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.

Building Systemic Leadership to Transform Education

Aditya Natraj


About the Lecture

Around a lakh government education administrators across 600+ districts manage the educational outcomes of 240 million children in over a million government schools.  These administrators include staff from DIETs, SSA, RMSA and Department of Education.  There are approximately 150 such administrators per district.  Is it possible to build their leadership, ability to collaborate, improve processes and deploy better technology in order to make them more effective?  What programmes will be required to enable this?  What institutional architecture will be required for this?  What research will be required for this?

About Speaker

Aditya Natraj is the founder and director of Kaivalya Education Foundation (KEF), an institution specialized in leadership development programmes for nation building. It’s programs include the The Principal Leadership Development Programme and The Gandhi Fellowship. The Principal Leadership Development Programme helps principals turn-around failing schools and improve student outcomes. The 3 year part-time programme currently works with 1300 principals of government schools in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Previously, Aditya was the director of Pratham in Gujarat for 5 years, Vice-President of Business Development at ProXchange for 2 years and a consultant at KPMG for 5 years. Aditya is an Ashoka Fellow and an Echoing Green Fellow. A qualified Chartered Accountant, he has a Masters in Economics and an MBA from INSEAD. He is a Fellow of the fifth class of the India Leadership Initiative and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. 

Between the Law and the Street: Political Publicity in Tamil News Media

Francis Cody


About the Lecture

This talk examines recent events in South India to begin the work of developing an understanding of thepolitical image and its limits in the contemporary age, which has been characterized as that of the “post-public sphere.”  My focus will be on the newspaper, that organ of public opinion that many have taken to be foundational to the rise of both nationalism and democratic politics, and which remains among the most potent flashpoints in struggles to define the image of political leaders today.  Under the larger conceptual umbrella of delineating the logic of political publicity in news media, I narrow the inquiry to concentrate on two important modes through which the contours of what can be published are worked out: the first beingthe law and cases of defamation in particular, and the second is the street, where violence routinely erupts in connection with political news reporting.  I hope to show that there are continuities in the logics of representation and publicity that cut across both domains having to do with the extra-parliamentary sovereignty of political bodies and are at the same time commodity images. 

About Speaker

Francis Cody is an Associate Professor in the the Department of Anthropology and the Asian Institute atthe University of Toronto.  His research focuses on language and politics in southern India.  He first broughtthese interests to bear on a study of literacy activism, citizenship, and social movement politics in rural Tamilnadu, published as a book called The Light of Knowledge (Cornell 2013).  Cody's more recent work traces the emergence of populism and transformations of political publicity through news media in Tamil cities and small towns.  Taken as a whole, his work contributes to the transdisciplinary project of elaborating critical social theories of mediation in the postcolonial world.

Em and the Big Hoom: A Reading and Discussion

Jerry Pinto


About the Lecture

After reading select parts of his critically acclaimed novel, Em and the Big Hoom, the author will engage in a discussion on the framing of mental health and illness; and the challenges of embracing a condition that normally evokes anxiety and despair.

About Speaker

Jerry Pinto is a Mumbai-based Indian writer of poetry, prose and children's fiction, as well as a journalist. His 2006 book about actress Helen Jairag Richardson titled The Life and Times of an H-Bomb,went on to win the National Film Award for Best Book on Cinema in 2007. His collection of poems, Asylum and Other Poems appeared in 2003. He has also co-edited Confronting Love (2005), a book of contemporary Indian love poetry in English. In 2009, he coauthored Leela: A Portrait, a semi-biographical book of anecdotes and photos from Leela Naidu's life. He is now a freelance journalist, writing articles for the Hindustan Times and Live Mint newspapers, as well as TheMan and MW. His first novel, "Em and the Big Hoom," was published in 2012.

A Story of a Social Intervention: The Promotion of Self-Reliant Organic Farming in Haryana

Rajinder Chaudhary


About the Lecture

Social change is multi-faceted and equally diverse are the strategies for bringing that about. This talk offersa story of trying to bring about change within civil society rather than change the state policy. It is a story ofhow an informal group, without external funding or a organizational structure, challenged the dominant development paradigm. It is story of a campaign that evolved from being owned by a single individual to being owned by at least a few dozen.  Neither unique nor amongst the most successful ones, it is a storyof challenging the Green Revolution in its heartland, in an area that does not have a history of socialmovements.

