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53 minutes | 3 days ago
87. Kesavananda Bharati and the Basic Structure Doctrine
Sudhir Krishnaswamy and Shruti Viswanathan unpack the enduring impact of the Indian Constitution’s Basic Structure doctrine on India’s socio-political and judicial landscape. India’s Basic Structure doctrine arose from Supreme Court’s Kesavananda Bharati judgment from 1973. It came about by a wafer-thin judgment with a margin of 7-6, and placed restrictions on the power of the Parliament to amend the Indian Constitution. In effect, this affirmed that the Constitution, not Parliament, was supreme in India. Sudhir and Shruti explore how this case came before the Supreme Court, the broad principles of the doctrine, and its evolution since 1973. The discussion will focus not just on the legal interpretation of the doctrine but also its impact on India’s political history. Professor Sudhir Krishnaswamy is the Vice-Chancellor of National Law School of India University, Bangalore. His research focus is on constitutional law and politics and the empirical analysis of the legal system. He is also a Founder and Trustee of the Centre for Law and Policy Research, Bangalore. Shruti Viswanathan is a graduate of the National Law School of India University, Bangalore. She has a Masters in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School, Tufts University. Over the past ten years she has been working in law and policy; promoting effective design and delivery of social protection programmes. BIC Talks is brought to you by the Bangalore International Centre. Visit the BIC website for show notes, links and more information about the guests.
28 minutes | 6 days ago
86. South Asian Identity through Music
Ambassador Nirupama Menon Rao speaks to musicians TM Krishna and Ali Sethi about how a South Asian identity can be expressed through music. This episode of BIC Talks is an edited version of the first half of a live online event hosted by the South Asian Symphony Foundation. The foundation’s co-founder Ambassador Menon Rao spoke to five artistes from across South Asia. The full event can be accessed on the SASF YouTube channel. As a brief aside, South Asian Symphony Orchestra's Nivanthi Karunaratne, will be representing SASO in the Hope & Harmony Ensemble, formed by Washington-based Classical Movements, for the U.S. Presidential inauguration on the 20th of January, 2021. From the majestic Himalayan peaks to the waters of the Indian Ocean, South Asia boasts of diverse landscapes. So too are the inhabitants of this region with their rich cultural heritage, distinct musical traditions and exceptional linguistic diversity. Permeating all aspects of life, music acts as a conduit that communicates a plethora of emotions, traditions, values and narratives of the lives of the people. From farmers of Sri Lanka who sing on their night watch to keep their crops safe from wild animals to boatmen in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh whose singing pierces placid rivers, to exuberant rhythms that infuse family gatherings with unparalleled energy, and the songs of the Afghan people, music in South Asia takes many forms and tells many stories as it accompanies the ebb and flow of more than a billion lives. Although diverse in form and style, South Asian music is the creative expression of a people living in close proximity to each other. Music evolves with people and there are similarities as there are differences as genres influence each other. Collectively, South Asian music stands out on the global stage with its unique timbre, tempo and dynamics. BIC Talks is brought to you by the Bangalore International Centre. Visit the BIC website for show notes, links and more information about the guests.
25 minutes | 10 days ago
85. Malik Ambar and African Origin Leaders in India
Historian Omar H Ali talks about African origin leaders and shapers of medieval India on Episode 85 of BIC Talks. Africa and India have a rich history of interaction ranging several millennia, with African origin sailors, merchants, soldiers, scholars, musicians, and explorers finding home in India or contributing significantly to Indian history. Perhaps the greatest among them was Malik Ambar, born in Abyssinia, arriving in India as a slave, and rising to power as the Prime Minister and de-facto ruler of the Ahmednagar Sultanate early in the 17th century. Omar H. Ali is Dean of Lloyd International Honors College and Professor at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. He is an award-winning historian of the global African Diaspora and the author of several books, including on Malik Ambar and This BIC Talks episode is an edited excerpt of Omar’s talk that was originally livecast on BIC Streams on December 11, 2020. BIC Talks is brought to you by the Bangalore International Centre. Visit the BIC website for show notes, links and more information about the guests.
