Reflections from the Field

Reflections from the Field

Each image is a storyteller and what better way than images from the field to catch a glimpse of the deeply impactful work that Krea Research Centres carry out on the field, every day. Presenting, a collection of photographs unpacking few episodes in a series of instrumental work done by some of our research centres interweaving high quality research with impactful solutions on the ground.

Krea University’s ecosystem is built on exchange of knowledge, ideas, insights and meaningful collaborations and Krea prides itself in its ever growing network of Research Centres synonymous with ‘research for impact’.  From solving complex development challenges to enhance socio-economic prosperity, nurturing a support ecosystem for tech innovations for underserved communities, developing and supporting digital innovations for social impact, ensuring economic justice, social opportunity and environmental protection, poverty reduction through policy development informed by scientific evidence, conducting advanced research across the humanities and social sciences to spearheading research and learning related to the human brain and mind, the Krea Research Centres create deep impact across diverse fields.

For this edition of The Krea Communique, here is a glimpse of the pivotal work the Centres carry out on the field through images contributed by some of our Research Centres.

A child receiving a vaccination at the control site of a project exploring ways to boost immunisation demand in Haryana. 2017.
Photo Credit: Shobhini Mukerji, J-PAL SA

Scaling up the Graduation Approach in Bihar, India. 2019.
Photo Credit: Gautam Patel, J-PAL SA

A female police officer with a complainant at a police station in Morena, Madhya Pradesh as a part of a study evaluating the impact of introducing women’s help desks across police stations on the registration of cases of violence against women. 2019.
Photo Credit: Suddhasatwa Bhattacharya, J-PAL SA

Women of Menad or Kunda Kotagiri village of the Kota Tribe. From Left to Right- Ponvelan, Seetha, Lalli, Baby, Anchana, Mathi, Malli, and Manjula. And the cat is “pees”.
Photo Credit: Dr Karthick Narayanan, Moturi Satyanarayana Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Kota name giving ceremony in the Thiruchikady village, Kotagiri. Shalini (holding the baby in her lap) and Prem Kumar’s baby is being named. On this occasion, Hari (feeding the child), one of the priests of the Kilkotagiri Village, blessed the baby.
Photo Credit: Dr Karthick Narayanan, Moturi Satyanarayana Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences

A herd of Bubalus bubalis, commonly known as Toda buffaloes, grazing in the meadows of Nilgiris. Among the Asian water Buffaloes, the Toda buffaloes are a genetically isolated breed of buffaloes endemic to the Nilgiri hills. These buffaloes are central to the culture and the livelihood of the Toda of Nilgiris.
Photo Credit: Dr Karthick Narayanan, Moturi Satyanarayana Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences

This is a photo from the Konniesht recital at the Morthkyodr clan’s sacred diary in Karikadu Mandu, Ithalar, Nilgiri. Konniesht is a form of dance recital in which only men participate. The photo shows that the men form a circle facing inward by locking their elbows. The circle then rotates in a counterclockwise direction, with each man taking a measured tread matching the chanting of the song that begins with ‘O hau hau’.
Photo Credit: Dr Karthick Narayanan, Moturi Satyanarayana Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Rubavathi holding the honey collected for the salt feeding ceremony to the buffaloes at Karikadu Mandu, Ithalar, Nilgiri. The men of the Morthkyodr clan collected this honey for the sacred occasion from a cavity blocked with stone in the sirfs: ancestral trees handed down from father to son. Plains cerana, a member of the Apis cerana bee family, establishes its colonies in the cavity of these trees. Todas collect their honey without damaging the brood. Their honey collection is well known for this unique practice as they do not use fire or smoke to drive the bees away. But instead, they gently blow into the cavity to move the bee away.
Photo Credit: Dr Karthick Narayanan, Moturi Satyanarayana Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Radha (left) and Rajakilli (right), members of the Toda women’s self-help group producing the famed Toda embroidery shawl and cushion cover. Toda embroidery produced by the Toda women is one of the main sources of income for many Toda families today.
Photo Credit: Dr Karthick Narayanan, Moturi Satyanarayana Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences

LEAD at Krea University’s team recently visited Mann Deshi Foundation’s head office in Mhasvad, Satara.
Photo Credit : LEAD at Krea University

LEAD is collaborating with Mann Deshi Foundation on a community health needs assessment and the field visit helped contextualise findings from LEAD’s survey.
Photo Credit : LEAD at Krea University

“It made me realise the power of different voices. Until then, I had an understanding that the quantitative field survey was the culmination of our efforts in obtaining data. However, after witnessing the flow of ideas under the framework that the survey provided, I learned that it was the starting point to a much deeper conversation filled with opportunities for further work.” added Sumiran Ardhapure, Research Associate, LEAD at Krea University.
Photo Credit : LEAD at Krea University

ANM providing vaccination services during our field visit for Time and Motion study of ANMs.
Photo Credit: CDFI

Women SHG members responding during an FGD conducted for impact of SHG program on livelihood.
Photo Credit: CDFI

Training session for the team of enumerators for data collection in Khasi Hills of Meghalaya.
Photo Credit: CDFI

Conducting an FGD with the SHG to gather insights on the impact of Covid 19.
Photo Credit: CDFI

Meet the Researchers

<strong>Meet the Researchers</strong>

Short Snippets From Researchers at Krea

They are inquisitive in their pursuit for answers, meticulous in their approach to data, and tenacious in their adherence to the principles of scientific reasoning. Krea faculty are educators, institution builders and passionate researchers. We asked some of them about their take on research – their inspiration, focus and approach to the process of discovering new knowledge. Through a series of short snippets, we present to you their insights into the fascinating world of methodological and systematic research.

