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.

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.

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. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IFMR GSB PhD scholars present papers co-authored by Prof Madhuri Saripalle at 17th CAED Conference

IFMR GSB PhD scholars present papers co-authored by Prof Madhuri Saripalle at 17th CAED Conference

We are delighted to share that Aditya Kumar and Manasi B – two PhD Scholars at IFMR GSB (Batch of 2019) – presented their individual papers at the recently concluded 17th Comparative Analysis of Enterprise Data (CAED) Conference organized by the Faculty of Economics – University of Coimbra, Portugal. 

Aditya’s paper was on “Determinants of Export Intensity in the Indian Food Industry”, and Manasi’s paper delved into the “Growth of the Indian Pharmaceutical Firms: An Empirical Analysis”. Both the papers were co-authored by Prof Madhuri Saripalle (Associate Professor at IFMR GSB). Congratulations to them!

‘AIMA India Case Research Centre’ publishes marketing management case study by IFMR GSB professor in their latest issue

‘AIMA India Case Research Centre’ publishes marketing management case study by IFMR GSB professor in their latest issue

The AIMA India Case Research Centre, a well-known portal focusing on developing and publishing industry based India-focused research cases, has published a marketing management case study by Prof Sathya Saminadan, Assistant Professor at IFMR GSB – Krea University. The case study titled ‘Sustaining the Market Share Against the Branded Firms in an Unorganized Sector’, explores several unorthodox marketing and relationship strategies used by an entrepreneur against branded firms. The case study also highlights the realities of the market, a perspective that would serve well for management students. 

Read the case study here: https://www.caseresearchaima.in/frontend/product_display/390

New-age marketing case study co-authored by IFMR GSB professor to be presented at NACRA 2021 Conference

New-age marketing case study co-authored by IFMR GSB professor to be presented at NACRA 2021 Conference

Prof Sathyanarayanan Ramachandran, Sundram Fasteners Associate Professor of Marketing at IFMR GSB – Krea University, has co-authored a case study about the marketing of the book series “Incredible Champions” written by Dr N Chandrasekaran. The case study has been accepted for presentation at the North American Case Research Association 2021 (NACRA 2021) Conference to be held in October this year. As the lead author of the case study, Prof Sathyanarayanan shall be presenting it at the conference. 

How effective is the ‘net-zero’ concept when it comes to tackling carbon emission and climate change? Prof Soumyajit Bhar explores the repercussions of increased technology-dependence

How effective is the ‘net-zero’ concept when it comes to tackling carbon emission and climate change? Prof Soumyajit Bhar explores the repercussions of increased technology-dependence

Net-zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. While this has been incorporated by governments and corporations to keep the rising global temperature under 1.5 degrees Celsius, the concept has been critiqued by multiple climate scientists for a number of reasons.

Addressing the possible outcomes of this concept, Prof Soumyajit Bhar – Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Krea – pens an important piece for ‘Down to Earth’ Magazine on the importance of collectively charting pathways to reduce our consumption demands and the need to adopt non-materialistic ways to seek human fulfilment.

Read the full article here: https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/climate-change/is-net-zero-concept-zeroing-in-on-climate-change-a-sustainable-consumption-critique-78252