Eminent Thought Leaders Unravel Critical Narratives at the IFMR GSB Research Symposium on Finance and Economics (RSFE) 2022

Eminent Thought Leaders Unravel Critical Narratives at the IFMR GSB Research Symposium on Finance and Economics (RSFE) 2022

On 16–17 June 2022,  IFMR Graduate School of Business at Krea University played host to  the  third edition of the Research Symposium on Finance and Economics (RSFE) 2022. Eminent keynote speakers and more than 50 academics came together to present, discuss and deliberate on critical narratives in the field of Finance and Economics

The Research Symposium on Finance and Economics (RSFE) 2022 that was held on June 16 and 17, this year, received 83 papers from academicians and scholars from Oxford Said Business School, University of Cambridge, Yale School of Management, Cornell University, The University of Queensland, Chukyo University, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad among many other prestigious global institutions.

The inaugural day of RSFE 2022 witnessed three keynote lectures, three technical sessions and 28  paper presentations from academics spanning eight countries and over 28 universities across the globe.

In his welcome address, Professor Praveen Bhagawan, Chair, RSFE 2022 and Assistant Professor of Finance and Area Chair (Finance) at IFMR GSB said, “RSFE is an important event in the academic calendar of IFMR GSB. More than 50 researchers from India and abroad will present their highly esteemed research in the areas of finance and economics this edition. The aim of the Symposium is to create a forum for discussion and deliberation on emerging issues in finance and economics.”

In her opening remarks, Prof Lakshmi Kumar Dean, IFMR GSB, Krea University said, “Historically, IFMR has always been a research institution around finance and economics. In both areas IFMR has made significant contributions as we have introduced models to understand what moves markets and made significant contributions towards economic policy. With the introduction of the Research Symposium, the quality of research has moved up exponentially. It was tough to select papers for the Symposium as the quality was very high.”

Addressing the attendees, Ramkumar Ramamoorthy, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professional Learning, Krea University, said, “There has been a structural alteration of the business landscape – technology has become the language of business and sustainability its underlying grammar. IFMR has focused on finance and economics for more than five decades. This institution has the distinction of having a very strong association with the government of India with several distinguished academicians having served the government in very high posts. Given this context, I am thrilled that IFMR GSB has taken the lead to organise this Symposium and also invited so many illustrious speakers.”

The inaugural and Keynote Address presentation by Prof Itay Goldstein, Joel SEhrenkranz, Family Professor of Finance and Professor of Economics, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, United States, touched upon the results of a study on how environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing re-shapes information aggregation by prices. “Investors are increasingly showing interest in other aspects of a firm’s operation namely ESG – Environmental, Social and Governance. This is a revolution for the way asset markets work since now there are investors who are potentially interested in different things – cash flow vs ESG”, he added.

Prof Raghavendra Rau, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild Professor of Finance, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, delivered his Keynote Lecture titled “Information Processing in IPOs: The Case of Board Gender Diversity”, examining the impact of board gender diversity on the underpricing of initial public offerings (IPOs).

Prof Rau said, “IPOs with at least one woman on the board are significantly more underpriced than IPOs with all-male boards. The underpricing effect is not attributable to performance, growth opportunities, CSR profiles, or other firm characteristics. Instead, the underpricing effect appears to be driven by increased institutional investor demand for board gender diversity. Over the past decade, institutional investors and firms have placed increased emphasis on stakeholder value maximisation, diversity, and other CSR related topics.”

Prof Uday Rajan, David B Hermelin Professor of Business Administration and Professor of Finance, Stephen M Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, United States delivered his Keynote Lecture titled “FinTech and the Boundaries of the Bank”. Prof Rajan focused on FinTech competition in payment, observed in recent years. He discussed some innovations in payments, such as those which use existing bank and credit card infrastructure (Paypal, Paytm, Square, Venmo) and those based on new technology by-passing the banking system (Alipay, WeChat Pay and M-Pesa).

The second and concluding day of the Symposium witnessed three Keynote Lectures, three technical sessions and 26 paper presentations from academics spanning 41 universities across 11 countries.

Prof Campbell R Harvey, J Paul Sticht Professor of International Business and Professor of Finance, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, United States, delivered his Keynote Lecture titled “DeFi: Opportunities and Risks”. In DeFi or Decentralised Finance, users interact as peers with algorithms or smart contracts rather than through traditional intermediaries such as banks, brokerages, or insurance companies. “DeFi is the future of financial transactions”, said Prof Harvey.

During her Keynote Address at RSFE 2022, Prof Ashima Goyal, Member of Monetary Policy Committee, Reserve Bank of India and Emeritus Professor at IGIDR, India, said that India has been going through a very tough time and there were all kinds of preconceptions and predictions that the Indian financial sector is fragile, cannot recover without major reforms, there exists a trust deficit, PSBs are the problem and privatisation is the only answer; but the financial sector has really surprised everyone by outperforming during this period.

Prof Ashima said, “India has the largest share of youth and combined with technology, innovation and inherent resilience there is great opportunity to kick-off a virtuous growth cycle, with inclusion largely from empowerment” she added. Ending with a word of caution, she said though the sector performed beyond expectations there were still lots of risks and uncertainties that one should be careful of. Excessive stimulus or tightening can prove countercyclical for the Indian financial sector.

Prof Nishith Prakash, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Connecticut, United States, delivered the last Keynote Address titled  “Improving Girls’ Education: Evidence from Two Countries”. He shed light on how despite considerable progress in closing the gender gap in education, there still exist several barriers to human capital accumulation for girls in developing countries, such as distance to school, safety and violence, lack of agency and socio-cultural barriers. In this talk, Prof Prakash provided both experimental and non-experimental evidence from India and Zambia.

Research papers were called for various topics in the field of Finance and Economics, including Corporate Finance, Capital Structure and Dividend Policy, Corporate Governance, Mergers and Acquisitions, Financial Reporting and Regulations, Behavioural Finance, Computational Finance and Financial Econometrics, Asset Pricing, Financial Markets, Derivatives Trading and Pricing, Market Microstructure and Algorithmic Trading, Banking and Risk Management, Digital Finance, Financial Tech, AI, and Machine Learning.

RSFE 2022 concluded with the presentation of the ‘Best Paper Awards’ in the areas of finance and economics. The awards were sponsored by CFA Institute and IFMR GSB.

