In conversation with Dr Vishakha N Desai, Member, Governing Council and Academic Council at Krea University

In conversation with Dr Vishakha N Desai, Member, Governing Council and Academic Council at Krea University

Dr Vishakha Desai is a member, Governing Council and Academic Council, Krea University. She is also Senior Advisor for Global Affairs at Columbia University, and an adjunct professor at the School of International and Public Affairs. She was President and CEO of the Asia Society, a leading global organisation committed to strengthening partnerships among the people, leaders and institutions of Asia and the United States. In 2012, President Barack Obama appointed her to serve on the National Museums and Library Services Board. Dr Desai holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Mumbai, and MA and PhD in Asian Art History from the University of Michigan.

Dr Desai, the theme for the International Women’s Day 2022 is ‘Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow’. Why, according to you, is every word in this year’s theme is crucial

The phrase sustainable future, implies that it would be a future that would have consistency, a clear path and continuous renewal. Such a world is not possible if half the human race is not fully involved in creating that future. Equality doesn’t just mean participation but also equity of ownership, where women not only need a place at the table but also have the capacity to change the shape of the table, if necessary, to create a more sustainable future. 

Personally, do you believe that the world needs to dedicate a day exclusively to reinforce, reiterate the role, existence and impact of women in society? What is your view?

I wish we didn’t have to dedicate a day to highlight the role of women in society. It implies that the days in the rest of the year are not about issues and aspirations of women. The main reason we need to highlight women’s contributions on a single day is to remind everyone that this needs to continue throughout the year! Not a token that can be forgotten the next day, but an important step that paves a road. 

In an interview about your recent book, World as Family, responding to the relevance and importance of the idea of the book, you say, “​​the Coronavirus reminds us that no matter where we are, and who we are, the pathogens of the pandemic will affect our bodies the same way. My dancer friend Faustin Linyekula once said, the world lives in our body.” If we were to apply the same principle to the context of gender equality, would you say, women across the world – no matter the countries they are from – are grappling with a common set of issues and are in a sense, united in their fight for equality?

With the exception of a few matrilineal societies, it is fair to say that women in many parts of the world face issues of discrimination, but they are not always the same. As we have learned with Covid, while the pandemic affects people with the same level of alacrity, it does matter how individual countries or local communities handle the pandemic. Similarly, while women suffer inequality universally, how their issues are handled by political and social leaders does affect their well-being. 

You call two countries – India, and the United States – your home. As a woman, have you had to straddle these two worlds, differently? 

Given the different cultural contexts of the two countries, of course, one has to be sensitive to the surrounding conditions. But I do feel that through my upbringing in early independent India in a family of Gandhian freedom fighters, I learned to have my feet firmly planted while keeping my mind and eyes open to the world.  And that has served me well no matter where I am. 

What is your take on the global progress on gender equality?

After the Beijing women’s conference, there was a strong sense that women all over the world will continue to move forward with confidence, but it is fair to say that the progress has been unequal. For example, in India, more girls were going to school but during the pandemic, it affected young female students as well as women workers more adversely than men. In other words, in many parts of the world, new policies may have been put in place, the social attitudes have not changed fast enough because there has been less attention paid to changing the mindset. 

In countries across the world, women even in positions of power have had to make choices that men are less likely to make. While workplace policies over years have attempted bridging the divide, at a time when the world is talking of gender equality for a sustainable future, how do we accelerate systematic support so that women continue career roles while they continue to be mothers and caregivers?

First and foremost, we have to recognize that all societies have to account for the needs of families to provide shelter and financial support and taking care of the children and elders. These functions need not be gendered.  That is the reason some northern European countries are focusing on support for children and elders and not penalize women who often end up being the caretakers. 

Do you believe that the fight for equal rights is an everyday work-in-progress? 

Yes.

Do you have any advice for students who seek careers at the intersection of sustainable development and gender?

