‘All Things Under the Sun’ – Week One, Feb 2023

<strong>‘All Things Under the Sun’ – Week One, Feb 2023</strong>

For years now, we have all been saying there’s so much to read and so little time, right? But every year, we hope to return to what we love doing the best – to read. So, as part of All Things Under the Sun that we recently kicked off, we present to you a compilation of this week’s best news/features thoughtfully sourced from across publications from across the country and the world, to make your weekend worth it! We hope to cover ground and raise a toast to best reads that are often also about the best writing! Stay tuned and watch this space!

A mammoth reading list you never knew you needed! -Read More

Lithub offers 43 shows and movies to stream and see this year!-Read More

The Delhi Metro is more than a system of public transport: it represents refuge, privacy, freedom, and a slow change in the city’s cultural fabric. This piece walks us through stories from 20 years of the Delhi Metro. -Read More

The Bureau of Linguistic Reality is assembling a new lexicon for people’s experience of climate change. Here’s a list to get you started. -Read More

Despite living in a smart-phone led era of dwindling attention spans, Kerala still seems to indulge in the old-world charm of reading and gathering together to enjoy literature-based conversations-Read More

A study shows that there are two ways that may help in tackling procrastination — setting reminders and envisioning your future self-Read More

With AI doing the rounds on social media, here’s another new update that students might be interested to know -Read More

With the budget being announced, this piece incorporates charts and visual elements to explain it all-Read More

This one’s for the eco-crusaders on the creeks and mudflats of coastal Odisha that are a haven for a variety of birds and reptiles like the saltwater crocodile-Read More

‘All Things Under the Sun’ – Week Four, Jan 2023

‘All Things Under the Sun’ – Week Four, Jan 2023

For years now, we have all been saying there’s so much to read and so little time, right? But every year, we hope to return to what we love doing the best – to read. So, as part of All Things Under the Sun that we recently kicked off, we present to you a compilation of this week’s best news/features thoughtfully sourced from across publications from across the country and the world, to make your weekend worth it! We hope to cover ground and raise a toast to best reads that are often also about the best writing! Stay tuned and watch this space!

The article unpacks weighty words whose meanings have been sacrificed to hot takes.-Read More

A round-up of Oscar nominations and predictions.-Read More

This article unpacks how little things we do for self-preservation matter, and how the the people of Finland are mastering the art of being happy -Read More

From hostile cops to the loving company of transgender people and sex workers, dancing on the streets of Delhi after sunset opens up many worlds for Deepak Upadhyay. -Read More

As the revolutionary chatbot becomes a global rage, the piece throws up questions on how much technology is too much.-Read More

With this being the season when the little ones visit the shores of Chennai, this piece offers a peek into the life of Olive Ridleys. -Read More

A roundup of the Jaipur Literature Festival for our bibliophiles. -Read More

The Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, KSCPCR has expanded the proposal in the state of Kerala considering a petition filed by a person on gender-biased greetings in schools.-Read More

This piece highlights how tradition around ‘Halwa Ceremony’ and ‘Bahi Khaata’ Has Evolved.-Read More

‘All Things Under the Sun’ – Week Three, Jan 2023

‘All Things Under the Sun’ – Week Three, Jan 2023

For years now, we have all been saying there’s so much to read and so little time, right? But every year, we hope to return to what we love doing the best – to read. So, as part of All Things Under the Sun that we recently kicked off, we present to you a compilation of this week’s best news/features thoughtfully sourced from across publications from across the country and the world, to make your weekend worth it! We hope to cover ground and raise a toast to best reads that are often also about the best writing! Stay tuned and watch this space!