Theory, evidence, analysis.

What are the three words that you think of when you hear the word “research”?

Q: Why research – what inspires & motivates you to do research?

A: To understand phenomena better, to influence their outcomes (if possible).

Q: What is the focus area of your research?

A: Use of information systems to improve individual and organisational performance.

Q: What, in your opinion, are the key features of a research mindset / research mentality?

A: Well-read (broad and deep), analytic mindset, clear communication.

Q: Your piece of advice to young researchers: how to succeed at research?

A: Ask interesting questions, analyse evidence thoroughly, communicate results and implications clearly.

Interesting, Important, Insightful.

What are the three words that you think of when you hear the word “research”?

Q: What are the three words that you think of when you hear the word “research”?

A: Interesting, Important, Insightful.

Q: Why research – what inspires & motivates you to do research?

My decision to pursue academic research simultaneously meets two personal goals: engage in an intellectually fulfilling career that is a good match with my skills and interests, and use my analytical strengths to work on important and real problems that I deeply care about. I find the economic way of thinking to be natural and intuitive, and I am inspired by the idea of applying economic principles to understand and improve the lives of disadvantaged people.

Q: What is the focus area of your research?

A: I am an applied development economist, and I study topics at the intersection of gender, development and public policy. I am particularly interested in questions that explore the role of gender norms and women’s autonomy in different realms of the society.

Q: What, in your opinion, are the key features of a research mindset / research mentality?

A: Commitment to a life-time of intellectual curiosity and continuous learning, the ability to stay thorough and consistent while always keeping the big picture in sight, and most importantly, patience and perseverance.

Q: Your piece of advice to young researchers: how to succeed at research? 

A: Always remember your ‘why’, the reason you decided to take up research in the first place. Learn to enjoy the process – research is highly non-linear, be prepared to welcome the highs and lows. Show up every day, and work on questions that truly matter to you!

Fascination, challenge, and excitement.

What are the three words that you think of when you hear the word “research”?

Q: Why research – what inspires & motivates you to do research?

A: The chance to think about some very beautiful ideas. The challenge of tackling interesting problems. The excitement of better understanding phenomena that you initially found initially mysterious, and learning about and discovering new ideas.

Q: What is the focus area of your research?

A: I am a pure mathematician, with primary research interests in algebra.

Q: What, in your opinion, are the key features of a research mindset / research mentality?

A: As obvious as it sounds, you should be curious about and fascinated by what you are hoping to better understand. You need to be motivated, persistent, and willing to work very hard. You should have a fundamental openness to new ideas, to sharing ideas, and to reconsidering your own perspectives in light of new information. This includes speaking with other researchers about their and your work, reading what others have written, and understanding connections between your work and the work of others.  

Q: Your piece of advice to young researchers: how to succeed at research? 

A: When you’re young (defined broadly as the first ten or so years after you begin your undergraduate degree, say) try to read, listen, and understand as much about your chosen discipline, in both the broad and narrow sense, as you can. Really invest your time in building a broad, deep, solid foundation. Of course, as an academic you should never stop learning or exposing yourself to new ideas, but you will really benefit from hard-wiring yourself with the fundamental ideas, vocabularies, and intuitions of your discipline at a young age. Invest your time in building connections and working with other researchers, both young and experienced. Develop the habit of attending seminars, colloquia, and talks, even if they are hard to understand at first. Choose the initial research problems you work on with care, and under the advisement of those with experience. And have fun! 

Meaningful, Rigorous, and Valuable contributions to society.

What are the three words that you think of when you hear the word “research”?

Q: Why research – what inspires & motivates you to do research?

A: Research gives me the opportunity to solve society’s real problems. With those intentions, if my work gets published, it brings immense satisfaction to me. It is a reflection of how I am using my knowledge for the betterment of society. It has also taught me a few virtues of life; the importance of patience, dealing with rejections, and time management. I consider it as my life transformation tool.

Q: What is the focus area of your research?

A: My research interest concerns employee discrimination, diversity and inclusion issues, and happiness in the workplace.

Q: What, in your opinion, are the key features of a research mindset/research mentality?

A: A mindset of creating a positive impact, a mindset of hard work, a mindset of right intention, right effort, and right concentration.

Q: Your piece of advice to young researchers: how to succeed at research?

A: Succeeding in research has the following conditions:

– Spend a great deal of time understanding the problem statement. This will entail what research approach to follow.

– Talk to the experts in the field and other stakeholders (actors) from the beginning till the end. They are valuable data sources. Discuss your findings or opinions with them; this will ensure a holistic understanding of your field.

– Research is one of the fields where shortcuts never work; there are no quick fixes; therefore, one should not compromise on their effort. 

