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A talk by Gopal Guru
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August 16, 2012
I am going to argue in the talk about the moral significance of the art of listening in the classroom. Listening becomes important because, in most of the cases, students prefer to listen to that content which sounds sonorous to the ears. The ears rule out any 'shrilling content'. What is shrilling content? It is something that causes discomfort to some students. Students tend to change their body language into alienation the moment they listen to such 'problematic content'.  The content which is normally treated as problematic to the extent it brings out in a person a sense of guilt or repulsion. In order to avoid this guilt or repulsion, students may choose to switch off their ears from listening to such content in the class. I am already assuming the possibility of some teachers transacting such content as a social necessity in the class. For inter-subjective understanding, I argue it is necessary to  bring such content into classroom discussions. However, the receptivity of such content requires the readiness of the ear and, of course, heart. The larger question that I will pose: Are our ears and hearts open to receiving strident content?
 

A talk by Venkat Dhulipala
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August 9, 2012
My paper challenges the concepts of 'insufficient national imagination', 'secular nationalism' and 'accidental state formation' that have long dominated historical accounts of the origins of Pakistan. I examine how the idea of Pakistan was publicly articulated and debated in colonial India and how popular enthusiasm was generated for its achievement, especially in the crucial province of U.P, whose Muslims played a leading role in Pakistan's creation despite their awareness that UP itself would not be a part of Pakistan. I argue that far from being a vague idea that accidentally became a nation-state, Pakistan was popularly imagined as the new Medina, as the harbinger of the renewal and rise of Islam in the 20th century world, the new leader and protector of the global community of Muslims (ummah), and a worthy successor to the defunct Turkish Caliphate. In particular, I foreground the crucial role played by the Deobandi ulama in popularizing this imagination of the Pakistani nation. I further demonstrate how the ulama along with the Muslim League leadership forged a new political vocabulary, fusing ideas of Islamic nationhood and modern state to fashion the most decisive arguments in favor of Pakistan. My paper, therefore, departs from existing Partition narratives that have either emphasized the Muslim League leader M.A Jinnah's efforts to create Pakistan as a modern secular state, or argued that Pakistan was a vague but emotive religious symbol to which Indian Muslims gave overwhelming support without being aware of its meaning or implications. It further suggests that Pakistan's identity crisis centering on the relationship between Islam and the state can be traced to unresolved tensions at the core of its nationalist ideology, and not solely, as commonly argued, to Islamization policies instituted under General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s.

A talk by KP Mohanan
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July 26, 2012
When thinking about education, it is important to distinguish between our educational goals (the desired forms of understanding, abilities, predispositions, habits of mind, and value systems that the educational process seeks to develop) and the means we employ (the pedagogy) to bring about those learning outcomes. Inquiry-Based Learning and its close cousins like Discovery Learning, Socratic Method, and Constructivism are some of the pedagogical means we employ to bring about the desired understanding of a body of knowledge.Different from all of these, what I would like to call Inquiry-Oriented Learning goes beyond the goal of understanding to inquiry abilities as its primary goal, using Task-Based Learning (including Inquiry-Based Learning) as well as Exposition-Based Learning as and when appropriate. Trans-Disciplinarity seeks to integrate different forms of understanding and abilities that, in traditional systems of education, are fragmented and located within particular disciplines like ‘physics’, ‘biology’, ‘psychology’, and ‘sociology’. Causal reasoning, for instance, is a trans-disciplinary concept associated with a set of trans-disciplinary inquiry abilities, while the protocol of double blind experiments is a specific instantiation of causal reasoning specific to drug-testing in medicine. Consciousness and mind are trans-disciplinary concepts, studied in psychology as human consciousness and human mind and in biology as animal consciousness and animal mind. In my talk, I will briefly outline an approach to school and college education that combines inquiry-based, inquiry-oriented education with trans-disciplinary integration.