Research Symposium on Finance and Economics by IFMR Graduate School of Business at Krea University

Research Symposium on Finance and Economics by IFMR Graduate School of Business at Krea University

Chennai, 13 June 2022:

IFMR Graduate School of Business at Krea University will be conducting the third edition  of their research symposium on Finance and Economics virtually on June 16 and 17, 2022. The Research Symposium aims to bring researchers, academicians, and practitioners in finance and economics from across the globe to present, discuss and deliberate upon emerging issues in finance and economics in the contemporary world. Over two days of talks and presentations, the Symposium seeks to unravel critical narratives in the field of Finance and Economics while presenting key leadership insights. 

The speakers, at the research symposium include Prof Itay Goldstein, Joel S Ehrenkranz Family Professor of Finance and Professor of Economics, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, US; Prof. Raghvendra Rau, Sir Evelyn De Rothschild, Professor of Finance, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, UK; Prof Uday Rajan, David B. Hermelin Professor of Business Administration, Professor of Finance, Stephen M Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, US; Prof Campbell R Harvey, J Paul Sticht Professor of International Business and Professor of Finance, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, US; Prof Nishchit Prakash, Associate Professor of Economics University of Connecticut, US; Prof Ashima Goyal, Member of The Money Policy Committee at RBI and Emeritus Professor at IGIDR, India.

Leading up to the Symposium the call for papers saw a great response with 83 papers received from scholars spanning various countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Belgium, China, Hong Kong, and many more. Research papers were called for various topics in the field of Finance and Economics, including Corporate Finance, Capital Structure and Dividend Policy, Corporate Governance, Mergers and Acquisitions, Financial Reporting and Regulations, Behavioural Finance, Computational Finance and Financial Econometrics, Asset Pricing, Financial Markets, Derivatives Trading and Pricing, Market Microstructure and Algorithmic Trading, Banking and Risk Management, Digital Finance, Financial Tech, AI, and Machine Learning   

The Research Symposium will witness papers from academicians and scholars from Oxford Said Business School, University of Cambridge, Yale School of Management, Cornell University, The University of Queensland, Chukyo University, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad among many other prestigious global institutions.

Dr. Lakshmi Kumar, Dean IFMR GSB Krea University said, “The Research Symposium on Finance and Economics (RSFE) 2022 is IFMR GSBs contribution to the culmination of quality research from all over the world. It showcases contemporary pioneering thinkers/speakers, research that is cutting edge and brings together actionable intellectual debates. In its third edition the call for papers has been overwhelming, which just portrays the faith that researchers have in this Symposium.”

A pre-symposium workshop on ’Impact of Covid Pandemic on Firms’ Policies’ will also be conducted by two eminent academicians, Julian Kozlowski from Federal Reserve Bank, St Louis, and Dr Anand Goel from Stevens Institute of Technology on June 15, 2022.

To register for the Research Symposium please click this link

To register for pre symposium workshop please click this link

In Conversation With Vani Jain, SIAS Student and Entrepreneur

In Conversation With Vani Jain, SIAS Student and Entrepreneur

Vani Jain is a student at SIAS, Krea University, the Cohort of 2024. A young entrepreneur with passion for economics and business studies, Vani launched her own product called the Mystery Crate. With a goal to provide an engaging and entertaining digital detox to children, the design of the Mystery Crate also supports the development of cognitive, creative and problem solving skills. 

We asked Vani to take us through her entrepreneurial journey, from the genesis of her business idea, through both her ups and downs, to the most important lessons learnt. We found her propensity to create something new, entrepreneurial mindset, and a charming combination of hard work and optimism, truly inspiring. 

Vani, what motivated you to become an entrepreneur?

I always had the urge to do something on my own, instead of working for someone else. Besides, I was always fascinated by entrepreneurs around me. 

What is Mystery Crate, and how was the idea conceived?

Mystery Crate is a subscription product for 2–9 years old, where children receive a box every month with different activities. I saw my brother spending excessive amount of time online, and I was worried about its side effects on his health. So, I thought of taking away my mother’s worries by helping her and parents like her through creating a business module for children of this age category.  

What makes the Mystery Crate such a unique product?

Each box has 3–4 fun learning activities which keep the child engaged and create excitement while unboxing. The boxes are customised according to the age group and gender, which allows me to create specific boxes for the customers. Every crate is planned in such a way that it makes the kid think and develop one or more of skills such as critical thinking, cognitive, creative, adaptive and problem solving.

What makes the Mystery Crate such a unique product?

How do you manage your time between being a student and an entrepreneur?

I have created a schedule that prioritises college work on weekdays, with 30–60 minutes of business work. This enables me to dedicate my weekends completely to my Mystery Crate product. I make sure to not procrastinate, and I stick to my deadlines. And sometimes I work beforehand, to be prepared for any sudden large orders that I might receive. 

What are some of the challenges you have faced as a young entrepreneur?

There can be hurdles at each and every stage, starting from finding the right supplier and manufacturer, getting deliveries on time and bargaining for the right price. Elders initially treated me as a child and were not serious enough while working, but gradually I convinced them through my consistent orders. Finalising the exact box size and stickers for the box took me weeks, which delayed my launching date. However, the overall journey taught me business skills such as how to handle people with patience and respect, and it improved my designing skills and decision making. 

Who has supported you most in your entrepreneurial journey?

I joined the Young Entrepreneurship Academy, where I was assigned two mentors who taught me various components of a business and helped me formulate my business idea and execute it. 

Was there a particular moment of success that boosted your confidence in your venture?

Once I started my business, it took me a while to get my first order, and I started to loose my confidence. But when I got my first order, I felt like the happiest person on Earth. This boosted my confidence tremendously. Secondly, winning the 2nd position at the Investor’s Panel was an unbelievable experience for me — I believed in my business, and so did the investors. This strengthened my trust in my venture. 

What would you say to other young people who have a drive to start their own venture but do not know how?

You should choose a business that you are passionate about, so that even if you are tired and exhausted, you would still want to work on it at the end of the day. The excitement and joy that the business of your choice will bring to you are unparalleled. There is no restrain as to when you can start a business — if you want to be an entrepreneur, you should work on it every day and spend some time building your thoughts. You can begin by reading a few books or watching motivational videos. Just believe in yourself and your idea. It may take time to build it up, but if you are confident enough, then it will happen sooner or later. 

To connect with this young entrepreneur and to learn more about her product, the Mystery Crate, you can visit her Instagram page

Sustainability in the Krea Universe

Sustainability in the Krea Universe

Every once in a while, academics alter the course of history with research-led knowledge that holds the power to re-imagine the world we live in. The paradigms that shape our views of the world we inhabit, theories that force us to question the status quo and evidence that aid our understanding of the complexities that we are surrounded by. We reached out to the faculty members, Research Centres and students within Krea to share relevant work and insights on their work around Sustainability. 