This one’s for you eco-crusaders! The article highlights how climate change has put Darjeeling tea in jeopardy.-Read More

This piece takes a positive outlook on why it can be healthy to praise professional rivals and inculcate a healthy and competitive spirit.-Read More

This lovely piece essays Shantha Devi’s journey. This 65-year-old student artist’s works were exhibited at Kochi Muziris Biennale. It also highlights some of the community work she has been pursuing with the help of kids. -Read More

The graceful departure of New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s has been doing the rounds on social media. This story beautifully captures some of her noteworthy leadership traits. -Read More

In a recent marketing campaign #TogetherWeRise by the Mahindra Group, children highlight the changes needed in the businesses of today to make a better and more equal tomorrow. -Read More

This fascinating photo essay talks about AI making queer art and how even though it’s marvelous looking, it comes at the cost of simplifying creativity and artists’ labour-Read More

Wouldn’t it be fun to indulge in some fun activities to beat your everyday blues? This fun piece offers 50 such ideas.-Read More

While patriarchy has been looked at through different angles, this piece approaches it through the metaphor of food. -Read More

In this moving piece, pet parents share some of the true stories of their hero pets.-Read More

My Journey to Krea

<strong>My Journey to Krea</strong>

By Rama Vaishnavi Bhogavilli, SIAS Cohort of 2025

Where it all began

“It all started seven months ago when I decided to do an internship that aims to help students find their right career routes and make them aware of the opportunities beyond school. Until then, I neither had much awareness of the prospects outside nor was I aspiring to do anything significant. It was after I undertook this internship that the desire to do something worthy started growing. The career path I wished to choose was still very ambiguous. I interacted with a graduate from the University of Hyderabad and her work truly inspired me, at that time I wanted to study something of the same accord. With a dilemma I had on the path I should choose, I started exploring more options. That is when I heard of the concept of liberal education. It was very new to me and I was barely aware of this field or the universities that encourage this sort of education. I started reaching out and interacting with a diverse set of people and based on the information I received, I was completely convinced that this was the right choice for me.”

Liberal education calling

Being a completely new stream, I wanted to get into the best institutions that encouraged this kind of inquisitiveness in us as learners. During my extensive search, one of my cousins strongly recommended Krea as the best choice for me. I hadn’t heard of the university before but after getting a thorough idea of Krea- the Interwoven Learning, extensive non-academic engagements and more, I was deeply impressed with the way of education here. Social studies is the subject that fascinates me the most and something I wish to pursue down my career path too. I have tried engaging in relevant classes and activities, and I am extremely glad that Krea allows and provides a lot of scope to explore the discipline. We have the opportunity to explore varied ideas and perspectives on the subjects which are multi-dimensional and the internships curated for us at NGOs across the country are very helpful. Another area of my interest is Computer Science which has undoubtedly become one of the most essential disciplines in this technology-driven world. 

New beginnings at Krea

In addition to that, apart from academics, I have always had a keen interest in in different extracurricular activities. The spectrum of such activities offered at Krea through various clubs is wide-ranging and there is something to do, within and beyond the classrooms at all times.  Without much ado, I applied to Krea, and after a the entire process of admissions and eventual joining and orientation, I am now at university. It’s been a month and I thoroughly enjoy each moment of my campus life. I am reassured that I have taken the right decision. Despite the little challenges I face in this new environment, I have people here who are always with me and encouraging me at each step. This is a phase I am delighted to experience.

My journey to Krea

<strong>My journey to Krea</strong>

By Wahiq Iqbal, Cohort of 2025

A little something about me

I am Wahiq Iqbal and I come from Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, a beautiful valley nestled between mountains. I am currently a first-year student at Krea University and plan to major in Computer Science. I love designing and also enjoy photography. I am an introvert but I easily open up to people I feel comfortable with.

My journey to Krea

My journey to Krea started in February 2022, when I had just undertaken my 12th class examinations and was worried about my future. I was feeling anxious about getting into a good university. In the process, I was researching on colleges voraciously to see which one would suit me best, and that’s when I suddenly stumbled upon a vlogger, Gauri Goyal who at that time was a third-year student at Krea. She had uploaded a vlog showcasing a full campus tour of Krea and that’s what really piqued my interest to come to Krea.

