in India: Women and Family Planning (Routledge, 2018). He has been a member of the National Population Commission, and several Working Groups of the National Rural Health Mission of the Government of India. He is also actively involved in the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (People’s Health Movement).

6th Annual Dabholkar-Kalburgi Lecture: In What Century are We Living?

Jayant Vishnu Narlikar


About the Lecture

This lecture will highlight the mismatch between our physical existence and mindset. On the one hand, we Indians are enjoying the benefits of advanced science and technology (S&T) while on the other, we have very little appreciation of what S&T stand for. Likewise, our daily lives are controlled more by age old superstitions than by facts and logic. The key element missing in our lives is the scientific temper. Its brief history will be described and the speaker's experiences in trying to popularize rationality will be presented.


About Speaker

Prof Jayant Vishnu Narlikar was born in 1938 into an academic family. His father taught Mathematics in Benaras Hindu University (BHU) and mother was a scholar of Sanskrit. After his B.Sc. in Physics at BHU in 1957, Prof Narlikar studied in Cambridge University. With his Doctoral Supervisor, Sir Fred Hoyle, Prof Narlikar developed the Hoyle-Narlikar Theory of gravity. He worked in Cambridge University, Tata Institute of Funadamental Research in Mumbai and founded Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Mumbai.

Prof Narlikar was Advisor for NCERT books in Science and Mathematics. He has authored numerous books on themes as varied as Cosmology, Philosophy and History of Science.

Young Adults and Mental Health in a Changing World

Sunita Simon Kurpad


About the Lecture

The lecture will address a few of the common mental health issues and challenges young people face in current times. It will also discuss advances in the understanding of neuroscience, psychology and psychiatry; insights on how one can navigate turbulent periods effectively; the importance of how young people can protect themselves, help their peers and minimize harm. (Note: The lecture is being organized as part of the Mental Health Week).  

About Speaker

Professor Sunita Simon Kurpad completed her MBBS from St John’s Medical College, Bangaloreand MRC Psychiatry from Cambridge University in the UK. She has been working as faculty inthe Department of Psychiatry at St John’s for over twenty years and closely involved with clinical work, teaching and research. She currently heads the Department of Medical Ethics at St John’s. She has authored several scientific publications and has a special interest in boundaries in the doctor patient relationship. As Chair of the National Task Force on Boundary Guidelines of theIndian Psychiatric Society, she has been instrumental in drafting guidelines in India on this issue.

The Prophet and the Poet

Performer: Bangalore Little Theatre


About the Lecture

About the Play

THE PROPHET AND THE POET is an internationally acclaimed play developed in Bangalore LittleTheatre. It is based on the exchange of letters and articles between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore over 25 years, with the Indian freedom struggle as the backdrop. The exchanges reveal how the two personalities differed significantly on many matters, including the form and content of the freedom movement. The differences widened over the years. However, they maintained genuine respect and love for each other steadfastly in spite of the deep differences. It was the political maturity that prevailed in those times in India. The performance will be followed by a discussion.

Bangalore Little Theatre was privileged to be invited to stage the opening shows of the play at the places hallowed by Gandhi and Tagore in their lifetime – Sabarmati Ashram, Santiniketan (Visva Bharati) and Thakurbadi-Jorasanko (Rabindra Bharati). The play had a command performance for the President of India.

There have been over 100 performances of the play since its opening all over India and abroad. The play has had productions outside India as well. In 2014 Prasar Bharati commissioned a tele-film of the play. The film was telecast several times over Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti.

About Speaker

About the Performer

Bangalore Little Theatre is the city’s oldest and most widely respected institution committed to the promotion of theatre and allied arts. Created in 1960, BLT has produced over 240 plays and has maintained a wide variety of long term outreach, training and educational programmes as well. Among these is the annual Summer Project on Theatre (SPOT), out of which have come many of the leading theatre practitioners of Bangalore. The play The Prophet and the Poet is part of the History of Ideas programme. There have been sixteen plays in the programme. Another long-term thrust has been the work for schools and children, including a commitment to the disadvantaged child. It includes an annual flagship production as a fundraiser for Indian Cancer Society. The funds raised are for the critical treatment needs of children with cancer.

At Nature's Edge: History and the Ecological Present

Mahesh Rangarajan


About the Lecture

How the past shaped our planet has never been more crucial to coming to terms with nature. Drawing on recent research the talk outlines why there is ground for concern as much as hope. History cannot provide easy answers but offers vital clues to help remake our futures.

About Speaker


The speaker teaches History and Environmental Studies at Ashoka University. His most recent work is co edited with Gunnel Cederlof: At Nature's Edge: The Global Present and Long-Term History (OUP 2018). Other books include Nature and Nation (Permanent Black 2015).

