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.

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. 

My Language: Why and How Hindi?

Geetanjali Shree


About the Lecture

About Speaker

Geetanjali Shree is a distinguished Hindi novelist. She has written four novels - Mai, Tirohit, Hamara Sheher Us Baras and Khali Jagah - and two collections of short stories. Three of these novels have appeared in English translation as  The Roof Beneath Her Feet (Translator, Rahul Soni, HarperCollins, 2013), That Empty Space (Translator, Nivedita Menon, HarperCollins, 2011)  and Mai: Silently Mother (Translator, Nita Kumar, Kali for Women, 2000).  Her stories have also been translated into Gujarati, German, Serbian and Japanese. Her novel Khali Jagah has been translated into Urdu in Pakistan and is being translated into English now.  She has published in English Between Two Worlds: An Intellectual Biography of Premchand. She is also involved with theatre in Delhi, mostly with the well-known group Vivadi, devising adventurous scripts, such as on Umrao Jan Ada, the courtesan from Lucknow and on Jaishankar Sundari, the male actor from Gujarat who played the female lead and was hugely popular.  The English translation of Mai was shortlisted for the Hutch-Crossword Translation Award in 2000. She has received the Indu Sharma Katha Sammaan, Hindi Akademi Sahityakar Sammaan and Dwijdev Sammaan for her contribution to Hindiliterature.

The Social Right to Health Care in India: Constitutional, Legal and Health Systems Perspectives

E. Premdas Pinto


About the Lecture

The lecture will deal with the challenges of establishing health care as a fundamental right in India, and the challenges involved from constitutional, legal and health systems perspectives. It will also unpack the challenges entailed in the interface of theconstitutional governance, legal and health systems.

About Speaker

E. Premdas Pinto, Director- Research and Advocacy at Centre for Health and Social Justice, is a Human Rights lawyer and PublicHealth scholar-activist, engaged in processes and social justice issues of the marginalized communities in India for the last 25 years. (  His current engagements include social accountability and health rights with a special focus on processes of participatory community monitoring of health services in India, and coordination of the global secretariat for COPASAH ( which focuses on community centred social accountability practices in health in the global south. He is one ofthe co-initiators and presently the mentor of Jagrutha Mahila Sanghatan, the union of Dalit Women agricultural labourers inRaichur district, Karnataka-India ( His writings have covered the areas of political economy ofhealth, public health and ethics, and health policy and law. His interdisciplinary doctoral research work is on ‘health carejurisprudence’ and included an analysis of the intersectionality of public health, human rights, and legal frameworks. His academic qualifications include masters in social work, masters in law, post-graduate diploma in human rights law and a PhD* inpublic health care and law. (Submitted, awaiting award).  He is engaged with several national and local social mobilisations for dignity, justice, and rights that includes People’s Health Movement, Scavengers’ Dignity Forum, Karnataka Janaarogya Chaluvali and National Alliance of People’s Movements.

An Interface with the Anthropology of Secularism: A Little Scholarly Genealogy and Beyond

Sasheej Hegde


About the Lecture

My lecture is an attempt at forging the basis of a revitalized analytics of secularism, one that takes the very normative question of our secular moral/legal commitments seriously, while juxtaposing the latter against the claims of an anthropology (and history) of secularism.  In perspective, throughout the course of my lecture, is what I am terming a little scholarly genealogy that I hope to complicate through a seriesof traversals in the literature given over to the anthropology of secularism.  Built into the structure of this appraisal is a framework seeking to redeem normative secularity from the genealogical constrictions that define and/or frame it.  Thereflection also implicates a thought about ‘normativity’ as performative, one that could re-orient our reflections about contentious socio-political norms and ideals such as secularism.

About Speaker

Sasheej Hegde teaches sociology at the University of Hyderabad.  His research and teaching has concerned a subject area intermediate between ‘philosophy’, social and political theory, and culture critique: the question, specifically, of the enabling histories with which one works and the conceptual basis of human inquiry and socio-political activism.  More directly, his work has implicated three domains ofinquiry: the Structure and Dynamics of Disciplines; the Interpretation of Modernity;and Research on Normative Political Languages.  He has published fairly extensively in each of these spheres, while invariably retaining a reflective focus and incorporating many epistemological questions and socio-historical settings.  His current work actively negotiates the design of inquiry across disciplinary domains, while also opening up to new questions of law/ethics and constitutional jurisprudence.

Archaeological Places: Negotiations between Local Communities, Archaeologists and the State

Supriya Varma


About the Lecture

In South Asia, local communities most often live near or amidst archaeologicalplaces. Their lives are in many ways framed and structured by these places. At the same time, these places too are impacted by the communities that live nearby. This symbiotic relation is often a result of the high population density in the Indian subcontinent, particularly in the Gangetic plain of North India. This story gets further complicated by legislative practices of preservation related to ancient monuments and archaeological sites, as well as the custodianship of antiquities and art treasures.
In order to bring out the complexities of these issues, I will, in my presentation, be focusing on the archaeological site of Indor Khera in the Upper Ganga Plains of North India, which was surveyed and excavated between 2004 and 2010. In the 19th century, the village occupied about one-fourth of the area, which has now expanded over two-thirds of the mound. While Indor Khera merited archaeologicalattention in its own stead, what is usually neglected, particularly in South Asia, are issues related to the current social contexts of archaeological sites. It, thus, becomes imperative to address questions such as (1) local perceptions to the mound, and the daily negotiations of the local residents with the mound; (2) the challenges of undertaking archaeological research at mounds that are still inhabited by local communities and; (3) difficulties and hindrances in enforcing regulations and protection of archaeological places, such as Indor Khera.
There may be many reasons for the preservation of archaeological places in different parts of the world. The most obvious is where the archaeological remnants can be commercialized through tourism. In other cases, there may be an emotional connect between local communities and archaeological sites, where the latter are seen as ancestral places. However, when these factors are not present, localcommunities are often not vested in preserving archaeological sites, and for the state, it becomes a challenge to enforce their regulations. I argue that this is particularly relevant in the case of Indor Khera and many other archaeological sites in the subcontinent. The challenge, thus, lies in formulating ways of involving localcommunities in the preservation of archaeological sites in South Asia.

About Speaker

Supriya Varma teaches archaeology at the Centre for Historical Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She has been the Co-Director of several archaeological projects in India including the Indor KheraArchaeological Project (IKAP) and the Rohana Khurd Archaeological Project (ROKAP). She has also carried out an ethnoarchaeological study of ceramic production in the Upper Ganga plains. She has published articles on themes ranging from settlement archaeology, social archaeology, ethno archaeology, historical archaeology, and early historic urban centres to archaeological practices in India.Her most recent publication includes a forthcoming co-edited book The Archaeology of Early Medieval and Medieval South Asia: Contesting Narratives from the Eastern Ganga-Brahmaputra Basin.