Sustainable development is often exclusively associated with environment and climate change, and it sounds very neutral. But as we are learning now, issues of equity, class and gender do affect how the climate crisis plays out. For example, it is only in the last five years or so, scholars have begun to highlight how the urban poor are more adversely affected by environmental degradation than others.  Similarly, the environmental degradation caused by wood and cow dung-burning cooking affects rural women more severely, and requires a gendered lens.  So, it is important to provide a gendered lens to the questions of environmental sustainability , and in the process expand the definition of sustainable development.  

And finally, if you were to share with us, three women you consider your role-models, who would they be?

My mother, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and my women friends in their late eighties who continue to be engaged, active and always interesting! 

All the way from south India to the United States to participate in the HPAIR Harvard Conference 2022

All the way from south India to the United States to participate in the HPAIR Harvard Conference 2022

Chennai, 01 February 2022: Sai Balaji, a sophomore at Krea University, majoring in Economics and minoring in Psychology recently got selected by The Harvard College Project for Asian and International Relations for the Harvard Conference which will be held from 18-21 February 2022 at the Harvard campus.

Originally from Chennai, 19-year-old Sai wears multiple hats within the University ecosystem. He is a Student Ambassador, Research Assistant, Club Representative of the Social Outreach Club “Aikyatha” and is a Content Manager for the University Newspaper “Tapestry” alongside his academics. 

Obviously excited with the opportunity to be a part of HPAIR, Sai says, “This is a fantastic platform for me. I truly believe that the overall ecosystem at Krea re-kindled the childlike curiosity within me to constantly ask questions about the various aspects of social, political, and economic issues in the 21st century. The faculty, peer group, and the overall learning culture at KREA, have played a vital role in my selection for HPAIR 2022.” 

Every Harvard Conference serves to create meaningful dialogue regarding the current socio-economic and political landscape across the globe. Speaking about what he is most excited about Sai says, “This conference gives the opportunity for me to interact with a diverse range of people and speakers.” Sai’s role specifically is to voice his views and share his knowledge with fellow delegates attending the conference. The responsibilities post the conference would mean how individuals who are a part of the conference attempt to Implement these learnings in their research and to focus on making an impact on the world with it.

The mission of HPAIR is to connect the top leaders of today and tomorrow in a dynamic forum of exchange. The Harvard College Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) was founded in 1991 to create a forum of exchange for students and young professionals to discuss and learn about the most important economic, political, and social issues facing the Asia-Pacific region. Since 1991, HPAIR has organized 43 conferences in 12 different host countries, touching the lives of more than 10,000 students and young professionals. HPAIR hosts two student-led conferences a year – one on Harvard’s campus and the other in the Asia-Pacific. Prospective host cities in Asia must undergo an intensive, six-month bidding process; this year’s Asia Conference will be held in Nur-Sultan, HPAIR’s first conference in Central Asia. HPAIR conferences feature world-class speakers and guests to foster mentorship, networking, and guidance opportunities for delegates.

Two SIAS students set to create TURNIP- a venture idea validated by Venture Capitalists

Two SIAS students set to create TURNIP- a venture idea validated by Venture Capitalists

Thrilled and raring to go, Aditi Rajesh and Mitul Aggarwal, 2nd year undergraduate students at SIAS, Krea University, are all set to work on the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for their venture TURNIP, an idea that was witnessed and validated by noted Venture Capitalists in the country, including Sunil Cavale and Sanjay Selvan (Speciale Invest), Praveen Sridharan (TVS Capital Funds) and Nihir Nemani (Emerald India).

So, what’s TURNIP?

“It’s a peer-to-peer learning network which seeks to make learning interesting. It aims to facilitate learning through conversations,” says Aditi.

“In short, it’s a networking platform focused on learning,” adds Mitul.

In a conversation with the Communications Team at Krea, these young minds opened up about the experience of pitching their idea to potential investors, and how the elective ‘Creative Economy’ by Prof Anil Srinivasan acted as a catalyst to the creation of TURNIP.