42 minutes | 13 days ago
84. A Harsh Winter in Ladakh
Strategic affairs analyst, journalist, and former Indian Army officer Sushant Singh talks to host Pavan Srinath about the India-China conflict in Ladakh, eight months in. Sushant shares what it takes for the Indian Army to deploy between 50 and 60,000 troops on the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh and maintaining a winter deployment. He also discusses the challenges faced by soldiers living through the winter in altitudes going up to 18,000 feet, with blistering winds and little to no prior infrastructure. The conversation also includes an eye on the future, on how the India-China conflict could pan out in 2021 and what kind of strategic implications it could have for India. Sushant Singh is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. Previously, he was the Deputy Editor of The Indian Express, reporting on strategic affairs, national security and international affairs. He won the Ramnath Goenka Prize for Excellence in Journalism for 2017 and 2018. Prior to becoming a journalist, he served in the Indian Army for two decades, including multiple stints in Jammu and Kashmir. He is the author of Mission Overseas: Daring Operations by the Indian Military (Juggernaut Books, 2017). BIC Talks is brought to you by the Bangalore International Centre. Visit the BIC website for show notes, links and more information about the guests.
52 minutes | 17 days ago
83. Women's Sexuality from Colonial to Modern India
Durba Mitra and Sreeparna Chattopadhyay discuss Durba’s book, “Indian Sex Life: Sexuality and the Colonial Origins of Modern Social Thought.” They explore how British authorities and Indian intellectuals develop ideas about deviant female sexuality to control and organise society in colonial India. They also discuss the legal and societal implications of these ideas that continue to shape Indian society to this day. Dr. Durba Mitra is Assistant Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality and Carol K. Pforzheimer Assistant Professor at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. Mitra works at the intersection of feminist and queer studies. Her research and teaching focus on the history of sexuality, the history of science and epistemology, and gender and feminist thought in South Asia and the colonial and postcolonial world. Dr. Sreeparna Chattopadhyay is an independent researcher currently based in Bangalore. She has an A.M. and Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology and the Population Studies Training Centre at Brown University and a B.A. in Economics (Honours) from St. Xavier’s College, Bombay. Her research in the last twelve years has focused on the ways in which gender disadvantages interact with socioeconomic inequities, shaping women’s life trajectories including impacts on health, education and exposure to violence. BIC Talks is brought to you by the Bangalore International Centre. Visit the BIC website for show notes, links and more information about the guests.
42 minutes | 20 days ago
82. Working with Kahn
In this episode, Architect Bijoy Ramachandran speaks to Prof. Rabindra Vasavada, a celebrated practitioner, conservationist, teacher and historian about his time at the IIM Ahmedabad site office (where he started his career) from 1969 to 1972 working with Louis Kahn the American architect, who was commissioned to design the campus, and Prof. Anant Raje, the local architect in-charge. This time working on the School (the Library, Faculty blocks and classrooms) had a profound impact on him. From Prof. Vasavada's description of Kahn, three things are immediately striking about the way Kahn and his site office operated. First, the work seems to have been fundamentally informed by the feedback provided by the clients. Kahn seems to have been a careful and observant collaborator. This flies in the face of the romantic ideas of the architect as the sole author of the sublime idea and instead tells us of a much more open and shared way in which architecture could be produced. Second, the environment in the office too was collaborative, each of you seem to have had both a sense of profound ownership and responsibility towards the work. Third, we often separate the notion of the big idea from what Kenneth Frampton calls the adoration of the joint, the details, the techtonics and the precise, accurate representation of structure and construction. Prof. Vasavada's description of Kahn’s process make it clear that there was no such distinction. The profound, big idea and this careful attention to detail and precision went hand in hand. Each informed the other.
36 minutes | 24 days ago
81. Food and Faith
In this episode author Shoba Narayan discusses her new book- Food and Faith - A Pilgrim's Journey Through India with poet and scholar Mani Rao. What is the role of religion in your life today? Do you commune with the divine through rituals? Or is it a comforting routine, going to church or temple once a week or month? Are these questions making you uncomfortable? Do you think religion is a private act to be done in the confines of one’s home, with family, and not something to declare publicly? These are the questions this book seeks to answer. Shoba Narayan travels across some of the most prominent places of worship in India and presents to her readers the mythologies, histories and contemporary relevance of these sites. This podcast is an edited extract from the session that was part of the Bangalore Literature Festival 2020.
27 minutes | a month ago
80. Romancing the Black Panther
The elusive Kariya or Saya, resident of the Nagarahole forests has become the stuff of folklore and legends, sending sighters into a tizzy. He even has his own film. In this episode, author and philanthropist Rohini Nilekani recounts her journey looking for this big cat in the wild. Romancing The Black Panther was part of the Bangalore Literature Festival 2020 and this episode is an edited extract from the session.