I didn’t have any idea of what I wanted to become as I loved designing but I had chosen science in my 11th and 12th classes. Hence choosing a variety of subjects and keeping avenues open will provide me the flexibility in choosing my pathway in the future. Picking something based on how much you enjoy doing it and find interesting is as good a reason as any, so don’t be afraid to not have your whole life planned ahead of you. I went through the same experience before joining Krea.

I submitted my application form on the last date of the deadline and that too with a lot of typos and errors. For a long time, I didn’t hear anything from Krea and I was losing hope but a few months later when I finally got accepted for the Online Krea Immersive Case (OKIC) round, my happiness knew no bounds. The professors on the OKIC day were so friendly, and I also got to meet fellow aspirants. Before coming to the campus, we had a WhatsApp discussion group where we would get to know each other, our experiences and share varied thoughts.

To speak about my joy at starting my university life, I have to say I was excited to come to university for many reasons. A major one was the independence I would gain, and control over when, how, and where I wish to do things (except lectures of course). Maggi at 1 AM is allowed because no one can stop you (though that’s not healthy, so perhaps the only thing stopping you is your conscience). Another reason was the variety of clubs and committees you can join, anything you can think of, and beyond, it is right here. And if it isn’t already, you can create one and run it yourself. Last but not the least, I am here to learn, and get my degree.

The journey to Krea has been tough but I am incredibly grateful for the fantastic friends I have made, the experiences I have had, and the ones to come.

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

An interview with Sharon Buteau

An interview with Sharon Buteau

In an exclusive conversation, Sharon Buteau, shares with us her story, a powerful tale of experiences as she continues a decade-and-a-half long journey through India as research leader and the Executive Director, LEAD at Krea University. 

From combining passions, skills and experience into choosing research to drive impact, transitioning from a researcher to heading a research entity, and the insights from collaborating with the right people to solve the most complex of socio-economic problems, Sharon sheds light on some key takeaways from her rich experience. In a note to budding researchers on what would be the apt way to kick off their research journey, Sharon adds, “From the bottom-up. It would be important to understand all steps of a field research, from observation in the field, inquiry with relevant people, and framing research questions.”

What was ground zero, where and when did your curiosity for all things research begin?

My first passion is actually wanting to help people. As well, I was always very curious about other cultures and the big questions on humanity. My choice of a specific career path was more iterative, economics resonated with me as a good part of it focuses on understanding people and their motivations. I also really like working with data. I initially worked in a consulting firm in analytics, which gave me some satisfaction as I was working with data, however, a sense of purpose was missing. The transition to action research came as a result of gravitating towards work that combines my passions, skills and experience. The turning point was returning to university to study Social Research Methodology at LSE, was really wonderful and fascinating and a great segway into what I have been doing for the past 14 years.

In 2008, you arrived in India after a stint with Analysis Group in Montreal, Canada and there has been no looking back. Did you choose India or did India choose you? 

A bit of both, India is very captivating, either you really dislike, or you really like. I initially intended to work for 6 months, working on a small project with a professor at IIMB. Towards the end of my stay, I was sent some job applications from IFMR and it seemed very interesting. When I was hired at IFMR, I intended to stay a few years and was particularly keen on understanding field work to collect data. Was also very motivated by doing research work that is practical and can be impactful in helping people. When I was looking for other challenges after a few years working at IFMR, potentially in Africa, the IFMR President at the time offered me an interesting opportunity to work on combining a few research centers to form one research entity, which is known today as LEAD. That transition from researcher to heading a research entity was a turning point, and one that in retrospect would qualify as “India chose me to stay and take roots”.  

When you look back at the 15 years you have spent here, doing research and building and nurturing LEAD, what are some of the most dazzling memories?