“Prof Srinivasan’s course has been a pillar for the Interwoven Learning Experience. A very well-structured course, there are theory classes and then industry-based sessions giving us a chance to implement learning from the classroom into real life. It’s very practical and hands on. The course in Creative Economy led us to start TURNIP. It gave us the push and the reason to work on something new. Prof Srinivasan provided us the experience of pitching to real-world investors and it really inspired us to take it further”, they added.

Aditi and Mitul are fine-tuning the idea and will be progressing to the research and development phase, in the coming weeks. Even before TURNIP, Aditi and Mitul were well on their way on the entrepreneurial journey. Aditi most recently launched Inturn, a platform that aims to connect students looking for internships/volunteer work for student-led organisations. Mitul is the co-founder of Inagiffy, a communications agency curating and creating accessible and aesthetic content to make global communication more seamless and easier.

SIAS student conducts a skill development workshop for UG students at Kalasa

SIAS student conducts a skill development workshop for UG students at Kalasa

Shreyasi Patil (they/she), a 3rd year SIAS student at Krea, worked with the Skill Development Office of Chikkamagaluru and Srinidhi Gurunath, MGN Fellow, to conduct a soft skills and design thinking workshop for final year degree students about tackling problems of rural Malnad area.

The one-day interactive design thinking workshop was conducted at GFGC Kalasa, with the final year BCom and BA students aiming to promote soft skills and entrepreneurial values among them.

“The Design Thinking workshop was used to identify problems specific to the Malnad region and why entrepreneurship isn’t developing in the area. Especially in  Chikkamagaluru, which is well known but mostly for tourism.”

Emphasising on what contributed to a seamless building of the workshop, Shreyasi added, “ At Krea, we have a course in the 1st year on Design Thinking and in the 2nd year we have a course named Creative Economy where we build our own company and pitch in front of real life Venture Capitalists at the end of three months. Along with these I have also been part of the TiE – Young Entrepreneurs Chapter where we represented India and won the second position. All these factors together helped me plan the one day workshop.”

Kalasa is a taluk, located deep within Chikkamagaluru. “We had no clue how remote Kalasa was. A couple of government buses ply in this region and some students have to walk 6-7 kilometers each day to reach their schools. The heavy monsoons also create havoc and the students and teachers usually aren’t able to make it to the institutes in such conditions. Added to it the weak internet connectivity, the education of most students at Kalasa are hindered.”

The workshop revolved around combating these issues that the students faced in their everyday lives. They worked through the process of identifying problems, empathising, building solutions and testing the solutions – a reality check on how viable it would be if one were to implement the same.

There were around eight problems which were identified and solutions proposed. The students wrapped up the workshop with solutions like setting up a customer service team which would work as a liaison between rural places in Malnad and the telecom companies. Another suggested a bus for the safety of girl students, as many of them dropped out of school and colleges and got married early because of the lack of efficient transport systems.

Shreyasi has been training and teaching students from a very young age. Yet, teaching and training peers and young adults of their own age was led by their experience at Krea.

 “I was comfortable training younger students, but at Krea, the student experience facilitated by being an extracurricular representative had an impact. I have been able to take up the challenges of teaching people my age. Now I know the vocabulary for it, having the right language and presentation is important. Two years of college at Krea have done to me what years of training by myself couldn’t. College has given me the language to present what I really believe in.”

Shreyasi also trains school students in gender studies through the medium of theatre. On completion of their under graduation, they plan to travel across India and teach gender studies to students across demographics, using theatre. Shreyasi hopes to pursue their future goals in the intersection of art, education and entrepreneurship.

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Krea Lecture Series: History’ with Dr David Arnold | 15 Sept, 3 PM IST

‘Krea Lecture Series: History’ with Dr David Arnold | 15 Sept, 3 PM IST

As the Covid-19 pandemic has shown, the past remains a vital resource for us to understand the present. However, the present can act as a trigger for the past, impelling us to re-examine significant historical events and issues. 

Join Dr David Arnold from the University of Warwick (UK) for an insightful lecture on how a “living” history can evoke human experiences that make us re-evaluate the past with a new perspective.