In response, we have been swept off our feet as we collated the literature, all of them speaking to the urgent and critical challenges of an interconnected society and many of which could pave the way for a bigger, brighter and healthier global future.

Herein, presenting research studies, projects and articles packed with insights which look at the world through the Sustainability lens.

Prof Soumyajit Bhar & Prof Chirag Dhara

In a joint study, Prof Chirag Dhara and Prof Soumyajit Bhar are working on a series of papers to understand ‘How can higher levels of development be achieved for the rest of the world while maintaining climate and ecological integrity?’ and ‘Which are the aspirational models of development that can be sustainably scaled to the global population?’

Prof Chirag Dhara
Prof Soumyajit Bhar

The study is presently under peer review and analyses various sustainability indicators of different countries across the world to identify those countries which manages to offer decent human wellbeing to its people without breaching diverses sustainability thresholds. Findings reveal that countries like Norway and Sweden, who are often lauded for achieving phenomenal wellbeing indicators such as zero poverty levels, and high quality of health, education, gender equity, and so on have in the process of development been very energy and resource intensive causing heavy environmental damage.

This has led to high carbon emissions and extreme usage of resources. This brings the point of contention that ensuring good living conditions is important but not at a level that it becomes completely unsustainable. And hence the attempt to answer the question- are there countries that have achieved equity, poverty mitigation, literacy, health, and more while also being sustainable? The study uses a mathematical framework to analyse data and the results threw up names that are rarely made into conversations about Sustainability such as Costa Rica, Panama, Tunisia, Ecuador and even Algeria. These results also bring to the fore the argument that while the danger to sustainability is often conflated with action on climate change, it is a much larger concept than one centred around climate change and carbon emissions. Sustainability clearly involves energy and resource usage and environmental impact; but it also navigates the intricacies of social and economic structures. The study also showcases that even when we adopt alternative developmental trajectories we may optimise or reduce carbon emission but we would still be as distant from a sustainable world in its all-encompassing sense.

Prof Bharath Sundaram

Prof Bharath Sundaram

Prof Bharath Sundaram recently co-authored an article with Ovee Thorat and Vadivel Chinnadurai for the Economic and Political Weekly, namely ‘Life in a Special Economic Zone Navigating the Transition– Transformation–Aspiration Continuum’. The insights shared navigate the narrative of Social Economic Zones (SEZ) being considered as vehicles for social and economic development. It explores how divergent social and economic outcomes were created for respondents living in and navigating through a transition– transformation–aspiration continuum and the SEZ creation legitimising precarity by engendering casual, insecure, and unprotected labour relationships.

The article describes how resident communities of an SEZ in Sri City, Andhra Pradesh, experienced a series of livelihood transformations that were mediated strongly by capabilities and aspirations. The article suggests that SEZ performance be evaluated by metrics that incorporate an explicit focus on the enhancement of capabilities through understanding the process by which transitions, transformations and aspirations occur in communities living in this SEZ.

Read more, here

Conducted across three villages of Chengambakkam, Thondur, and Thondur Society, chosen for being representative of a diverse set of social structures, livelihood types, and village sizes in Sri City and through detailed interviews with 43 people belonging to 35 households, the study argues that transitions in land use, accompanied by transformations in livelihoods engender vastly differential—and constrained—aspirations. The resulting continuum is one where there is a wide variation in the way individuals perceive, experience, and participate in SEZs. It explores the congruence and incongruence of aspirations within individual households using past and current economic conditions, flux in livelihood status, gender, caste, and dignity as analytical placeholders.

Prof Sathyanarayanan Ramachandran

A case study in the context of sustainability and deeply focused on sustainable fashion took Prof Sathyanarayanan Ramachandran to Nurpu, nestled in the quaint town Chennimalai, near Erode Erode. Prof Ramachandran documented this work as a teaching case study Nurpu: A Dream towards a Sustainable Handloom Weaving Society and it is published by Routledge Taylor & Francis Group as a part of the book “Social and Sustainability Marketing.

Prof Sathyanarayanan Ramachandran

As Mahatma Gandhi wrote in his Letter dated July 3, 1917 to V S Srinivasa Sastri, “The handloom weaving industry is on the brink of death and yet everyone admits that irrespective of the future of the mill industry, handlooms ought not be allowed to perish.” To this means, this case study is a harbinger of hope in the direction of handloom revival.

Nurpu means weaving in Tamil. The case deals with the business decision-making situation of Sivagurunathan from the town of Erode in Tamil Nadu, who got inspired by the sustainability and handloom revival dreams of Mahatma Gandhi and Gandhian Economist J C Kumarappa. Hailing from a family which was traditionally involved in handloom weaving, Sivagurunathan studied engineering in college and shifted to a job in the information technology industry, like many of his counterparts from the weaving community. At some point, he realised his mission of reviving the handloom units in his hometown, quit his regular job and took a plunge to start Nurpu Handlooms, with a dream to create a sustainable, cooperative society in the long run.

For a Global reader in the context of sustainable fashion, the case incorporates scope for analysis with frameworks like RESTART [Redesign, Experimentation, Service logic, The circular, Alliances, Results, Three-dimensionality] and Flourishing Business Canvas (FBC).

Read more, here

Prof Chirag Dhara

Prof Chirag is involved in various projects that circle around and raise critical queries on the subject of climate change. One of them involves the study of Indian rainfall, how the rainfall will change in the future and how if we could learn to adapt to a world with these evolved extreme patterns oscillating from droughts to floods. The study deep dives into how Indian rainfall may change in the next 20 years in response to global warming, and air pollution which plays a major role in the drastic change of patterns.

Prof Chirag Dhara

Prof Chirag has also co-authored an article with Vandana Singh, namely ‘The Delusion of Infinite Economic Growth’ on how even ‘sustainable’ technology such as electric vehicles and wind turbines faces physical limits and exact environmental costs. It discusses how electric vehicles are often seen as panacea to many sustainability problems and what’s sometimes lost in the conversation is that they come with their own environmental impact issues. While alternating a massive number of fossil fuel powered vehicles with electric vehicles run by clean solar energy will reduce emission, they will still be utilising the problematic infrastructure that pre-exists. Roads and rail lines will still run through wildlife habitats and fragile terrains and the heavy machinery used for building the infrastructure will run the risk of landslides, avalanches in regions of snow, soil loss and immediate habitat destruction-one of the major reasons for the decline of pollinators, a very important component in our food chain.