27 minutes | a month ago
79. Masala Lab
This podcast is based on a talk that author Krish Ashok gave at the Bangalore Literature Festival 2020 at the Bangalore International Centre. Ever wondered why your grandmother threw a teabag into the pressure cooker while boiling chickpeas, or why she measured using the knuckle of her index finger? Why does a counter-intuitive pinch of salt make your kheer more intensely flavourful? What is the Maillard reaction and what does it have to do with fenugreek? What does your high-school chemistry knowledge, or what you remember of it, have to do with perfectly browning your onions? Masala Lab by Krish Ashok is a science nerd’s exploration of Indian cooking with the ultimate aim of making the reader a better cook and turning the kitchen into a joyful, creative playground for culinary experimentation. Just like memorising an equation might have helped you pass an exam but not become a chemist, following a recipe without knowing its rationale can be a sub-optimal way of learning how to cook. Exhaustively tested and researched, and with a curious and engaging approach to food, Krish Ashok puts together the one book the Indian kitchen definitely needs, proving along the way that your grandmother was right all along.
32 minutes | a month ago
78. The Story of Suprabhatam
Author Venkatesh Parthasarathy talks to Karthik Venkatesh about his first book around the history of one of India's most loved prayer, Suprabhatam. Prativadi Bhayankaram Anna, who composed this prayer in the fifteenth century, was a saint, a poet and an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. The poet’s devotion shines through, most unforgettably in M.S. Subbulakshmi's rendition, which rings through many south Indian homes in the mornings. kausalyāsuprajā rāma pūrvā saṃdhyā pravartate/ uttiṣṭha naraśārdūla kartavyaṃ daivamāhnikam// O Rama, son of fortunate Kaushalya, the eastern twilight (dawn) is breaking. Arise, O lion among men, the daily morning rituals need to be performed. With these stirring lines begins the near-ubiquitous Hindu prayer, the Venkatesa Suprabhatam. An appeal to the lord to arise and save the world, the Venkatesa Suprabhatam is the first of four recitations that are sung together every morning in the Lord Venkateswara temple in Tirumala, where it was originally sung. Venkatesa Suprabhatam: The Story of India’s Most Popular Prayer is a translation of the prayer, a journey through its verses and also a deep dive into the history of its composition and the circumstances of its author. So whether you have grown up listening to the Suprabhatam or are just curious about such matters, this book—scholarly and yet accessible—is a compelling examination of the cultural phenomenon.
46 minutes | a month ago
77. Liveable Cities and Vibrant Commons
In this episode Sociologist Amita Baviskar discusses her book Uncivil City: Ecology, Equity and the Commons in Delhi. Cities are now habitat for most of humanity. But do they have the ecological capacity to sustain lives worth living? Amita talks about the environmental politics in Delhi, looking at the role of ‘bourgeois environmentalists’ who claim to speak for nature and society. How well have these cities addressed the challenge of sustainability with social justice? How can we create liveable cities and vibrant commons? This episode is an edited version of a live conversation on BIC Streams.
61 minutes | a month ago
76. Of Vajpayee and Advani
Political scientist, lawyer and journalist Vinay Sitapati speaks to entrepreneur Manish Sabharwal on his book Jugalbandi. Narendra Modi has been a hundred years in the making. Vinay Sitapati’s Jugalbandi provides this backstory to his current dominance in Indian politics. It begins with the creation of Hindu nationalism as a response to British-induced elections in the 1920s, moves on to the formation of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1980, and ends with its first national government, from 1998 to 2004. And it follows this journey through the entangled lives of its founding jugalbandi: Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani. Over their six-decade-long relationship, Vajpayee and Advani worked as a team despite differences in personality and beliefs. What kept them together was fraternal love and professional synergy, of course, but also, above all, an ideology that stressed on unity. Their partnership explains what the BJP before Modi was, and why it won. In supporting roles are a cast of characters-from the warden’s wife who made room for Vajpayee in her family to the billionaire grandson of Pakistan’s founder who happened to be a major early funder of the BJP. Based on private papers, party documents, newspapers and over two hundred interviews, this is a must-read for those interested in the ideology that now rules India. This episode is an edited version of a live conversation on BIC Streams.