About Speaker

Rajinder Chaudhary is an alumnus of Panjab University, Chandigarh, Gokhale Institute of Politicsand Economics, Pune and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He is former Professor ofEconomics, M D University, Rohtak, Haryana and is presently Advisor to Kudarti Kheti Abhiyan, Haryana. Guided by an urge to find ways of making society more democratic, more just and more equitable, I have tried to combine academics with intervention at grassroots level. His doctoral thesis was on the class character of the Soviet Union. His interest in the forms of economic organization has led him to document real (not just de jure) cooperatives across states. Besides, he has actively participated in the Total Literacy Campaign, the Teachers’ Movement, Self-Help Groupsand now self-reliant organic farming. He has published articles in Economic and Political Weekly,International Journal of Rural Management, Alternative Economic Survey, Samayik Varta, among others. 

 Globalization Lived Locally: A Labour Geography Perspective

Neethi P.


About the Lecture

This presentation is based on my recent book, titled ‘Globalization Lived Locally: A labour Geography Perspective’. And the abstract of my book/presentation is given below-The various meta-narratives of globalization project hyper-mobile capital as the leading factor for global economic integration, ignoring the role of labour. Questioning this paradigm, my research reasons that labour becomes actively involved in the very process of globalization and capital expansion. Based on the broad theme of globalization and labour, particularly female labour, I apply the ‘labour geography’ approach to examine contemporary forms of labour control, conflict, and response under a globalization regime in Kerala through four diverse and in-depth empirical case studies set in this state. The geographic perspective sheds light on local variability and uneven development in labour market, helping chart the complex landscapes within which contemporary workers live, work, and struggle. In view of dramatic changes in the labour scenario in Kerala over the second half of the twentieth century, this research constructs a collage of trends in Kerala’s labour scene, in an analysis that departs from economic orthodoxy and borrows from sociological, anthropological, and partly ethnographic approaches to highlight the role played by seemingly unlikely actors in the process of globalization.

About Speaker

Neethi's research interests engage in globalisation and labour, women's work, informal labour markets, everyday work politics, alternative labour movements, and other related themes.She has completed her MPhil and PhD at the Centre for Development Studies under JNU. She also spent a year as Fulbright Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Georgia in the United States, during her PhD at CDS. Her doctoral research employed the 'labour geography' framework to understand certain contemporary episodes around the new forms of labour control, conflict, and response, in Kerala. This has recently been brought out as a title Globalization Lived Locally: A Labour Geography Perspective by Oxford University Press.

Liberal Nationalism: An Oxymoron?

Narayan Ramachandran


About the Lecture

The talk will revisit ideas of liberalism and nationalism in their historical context, with a particular focus on India.  It will touch on the manifestation of these ideas in antiquity through the age of enlightenment in Europe and in contemporary times in a cross-section of countries. This discussion aims to better contextualize the current events in India. 

About Speaker

Narayan Ramachandran is Chairman of RBL Bank, a fast growing new age Bank.  He is socialentrepreneur, columnist and emerging market investor. He worked on Wall Street (mostly at Morgan Stanley) for over 20 years, most recently as head of global emerging market investing and then country head of Morgan Stanley in India. Ramachandran is chairman of the initiative to deworm millions of school kids in india, and serves on the board of the largest water foundation in India. He is co-founder and fellow of the Takshashila Institution, a public policy think tank.  He is also co-Chairman of Unitus Capital, an investment bank that intermediates capital for bottom of the pyramid businesses.  He writes a bi-weekly column called A Visible Hand for the Mint Newspaper.   

Finding Alternatives to Wildlife Dependent Livelihoods: Problems and Solutions

Aniruddha Mookerjee


About the Lecture

The Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 completely changed the way wildlife was managed in India. While, it was, and is, internationally one of the most progressive pieces of legislation from a conservation point of view, it unfortunately looked at nature in isolation turning a large number of wildlife resource dependent communities into “criminals” overnight. Unfortunately, the law made no provision for their rehabilitation and it was left to individual state governments to deal with this.The lecture looks at three case studies related to projects trying to provide alternative livelihoods to Shahtoosh workers in Kashmir, Bear Dancers in central India and Star tortoise collectors and sellers in the southern states. It discusses ways of looking at the problem, intuitive methodologies, solutions, and problems of scaling up.