Hence, keeping existing infrastructure may mitigate certain problems but will not be a solution-based approach when it comes to the larger questions around the notion of development. Not just these, each of these vehicles weigh thousands of kilograms and use an equivalent amount of raw materials such as rare earth metal, glass, plastic and so much more, which in most cases is procured through invasive and environmentally damaging mining. And to close the loop, when these vehicles reach the end of their life cycle and are disposed , the recycling techniques themselves are some that end up harming the environment, from using chemicals and heat for varied components, detrimental to water and soil. The article further raises the urgent question- how do we transition to alternative economic paradigms founded on the reconciliation of equitable human well-being with ecological integrity?

Read more, here

Prof Annu Jalais

The ‘universal collective’ as understood by environmental studies on the Anthropocene, has primarily been viewed through a western lens, its meaning rarely explored outside the Euro-American Zone. Prof Annu Jalais navigates this narrative to offer a re-imagining of the ‘universal’ by using local traditions of intellection focusing on ‘collectives’ formed in both the distant as well as the recent past in the Indian Ocean region. To this effect, she recently wrote a piece titled ‘Historicizing Indic collectives’ ‘solidarities’ in the age of the Anthropocene’. In it, she argues that focusing on the relationship humans share with nonhumans leads us to probe the relationships humans share with other humans. This, she argues, can inspire us to explore the various movements for social justice and how they challenge the hierarchies that define the Indic sphere, as well as present shared hope for the kindling of a more egalitarian ‘collective’.

Prof Annu Jalais

In order to form this collective and in an attempt to address the societal and environmental problems of the Indian Ocean region through it, Annu Jalais, Aarthi Sridhar, Rapti Siriwardane-de Zoysa and Alin Kadfak formed and designed the Southern Collective — a ‘transregional collaboratory’ comprising of practitioners and researchers from diverse disciplines, academic hierarchies, and field experiences. Born during the Covid-19 pandemic, this collective tried to create more comprehensive, nuanced and collaborative narratives on maritime knowledge in the vastly culturally connected, but also digitally disconnected, expanse of the Indian Ocean. With an aim to be inclusive and democratic, the Southern Collective is based on and inspired by the solidarity seen in communities that reside in some of the most difficult climatic and political regions of the world.

Apart from the web-based portal that facilitates grassroot public engagement and democratises knowledge generation, the Collective has been involved in designing many more associated sites to the core projects such as building remote collaborations, creating online repositories to document stories co-authored by researchers and coastal migrant communities, conducting workshops on storytelling techniques and field work ethics, creating an online Sea Lexicon to encourage researchers and coastal communities across the regions, developing ICT to democratize knowledge, liaising with artists and students in making sense of nonhumans across Asian cultures. The Collective was funded by a planning grant from the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) awarded in the year 2020, is supported by the core team, and is based at the Dakshin Foundation. In Prof Jalais’ words, “I see that there is some hope, however small, in connecting and organising ourselves into collectives so that the stories of those who have been marginalised in and from the capitalist project and the rot it has brought to our world, can find a space where they will thrive and perhaps bring all of us to imagine more sustainable futures in harmony with nonhumans.”

Read more, here

Prof Soumyajit Bhar

The 21st century poses some serious challenges at the intersection of environment, economy, society, and human wellbeing. On the one hand, we are faced with new limits like the planetary boundary that do not seem to be managed through technocratic solutions. On the other hand, a large section of the population does not have access to the necessary material basis for living a decent full-filled life that enables them to realize their human potential. So, we need to decide on a safe operating consumption corridor that can help us move towards a sustainable and just future for all. However, it is not only a question of environmental sustainability or justice. We know that material opulence often fails to translate into similar human wellbeing levels, and socio-economically privileged sections are not fully satisfied with their lives and face a sense of deep meaninglessness.

Prof Soumyajit Bhar

Therefore, the need is to imagine a good life that is within that safe operating consumption corridor but at the same time manages to offer people a higher sense of meaning and purpose and thus wellbeing in their lives. It is reasonably evident that this sense of good life needs not to start from a material basis of living (like the means to the ends of human wellbeing and life satisfaction), rather we should begin from a point where the focus is on the values (the ends that correspond directly to our wellbeing and satisfaction) that we want to uphold in a life corresponding to the standard of a good life. This research project will be based on students conducting in-depth interviews with different sections of the population to understand some of these values that individuals from various socio-economic strata want to prioritise. Students will empirically explore how the notion of the good life shapes our consumption choices at the intersection of consumer culture and political economy.

Prof Kalpita Bhar Paul

Prof Kalpita Bhar Paul engages with how prevalent concepts and categories through which we broadly understand the environment falls short in a liminal landscape like the Indian Sundarbans and in turn, threaten the sustainability of the delta. Prof Kalpita’s working monograph captures the land-water dichotomy that rules the developmental and climate adaptation policies of this delta remain detached from the islanders’ phenomenological experiences and traditional knowledge that are crucial to build-up sustainability of the island.

Prof Kalpita Bhar Paul

Through her research she is also engaging with the term sustainability to unpack what it stands for. To be specific she argues the core principle of sustainability is diversity. Ecological and biodiversity correspond to social and cultural diversity. She argues that it is high time to preserve the diverse notions of goodlife and diverse ways of living so that humanity’s actions inherently preserve the quality of sustain-ability. 

Prof Kalpita is also working with students for the summer research internship program to understand the new phenomenon called climate migration and how that impacts socio-environmental sustainability. And what kind of ethical approach do we need to address sustainability in the era of migration. 

LEAD at Krea University, IWWAGE and Krea University

Located between Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in South India, Pulicat is the second-largest brackish lake in India. Pulicat’s rich biodiversity and estuarine features support several thousand fishing families that depend on it for their livelihoods. As a low-lying area, the lake and the people inhabiting it are vulnerable to the multidimensional impacts of climate change, in the form of sea-level rise, coastal erosion, intensifying cyclones/storm surges, and salinization of aquifers. Moreover, local environmental changes and a gradual decline in fish availability raise important concerns about the community’s access to and control over natural resources and the fragility of the lake’s ecosystem. Against this backdrop, the lake provides a befitting setting to study the long-term implications of climate change on coastal areas, particularly on the socio-economic context and livelihoods of inhabitants; and the implication of gender and power relations on access to resources and spaces. A new collaborative project between the in-house research centre LEAD, its gender initiative IWWAGE, and faculty and experts from Krea will examine these issues, through an intersectional lens. 