There are many memories, every day in India is dazzling! My fondest memories are most often in the little things that grow to be impactful. Such as being in the field, hearing stories of people and their lives, and interacting with my team and  seeing them evolve in their career. Furthermore, on an almost daily basis, meeting with people from various sectors and domains is really interesting as well. In particular the energy people put into wanting to make a difference is astounding. The ability to connect with so many people and create something that can have some impact on people’s lives is a strong force that pulls you towards even doing more work, despite an already often saturated bandwidth.  

What are some of the key takeaways you have had in your journey as a researcher?

My journey so far in doing action research has been the realization that focusing on a few key strong problems to solve, gathering the right set of people and being really in touch with those who will  be impacted by a solution we are designing are critical.

How powerful is research as a tool for development and also in the process of learning, should students be exposed to the idea of in-depth research from very young days?

These are two distinct sets of questions. For the first, I think actionable research is critical for understanding “what works” to solve complex problems. The research approach needs to be dynamic and collaborative and iterate towards solving problems, then only research can be a powerful tool for development. There is however a strong case as well to ensure that knowledge, even theoretical and more abstract, be consistently documented and read, this often inspires research design and at the very least gives scope for deep thinking.

With regards for the youth to be exposed to in-depth research at a young age. I think it is important for young people to be exposed to many things, but as well ensure that they also are self-aware about their skills and it aligns with their aspirations. 

As a researcher, how do you approach solving a problem?

Observing, listening, deep focus and distilling problems to the most simplest form so they are solvable. Other than that, it requires the right set of people. 

As a research leader and the Executive Director, LEAD at Krea University, you and your team’s work has been an example of using the ‘power of data’ from the ground up to improve socio-economic outcomes for diverse groups. Amongst the hundreds of surveys and field experiences, are there standout experiences which gave you reflections of a lifetime? Something that helped you surge ahead with more power than before?

While I think data is critical, the power of data comes when it  is actionable and reaches the people who can use it  to make guided  decisions. I have three overall insights to prove to be helpful. My first strong insight is more data is not always better. My second insight is that data can be found in many forms, and there is a lot  of value and scope to explore this and integrate it in our work. My third insight is that granular data is really critical. In a country as heterogeneous as India, the story lies in the standard deviations and extremes.  As well, an eye opener was the importance of gender disaggregated data, there are really stark  differences and nuances that are often not appropriately captured.

You and your work are direct advocates of women entrepreneurship, in the same way is there a need for more women researchers in the field of economics?

When looking at India specifically, women’s participation in enterprise development  and in the labor force is low, even compared  to other developing economies. Women entrepreneurs and women researchers are different segments but both have the same requirement to ensure that women at least have the choice and access to equal opportunity to choose to enter or not. In the field of economics, there are many women studying, where they are really underrepresented, in addition to the labor force, at the higher levels in organizations and on executive boards  where key decisions are being made. 

You have worked in diverse fields of research, from financial to gender inclusion, how important do you think is for research to be inter-disciplinary and break silos?

More than inter-disciplinary, research that aims to solve problems needs to be transdisciplinary.  While  inter-disciplinary refers to several academic disciplines looking at a problem from their siloed discipline, transdisciplinary involves focusing on perspectives of different actors that come together to work on finding a solution, by jointly working together to  leverage their specific expertise and knowledge and experiences. To address complex issues, solutions generated by the co-creation process involved in transdisciplinary research allows to combine deep theory and thinking with practical knowledge.

You recently worked on a coffee table book that chronicles the story of LEAD; what has it been like to look back and also in a sense look forward? 

By nature, I am very forward thinking. Am always thinking of the “what next?”  Hence, it was a different experience to go back in time. But the whole exercise was very interesting, in particular to take stock of where we started and how we evolved. It actually gave a great boost of energy and enthusiasm to forge ahead, as there is now a well documented book that showcases our work and is relatable to a wide range of stakeholders.  

For budding researchers looking at heading into grassroot research in the field of economics, how would you suggest they start their journey?

From the bottom-up… It would be important to understand all steps of a field research, from observation in the field, inquiry with relevant people, and framing research questions.

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