– Get into the habit of reading and writing. Scientific knowledge comes from various sources; limiting yourself to one stream or area will make you an average researcher.

– Most notably, aspire to live an extraordinary life! Discipline and hard work are essential mantras of succeeding in research.

Papers, Chai and Patience.

What are the three words that you think of when you hear the word “research”?

Q: Why research – what inspires & motivates you to do research?

A: Even before my first thought of pursuing an academic career, research had a pull factor for me. I wanted to do a PhD to give a decent closure to my academic journey and also advance my training in the subject of Physics. But it was during my PhD studies that the idea of a full-time academic career matured. This happened for two main reasons. Firstly, I liked the subject and wanted to learn more about it. Secondly, research as a career gives one a chance to develop one’s own learning curve at a pace one is comfortable with, and keep growing in the process. There may or may not be celebratory milestones, but if you keep at it, every day you add on to your value as a professional. 

Q: What is the focus area of your research?

A: My research focuses on searching for hints of new physics at high energy particle collision experiments like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. The idea is that we already have a widely accepted and standard framework of how the various fundamental particles are expected to behave when they interact with each other. But there are various experimental observations and theoretical issues that hint towards the fact that this framework, known as the Standard Model, may be incomplete. So the task at hand is to study the behaviour of these particles in very high energy collisions and try to quantify the deviations from the expected patterns of interactions in such experiments.

Q: What, in your opinion, are the key features of a research mindset / research mentality?

A: I think the most important quality of a research mindset is being more process oriented than result oriented. This is because in research, more often than not, one does not know if the line of inquiry or the method used is correct or not. The only way to make progress is to take the next step and course-correct oneself along the way. Another important element that helps is to always be ready to learn new skills, be open to new ideas etc. Today, the landscape of any discipline changes at a very fast pace, and we need to keep ourselves updated in terms of the know-how of the field.

Q: Your piece of advice to young researchers: how to succeed at research?

A: My advice would be to constantly keep adding to your skill sets, keep getting better and better at what you do, and let this be an attitude that you carry till a much later stage in your career. Another helpful thing would be to keep interacting with colleagues from other areas or subjects and learn about what they are doing. This will help you better contextualise your own research, and you will not feel like an island.

Understanding the world (field) better.

What are the three words that you think of when you hear the word “research”?

Q: Why research – what inspires & motivates you to do research?

A: I research to understand the field better.

Q: What is the focus area of your research?

A: Corporate Investments and Credit Rating Agencies. 

Q: What, in your opinion, are the key features of a research mindset / research mentality?

A: Passion, patience and hard work.

Q: Your piece of advice to young researchers: how to succeed at research? 

A: The qualities (passion, patience and handwork) increase the probability of success, and nothing is guaranteed. I don’t think there is a defined path to success. It is like entrepreneurship; we have to take risks and sometimes we succeed.

Universities and Research in the Indian Context

Universities and Research in the Indian Context

By Prof Ramachandra Guha

In an edition anchored on the theme of  research and its critical role In the world of academics and the very act of learning itself,  it only felt right to invite one of the most renowned historians in India and the globe to share his insights on the ‘history of research’ in the context of Indian universities. In an exclusive piece for The Krea Communique, Prof Ramachandra Guha navigates us through the history of research across natural sciences and the social sciences in one-hundred-and-sixty-five years since the first modern universities in India were founded. Prof Guha sheds light on how Indian universities have failed to perform as creditably as might have been expected but not everything is lost as the recent decades witnessed corrective steps taken by the public university system; and how a whole new generation of private universities will further and deepen this process. Prof Guha emphasises, “In the Indian context, the university must be conceived of as a theatre of intellectual innovation as well as of social emancipation”.

In the year 1857, the universities of Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras were founded. In subsequent decades, these were followed by the founding of the universities  of  Aligarh, Allahabad, Banaras, Osmania, Mysore, Punjab and Delhi. Although established by a colonial regime, these universities helped serve as a crucible of modernity in India. As the sociologist André Béteille has written, these founding universities ‘opened new horizons both intellectually and institutionally in a society that had stood still in a conservative and hierarchical mould for centuries’. Indeed, these universities, says Béteille, were ‘among the first open and secular institutions in a society that was governed largely by the rules of kinship, caste and religion’.  Men and women, upper caste and lower caste, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Parsi, all met and mingled together as colleagues and peers, in a manner previously inconceivable in a segmented and stratified society.

These colonial-era universities were focused on teaching and the awarding of degrees, rather than on research. Nonetheless, some of the first great Indian scientists taught and did their pioneering research in these universities. They included the physicists C. V. Raman, Satyen Bose, K. S. Krishnan and Meghnad Saha, and the chemists T. R. Seshadri and K. Venkataraman. In colonial times, there were also some world-class humanities scholars working in Indian universities, such as the historians Radhakumud Mookerjee and Jadunath Sarkar, the economists Radhakamal Mukherjee and V. K. R. V. Rao, and the sociologists Radhakamal Mukherjee, G. S. Ghurye and Irawati Karve.

