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

The Trailblazer

<strong>The Trailblazer</strong>

Interview With Dr Ameesh Samalopanan, Krea University’s First PhD Graduate

In July 2022, Krea University added one more name to its league of distinguished alumni – Dr Ameesh Samalopanan became Krea’s first PhD scholar awarded a doctoral degree. Under the supervision of Prof Vijayalakshmi C Balasubramaniam, IFMR GSB, he successfully defended his thesis on “Exploring Dignity at Workplace: A Mixed-Method Study”. Dr Samalopanan now works as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Management Studies at NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad.

Inspired by his achievement, we reached out to him for an interview, hoping for a glimpse into his world of scholastic proclivity and research pursuits and what we have are candid insights into his PhD journey, his motivation and goals, the rigour and gaiety of his university days, his pinnacles and vicissitudes, as well as what this major academic milestone represents for his overall career trajectory. 

When and how did you decide to pursue a PhD? Was it a difficult decision to make? How did your PhD fit into your overall professional growth trajectory?

 Like most good things in life, the decision to pursue PhD was something that gradually grew upon me. I was a psychologist by training, working mainly in psychiatric hospitals. In between, I used to take one-hour sessions on various psychology/counselling-related topics, and always received great feedback. That was the main reason that, when a teaching opportunity came, I didn’t have to think much before accepting it. A couple of years as a lecturer made me realise the worth and value of a PhD as a degree, along with the insight that full-time research can be fun. 

 Please tell us a bit about the topic of your PhD research, the reasons you chose to focus on this specific area, and your key findings and results. 

 Okay, so a master’s degree in psychology and a couple of years of work experience as a counsellor had transformed me into a person with a keen interest in people’s issues (at individual levels), and one context of particular interest to me was the workplace. I was always curious about what matters most at a workplace, and I realised it was probably the desire to be treated with dignity that weighs over everything else. But interestingly, not many efforts were done academically to define and conceptualise what dignity, specific to a workplace context, means and what impact the lack of it can have on other relevant aspects of a workplace. My PhD thesis is titled “Exploring Dignity at Workplace: A Mixed-Method Study”, and if you have to put it into a basket, it aligns more with humanistic philosophies in management, which advocate for people-oriented management practices that seek profits for human ends. The key findings of my research were to give a conceptual model to the concept of “dignity at workplace” in the Indian context, develop a measure for it, and assess how it impacts other organisationally relevant variables. 

Did you face any challenges and doubts during your PhD studies? How did you overcome them?

 Well, PhD is one of the longest courses you will ever subscribe to, and it requires a minimum of 4-5 years for its completion. One has to be really lucky to have 5 consecutive years with no challenge or self-doubt. Of course, at times, you have personal issues that might pop up, and sometimes academic. Personally, the PhD program was extremely challenging, as it happened during the pandemic time. And the data I worked with was primary data – the data you collect personally, via interviews or surveys. That was just one of the many hurdles. But my extremely supportive guide, Dr. Vijayalakshmi Balasubramaniam, the Krea family in general, and a little bit of self-drive, ensured successful completion of the program.

How much endurance and determination is required to succeed in the pursuit of a PhD degree? Was it always about remaining serious, being single-focused and undistracted from your work? Can PhD also be fun?

As I mentioned, Doctoral programs are not short-term courses, and being goal-focused and having a determination to achieve them is definitely a prerequisite. But having said that, if I may rephrase your question, one doesn’t have to be “serious and undistracted” all the time. In fact, compared to other academic programs, a PhD program is much more relaxed in terms of its structure, at least during its “research phase”. There is no ten-to-five class hour rigidness – you work at your own convenience. You just have to adhere to certain submissions and presentations deadlines. This definitely translates to having more time for yourself. Travel, movies and food are my interests, and I always had more than enough time to explore and enjoy those interests. 

In fact, I would say that being “single-focused” on your research might actually act counterproductively. One should take breaks, enjoy other aspects of life, rejuvenate and then come back to the project with a clearer mind. 

Please tell us about some of the best moments you have experienced during your PhD journey – moments of elation, triumph, and success. 

I returned to campus life after an academic gap (having worked for a few years), so I always made a point to make the most of the campus activities. It’s very easy to get into the MBA crowd in the first two years of PhD, as you would be doing your coursework with them (that’s how it works at Krea). 