This lecture is open to all. Attend via https://krea-edu-in.zoom.us/j/98952450106?pwd=VVhZTXlQeW5KTTVJVWw2bHlKUnRQdz09

SIAS Orientation Inauguration Ceremony | Monday, 9 Aug 2021

SIAS Orientation Inauguration Ceremony | Monday, 9 Aug 2021

We are pleased to invite you to the Inauguration Ceremony of the orientation programme for the class of ’24, School of Interwoven Arts and Sciences (SIAS) on Monday, 9 August 2021 from 5:30PM to 6:30PM IST.

Keynote address by Chief Guest – Dr Tara Thiagarajan (Neuroscientist | Founder of Sapien Labs | Chairman and Managing Director – Madura)

Welcome address by Dr Mahesh Rangarajan (Vice-Chancellor, Krea University)

Special welcome by Dr Shobha Das (Dean, IFMR Graduate School of Business)

Special welcome by Dr Akhila Ramnarayan (Divisional Chair, SIAS)

Zoom Webinar ID: 940 7144 2584 | Passcode: 123456

Meeting link: https://krea-edu-in.zoom.us/j/94071442584?pwd=TlMwODlWbGZCM1lGZTFvcVUvdlN3Zz09

Student entrepreneurs at Krea launch hygiene kit for COVID-19 protection

Student entrepreneurs at Krea launch hygiene kit for COVID-19 protection

Three 2nd-year UG students at the School of Interwoven Arts & Sciences (SIAS), Krea University have stepped into the world of impact entrepreneurship, launching their first product – ‘Pockit: Protect Pack’. A handy hygiene kit, the pack is described as ‘a one-stop pocket-sized solution to keep you safe at your convenience’ bearing COVID-19 in mind. 

The idea of developing a pocket-sized hygiene kit that shields one from the novel Coronavirus came to Arnav Jalan, Munirmahedi Paviwala, and Sravan Sridhar back in April 2020, right in the midst of the outbreak and numerous lockdowns. Witnessing how it became increasingly difficult to carry all the essential items, the pocket-sized solution is designed in such a way that it includes a 3-ply mask, two alcohol swabs, and two sanitiser sachets all encased in a weather-resistant, light-weight pack. 

Priced at INR 125 per unit, Pockit is open for delivery to over 20,000 pin codes in the country and can be purchased online. Thus far, the two students’ maiden product has already entered the market, now available in four retail stores in Mumbai with larger plans in the offing. 
Krea fosters an immersive learning environment, encouraging budding student entrepreneurs to explore their ideas armed with the right tools — passion, resilience and attitude, going beyond domain knowledge and technical skills. Learn more about this ProtectPack here.

Masterclass on sea turtles with experts from India, Germany and Australia

Masterclass on sea turtles with experts from India, Germany and Australia

Dr Kartik Shanker from the Indian Institute of Science – Bangalore, Dr Lisa Onaga from the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science – Berlin, and Dr Leah Lui-Chivizhe from the University of Sydney, came together for a highly engaging session on sea turtles and the marine environment. Participants were introduced to the various angles of approach to sea turtles, with the speakers delving into history, conservational efforts, and research strategies. From exploring how turtles have helped guide various groups of people related to the wisdom of the earth to deep-diving into how living turtle species today manifest that wisdom, the session was informative and eye-opening for students and faculty alike.

Addressing the pandemic’s impact on creative economy

Addressing the pandemic’s impact on creative economy

In an engaging session with the students of Krea University, Navaneeth LV – Chief Executive Officer of The Hindu Group – shared his insights on the many challenges and opportunities the creative economy continues to face in light of the ongoing pandemic. From sharing why reader revenue is far more important than advertising to laying an emphasis on working towards digital transformation — the session shed light on what legacy publications are going through and how they are tackling these challenges. Prof Anil Srinivasan – Associate Professor of Practice, Literature & the Arts – moderated the session. Watch the recording of the session here.