46 minutes | a month ago
75. India’s Endless Rural Crisis
Economist Narendar Pani talks to journalist Anusha Ravi Sood about rural India’s enduring economic and social crisis that does not seem to have an end in sight. They discuss some of the root causes of the ongoing farmer protests, and go beyond them to explore the dynamics of farming, migration and urban jobs over the last few decades. They discuss challenges that have remained unaddressed, and have even become worse. Dr Narendar Pani is a Professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore. An economist by training, author of many books, he takes a multidisciplinary approach to issues of Indian political economy. Anusha Ravi Sood is a journalist based in Bangalore, and currently Assistant Editor at The New Indian Express. BIC Talks is brought to you by the Bangalore International Centre. Visit the BIC website for show notes, links and more information about the guests.
69 minutes | 2 months ago
74. British Rapacity
In this podcast William Dalrymple and Moin Mir discuss The East India Company through their books The Anarchy and Surat: Fall of a Port. Rise of a Prince. William Dalrymple’s The Anarchy has been called ‘his most ambitious and riveting book to date’. It tells the story of the East India Company as it transitioned from being a ‘conventional international trading corporation dealing in silks and spices’ to ‘an aggressive colonial power in the guise of a multinational business’, ‘unfolding a timely cautionary tale of the first global corporate power’. The East India Company first entered India via Surat when its ships docked on the shores of this seaside city in the early 17th century. An example of the way the Company functioned in its ruthless greed for power and wealth is the annexation of the port of Surat and the violation of the Treaty it signed with the Nawab of Surat. The palaces, lands, jewellery and all that was part of the private estates of the Nawab were usurped leaving the infant granddaughters of the last Nawab on the brink of destitution. Moin Mir is a descendant of the last Nawab of Surat and next in line to succeed his father as Darbar of Kamadhiya, an erstwhile principality in Gujarat. In his book, Surat: Fall of a Port. Rise of a Prince, he tells the story of the legal battle that the father of the two young princesses fought, a tale of fortitude and romance, to defeat the Company and gain restitution. This episode is an edited version of a live conversation on BIC Streams done in collaboration with the International Music & Arts Society. BIC Talks is brought to you by the Bangalore International Centre. Visit the BIC website for show notes, links and more information about the guests.
46 minutes | 2 months ago
73. Vaccines Ahead
Medical Scientist Dr Gagandeep Kang returns to BIC Talks and speaks to host Pavan Srinath about the latest news on COVID-19 vaccines, and the road ahead for public vaccination for all Indians. It is extraordinary to see not one, but three COVID-19 vaccine candidates announce successful interim results in November. This happened within 10 months of isolating the virus, SARS-CoV-2. Dr Kang shares how these vaccine efficacy trials are designed, how we need to be careful in interpreting the results, and how we can think about the safety of any new vaccine. She shares a few answers to COVID-19 related questions that we did not have answers to until recently. She also discusses how vaccine trials in India ought to be conducted, and the challenges that lie ahead for public vaccination programmes. Dr Gagandeep Kang is Professor of Microbiology at the Wellcome Trust Research Laboratory, Division of Gastrointestinal Sciences at the Christian Medical College (CMC) in Vellore. Dr Kang is a key contributor to the understanding of diarrhoeal diseases, rotavirus epidemiology and vaccinology in India. She is a 2016 Infosys Prize laureate and became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2019. She is also the Vice Chair for the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations (CEPI). In case you missed it, Dr Kang was earlier on Episodes 8 and 18 of BIC Talks to discuss vaccine and drug development against COVID-19. She also has an upcoming co-authored book, Till We Win: India’s Fight Against The Covid-19 Pandemic. BIC Talks is brought to you by the Bangalore International Centre. Visit the BIC website for show notes, links and more information about the guest.
33 minutes | 2 months ago
72. Girls Out of School
Jyotsna Jha talks to host Pavan Srinath about how Indian girl children have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Jyotsna and her colleagues have published a new study on how children’s education is faring amidst deep economic uncertainty faced by millions of Indian families, by surveying over 3,100 households across 4 states – Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and Telangana. In this episode, Jyotsna shares the state of the gender gap in education and society before the pandemic, and how girls are faring now, with schools shut down and families in economic crisis. Things look dire, with girls losing their freedom of movement, with limited phone access and uncertainty over ever going back to school. She also shares how boys are also adversely affected and goes beyond the study to discuss what is likely to happen in the future. Jyotsna and Pavan also discuss what should be immediate and medium-term priorities for India’s schooling system and getting children back to school. Jyotsna Jha is the Director of the Centre for Budget and Policy Studies, a Bangalore-based think tank focused on policy research and advocacy. Jyotsna has a PhD in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Her research primarily focuses on education and gender. She has actively worked with educational policy planners, administrators, teachers, and professionals at various levels both nationally and internationally. BIC Talks is brought to you by the Bangalore International Centre. Visit the BIC website to learn more about the guest and for links to the full study. The full study is titled: Neha Ghatak, Achala S Yareseeme and Jyotsna Jha, (2020). “Life in the time of Covid-19: Mapping the impact of Covid-19 on the lives of school-going children especially girls in India”. Centre for Budget and Policy Studies and India Champions for Girls’ Education.