After Independence, however, the Government of India chose not to build on this legacy of university-based research. Rather, the state established a chain of laboratories under the rubric of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which operated entirely outside the university system. In subsequent decades, some (but by no means all, and perhaps not even a majority) of these CSIR labs did good work in their designated fields. However, in retrospect perhaps the country would have been better served if scientific research had been more firmly located within the university system, as was the case for example in the United States. In the American system, research was strongly interwoven with teaching, while scholars in a particular scientific discipline always had the opportunity to interact with those in another scientific discipline. Working in the same university structure also encouraged scientists and humanists to understand one another and their work.

Through the 1950s and 1960s, Indian universities continued to produce first-rate scholarship in disciplines such as economics, sociology, and history. However, so far as the natural sciences were concerned, Indian universities were largely concerned with teaching alone. In later decades, some belated, and modest, attempts, were made to atone for these missteps. Thus Hyderabad University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, both founded in the 1970s, encouraged original research in the sciences as well as the social sciences. However, both these universities were funded by the Union Government; meanwhile, the overwhelming majority of Indian universities, run by State Governments, had little or no interest in scientific research.

What then of higher education in the private sector? This has thus far been dominated by engineering and medical colleges, run on commercial lines, and with no interest in research at all. Only in the last decade or so have we witnessed the founding of private universities offering a broader range of courses and disciplines, and with larger intellectual ambitions. I have in mind here institutions such as Ahmedabad University, Ashoka University, Azim Premji University, Jindal Global University, Krea University, and Shiv Nadar University. These universities all conceive of themselves as much more than teaching shops. They all hope to become centres of research as well.

It is now one-hundred-and-sixty-five years since the first modern universities in India were founded. As I have argued, they have opened up spaces where people previously segregated by caste, class, gender, language and religion could meet with one another as independent human beings. However, on the intellectual and especially research front the Indian university has not performed as creditably as might have been expected. This was partly the result of conscious government policy, which took scientific research out of the university system into self-enclosed laboratories shut off from society. Some corrective steps have been taken in recent decades in the public university system; and we may hope that the new generation of private universities shall further and deepen this process. In the Indian context, the university must be conceived of as a theatre of intellectual innovation as well as of social emancipation. 

Padma Bhushan awardee Prof Ramachandra Guha Is a renowned historian, biographer and journalist. He Is also a Distinguished University Professor at Krea University.

To love the unsolved mysteries- My research journey

To love the unsolved mysteries- My research journey

By Prof Swarnamalya Ganesh 

In the course of curating opinion and experiences pieces for our edition, we sought a seasoned researcher who could shed light on what is pegged “the research mindset” , a first-person account of the journey through research, the preparation, trials and tribulations, and perseverance as one attempt to solve the unsolved. Who better than a veteran researcher, academic and practitioner to take us through this journey of inquisitiveness and enquiry, which is interesting but also tough and demanding. Prof Swarnamalya Ganesh takes us through a journey through her words, from the persistent questions as a young practitioner to the early years as an academic researcher that led her to her calling- the Early Modern South Indian Nayaka era. As Prof Ganesh poignantly narrates, the need to retain the child-like joy in the “spirit of enquiry” each time one steps into the field, understanding that “I know not fully, yet” all through the milestones, and how the true hallmark awaits not just in the great courage exhibited during research but in the patience that emerges when the courage subsides. 

Often research is laid down as an obvious path forward in many academic disciplines. But having learnt an art form such as dance from the age of three under hereditary Gurus, my love and devotion was always to my traditions of practice. But slowly, my friends and even my Gurus noticed the stray but persistent questions I began asking; sometimes to them but often to myself. If we look around us, everyone is curious and is always asking questions. The “do you know-s” fill the days and hours of our lives and various media including social media, feed into such human curiosity and the need to consume social knowledge about people, our environment, society, science, and meta things as well. But when one recognizes the first signs of their questioning mindset as a characteristic that is there to stay beyond curiosity, that is when they do something more than to reach for the daily newspaper or google- research.

Academia will prepare an endless questioning mind with the apparatus needed for a permanent future it seeks with research. Firstly, reading every work ever published on one’s subject of interest, whether it be useful or turns out to be useless tinsel, may seem like an exercise in drudgery which ultimately winds up turning the feverish mind into a pitch ready to absorb. Then somewhere in the early years of research, one begins to ask less questions and starts looking at the complex intersections of circumstance, context, society and history that define each fact held by other predecessors or in dominant narratives thus far. 

I personally realised that I had met my calling in the Early Modern South Indian Nayaka era when everything I read, every question I asked, every solution I sought led me back to Tanjavur, Madurai and Gingee Nayaka world. That is where I began my journey. 

The most key factor in research is to find a great guide. In my case though, my guide turned out to be less instructional and more of an intrusion. This meant that I got to actively seek mentors from across disciplines, each one of them an expert in their area, be it history, archeology, epigraphy, language, musicology. What a blessing that turned out to be for me! One of the reasons I chose to join Krea was because my research strongly interweaves multiple disciplines and perspectives. This reflects strongly in my practice too. In these years, even as I write, speak and perform my research, the one dictum that I set out with, which is “I know not fully, yet” gets more and more confirmed.