This complex ecosystem, which combines diverse biophysical and socio-economic characteristics, requires a unique and robust method to capture and understand the various phenomena. Multiple dimensions namely livelihoods, climate, socio-economic, finance, power and gender interplay at different levels, requiring experts from different disciplines to collaborate and improve the existing models for these individual dimensions. As a first step, a socio-economic survey is being planned in 2022, to map baseline information about the lake ecosystem and its inhabitants. The findings from the research and outreach initiative will not only inform policy and programmatic efforts within the Pulicat region, but also provide a framework for approaching similar complex and unique ecosystems.

Announcement: Sustainable Transport

Announcement: Sustainable Transport

Transport is one of the largest global contributors to air pollution and emissions. Petrol and diesel fuels create harmful byproducts like nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and formaldehyde. Furthermore, these fossil fuels contribute to substantial carbon dioxide emissions. These have a detrimental impact on human health, climate, and ecosystem integrity, constraining our collective sustainability efforts. In addition, the rising cost of fuel puts a strain on individuals, organisations, and societies, making sustainable travel not just an eco-friendly decision, but an economic necessity, too. 

We should aim to take small but concrete steps towards this by exploring resources and facilities which are already available for us. A simple, convenient, and cost-effective way of minimising our negative environmental footprint is to consider the use of alternative modes of transportation, such as shared vehicles and public transport (trains and buses). To inspire all members of our Krea Community, gravitate toward sustainable travel options, and facilitate the transition, we have created a pamphlet, ‘Train Travel: Green. Sustainable. Efficient.’ Take a look at the practical information contained in it — in particular, the public transport alternatives, timetables and cost associated with each, to make informed and responsible travel decisions. 

Click to access the pamphlet

In Focus: A Sustainability Dialogue with Jessica Seddon

In Focus: A Sustainability Dialogue with Jessica Seddon

In an exclusive conversation for The Krea Communiqué, Jessica Seddon, Member of the Academic Advisory Board at Krea, a Senior Fellow at World Resource Institute and a Senior Fellow at Yale University, shares her interpretation of sustainability and how it’s driven by human dynamics intertwined with social and political landscapes and economic strategies. Jessica  takes us through work on environmental governance and around ‘Air’-a globally shared commons that affects nearly everything we care about. Underneath all these she is deeply focused on the reasons why humans and groups of humans make the choices that they do, particularly with respect to the non-human environment. That has always been her interest – and the latest manifestation of that is air quality and climate change.

She also navigates us through her environmental journey, right from the seeds sown in her childhood as she grew up in the middle of woods and fields and with a family that was very connected to the environment around. Further leading to her conscious embarking on the path in her junior year at college and successive milestones that punctuate her journey.

In reference to the mammoth task that awaits the future generation and how we could groom them to be sustainability-sensitive and conscious citizens, Jessica adds, “I think they are. I don’t think we’re in any position to groom them – we should be in more of a position to be embarrassed that we’ve left so much to them to solve.”

Jessica, when you think of the word, Sustainability, what is the first thing/word that comes to your mind?

Contentment is the first word that comes to mind. Things can only be sustainable – in the sense that they can be carried on for an indefinite period of time without much change if people do not want.

Having said that, sustainability continues to be misconstrued -over time – to mean only ecology, and hence the initiatives have been skewed. How can we attempt to engage with it more holistically in a way that it includes the environment, social and political landscapes that we inhabit?

I would say, thankfully, that this has been changing for the past decade or so. Sustainability is at times thought of in ecological terms as a kind of indefinite carrying capacity – that the present species, surroundings, etc can carry on without shifting suddenly to a new state. However, the role of humans in driving these changes – this lack of environmental sustainability – has been pretty clear for a while and the drivers have also been pretty clear. Those drivers are deeply intertwined with social and political landscapes, not to mention economic strategies.

I think it would be very hard to find somebody who would define sustainability without some kind of reference to human dynamics at this point.

WRI develops practical solutions that improve people’s lives and ensure nature can thrive. Tell us a little bit about your focus areas in the now.

Right now I’m actually only part-time at WRI. I’m a senior fellow there and I focus on air – the lower atmosphere that shapes our health, our ecosystems health, and climate. I also teach environmental governance at Yale, where I am a senior fellow at the Jackson School of global affairs. Environmental governance is basically the study, practice, and experimentation of how we can steer the human and non-human systems around us toward better – perhaps you could say more sustainable – outcomes.

I could go on and on about the air because it basically is a globally shared commons that affects nearly everything we care about – from our health, to crop yields and food security, to storm intensity, to the productivity of renewable energy, to much more. And nearly everything we do – from moving around to cooking to producing to growing food affects it.

But I think underneath that I am focused on the reasons why humans and groups of humans make the choices that they do, particularly with respect to the non-human environment. That has always been my interest – and the latest manifestation of that is air quality and climate change.

Personally speaking, when did you embark on this journey towards sustainability? Growing up, what was your relationship with nature?

I grew up in a rural area in Vermont just below the Canadian border. So in many senses I grew up in nature – in the middle of the woods, fields, and with a family that was very connected to the environment around us.

I only really consciously embarked on an environmental journey in my junior year of college, when I considered becoming an earth sciences major. I ended up not changing at that point but I always did try to work in some understanding about the economics and politics of our species’ relationship with the rest of the environment – not to mention differences in cultural understandings. I was able to collaborate in the mid 2000s with a climate scientist named V Ramanathan and write a few papers about policies toward air pollutants that also affect climate. So in some sense my formal professional environmental career began then.

Do global sustainable initiatives deepen the divide on the planet? The impact of climate change the world is facing today, is fundamentally the result of advanced economies who have now shifted negotiations away from historic responsibility or climate debt to current emissions levels. In fact many of them are outsourcing emissions to developing countries through trade; how can climate finance and policies become more holistic and equitable?

I would hesitate to lump all global sustainability initiatives in one bucket. Some do deepen the economic divide, others try to address it. And you are implicitly speaking about carbon emissions being outsourced – but pollution footprints are actually growing faster than carbon footprints. It’s not just trade it’s also production decisions and The supply chain evolution before covid.

I don’t think there’s really a simple answer about how climate and finance policies can become more holistic and equitable – and I think at the root of both of those things, both of those policy areas, are public expectations and acceptance. Which brings me back to this point of contentment. We’re not going to get very far on holistic and equitable policy and finance until we recognize that the ways of life that are extracting more than the planet can bear are driven by want. I mean want in the sense of both need and the more luxurious version of just greed.