A talk by John Mathew
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July 19, 2012

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July 9, 2012
The Azim Premji University-Institute for Economic Thinking Advanced Graduate Workshop in Indian Development is interested in identifying the complex interactions that influence poverty and development as well as strategies for development that have proven successful in promoting equitable growth, promoting capabilities and reducing poverty. Given these enormous challenges and the need for a great variety of initiatives at multiple levels to resolve them, the first step is to build a new generation of scholars and practitioners that understand these issues. To that end, the Azim Premji University and the Institute for New Economic Thinking will team up to create a space for an interdisciplinary group of scholars at the advanced stages of their PhD dissertations from all over India to collaboratively engage in these issues with each other and with leading academics and practitioners from all over the globe.

See the schedule here.

In the one week summer workshop, running from July 9th to 15th, students will be exposed to the work and ideas in development of 10-12 invited scholars from universities in India and abroad. To see all the videos click here: http://www.youtube.com/AzimPremjiUniversity


A talk by Pratap Bhanu Mehta
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May 18, 2012
Law is often treated as an autonomous, self contained domain, and the rule of law a self evidently desirable attribute of a good society. This lecture examines some special challenges that the idea of the rule of law poses in a developing country.

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May 18, 2012
The Law, Governance and Development Initiative (LGDI) was established at the Azim Premji University in 2010 to analyze the relationship between development and governance with a particular focus on the structure and practices of government and the constitutive and instrumental role of the legal system. The Initiative seeks to investigate and reconfigure our understanding of governance problems in India and relocate legal system reform as a central element of governance reform in India. The annual conference of LGDI aims to create a forum for academic enquiry and debate on law and its relationship to governance and development, and explores empirical and theoretical questions of reform of the Indian legal system using a multi-disciplinary approach. The theme for this year's conference is 'Indian Legal System Reform: Empirical Baselines and Normative Frameworks'. For more information see here: http://azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/lgdi/conference2012

A talk by Deepak Malghan
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April 26, 2012
One idea dominates the modern world like no other. It is the idea of efficiency. Indeed, the modern discourse can be characterized as an attempt understand (and build) an efficient society. We present an outline of the intellectual and social history of the idea of efficiency that originated in the Scottish Enlightenment. Retooling diverse societies in the interest of engineering, ecological, and above all economic efficiency has been at the heart of the unprecedented expansion in production and consumption starting with the industrial revolution. The "efficiency project" has also been directly responsible for numerous social, political, economic upheavals in the last 250 years. After presenting a framework for understanding the moral and material consequences of the efficiency project, we argue that the currently dominant understanding of efficiency is incompatible with a society that is just and biophysically sustainable.

A talk by Umashankar Periodi
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April 19, 2012
The Child Friendly School initiative of Azim Premji Foundation is an experiment to demonstrate a process of providing quality education on a sustained basis in a child friendly manner to all children in partnership with all stakeholders by building capacity and accountability. The initiative covers all the government primary schools of Shorapur block in Yadgir district of North East Karnataka.

A talk by Anoop Kumar
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April 19, 2012
Despite much publicised claims to the contrary, India remains a largely poor and rural country, and this means that the vast majority of young Indians never reach college. According to the official statistics, India's Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) for higher education is currently about 12.4%, which implies that the hypothetical 'average Indian' has a roughly 12% chance of enrolling in college or university.

These are not good prospects by any standard, but the odds change dramatically if we drop the fiction of the 'average' Indian and take into account the caste and tribe distinctions that divide our society.  The 'average Dalit or Adivasi youth' -- also a hypothetical category, but far more real than just the'average Indian' -- faces a GER of  about 6.3% compared to 8.5% for OBCs and 16.6% for the upper castes, also known by the misleading term 'Others'.

The Dalit and Adivasi students who make it to higher education struggle against immense odds, and they succeed through self-belief, determined struggle and above all with very hard work to make up for their many disadvantages.  But they discover -- and this is the subject of this talk -- that their toughest battles have to be fought inside higher education,the very place they have struggled so hard to reach, the place of hope and promise.