Research is great, not researchers. So, one of the best lessons I learnt from some of my mentors is to allow my findings to be pliable to change brought on by perspectives and new facts that emerge from all quarters. To retain the child-like joy in the “spirit of enquiry” each time we step into the field. Research also requires tremendous patience and diligence. I recall as the year 2009 was coming to a close, I had reconstructed a dance repertoire called Mukhacali. I was pleased with the outcome and therefore moved on to other repertoires. But in 2011 when I revisited Mukhacali, in light of new facts and with a body that by then had experienced other forms such as Perani, Jakkini etc which I had reconstructed, I decided to dismantle the whole of the earlier version, only to restart. The result was not one but three more reconstructions of Mukhacali each from the 10th, 12th, 14th centuries before arriving at the 17th century version. Both as performers and researchers we unashamedly ply our trade, but the eternal scapegoats for such exercises for me, are my good-natured students who patiently watched me undo and redo my own findings over many years until I was satisfied.

The true litmus test comes though, in the form of dejected friends and family who give up any hopes of making plans for an outing with us. The total and absolute control that one gives the subject of our research to have over us, ensures that we become immersive participants of the era into which we wish to dive. So shopping, movies and outing become a thing of the past and luxuries afforded only by those who float on the surface. 

Writing one’s research, speaking about it, in my case also performing my research are integral parts of the journey and I enjoy doing all of it, however I thirst to share my work with other researchers and always grab any slight opportunity, even to be in the midst of others who are in the pursuit of their feverish minds. Sharing, listening to each one’s experiences and perspectives keeps us spirited through what can otherwise be a lonely journey in research. To me the Fulbright Fellowship that I received soon after I finished my doctoral research provided this fraternity. Great courage is exhibited during academic research days by scholars, especially towards a doctoral degree. But the true hallmark waits to be seen, when the courage subsides, and when patience emerges. The patience to be with the subject, to ebb and flow with its course and to continue to love it for its yet unsolved mysteries. 

Prof Swarnamalya Ganesh is an Assistant Professor of Practice, Literature and Arts, Global Arts at Krea University. A veteran performer with over 35 years of experience, Prof Ganesh is a scholar of dance history and a trained academician in art practice and sociology

On the Research Quest

On the Research Quest

5 Students at Krea share their stories as budding researchers

In a world that’s evolving faster than ever before, the most critical of questions are novel and unscripted. Knowledge driven growth that’s fuelled by innovation is the need of the hour.

Students at Krea are on a quest for knowledge, some of them having trod onto the path of research much prior to stepping into the world of Krea. They are curious investigators with research interests across the social, political, scientific, and technical spectrum. Questioning the status quo, attempting to solve the unanswered, challenging their own selves, advancing knowledge, each of them are reshaping the norm.

Hear their stories in their own words.

Prashanthi Subbiah from SIAS Cohort of 2023

Ground Zero

I think my interest in research began as a quest to understand certain aspects, be it an event or a fact that is widely accepted. I have always been someone who asks questions. To bring up an example related to the subjects I have taken up in university, if a major political event took place, I would always ask why was it such a big deal; sometimes I wouldn’t fully understand what news channels were making a fuss about. More often than not, I would ask my parents, and they always encouraged me to seek out answers for myself. After a while, it became a habit for me to do a quick Google search after I find out about something new. 

R for Research

Most of my research experience has been at Krea. I was part of a group of researchers in summer 2021, under Prof Sumitra Ranganathan and Prof Naina Majrekar to track slave trade along the Coromandel Coast (with specific focus on Pulicat Lake) by the Dutch East India Company. We made data visualisations and compiled literature on the same. My second research internship at Krea was with the Sharma Centre for Heritage Education, under Prof Shanti Pappu, Dr Kumar Akhilesh, and Dr Prachi Joshi. All 3 of them taught us step-by-step about stone tools found at a Paleolithic site, 70 kms from Chennai. We began with the most basic concepts, such as differentiating between a stone tool and naturally-occurring stones and then delved into how these tools were excavated, preserved and different techniques used to analyse them to obtain more information such as a tool’s use. Using this knowledge, we created an educational video on these topics, which was aimed specifically for school children. 

A Milestone

I have done in-depth research essays and papers for my coursework, and for a book I wrote on 20th Century History. This book initially started as a compilation of notes to help myself study, as I wasn’t satisfied with how I was performing in class. I did research, both virtual and physical which greatly improved my understanding of the material. Eventually I published it to help other students and teachers out there in 2020-21. 

One chapter at a time 

There is a unique feeling that sticks with me every time I step into a research project. At the very beginning, the task I am looking at always seems enormous. I feel like I have a lot to learn and process each time I begin a new project, and that need to understand motivates me to get organised and start putting my thoughts together little-by-little until I’m able to come up with something substantial. This process is a journey of its own, which gets me into the groove of working on a research project. 

An evolving worldview

A major takeaway for me has been to always have my mind open, and be ready for new information. Especially in a time dominated by technology, where information is more accessible than ever, it can become overwhelming at times. So, the importance of being ready to assimilate as much as you can, as well as obtaining the important facts from much of the noise has become paramount to how I look at everyday aspects.

Exploring pathways

I am considering a career in research and I believe for any career path, subject knowledge is a requirement, and obtaining it would require some degree of research. These experiences have also been humbling learning experiences, as I have always stepped in with very little knowledge, which goes to show how important having an open mind is. I have also had to be very persistent and have fine eye for detail as well, which have definitely shaped me as a person.