We have been constantly discussing how sustainability is a real work-in-progress. Would you agree?

Absolutely.

How much do our individual everyday actions contribute to a collective impact? Can they – if at all – offset the large, environmental footprint of the major industries and the large corporations?

Well – I think the environmental footprint of the major industries and large corporations wouldn’t really exist unless we used and consumed what the industries and corporations produced. That said, many of the choices about how to produce and what kind of environmental footprint is absolutely necessary to meet demand are not individual decisions and so it is unfair to put everything on individual actions.

It takes working together and seeing the goals in new ways.

The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015. We are almost halfway through. How much progress has the world achieved towards peace and prosperity for people and the planet?

Sadly – I’m not sure how much. In many ways, we seem to have regressed.

And finally, how can we groom the next generation to be sustainability-sensitive and conscious citizens?

I think they are. I don’t think we’re in any position to groom them – we should be in more of a position to be embarrassed that we’ve left so much to them to solve.

Future Forward: A Journey in Sustainability by Anita Arjundas

Future Forward: A Journey in Sustainability by Anita Arjundas

As the world re-imagines its ways and moves towards a more sustainable future, how do career roles evolve in these new contexts? While sustainability no longer stands detached from any career role, young graduates are consciously exploring pathways to be sustainable leaders and champions, working towards a resilient global system in collaboration with corporates and bodies of governance.

The Communications Team reached out to Anita Arjundas, Member of the Executive Committee at Krea University and also Member, Board of Management, an entrepreneurial leader who is passionate about sustainable development, with a request to share her journey in the Sustainability space and her perspective on how the rapidly evolving world today unravels challenges and opportunities for young aspirants in building a career in sustainability outside of research institutions, policy think tanks and grassroot organisations. 

From environmental law and environmental analytics to climate change, tech and environmental communications, the pathways are many. 

“People often ask me how I got interested in sustainability a couple of decades ago, given that I was a corporate CEO then and working on the built environment to boot. It was precisely because of the very environment I operated in and a role that allowed me to drive change that got me engaged and committed to the need for sustainable development.   

Buildings account for close to 40% of energy consumed and greenhouse gases generated. Their share of freshwater consumption and waste generated is also high. With urbanisation levels in India expected to reach 40% in the next decade, a significant part of the built environment is yet to be created. And thus, a significant opportunity to re-examine approaches to creation – quantum and purpose, design and materials, resource type and use, supply chain and life cycle management. But also, to re-craft lifestyle demands and consumption aspirations – after all it’s the people who inhabit and use these buildings over their lifetime that account for much of these numbers!     

Questions such as these and many more face every industry operating in the world today. The world economy consumes over 100 billion tons of natural resources every year – minerals, metals, fossil fuels and biomass, with less than 9% of such resources being reused. While global warming and climate change have taken centre stage in recent times, focusing most of the discussion around decarbonisation strategies and green portfolios, issues around biodiversity and habitat loss, water security, environmental justice and income inequality are slowly gaining currency.

The corporate world of today and capitalism as we know it is being forced to re-examine its role from the perspective of multiple stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, investors, communities, and the planet. A significant shift from Milton Friedman’s definition of the role of business and its singular accountability to shareholders. Skeptics worry whether this perceived shift is just green washing and virtue signalling or at its best – too little, too late.

Given all of the forces at play, young people often want to know if there are adequate opportunities to build a career in sustainability outside of research institutions, policy think tanks and grassroot organisations. From environmental law and environmental analytics to climate change tech and environmental communication – the pathways are many. Specific to corporate careers, I would argue the urgent imperative to develop an understanding of the natural world and the direct and unintended consequences of human endeavour on the environment. If the way business is done has to change, at a scale that possibly only business can achieve, then transformative thinking about strategy, product design and delivery, marketing, risk management, and performance metrics is needed in every function and at every stage of a corporate career, not just for those seeking specialised roles in sustainability consulting or practise.

Business has always prided itself on being at the cutting edge of innovation, solving complex problems and disrupting existing paradigms through its ‘creations’. Maybe it’s also time to think about what it will not destroy in this journey of innovation. For in the end, as John C Sawhill, Former President, NYU and Former President, TNC said, ‘Our society will be defined not only by what we create but by what we refuse to destroy.’” 

The Sustainability Pledge

The Sustainability Pledge

25 Steps Toward Sustainable Lifestyle

The choices we make in our everyday lives have a significant environmental, social and economic impact. Yet we have agency over our behaviour, a capacity to be conscious environmental stewards and socially responsible citizens. The shift to a sustainable lifestyle does not necessarily demand difficult tradeoffs or uncomfortable adjustments. A good way to start would be to make a few simple changes in our daily actions — from reducing our environmental footprint to supporting local communities. We invite you to take the Krea Sustainability Pledge, and incorporate as many as possible of the following 25 sustainability principles into your daily routine.

I pledge to become Krea’s sustainability champion by committing to the following: 

Energy

  1. I will switch off the lights, fans and air conditioning when I am the last one to leave a room
  2. Whenever possible, I will take the stairs instead of using the elevator
  3. I will unplug phone/computer chargers and other electronic items when not in use
  4. I will report any faulty light fixture or power switch to Campus Operations

Water

  1. I will conserve water by keeping my showers to under five minutes, or restricting my baths to a maximum of 2 buckets
  2. I will turn off the tap while brushing my teeth and washing my hands (scrubbing my hands with soap)
  3. I will mindfully use the two buttons on the dual flush toilet
  4. I will report any leaking faucets to Campus Operations

Food and Waste

  1. I will not waste any food by taking more than I can eat
  2. I will segregate my waste on campus — as per the labelled segregation category on the bin
  3. I will print only when unavoidable. If printing is necessary, I will print double-sided
  4. I will use my own mug/flask for tea and coffee, instead of relying on disposable paper cups
  5. I will try to repair broken items before I throw them away
  6. I will share, donate or sell any items I no longer need, instead of just throwing them away
  7. I will reduce my consumption of processed and/or packaged food and eat more locally sourced, seasonally grown, fresh food
  8. I will avoid single-use plastics, such as plastic bags, PET bottles, straws, styrofoam, etc

Transport 

  1. I will reduce my carbon footprint by walking, riding a bicycle, using public transport, trains or carpooling , as alternatives to commuting alone by car or traveling by plane 
  2. Whenever possible, I will use video conferencing to reduce the need to travel

