Speakers' Profiles

Ashutosh Varshney

Sol Goldman Professor of International Studies and the Social Sciences and Professor of Political Science at Brown University, Ashutosh Varshney also directs the Center for Contemporary South Asia. Previously, he taught at Harvard and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His books include Battles Half Won: India's Improbable Democracy, Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India, and Democracy, Development and the Countryside. He served on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Millennium Task Force on Poverty (2002–5), and has been an adviser to the World Bank, UNDP, and the Club of Madrid. He is a Contributing Editor and Columnist for The Indian Express.


Ananya Vajpeyi

Ananya Vajpeyi is a Fellow and Associate Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi. She works at the intersection of intellectual history, political theory, and critical philology. Her book, Righteous Republic: The Political Foundations of Modern India (2012) won the 41st Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize from Harvard University Press, the Crossword Award for Non-Fiction (2013), and the Tata First Book Prize for Non-Fiction (2013). She has taught at the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia University in New York, the History Department of the University of Massachusetts (Boston), and the Asian and African Studies Department at the Ca' Foscari University of Venice in Italy. She has been a Kluge Fellow at the John W. Kluge Centre in the Library of Congress, Washington DC (2013–14), a Global Ethics Fellow with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, New York (2014–17), and most recently a Charles Wallace Fellow at CRASSH, Cambridge University (2017–18).


Ashis Nandy

Ashis Nandy, noted Sociologist and Clinical Psychologist, has over the years strayed into areas outside formal social sciences and normal academic concerns. His research interests centre on the political psychology of violence, cultures of knowledge, utopias and visions, human potentialities, and futures. The running themes in his work have been concern and respect for marginalized categories and systems of knowledge and a robust scepticism towards expert-driven, packaged, professional solutions to human problems. Nandy is a distinguished fellow of the Institute of Postcolonial Studies, Melbourne, and a member of the Global Scientific Committee for Higher Education (UNESCO). Over the years, he has also been associated with initiatives such as the Centre for Ecology and Food Security, New Delhi; People’s Union of Civil Liberties, the Committee for Cultural Choices and Global Futures, Delhi; Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, and the Intercultural Institute of Montreal. He received the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 2007 and the Hans Kilian Award in 2019.


Barkha Dutt

Barkha Dutt is an award-winning TV journalist and anchor with more than two decades of reporting experience. She emerged as a prominent figure after her front line war reporting on the Kargil conflict between India and Pakistan in 1999. Barkha is the recipient of many national and international awards for her work, including the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honour. She is also the author of This Unquiet Land: Stories from India's Fault Lines.


C. Christine Fair

C. Christine Fair is a Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor in the Security Studies Program within Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. She previously served as a Senior Political Scientist with the RAND Corporation, a Political Officer with the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan in Kabul, and a Senior Research Associate at the United States Institute of Peace. She is the author of In Their Own Words: Understanding Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (Hurst/Oxford University Press, 2018/2019). She has authored, co-authored, and co-edited several books, including Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War (Oxford University Press), Pakistan’s Enduring Challenges (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015), Policing Insurgencies: Cops as Counterinsurgents (Oxford University Press, 2014), Treading on Hallowed Ground: Counterinsurgency Operations in Sacred Spaces (Oxford University Press, 2008), and The Cuisines of the Axis of Evil and Other Irritating States (Globe Pequot, 2008), among others.

Colonel (Retd) Ajai Shukla

Colonel (Retd) Ajai Shukla works with Business Standard, a national daily published from India. He writes on strategic affairs, regional issues, Indian defence policy, and the defence economy. Besides being a frequent commentator on television, he also hosts a strategic affairs blog, Broadsword (ajaishukla.blogspot.com). From 2001 to 2008, he worked as a prime time news anchor and war correspondent with NDTV New Delhi. Before taking up journalism, he was in the Indian army for over two decades, retiring as a colonel.

Eswaran Sridharan

Eswaran Sridharan is the Academic Director and Chief Executive of University of Pennsylvania Institute for the Advanced Study of India (UPIASI) in New Delhi, which he has headed from its inception in 1997. He was earlier with the Centre for Policy Research, a leading think tank in New Delhi. He earned his PhD in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author, editor or co-editor of nine books, and has published 79 academic articles in scholarly journals and as chapters in edited volumes. He has lectured and made conference presentations extensively in India and abroad. He is a member of the editorial boards of the Routledge, UK journal, Commonwealth and Comparative Politics and the Sage journal Millenial Asia, and since 2012 has been co-editor (with Sumit Ganguly), of the book series ‘International Relations in South Asia’ (IRSA) for Oxford University Press India.