Vishesh Agarwal from SIAS Cohort of 2023

The Starting Point

It all started when I read a lot of history and political science during the pandemic and got to know about the illustrious and rather unknown beauties of Calcutta, the Beth-El Synagogue and the Meghan David Synagogue. I got to know how events transpired and these pieces of excellence were left to rot. Surprisingly these synagogues did not have a rabbi and both of them are rather significant for the Jews around the world, especially our subcontinent. That’s how I had my first research experience.

A gateway to experiences 

All my work may not be pure research but I enjoy interviewing people and learning from their lives over the years. For example, I have always been fond of Cholas and their art and I got the opportunity to visit their museum of collected works of Chola artists over the last few decades and spent time with a couple of Chola painters and an academic there, understanding them better. At Krea, I have done more structured projects like with IC3 movement where we conducted a survey of counselors and tried to provide for an analysis and with the help of Bhakti Shah, Krea’s Director of Outreach, I led a project where other collaborating universities were solely represented by professors, while we were represented by our students. Prof Chirag Dhara and I share the same interests in the current radical changes in Chile which we researched and discussed at great length about with other students bringing in ideas from their area of interest. Even though it was my first year at Krea, I got a research opportunity with Equity in Higher Education where I helped them to create a university database for students from the Bahujan community so that they get benefited with better education alongside an inclusive peer group. Lastly, the experience with Professor Kalpita Bhar Paul was greatly inspired by the IPCC report that stated many metropolitan cities of India might not exist in near future, including Kolkata, my home town. I wanted to know more about the subject and my mentor was truly helpful in this regard. 

Empathy

In research, even when you are working with hard data and raw facts, the stories behind those facts make you more sensitive to the fact instead of disbanding it as a statistic. This not only helped me with being more sensitive and empathetic but also made me feel inspired by their struggles. 

The lessons learnt

I am not too sure about my career options as of now but I see being a researcher as one of the top options for sure. These experiences have definitely equipped me with a lot of tools that will come in handy no matter what. What it has helped me most with is the comfort of saying ‘I don’t know’ because as a researcher you can disprove something but cannot always come up with an alternative and then accepting that you don’t know helps in life too because we are always trying to prove ourselves as someone who knows everything. 

New perspectives, varied lenses

Research gives you an opportunity to evolve as a scholar but at Krea every day I see things with new perspectives from different lenses. Even though you might not be aligned to that, it’s important to know the other side and that sensitivity and patience is a gift of research.

Agnij Purushothaman from SIAS Cohort of 2023

The Research and the researcher

Research, to me, is a symbiotic relationship between the researched and the ‘researched’. Sure, the researcher gives life to information, but I feel what makes me enjoy research so much is not the result of novelty, but the process. I tend to work with my information and data as a counterpart, not something under or above me that fosters my interest. My first experience with research was in high school, and I clearly remember trying my best to not be overwhelmed by the scale of the research processes. It was very basic research and data collection and interpretation with regard to stock markets, but I remember coming out of that project a little more stoked to search for more. 

The research journey

My first proper research opportunity was over this summer break at Krea. I worked with my peers alongside Prof Soumyajit Bhar on a project that intended to understand notions of the good life and its connection to the climate crisis, consumption patterns and popular sustainability discourse. In particular, a small group including me looked at religion (or the absence of it) and its connection to the good life. It was loaded, and a deeply personal topic I am very passionate about. I can confidently say that it was more than just a means to an end sort of project, it was more of something to work with continually in the future, considering the relevancy and nature of the subject. I look forward to working deeper on the same. Outside Krea, I keep myself engaged with topics I am deeply interested in, some of them include temple history, classical music, astronomy, animal conservation and earth science, among others. 

Chapters in revelations

One of the biggest emotional and existential setbacks I have had was during my summer internship at Krea itself. Intricacies of the climate crisis and its implications on the human psyche are immense, and there are already terms like climate anxiety that are floating around. During that time, I encountered overwhelming evidence of the extremely unfortunate trajectory of the global economy and mainly, its implications on the global South. That 1% of the elite that skims off of most of the wealth of the world nagged me, continuously. But I also realised that, even though it may sound cynical and pessimistic, the only way to move forward in research is to sometimes digest it as the bitter reality, and use that as motivation to find something alternate that can propel your mind out of that rut. To me, that was turning away from economic solutions and looking at political and environmental solutions for the inequitable economy. That helped me steer around the wealth inequality crisis, and look for light down that dark tunnel. 

Gearing up for the research trail

I can’t affirm it yet but I am definitely considering a career in research. A professor at Krea once explained the scope of research to me in the form of a pie. What is already out there constitutes about 90% of the information that is used and interpreted. Novel research topics, however, constitute just about 10% of the pie. In that 10%, individuals trying to decode and find something novel, are mere specks. My personality has definitely changed through these experiences, and I consider making peace with the fact that novel and meaningful research comes from a deeply focused and determined headspace and methodology is the first step toward gearing up for a career path in research, and that’s something I intend to primarily work on.