Nature Appreciation and Holistic Wellbeing

  1. I will improve my physical health and fitness by regular walking, jogging, cycling, exercising, practicing yoga, participating in sports, etc
  2. I will engage in activities that foster appreciation for nature, such as hiking, camping, bird watching, wildlife photography, sketching outdoors, stargazing, exploring indigenous flora and fauna, etc
  3. I will regularly allow myself a digital detox, by spending enough time outdoors, and away from the screen
  4. I will maintain a healthy circadian rhythm by having a minimum seven hours of sleep every night

Responsible Citizenship

  1. I will volunteer in at least one social outreach initiative in my community
  2. I will be a conscious consumer, by purchasing more fair trade, locally/regionally produced items, thus supporting the livelihoods of local communities
  3. I will encourage friends and family to adopt a similar sustainability pledge

Take Ten: Interpretations of Sustainability from the Krea Universe

Take Ten: Interpretations of Sustainability from the Krea Universe

So, what does sustainability mean to you? A question that has more to it than meets the eye. A question that in every sense of the word, holds the entire planet within. Take Ten was initiated as a project to understand the diverse interpretations of sustainability by various individuals within the Krea ecosystem.

While it started off as an innocent reportage on exploring the perspectives of leadership, academic experts, team members and students within the Krea community, over time, this initiative turned into a kaleidoscope – both interesting and thought-provoking, sketched with multiple hues of interpretations and woven in by explanations interweaving through various disciplines, from Humanities and Arts to STEM.

Through these interviews and discussions, the Communications Team invariably were nudged to open their minds to concepts and dialogues which were unique and become aware of a more sensitive and empathetic usage of language revolving the critical concept of sustainability. Over the past few weeks, we have been looking at the idea of sustainability like solving the Rubik’s Cube, attempting to understand cultures, deciphering behaviors to analysing scientific data.

We hope you, the reader, also get to embark on an interesting journey through the words of the diverse stakeholders within the Krea universe and take a moment to reflect on how you yourself may interpret the term ‘sustainability. And that’s just the beginning.

*All views are personal

“Sustainability is a question of human purpose – is our purpose to maximise human potential, or is our purpose to live happily, in harmony with each other and our planet?  We must realise that this is a binary choice; we cannot have both.  Happiness and harmony go beyond climate change, energy, food and water – we must also consider sustainable lifestyle choices for physical and mental well-being, as well as sustainable familial, social, economic and political structures.  Our path from status quo to sustainability is not well-mapped, but if we remain focused on our purpose, I have faith that human ingenuity will find us a way to get there.”

Kapil Viswanathan, Chairman of Executive Committee, Krea University

“Over the last few decades, we have witnessed multiple radical innovations. Innovations that have put immense pressure on earth’s limited resources. This has also put the world as we know it, and the future at risk. Sustainability for me finds its meaning in everyday actions, it denotes conscious efforts to move away from our myopic view of the present and involves integration of solution-based approaches that also serve the needs of our future generations. This would mean shifting away from the lens of ‘business as usual’, and finding more than one possible path to course correct the infinite growth on this finite planet. What we do today will determine the future. When recourse is complimentary and not competing, we can truly affirm that we are headed towards a strong and sustainable future.”

Prof Lakshmi Kumar, Dean, IFMR GSB

“Conservation Biology increasingly adopts the idea of a Safe Minimum Standard rather than a Cost Benefit Analysis for the environment, reminiscent of a ‘First Do No Harm’ notion enshrined in spirit in the Hippocratic Oath. Sustainability could well do with heeding such a conception, rather than the utilitarian advancement of the greatest good for the greatest number. So long as that number comprises only a select element of one species, there is no sustainability to be had, glib pronouncements to the contrary notwithstanding.”

Prof John Mathew, Divisional Chair, Humanities & Social Sciences, SIAS

“The ability to sustain. Sustaining, to me, is to live life with the bare minimum by providing ourselves with only what we truly need and working hard to earn and replenish it. But, in recent times as the comfort levels and luxury levels are increasing drastically, we are tending to overuse the resources at hand as we are not efficient in finding a sustainable way. When there is no sustainable alternative for any activity, products/services then comes the problem of overuse. This overuse in the present will not allow us to live our life in the future, not even a bare minimum life.”

Amulya Sanivarapu, GSB Batch 20-22

“Krea’s vision of preparing young people for an unpredictable future through its interwoven learning approach is founded on the very pillars of Sustainability. Campus life draws attention to how the campus community’s actions and practices can have a ripple effect, immediately impacting the region we are located in. A diverse and inclusive campus community, harmoniously co-existing with the surroundings and contributing to the social and economic development of the region, is how we at Krea embrace sustainability. Making informed choices and decisions, whether it be sourcing food from local vendors, generating direct and indirect employment opportunities in the region, reducing the carbon footprint by using shared shuttle services or public transport, organic farming, working on research projects to help sustain the ecosystem of the region, the sustainability goals are present everywhere. The students of Krea have rightfully taken their place at the University’s Sustainability table, by being active stakeholders in all initiatives to build a meaningful living on campus.”

Vidhya Munuswamy, Dean of Student Affairs

“The idea of Sustainability gathers many themes and like any idea or concept has a deep history. The idea may be old but it gathered momentum only in the 20th century through various national, international and civic efforts and movements world over. There was a time when sustainability spoke to a very urgent and pressing human predicament and the lopsided way in which industrialisation in Europe and North America unfolded, and the way it influenced aspirations for development in post-colonial Asia, Africa and Latin America. It made us re-look at the dominant modes of development, forced us to question the rapid depletion of natural resources, and re-examine the issue of intergenerational justice. It motivated activists, academics, researchers, policy makers, and artists to raise new questions. But over a period of time, the idea seems to have lost its force, its agency. As happens to many ideas and concepts, it was used recklessly, not in good faith and soon it turned it into a cliché.

Today the issues remain supremely relevant but the idea of ‘sustainability’ itself feels worn out, with little creative and active strength left in it to galvanise or animate us. And hence, there are two options left to us: we use the term in a mechanical way and conduct business as usual or alternatively, re-imagine the concept of Sustainability and make it speak to our context, make it work in more honest and creative ways. Suitably modified, it can prompt us to re-define our relationships, to re-think our social relations,  our ways of life and consumption, and our aspirations, and question growing inequalities in the world. It can make us re-define our relationship with the present, past and future. Unfortunately in its dominant usage,  the term Sustainability is trapped in a technocratic vision of the world and therefore, has lost its power of critique. While it is necessary that we generate clean and green technology, we urgently need a radical re-thinking of how we lead our lives on this planet. We cannot say the game will be played as usual and hope to produce a better world. We need to think of how the idea of sustainability can be re-interpreted and re-imagined in ways that can help us to transform the way we lead our lives, and to make structures of power (pollical, industrial, economic and social) more engaged and accountable.