During the first year of my PhD, my team (we were a small group of four friends) came second in a national-level ad-making competition – and that is something that is still fresh in my mind.

All the campus events and gatherings organised by various student clubs, committees, Abhyudaya (the flagship event of IFMR GSB), and regional festivals like Onam, Ganesh Chaturthi and Durga Puja, were always special. 

Apart from that, we regularly trekked and traveled to nearby locations. Sri City opens up to a rich Tamil culture towards the south, and a vibrant Andhra culture once you start exploring the north; and thus it was a great starting point for a backpacker like me. 

Academically, I won the Best Paper Award in a few prestigious conferences – these are definitely achievements I would love to flaunt. However, the cherry on the top was the moment I cleared my PhD and the congratulatory messages that came in, addressing me as “Dr Ameesh”.

Could you share some of your greatest learnings from your PhD journey – something you will always carry with you and draw inspiration from?

Of course, every PhD student, over the course of their journey, picks up essential life skills like endurance, self-drive, improvising and handling rejection. What makes me particularly happy is that I achieved a major academic degree at a time when even surviving was difficult. We used to have these regular semi-annual review meetings, where we present to the PhD committee the progress made in the last 6 months. One of review meetings happened during the second wave of COVID, a time when the death tolls were maximum and those numbers included people we knew by name. I still remember how one of the external committee members was mighty impressed to see I could make this progress during those troubled times. I believe this was a baptism of fire for my research career, and it has instilled in me a sense of self-belief and the lesson that one needs to keep hustling. 

But apart from that, when you invest so much time trying to explore a topic, transference and countertransference are bound to happen. This is more true for social sciences as, most often, the topics we choose are closely aligned with our own belief systems. As my research was focused on demonstrating the importance of dignity, the experience certainly made me more appreciative of the people around me and made me aware of how the “little acts of kindness” can touch the lives of people around me in a big way.  

And finally, what would be your piece of advice for anyone who contemplates doing a PhD and pursuing a research career?

I believe that the beauty and the perks of academia as a whole, and research in particular, is one of the best-kept secrets in the world. Generally, the research career is projected as a bookish, monotonous desk job that involves a lot of number crunching and something that sucks the life out of you. But truth be told, a research career is one of the most exciting ones you can think of. Yes, one needs to be really passionate to finish it, it is a long route, there are going to be bad days, and you will have self-doubt…but trust me, it’s worth it!

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. 

Krea University and Sapien Labs collaborate to establish Centre for research and learning related to the human brain and mind

Krea University and Sapien Labs collaborate to establish Centre for research and learning related to the human brain and mind

The launch event at the Krea University Office in Chennai marked the collaboration between Krea University and Sapien Labs. Also in attendance at the event were Kapil Viswanathan, Chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Governing Council at Krea University, Dr Tara Thiagarajan, Founder, Sapien Labs, Dr Ramachandra Guha, Distinguished University Professor, Krea University and Dr Shailender Swaminathan, Director,  Sapien Labs Centre for Human Brain and Mind at Krea University. 

The Sapien Labs Centre for the Human Brain and Mind at Krea University is a collaboration between Sapien Labs and Krea University with an aim to establish a Centre for research and learning related to the human brain and mind. The Centre seeks to track and understand the impact of our changing environment on the human brain and its consequences for the individual and society so that it can be managed to mitigate risks and enhance outcomes. The collaboration will bring together cross-disciplinary faculty, large-scale acquisition of multi-dimensional human physiological data, cutting edge data workflows, and engagement with the non-profit, start-up and government sectors.  

Speaking at the inauguration, Dr K. VijayRaghavan said, I congratulate Krea University for setting up this centre, which I think is wonderful. The human brain is amazing. The number of nerve cells in the human brain is in excess of 86 billion neurons. The brain is extraordinary and we struggle to understand the complexity of the brain. One way to go about this would be to have an Indian brain collaboration. The failure in our system is the lack of collaboration between institutions, individuals and people working within institutions. So institutions like Krea that are growing, need to be collaborative to drive this. This collaboration can push knowledge, what we can learn, discover, interpret and apply. If you have to be prepared for the unknown, then the only way to be prepared is by exploration, logic, principles of science and having people understand that. Centres such as this will go a long way in understanding the language of the brain.”

