Speakers: Bihar and Jharkhand: Shared History to Shared Vision
Ashis Nandy has worked for more than thirty-five years on two diametrically opposite domains of social existence — human potentialities and human destructiveness. It is the oscillation between these two domains that defines his work. Even in his ongoing study of genocides in South Asia, the emphasis is on the resistance offered by ordinary people to organised machine violence and ethno-nationalism. This has brought him close to social movements and non-state political actors grappling with issues of peace, human rights, inter-civilizational dialogue, environment, and cultural survival. Nandy has been trying hard during the last so many decades to de-professionalize himself and to allow his work to be contaminated by the categories, worldviews and forms of social criticism that could be built upon vernacular
subjectivities. Nandy is a Honorary Senior Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, and Distinguished Fellow of the Institute of Postcolonial Studies, Melbourne. In 2007, he received the Grand Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes and, in 2008, he was chosen as one of the top 100 intellectuals of the world by the magazine Foreign Policy and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Peter Robb is Professor Emeritus and formerly Professor of the History of India, Chair of the Centre of South Asian Studies, Head of the Department of History and Pro-Director at SOAS (University of London). He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow, Council-member and former president of the Royal Asiatic Society. He is currently working on the late 19th-century, a book tentatively called The British and Bihar: Development in a Colonial Society. His 10 edited or co-edited volumes cover Indo-British relations, institutions, rural South Asia, local agrarian societies, protest and identity, ideologies, race, Dalit movements and labour, agriculture and development. Of his nine monographs, three are about early Calcutta and four wholly or partly on the 19th – and 20th-century Bihar.
Ashutosh Varshney is Sol Goldman Professor of International Studies and the Social Sciences at Brown University, where he also directs the Brown-India Initiative. Previously, he taught at Harvard and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His books include Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India; Democracy, Development and the Countryside; Urban-Rural Struggles in India; India in the Era of Economic Reforms; Midnight’s Diaspora; Collective Violence in Indonesia; and Battles Half Won: India’s Improbable Democracy. His academic articles have appeared in the leading journals of political science and development. His honours include the Guggenheim, Carnegie, Luebbert and Lerner awards. He is a contributing editor for The Indian Express and his guest columns have appeared in many other newspapers, including the Financial Times. He served on the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Task Force on Millennium Development Goals and has also served as advisor to the World Bank and United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president and chief executive of the Centre for Policy Research, is a political scientist who has taught at Harvard University, JNU and the New York University School of Law. His areas of research include political theory, constitutional law, society and politics in India, governance and political economy and international affairs. He has served on many central government committees, including India’s National Security Advisory Board, the Prime Minister of India’s National Knowledge Commission and a Supreme Court-appointed committee on elections in Indian universities. Mehta is a prolific writer and an editorial consultant to The Indian Express and his columns have appeared in a number of reputed dailies. He is also on the editorial boards of many academic journals, including the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Democracy and India and Global Affairs. Mehta holds a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford and a PhD in politics from Princeton.
Former ICSSR National Fellow and retired Professor, Madras Institute of Development Studies, S Subramanian Independent Volunteer on a rural development project in Jawaja, Rajasthan. The project was sponsored by the ICSSR and executed
by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He has also been a Consultant with Project Appraisal Division, Planning Commission and Bureau of Industrial Costs and Prices, Government of India.
Dipak Gyawali is a hydroelectric power engineer (Moscow Energy Institute), political economist (Energy and Resources Group, University of California at Berkeley), and academician of the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology, as well as chairman of Nepal Water Conservation Foundation. A former minister of Water Resources in Nepal, who introduced community electricity giving control over distribution to the rural consumers, he conducts interdisciplinary
research at the interface of technology and society, primarily on water, energy, natural resources as well as ethics and philosophy, basically from the perspectives of cultural theory of plural rationalities. Currently, he is on the advisory committee of UNESCO’s World Water Assessment Program, IDS Sussex STEPs Center, and in Nepal he was the founding chairman of a grass root NGO dedicated to the task of poverty alleviation, the Rural Self-Reliance Development Center (Swabalamban).
Christopher V Hill is a Professor of History at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He received his Ph D from the University of Virginia in 1987. He has published widely on the environmental history of Bihar and Odisha, and his publications include River of Sorrow: Environment and Social Control in Riparian North India, 1770-1996 and South Asia: An Environmental History.
He has received a number of prizes and fellowships for his work, including the Aldo Leopold Award from the American Society of
Environmental History, and a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship.
Emeritus Professor of International Development and Fellow, Academy of Social Sciences, UK, Geoff Wood is also Visiting Professor at the Centre of Development Studies, University of Bath. He has conducted extensive research on aspects of poverty, governance and civil society in North India, Bangladesh and Pakistan over three decades, with additional work in Nepal, Afghanistan, Thailand, Venezuela and Peru. His applied work has included policy analysis and action-research with governments, NGOs and international agencies. He is currently focussed upon insecurity, welfare regimes, well-being and strategies of de-clientelisation, governance and civil society, and the characteristics of extreme poverty.
Alpa Shah is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, LSE where she directs the Programme of Research on Inequality and Poverty. Shah read Geography at Cambridge, trained in Anthropology at the LSE, taught anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London for eight years until she returned to the London School of Economics.
Shah’s research and writing focuses on poor and marginalised people in India and Nepal, in particular Adivasis, Dalits and Janajatis. She explores the processes of inequality people get caught in and the various ways in which they try to subvert them. She has lived for several years as a social anthropologist among the Adivasi communities she writes about, here in rural Jharkhand. Shah is the author of In the Shadows of the State: Indigenous Politics, Environmentalism and Insurgency in Jharkhand, India. She has also published more than twenty-five essays and journal articles, and has edited seven volumes on issues ranging from affirmative action, agrarian change, revolution in India and Nepal, emancipatory politics, the underbelly of the Indian boom, and Adivasi and Dalit political pathways.
Subrata K. Mitra is Director, Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), and Visiting Research Professor, NUS. He moved from Heidelberg, Germany, where he was Head of the Department of Political Science at the South Asia Institute for the past 20 years. Subrata Mitra holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Rochester, New York. His professional career spans India (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi), France (Maison des
Sciences de l’Hommes, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris), the United Kingdom (the Universities of Hull and Nottingham), the United States (University of California, Berkeley) and Germany (Ruprecht-Karls-University, Heidelberg). He has also held visiting positions in Tsinghua University, Beijing, China and the Radhakrishnan Chair, Central University of Hyderabad. He has published extensively in various journals.