The Changing Itineraries of an ‘American Social Science: International Relations, Circa 2018

Siddharth Mallavarapu


About the Lecture

The stories a discipline tells of itself reveals a great deal about how it wishes to be viewed, what it regards as worthwhile studying and what it obscures in its mainstream rendition. International Relations (IR) as a construct has been linked largely to the fortunes of the major powers. It is characterized by a distinctive ‘Anglo-American ethnocentrism’ and Stanley Hoffmann accurately characterized it in 1977 as an ‘American Social Science’. What does the discipline look like forty years later? To what extent does context have a bearing on IR as a discipline? How far have efforts by scholars from the Global South and critical IR scholars from the Global North altered its foci? In the course of my talk, I seek to address these questions and examine strategies to decolonize IR and re-visit new claims on the ‘global’ notwithstanding its resilient exclusions

About Speaker

Siddharth Mallavarapu is Professor and Head, Department of International Relations and Governance Studies at Shiv Nadar University. Prior to this he has taught at Jawaharlal Nehru University and at the South Asian University. His first book, Banning the Bomb: The Politics ofNorm Creation explored the intersections of international law and politics in the light of anAdvisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use ofnuclear weapons. His subsequent co-edited books (with Kanti Bajpai) International Relations in India: Bringing Theory Back Home and International Relations in India: Theorizing the Regionand Nation focused on Indian writings in International Relations theory. Mallavarapu is also theco-editor (with B.S.Chimni) of International Relations: Perspectives for the Global South and has contributed theoretical chapters to the Oxford Handbook of Indian Foreign Policy and the Oxford Handbook of India’s National Security apart from assorted journal articles.

Thinking around Dissent

Sanjeev Khandekar


About the Lecture

This talk will address the issue of dissent ranging from the recent arrests of activists and writers to the  debate on ‘me too ‘ movement and also refer to the brief history of peaceful protests in the last four centuries and their impact on the sociopolitical environment. 

About Speaker

Sanjeev Khandekar is a reputed Marathi writer and visual artist based in Mumbai. With his solo exhibition of watercolours, Rumour of Truth (2003), Khandekar occasioned the arrival of his pictorial vocabulary. His collections include three volumes of poetry – All I Wanna Do (2005), Mutatis Muntandis (2006), and Two Poems (2006). His two books, ‘1, 2, 3… Happy Galaxy’ and collection of his present poetry ‘Smiles’ was published in 2007.

Controlling News ahead of 2019?

T.M. Veeraraghav


About the Lecture

The increasing influence of the print and electronic media in shaping public opinion has direct implications on the future of cultural and political democracy in India, especially as we head towards the 2019 elections. The talk will examine recent trends in media ownership in the country and their impact on the production of news. Regulating media ownership patterns without compromising on freedom of reportage appears necessary for securing diversity in newscontent and nourishing the space of democratic deliberations.

About Speaker

T.M.Veeraraghav is a senior journalist based out of Bengaluru. In the last two decades, he has worked in senior editorial positions with NDTVNetwork 18 and The Hindu from different partsof the country.  He has reported on the aftermath of the communal riots in Gujarat, the war in Sri Lanka, political and social issues in South India, amongst others. A Master's degree holder in Economics, he was the recipient of the Chevening scholarship in 2007.

Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in Rural Maharashtra

Chetna Gala Sinha


About the Lecture

In the talk, the speaker discusses her work towards empowering women entrepreneurs in ruralMaharashtra: how she has come to think of the term financial inclusion, the challenges toinclusion (social, economic, ecological etc) that she has to navigate and address, what it takes for women from rural areas and marginalised communities to become entrepreneurs. She will also talk about the changing policy context in which Mann Deshi bank has been working in the past few decades.

About Speaker

Chetna Gala Sinha is an activist, farmer and banker. In 1996, she founded the Mann Deshi Foundation inMhaswad, a drought-stricken area of Maharashtra, with the aim of economically and socially empoweringrural women. In 1997, she set up the Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank - India’s first bank for and byrural women. To date, Mann Deshi has supported over 400,000 women and plans to reach one millionwomen entrepreneurs by 2022. Chetna has been instrumental in driving significant policy changesincluding advocating with the RBI to relax stringent KYC norms so low-income customers could open bank accounts and creating the first low-cost pension scheme for women micro-entrepreneurs in 2007 which influenced the national Pradhan Mantri Atal Pension Yojana  (2015). She has received many awards for her work. including Jankidevi Bajaj Award for Rural Entrepreneurship (2005), Ashoka Changemakers Award (2005), Godfrey Phillips Bravery Award (2009), EdelGive Social Innovation Honors (Livelihood Category) (2010), the Schwab Foundation’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year (2013) and theForbes Social Entrepreneurs of the Year Award (2017). In January 2018, she served as a Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.