The Sapien Labs Centre for the Human Brain and Mind at Krea University also intends to build a globally distributed infrastructure for large-scale, real-time data acquisition and insights as well as development of interventions and tools that can become scalable products and services embedded in the world to move the needle.

Speaking to the audience on the collaboration, Dr Tara Thiagarajan added, “I am excited to announce the launch of the Sapien Labs for Human Brain and Mind at Krea. We – Krea and Sapien Labs – share a mutual desire to further understand the human brain and mind. We share with Krea the focus on bringing together research across disciplinary boundaries and also enabling real-world impact from this research. One of the core focus areas of this centre will be to define what causes a decline in mental health. Soundness of the human mind is really fundamental to everything that we do and what humanity could create going forward. Soundness of the human mind includes our functional capability across a number of different domains of function that really allow us to navigate the world to come together, create the future, and also to live peacefully together.” 

Prof Shailender Swaminathan, Director, Sapien Labs Centre for Human Brain and Mind shared the vision of the Centre and said, “We have our challenges but am delighted that various institutes from different disciplines have evinced keen interest to collaborate with this centre. There is a lot of learning for all of us and this humility to learn is seen from top minds across institutes. One particular area will be our attempt to collate high quality data. This is an initiative that requires a lot of data collection and we would like to set world-class standards in genuine data collection.” 

The collaborative initiative includes data acquisition support from LEAD at Krea University using its extensive infrastructure and collaborating with other partners where necessary for medical or physiological data

To know more about the Research Centre, click here

Prof Nirmala Rao appointed the Vice-Chancellor of Krea University

Prof Nirmala Rao appointed the Vice-Chancellor of Krea University

A distinguished academic administrator and political scientist, Prof Nirmala Rao, who takes over as Krea University’s next Vice-Chancellor, will steer the university’s vision forward, building on its strong foundations of ethics, innovation, excellence, inclusivity and accountability.

26 July 2022, Sri City: Krea University announces the appointment of Prof Nirmala Rao as its next Vice-Chancellor, effective August 16, 2022.

Prior to Krea, Prof Nirmala Rao served as the Vice-Chancellor of the Asian University for Women (AUW), Chittagong, Bangladesh, between 2017 and 2022. Formerly, she held various positions as the Pro-Director of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and as Pro-Warden for Academic Affairs at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Prof Rao took her first degree in Economics at Delhi University in 1979, Masters from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and PhD from the University of London. She has published extensively in the field of urban politics and some of her books include Re-shaping City Governance; Cities in Transition; Governing London; and Transforming Local Political Leadership.

Prof Rao has extensive experience of public service and served as an advisor to a range of bodies including the UK Audit Commission and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM). For a number of years, she was a lay member of the General Council of the Bar of England and Wales, a non-executive director of Ealing Hospital NHS Trust and member of the Architects Registration Board.  She is currently a member of the Governing Body of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, a Trustee of United World Schools and Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish, University of Cambridge. Prof Rao was elected Fellow of the Academy Social Sciences in 2003 and awarded an OBE for services to scholarship in the 2011 Queen’s Honours list.

Kapil Viswanathan, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Governing Council added, “We are delighted to welcome Dr Nirmala Rao as the next vice-chancellor of Krea University.  As an accomplished academic administrator and scholar with international experience, Dr Rao is well placed to lead Krea University in its mission to help humanity prepare for an unpredictable world.”

On her appointment as Vice-Chancellor, Prof Nirmala Rao said, “It is a great honour to be asked to lead Krea, a prized institution, young, but already ahead in addressing how Universities must adapt to provide the students of today with the education that will best prepare them for the challenges of tomorrow.  I am struck by how enthusiastic and passionate people are about Krea, its cutting-edge and impactful research that has already begun to address an exciting set of grand challenges. Krea gives me hope for a future in which real, deep, respectful dialogue will eventually alter the way we think, work, and relate to one another.  I look forward to furthering the best traditions of the University, building on its innovations, engaging with students, staff, faculty, and the entire Krea community in defining what I know will be an incredibly bright future.”