Happymon Jacob

Happymon Jacob is an Associate Professor of Diplomacy and Disarmament Studies at JNU's School of International Studies. He is a Columnist with The Hindu, and hosts a weekly show on national security at The Wire. Jacob is the author, most recently, of Line on Fire: Ceasefire Violations and India-Pakistan Escalation Dynamics (Oxford University Press, January 2019) and The Line of Control: Travelling with the Indian and Pakistani Armies (Penguin Viking, December 2018). He was a Visiting Professor at the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, Paris and a Senior Global Challenges Fellow at the Central European University, Budapest.


Harmony Siganporia

Harmony Siganporia teaches in the area of Culture and Communication at MICA. She has a PhD in Social History, and her first book, I am the Widow: An Intellectual Biography of Behramji Malabari was on the langue and parole of reformist discourse around the 'women's question' in the late 19th century Western India. A practicing musician, her research interests include gender and performativity, culture and conflict, semiotic theory, and modern Indian history. Siganporia's current project is titled From Dandi: In Search of Vikas, and entailed walking from Dandi to Ahmedabad in February 2019, in a bid to trace the contours of modern Gujarat.


Harsh Mander

Harsh Mander is a human rights and peace worker, writer, columnist, researcher, and teacher who works with survivors of mass violence, hunger, homeless persons, and street children. He recently organized a journey of solidarity and conscience to families affected by hate violence across India called Karwan-e-Mohabbat (Caravan of Love). His books include, among many others, Partitions of the Heart: Unmaking the Idea of India, Between Memory and Forgetting: Massacre and the Modi Years in Gujarat, Looking Away: Inequality, Prejudice and Indifference in New India, Fractured Freedom: Chronicles from India’s Margins, and Ash in the Belly: India’s Unfinished Battle against Hunger. He is a PhD from Vrije University in Amsterdam, and convenes and edits the annual India Exclusion Report. He served as a member of the Prime Minister’s National Advisory Council from June 2010–12, and is the Founder of the Aman Biradari campaign for secularism, peace and justice; and Director of the Centre for Equity Studies.

Hilal Ahmed

Hilal Ahmed is Associate Professor at CSDS and Associate Editor of South Asian Studies, journal of the British Association of South Asian Studies. He works on political Islam, Muslim politics of representation, and politics of symbols in South Asia. His first book Muslim Political Discourse in Postcolonial India: Monuments, Memory, Contestation (Routledge 2014) explores these thematic concerns to evolve an interdisciplinary approach to study Muslim politics. His recent works, Siyasi Muslims: A Story of Political Islam in India (Penguin Random House, New Delhi, 2019) and Democratic Accommodations: Minorities in Contemporary India (With Peter R de’Souza, and Sanjeer Alam, Bloomsbury, forthcoming in September 2019) further elaborate on these themes and make a modest attempt to explain the discursively constituted nature of contemporary Muslim political discourse in India.


Jennifer Bussell

Jennifer Bussell is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. She studies comparative politics with an emphasis on the political economy of development, democratic representation, and governance outcomes, principally in South Asia and Africa. Her latest book, Clients and Constituents: Political Responsiveness in Patronage Democracies (Modern South Asia Series, Oxford University Press), considers the provision of constituency service by high-level elected officials in India and elsewhere. Her first book, Corruption and Reform in India: Public Services in the Digital Age (Cambridge University Press) examines the role of corrupt practices in shaping government adoption of information technology across sub-national regions. She received her PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley and prior to returning to Berkeley, she taught in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin.


Kanchan Chandra

Kanchan Chandra (PhD 2000, Harvard), Professor of Politics at NYU, works on questions of ethnicity, democracy, violence, patronage and clientelism, party politics, and the politics of South Asia. She is the lead author of Democratic Dynasties (2016), Constructivist Theories of Ethnic Politics (2012), and author of Why Ethnic Parties Succeed: Patronage and Ethnic Headcounts in India (2004). She has also penned articles in several leading journals. She is currently working on two large-scale research projects—first one is a project which theorizes about the effect of ethnic mobilization on democratic stability and governance from a constructivist perspective, combining field research with cross-national data on ethnic parties and violence around the world, and the second one is a project on democratic transformations in South Asia.