66 minutes | 2 months ago
71. The Police and the Politician
India's police forces have long been under the direct control of state politicians, but the challenge of police politicisation is coming the fore increasingly in recent years. Instances of harm caused by the politicisation are apparent in the police handling of the Delhi Riots of 1984, the Gujarat riots of 2002 and the recent riots in N.E. Delhi. The police is trained to enforce the law impartially but that rarely happens in some states with powerful chief ministers. The recent case relating to the suicide of Sushant Singh Rajput and the arrest of anchor Arnab Goswami of the TV channel 'Republic’ are prime examples. In this podcast, Retired IPS Officer and Padma Bhushan awardee Julio Ribeiro in conversation with journalist and co-founder of The News Minute, Dhanya Rajendran, trace the course of this politicisation from Independence to the present day. This episode is an edited version of a live conversation on BIC Streams. BIC Talks is brought to you by the Bangalore International Centre. Visit the BIC website to learn more about the guest and for links, references and related readings.
33 minutes | 2 months ago
70. The Tale of a Colonial Shikhari
Joshua Mathew talks to Sheila Kumar about the life and story of Donald Anderson (1934-2014), one of the last colonial hunters or shikharis, who was a resident of Bangalore and lived a life quite removed from 21st century experiences and norms. They discuss Joshua’s 2018 book, The Last White Hunter: Reminiscences of a Colonial Shikhari and the themes explored in the book. They talk about the changing perspectives on how hunting was once a sport, how life in central Bangalore has evolved in the last century, and the larger-than-life character that was Don Anderson. Joshua Mathew is the author of The Last White Hunter. He wrote the book over 7 years, having known Don Anderson in the last years of his life. He moonlights as a marketer and lives under the illusion that he is an amateur photographer, wildlife enthusiast, gamer, history buff, B&W film aficionado, and gastronome. He lives in Bangalore, and the book is being translated into Kannada and Malayalam. Sheila Kumar is an ad copywriter turned journalist and manuscript editor, as well as author of four books. She worked for the Times of India Group in Bangalore and Delhi, and then at Femina, for over a dozen years before turning freelance. BIC Talks is brought to you by the Bangalore International Centre. Visit the BIC website to learn more about the guest and for links, references and related readings.
41 minutes | 2 months ago
69. How far has COVID-19 really spread in Karnataka?
The COVID-19 pandemic has always spread faster than we can test for, and it’s all the more true in India. We have known for a while now that for every single person who has tested positive for the infection, there are several who have been infected – either with or without symptoms. Serosurveys therefore become an important tool in helping us figure out how far the infection has spread within a population. A new study on Karnataka shows that even as early as mid-August, close to half the state, about 31 million individuals, may have been infected by COVID-19. They also find that the rural spread of COVID has been almost as high as the urban spread. Researchers Manoj Mohanan, Anu Acharya and Anup Malani help us understand and interpret their new study. Manoj Mohanan is with the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, Anup Malani is with the University of Chicago, and Anu Acharya is the CEO of Mapmygenome. They are also affiliated with the IDFC Institute, and are 3 of the 4 authors of this serosurvey of the state of Karnataka.This episode is an edited version of a live conversation on BIC Streams. BIC Talks is brought to you by the Bangalore International Centre. Visit the BIC website to learn more about the guest and for links, references and related readings.
30 minutes | 2 months ago
68. Civil Liberties Ignored
Mayur Suresh talks to host Pavan Srinath about the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), and how thousands of Indians are in prison or in custody, without recourse to bail, and awaiting a trial that may never take place. Mayur discusses how the UAPA came about, how it absorbed some of the worst features of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and how it can be used without much judicial oversight, by governments and police forces in power. Dr Mayur Suresh is a faculty member of the School of Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies, SOAS, London. He used to practice law in New Delhi at various courts, and has worked and written extensively on India’s anti-terror laws, legal theory, sexuality and gender identity. BIC Talks is brought to you by the Bangalore International Centre. Visit the BIC website to learn more about the guest and for links, references and related readings.
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