Accumulating knowledge, amplifying learnings

There is no point in research if you don’t come out of it with little to lots of changes in your perceptions of the subject matter. Instead of evolving, I’d rather say that I increment what I find meaningful from my research to my personality. It’s more of a cumulative journey of the self through research than a metamorphic one that is more like evolving to me, personally. These research experience mainly add to the knowledge that I already have, reinforcing it, correcting it, and updating it constantly.

Naveen Prasad Alex from SIAS Cohort of 2022

Turning passion into pathway

There was no ground zero for me, because ecology or wildlife butterflies have been a passion for me since my childhood and it was just about taking my passion to the next level, getting it more systematic and scientific.

It’s all about the butterflies 

In Krea most of my research experiences were under the mentorship of Prof Shivani Jadeja, the studies on butterfly lifecycles and migration. The study on migration being covered under research internship and research assistance stints and two short communication papers have been published related to the migration study we did.

My capstone thesis revolved around butterfly migrations too. One of the remarkable butterfly migrations in India is The Danainae butterfly migration through southern India. Even though some studies have been based on limited data and opportunistic observations, this phenomenon remains largely understudied. My thesis utilised citizen science data on the occurrence of Tirumala limniace, Tirumala septentrionis Euploea core to find out seasonal changes in the occurrence of these butterflies, indicating potential migratory patterns. This study helps to better understand migratory patterns for Danainae butterfly migration through southern India.

Research comes with its own set of unique experiences, for me one of them was around my capstone thesis. I was planning to work on a topic which involved quite some lab work, it was on how temperature variations affect the feeding patterns of butterfly larvae during the metamorphosis. But thanks to COVID, access was limited and I had to think on my feet to work on something that I could still do within the limitations of the world shutting down. I had to change the topic to ‘Tracking butterfly migration in India using historic and citizen science data’ and even though it is challenging,  the study results have been very interesting, with a potential of getting published.

Penning new chapters

I plan to pursue a career in research and academics and I am at the moment undertaking a Masters at University of Helsinki in ecology and evolution. Having professional research experience, especially at Krea, gave me more clarity on what I should do, and essentially helped identify my specific interests within ecology itself.

Meghana Mantha  from SIAS Cohort of 2024

Where it all began

I have been into active research for the past 5 years. It all started with reading and observing my surroundings and the curiosity to know more about topics that interested me. Some of the topics that interest me but are slightly odd are Colleges & Admissions, Career Services, Countries, and Cultures, and I haven’t really explored Academic Research or worked in proper research setting at a university. This interest led me to take up a Research Project under Professor Soumyajit Bhar on the topic of Consumer Behaviour, Choices, and Patterns under factors like Social, Individual, and Cultural. This project was interesting and dealt with the topic of Sustainable Fashion and it was very new to me. Hence, exploring the topic and getting involved in the process was quite fascinating and insightful. 

In pursuit of a passion

I started my Journey as a Researcher and Writer at a few American Student-led organisations and then progressed towards my passion which is College Admissions and Career Services. Over time, I researched more about colleges, what makes a good profile to get into a top college? How can one find opportunities as a student? And many more questions like that, I’ve also mentored many students in the past five years in getting into their top college choices or paid internships. In this process, I fell in love with Outreach and Communications. I enjoyed networking with people, building connections, and helping Teen Entrepreneurs. 

In the pursuit of improving my skills in the field of Research in the domain of Education concentrating on Admissions and Career Services, I started working with a Harvard Master’s Student. My Research focuses on Top Colleges for Undergrad in India and Abroad specifically focusing on the USA, Domestic and International Competitor Analysis, Student Profiling, and Blogging. I love my work on these and I am looking forward to pursuing my passion and research interests further.

The Evolution

When I started off with my journey in research at the age of 14, I was in a mindset that every research project that we take up regardless of the domain is the same but eventually, after working on Academic related research projects where I had to work with a team, go through the process from the start, conduct interviews, transcriptions, analysing the info we had, was very different compared to the work that I am involved in now, which mostly is best done alone, the research, the questions we ask and, the people we interact with are completely different. This distinction gave me an understanding of how research works in different fields. 

Exploring and discovering 

I am interested in pursuing a career path in research but I am still exploring and figuring out if I should pursue research as an academician or work towards my passion (Research, Outreach, and Communications) in College Counselling, Admissions and Career Services. Working with many experts in different fields has given me interesting perspectives and experiences and to an extent shaped my personality positively. At the moment, I am happy that I am exploring and working with people with similar interests and where I am at, excited to see where this goes and what the future holds for me. 

Nobel Laureate Dr. Esther Duflo joins Krea University’s Governing Council

Nobel Laureate Dr. Esther Duflo joins Krea University’s Governing Council

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Nobel Laureate Dr. Esther Duflo as a Member of our Governing Council.

Dr. Esther Duflo is an economist and professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is also Co-Founder and Co-Director at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). She was awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize for Economics (the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel) along with Dr. Abhijit Banerjee and Dr. Michael Kremer for developing an innovative experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.

Welcoming Dr. Esther Duflo to the Governing Council, Mr. Kapil Viswanathan, Chairman of Executive Committee & Member of Governing Council, Krea University said, “As a path-breaking scholar who has brought scientific method and rigor to the social sciences, Dr. Esther Duflo personifies Krea University’s interwoven approach to research and learning. It is a great privilege to welcome her as a member of Krea University’s governing council.”     