Madhav Khosla

 Madhav Khosla is a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows. He studied Political Theory at Harvard University, where his dissertation was awarded the Edward M. Chase Prize for "the best dissertation on a subject relating to the promotion of world peace", and Law at Yale Law School, and the National Law School of India University, Bangalore. His work has been cited by courts in India and Pakistan. He is the author/editor of six books, including The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution (ed. with Sujit Choudhry and Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Oxford University Press, 2016) and India's Founding Moment: The Constitution of a Most Surprising Democracy (Harvard University Press, forthcoming 2020).

Manoj Joshi

Manoj Joshi is a Distinguished Fellow at ORF. He has been a journalist specialising in national and international politics, and is a commentator and columnist on these issues. As a reporter, he has written extensively on issues pertaining to Siachen, Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka, and terrorism in Kashmir and Punjab. He was most recently a member of the Task Force on National Security chaired by Mr Naresh Chandra to propose reforms in the security apparatus of the country. Joshi has served as the Political Editor at The Times of India, Editor (Views) at Hindustan Times, Defence Editor at India Today, National Affairs Editor at Mail Today, Washington Correspondent for The Financial Express, and Special Correspondent for The Hindu in his three-decade-long career as a journalist. He has also been an academic fellow of the American Studies Research Centre, Hyderabad.


Max Rodenbeck

Max Rodenbeck studied at Wesleyan University and the American University in Cairo, receiving a degree in Islamic History. He began his career as a journalist in the Middle East, writing for numerous publications including the Financial Times, The Economist, the Los Angeles Times, Foreign Affairs, and the New York Review of Books, and covering such events as the first Gulf War, two Palestinian Intifadas, the Algerian Civil War, and the spread of Islamist extremism. In 2000, he became a staff writer for The Economist, and for 15 years served as its Middle East Bureau Chief. Since 2016, he has been the paper’s South Asia Bureau Chief, based in New Delhi. Rodenbeck’s book Cairo: The City Victorious (Knopf, Macmillan, 1998) has been translated into nine languages.


Niraja Gopal Jayal

Niraja Gopal Jayal is Professor at the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her book Citizenship and Its Discontents (Harvard University Press, 2013) won the Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Prize of the Association of Asian Studies in 2015. She is also the author of Representing India: Ethnic Diversity and the Governance of Public Institutions (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) and Democracy and the State: Welfare, Secularism and Development in Contemporary India (Oxford University Press, 1999). She has co-edited The Oxford Companion to Politics in India, and is the editor/co-editor of, among others, Democracy in India (Oxford University Press, 2001), and Local Governance in India: Decentralisation and Beyond (Oxford University Press, 2005). She has held visiting appointments at, among others, King’s College, London; the EHESS, Paris; Princeton University; and the University of Melbourne.


Poulami Roychowdhury

Poulami Roychowdhury is Assistant Professor of Sociology at McGill University. Her research focuses on gender, politics, and governance. She has written about the consequences of feminist mobilization around domestic violence in India, the changing character of women’s citizenship rights, masculinity and labour organizing in New York, and international media coverage of sexual violence. Her research is funded by the Fulbright Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


Pratiksha Baxi

Pratiksha Baxi has been teaching at the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance since 2006. Her book, Public Secrets of Law: Rape Trials in India (Oxford University Press, 2014), is a courtroom ethnography that brings together her interest in sociology of law, feminist theory, and violence. She was awarded a fellowship at the Kate Hamburger Kolleg, “Recht als Kultur”, Bonn (2011, 2012), the Herme’s postdoctoral fellowship in Paris (2010), the British Academy Visiting Fellowship at the University of Warwick (2006), a writing fellowship at the John Hopkins University (2000–1), the Junior Research Fellowship of University Grants Commission (1993–2000), and the Prof. M.S.A. Rao Gold Medal, University of Delhi (1993). Baxi initiated the formation of the Law and Social Sciences Research Network, anchored at the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2007.