As Nietzsche said, “Can our ideas walk?” I would ask: “Can the idea of sustainability dance? Can it help us choreograph a better future?”

Dr Bishnu Mohapatra, Director, Moturi Satyanarayana Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences

“Sustainability is an inclusive, just, and viable way of life — a holistic approach to every problem-solving and decision-making, encompassing environmental, social and economic factors, with a genuine regard for the underlying cultural, political and technological determinants in a complex world. Authentic Sustainability is more than compliance necessity, risk mitigation strategy, brand building exercise, or development agenda. It is a modus operandi based on synergies and symbiotic partnerships, all the more so in the case of perceived conflicting interests among multiple stakeholders. Individuals and systems are intrinsically interconnected; they reflect and support one another. Aligned, they contribute to a healthy whole, greater than the sum of its parts. Weakened, they trigger a systemic collapse. A Sustainable mindset comes from this realisation that, each time we harm a local ecosystem, or silently watch an indigenous language disappear, or fail to provide quality education to a child, we loosen one more thread in our safety net, thus compromising our very survival.

Finally, Sustainability is about humbleness, too — a willingness to accept that, despite all our scientific advancements and best intentions at heart, we might still be far from finding the best solutions for our troubled world.”

Lidija Stankovikj, Senior Manager, Communications

“To be sustainable is the intertwining of society, environment, culture, and economy. These interrelations are dynamic and constantly need to be optimally balanced to benefit the present quality of life for everyone without compromising future generations.”

Sharon Buteau, Executive Director, LEAD at Krea University

“I believe Sustainability is about living with awareness every moment of our lives. Being sensitive enough to differentiate between our need and greed, taking action to conserve rather than deplete, and following best practices that build rather than break-down, all these reflect our responsibility towards humanity and sustainable living.”

Anuradha Iyer, Director- Development

“Sustainability for long has been defined as the utilisation of resources in a manner that fulfills the needs of the current generation and does not compromise the needs of the future generations. It extends to all spheres of life- economic, social, or environmental. However, its omnipresence in today’s dictionary has turned it into an ambiguous and symbolic framework with no practical ramifications.”

Mitula Sai Subramanian, Cohort of 2023, SIAS

The Journey- From the IFMR GSB Classroom to Leading Transformative Change with LEAD at Krea University

The Journey- From the IFMR GSB Classroom to Leading Transformative Change with LEAD at Krea University

As part of the IFMR GSB Alumni Spotlight Series, we spoke to Preethi Rao, Associate Director, LEAD at Krea University and alum of  IFMR GSB, 2006 on her journey through the years at her alma mater and how the learnings translated beyond to her trailblazing professional path.

How was your IFMR GSB experience-the classroom and the learnings?
The IFMR business school has been well known from inception for the quality of education produced and the top notch faculty that they had on board during my time, and continue to maintain till date. Our batch was an ‘experimental’ batch of only 20 students so we were a close knit and diverse group. This in itself provided opportunities to bring about innovative ideas and diverse opinions to the table. Combined with this, the teaching methods employed by some of the faculty, involving participatory and practical activities and aligned scoring techniques, has inspired a ‘learning by doing’ culture that I have carried forward in my professional career as well. We also had a mentorship model and we were all assigned a faculty mentor which helped us both in terms of pedagogical support and personal development. Academically, I had opportunities to excel, and am a proud silver medalist as well.

Could you share a short gist of the professional path you chose and the milestones along the way ?
When I was studying at the business school, the then Chairman, Mr Vaghul and Dr Nachiket Mor, along with established professors from international universities such as Harvard and MIT, conceptualized and set up research centres to tackle key development issues in India. As a student, I had the opportunity to listen to lectures from eminent scholars such as Prof. Abhijeet Banerjee, Prof. Ester Duflo (Harvard) and Prof. Antoinette Schoar from MIT. As they were setting up the research centres, we were approached by the centre heads for research positions at the centres. I joined the erstwhile Small Enterprise Finance Centre which focused on MSME research and development as a Research Associate in 2006. I worked on interesting research studies, notably on a pan India study on the chit fund industry and how the indigenous financing mechanism provided access for low income households and small enterprises to much needed credit. I had the opportunity to present the research report to the then Hon’ Finance Minister, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, and it received much appreciation. Our research findings were used as supporting evidence for requests for the legislative amendment and included in the report of the Standing Committee of the Lok Sabha in 2015-16. The Lok Sabha passed the Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill on November 20, 2019.

In 2014, the research centres were integrated under a common umbrella called IFMR LEAD. During this time, I took a more management oriented role, overseeing the field and primary data collection operations at LEAD. Thereafter, I moved into more strategic roles, leading innovations and the Digital Payments Lab under our Catalyst initiative. Currently, as Associate Director, I oversee the leveraging evidence function (collaborations, training, learning and communications, and innovations) and contribute to strategic decision-making at LEAD. I also act as the PAC (Policy, Advocacy and Communications) lead at IWWAGE, our initiative focusing on women’s economic empowerment. As part of my growth trajectory, I have been able to build networks and also publish articles in my areas of expertise such as digital finance, open data and small business development.

How did the classes, pedagogy and network at IFMR GSB help navigate this stellar career path?
The business school provided a robust environment to inculcate independent thinking while also encouraging teamwork through group assignments. Such opportunities to work with teams and navigate the dynamics helped in my career where I had to work with and lead teams from different backgrounds and at varied experience levels. As students, we were expected to take initiative and drive our own outcomes, which I continue to imbibe and execute in my current role. We were encouraged to speak our minds and contribute to discussions which has helped in my growth as a leader.

A note from you that we could share with the IFMR GSB graduates of tomorrow?
I encourage the current students of the business school to really think out of the box, try new things and always be inquisitive. Student life provides the platform where personal values can be developed. What we learn and follow as students, will define our approach to life thereafter. So, while this is the time for play, focus on your goals and make sure you get the best out of the system and the experienced faculty members.

Looking back as an alum, are there moments of nostalgia, or an anecdote from your time at IFMR GSB that you cherish till date?
There are many unforgettable moments from my time at the business school. As a day scholar, I had to create multiple excuses (assignments, combined studies) at home in order to get permission to stay over at the hostel. I remember many occasions when we ventured out late at night to coffee shops and ice cream parlors to overcome stress from coursework.