Commenting on her appointment, Dr. Esther Duflo said, “It is fair to say that we would not have received a Nobel prize had it not been for all the research we could do in India, thanks in large part to the support we received from Krea University’s sponsoring body since 2008.  I look forward to helping Krea University realize its mission to help humanity prepare for an unpredictable world.”

Recognising this appointment, Vice Chancellor of Krea University Dr Mahesh Rangarajan, stated “Professor Duflo is exceptional as a scholar, researcher and teacher not only for her outstanding work but equally so for the impact of her ideas on the larger world.  Her leadership and interventions also set a standard for scholars, policymakers and the public at large.”

Professor Sudip Roy elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry for his contribution to the Chemical Sciences

Professor Sudip Roy elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry for his contribution to the Chemical Sciences

Dr Sudip Roy, Visiting Associate Professor of Chemistry, has been elected as a Fellow to the prestigious Royal Society of Chemistry. This honour is in recognition of his significant contribution to the Chemical Sciences and extensive work with Industry and promoting industry-academia collaborations. Dr. Sudip Roy has 20 years of experience in research and innovation. Dr. Roy obtained his Ph.D. in chemical sciences from the University of Saarland in Germany followed by post-doctoral work at Technical University Darmstadt, Germany. He is a Chevening fellow 2019 and studied management of research, science, and innovation at the University of Oxford.

‘Krea Lecture Series: Environmental Studies’ with Dr R Brawin Kumar | 28 Sept, 6.30 PM IST

‘Krea Lecture Series: Environmental Studies’ with Dr R Brawin Kumar | 28 Sept, 6.30 PM IST

In the world of mammals inhabiting the Indian subcontinent, the Madras Hedgehog is very poorly studied. Did you know that, unlike porcupines, the hedgehog’s spines are not easily detachable, and it rolls its fur-clad face and abdomen into a complete ball of spines in defence?  

Join Dr R Brawin Kumar (National Post Doctoral Fellow – School of Biology, IISER Tirupati) for an insightful and ‘edgy’ lecture — titled “The untold story of my spiny neighbour – The Madras Hedgehog!” — exploring the few species of hedgehogs in India, sharing interesting facts about them, and explaining why efforts need to be doubled towards studying these fascinating creatures.

The ‘Krea Lecture Series: Environmental Studies’ is a forum to share research and ongoing work in the broad domain of environmental issues and climate change. The series invites speakers to explore these themes from multiple dimensions including but not limited to climate science, conservation, policy, culture, social movements and more. 

This lecture is open to all. Register here: https://krea-edu-in.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMscu-gpzooGtRWQu3ulqF1OmZPFSrnPqgm

Prof Chirag Dhara to share insights on education for climate action at the ‘International Conference on Sustainable Development 2021’ | Today @ 10.30 PM IST

Prof Chirag Dhara to share insights on education for climate action at the ‘International Conference on Sustainable Development 2021’ | Today @ 10.30 PM IST

Prof Chirag Dhara, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Krea University, will present at the ‘International Conference on Sustainable Development 2021’ along with Prof Vandana Singh from Framingham University, USA. In line with the theme of the conference – ‘Education for Climate Action: Towards an SDG 4.7 Roadmap for Systems Change’ – their presentation (titled ‘Why Transformative Education Must Address the Problem of Endless Exponential Economic Growth’) aims to provide a conceptual scaffolding around which learning frameworks may be developed to make room for diverse alternative paths to truly sustainable social-ecological cultures. Their presentation is based on a book chapter that they have contributed to an upcoming edited volume on the same theme, to be published by UNESCO.

For more information about the conference, visit: https://ic-sd.org/

Honourable Vice President of India inaugurates Moturi Satyanarayana Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences at Krea University

Honourable Vice President of India inaugurates Moturi Satyanarayana Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences at Krea University

The Honourable Vice President of India Shri. M. Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated the Moturi Satyanarayana Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences at Krea University on Wednesday, 08 September 2021. The official inauguration event was hosted at Raj Bhavan in Chennai. 

Moturi Satyanarayana Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences aims to promote scholarship in the humanities and social sciences. The centre commemorates the life and legacy of veteran freedom fighter, Member of the Constituent Assembly, the Provisional Parliament two-time Rajya Sabha MP, Shri. Moturi Satyanarayana.

Dr Mahesh Rangarajan, Vice-Chancellor of Krea University explained, “While aligned with and integral to Krea’s larger vision and mission, Moturi Satyanarayana Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences aims to create a centre of academic excellence. The scholarship, exchange and dialogue within and by the centre will help promote a vibrant intellectual milieu both within and beyond Krea. Research is vital to our future and the work done here will help think about the past and present in preparation for a better future.”

Speaking at the inauguration, The Honourable Vice President said, “Today I commend the management, staff and all those associated with this momentous milestone in Krea’s journey synonymous with quality education in Humanities and Social Studies. Named after the eminent son of India, Shri. Moturi Satyanarayana, I am certain this centre with its academic rigour and quality will be a transformative and engaging hub of teaching and learning.”