About Speaker

Aniruddha Mookerjee has been working with forest and wildlife dependent communities for over two decades. He is a wildlife crime and trade investigator, and designs Wildlife Crime Prevention training modules for forest staff as Chief Mentor of WTI’s Guardians of the Wild program. With a degree in economics and a diploma in documentary film making, he started his career as a print journalist working for The Telegraph, Time and Reuters, among others, and moved on to television as a producer and an independent documentary film maker. He has a deep interest in the anthropology of food and is currently researching the cultural practices, economics and techniques of producing indigenous alcohols in India. He has won awards for his writing and films and lives on the edge of Kanha National Park.

Teaching Mathematics for Social Justice

Robert (Bob) Peterson


About the Lecture

Based on nearly three decades of teaching in inner city, bilingual elementary schools in a Midwest industrial city in the United States, Dr. Peterson will suggest multiple ways to interject social justice issues and concepts into core mathematics curriculum that simultaneously draw on children’s lives. Furthermore the he will share anecdotal evidence to argue that this approach increases motivation and interest in the study ofmathematics. Finally he will assert that even in an era of scripted, standard-based, data-saturated curricular mandates, social justice mathematics is both possible and necessary. 

About Speaker

Dr. Robert (Bob) Peterson is a teacher, writer and community and union organizer. He has taught for 30 years as a bilingual 5th grade teacher in the Milwaukee Public Schools. In 1986 he was a founding editor of the journal, Rethinking Schools. He also founded La Escuela Fratney, an innovative, anti-racist, two-way bilingual public school in Milwaukee. For the past four of years he served as President of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association. Dr. Peterson has written multiple articles and books chapters. He editedRethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers. He has also edited several other booksincluding Rethinking Columbus, Rethinking Globalization, Rethinking Elementary Education and Transforming Teacher Unions: Fighting for Better Schools and Social Justice.

The Paradox of Culture and Development and the Spread of Gender Inequality: Questioning Tradition in The Sudan

Lina Fruzzetti


About the Lecture

Concerns around women and development often underscore the so-called challenges that traditions seem to pose, stifling change and continuing women's social and economic marginalization. Much of the literature indevelopment has assumed that it would be possible to change women's lives merely through the a priori tools of modernization, without regard for the productive potential of women. This talk seeks to understand the meaning of development, progress, and change for rural families in the context of their understanding of culture and values in North East Africa.

About Speaker

Lina Fruzzetti is Professor of Anthropology, Brown University. Her research interests are in the areas ofkinship, marriage, ritual and the construction of gender, race and ethnic relations in India and North East Africa. She has done extensive work on caste and the life cycle rites of Hindus; and is now addressing therecent structural changes in the institution of marriage and notions of personhood. Her most recent book on India, When Marriages Go Astray: Choices Made, Choices Challenged (2013), is based on more than four decades of research in rural West Bengal and addresses questions within feminism, nationalism, religious identity and citizenship in post-independent India. She has also taught at the universities of Khartoum, Dar Es Salaam, University of Helsinki, ISCTE (Lisbon), and IIT, Gandhinagar. Besides academic publications, she has directed six documentary films including In My Mother's House(2015), which was based on ten years of ethnographic and documentary work on her mother’s life in Eritrea under Italian colonial rule andEthiopian occupation, her life as a refugee in Sudan, and finally her return home to independent Eritrea.

Interaction with Shri Naseeruddin Shah

Naseeruddin Shah


About the Lecture

About Speaker

An alumni of the National School of Drama, Shri Naseeruddin Shah began his acting career in theatre and then made the transition to cinema.  It is relevant here to mention  that he is also an alumni of the Film and Television Institute at Pune, popularly referred to as the FTII, Pune.  Mr. Shah is an outstanding example of being one of the few actors in the world of  performing arts to have made the successful transition from theatre to cinema.  He has been an intrinsic part of the growth and development of what has been popularly referred to as ‘parallel’, ‘middle’, ‘art’ (used more to condemn rather than appreciate!) cinema movement – obscure terms coined by befuddled film reviewers that tend to mislead rather than enlighten – that emerged in India from the late 1950s, which had a long and distinguished run up until the late 1980s.  Mr.Naseeruddin Shah’s evolution as an actor of both the stage and cinema, which he entered around the mid-1970s, continues to set the standard in terms of the calibre, even as it continues to raise the bar of the art form he has chosen, well into modern era of the post liberalised India.