Radhika Govindrajan

Radhika Govindrajan is a Cultural Anthropologist who works across the fields of multi-species ethnography, environmental anthropology, the anthropology of religion, South Asian Studies, and political anthropology. Her research is motivated by a longstanding interest in understanding how human relationships with nonhuman in South Asia are variously drawn into and shape broader issues of cultural, political, and social relevance. Her book Animal Intimacies (University of Chicago Press, 2018) is an ethnography of multi-species relatedness in the Central Himalayan state of Uttarakhand in India. She is currently working on two closely connected research projects—the first draws on ethnographic and archival work in Uttarakhand, and the second project is concerned with the relationship between elections and broader social life. She teaches courses on animal studies, South Asia, the anthropology of religion, the history of anthropology, the post-human turn, ethnography, and agrarian and environmental studies. 


Shashi Tharoor 

Shashi Tharoor is an award-winning author of 18 books of fiction and non-fiction, including The Great Indian Novel, Pax Indica: India and the World of the 21st Century, An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India, Why I Am A Hindu, and the recently published The Paradoxical Prime Minister. He has won numerous literary awards including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. A third-term Member of Parliament representing Thiruvananthapuram, he has served as Minister of State for Human Resource Development and for External Affairs in the Government of India. During his nearly three-decade-long career at the United Nations, he served as a peacekeeper, refugee worker, and administrator at the highest levels, serving as Under-Secretary General during Kofi Annan’s leadership.


Shekhar Gupta

Shekhar Gupta is a recipient of the Padma Bhushan, and is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Print. He is a prolific columnist, with the highly influential column National Interest, which is translated into seven languages, and a collection of which became the bestselling book, Anticipating India. He also hosts Off the Cuff–an offering from The Print and Walk the Talk on NDTV 24x7 every week. A collection of his news-making interviews has been published recently as a book, Walk the Talk: Decoding Politicians. In his four-decade-long career, Gupta has reported on several key Indian and international events. Before this, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of The Indian Express for 19 years and simultaneously held the position of the company's Chief Executive for 13 years.


Sudhir Chandra

Sudhir Chandra is the author of Gandhi: An Impossible Possibility, and editor of Violence and Non-violence across Time: Religion, Culture and History, and is currently engaged with the question of the possibility of non-violence in today’s world. His earlier work—a trilogy comprising Dependence and Disillusionment: Emergence of National Consciousness in Later 19th Century India, The Oppressive Present: Literature and Social Consciousness in Colonial India, and Enslaved Daughters: Colonialism, Law and Women’s Rights—explores the consciousness of the English educated in India. Sudhir Chandra has been associated with various academic institutions in India and abroad.


Suhasini Haidar

Suhasini Haidar is the Diplomatic Editor of The Hindu, regularly writing on foreign policy issues. Prior to this, she was Foreign Affairs Editor and Prime Time Anchor for CNN-IBN and Correspondent for CNN International’s New Delhi bureau. Over the course of her career, Haidar has covered the most challenging stories and conflicts from diverse regions including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Libya, Lebanon, and Syria.  In India, she has covered the foreign affairs beat for over a decade and her domestic assignments include political profiles and in-depth reportage from conflict zones including Kashmir.


Tridip Suhrud

Tridip Suhrud is a writer, political scientist, cultural historian, and translator from Gujarat, India. He earned his PhD under Ashis Nandy for his thesis Narrations of a Nation: Explorations through Intellectual Biographies, a socio-historical work on late 19th century Gujarati literature in the context of autobiographies written by Narmad, Manilal Dwivedi, and Govardhanram Tripathi. After working for five years with Sabarmati Ashram as a Director, he resigned in August 2017, and was later appointed as Professor and Director of CEPT Archives. He is a member of the Gandhi Heritage Sites Mission of the Government of India. He received the Katha Award in 1999 and Sahitya Akademi's Translation Prize in 2009 for his translated work, Harilal Gandhi: A Life.


Yamini Aiyar 

Yamini Aiyar is the President and Chief Executive of CPR. In 2008, Yamini founded the Accountability Initiative at CPR that has produced significant research in the areas of governance, state capacity, and social policy. It pioneered a new approach to tracking public expenditures for social policy programs and is widely recognised for running the country’s largest expenditure-tracking survey in elementary education. Aiyar’s own research on social accountability, elementary education, decentralisation and administrative reforms has received both academic and popular recognition. She has also been a member of the World Economic Forum’s global council on good governance. Previously, she has worked with the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program and Rural Development unit in Delhi, and was a member of the decentralisation team at the World Bank that provided policy support to strengthen Panchayati Raj (local governance) in India.