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The Idea of Justice - Annual Conference 2023


Updated: Jul 1, 2023

The idea of justice is a fundamental concept that has been debated and discussed by philosophers, legal scholars and ordinary people for centuries.

Much like a homonym, justice means different things to different individuals. Social Justice, Retributive Justice, Restorative Justice, Procedural Justice, Distributive Justice, Divine Justice—a necessity for social order and individual happiness; a ‘virtue’ or ‘moral duty’; a ‘fairness’ to protect individual rights and freedoms and social and economic equities or the ‘capabilities approach’ based on individual abilities to achieve goals and aspirations—the idea of justice—the most fundamental of all human values—is a complex and ongoing conversation, as different groups and individuals continue to debate what it means to be fair and just in diverse contexts and situations.

From racial and economic inequality to environmental injustice, our young are growing up in a complex and challenging world. It is our responsibility to help them understand these issues and to equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to become active and engaged citizens.

The annual History for Peace conference this year engages with the idea of justice, and injustice, to empower educators to explore this very complex yet pertinent issue of today’s world in their classrooms.

3, 4, 5 August 2023

The Tollygunge Club




Speakers: Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak [Keynote], Romila Thapar, Krishna Kumar, Meenakshi Gopinath, Rustom Bharucha, Apoorvanand, Ranjit Hoskote, Naveen Kishore, Menaka Guruswamy, Suraj Gogoi, Shahrukh Alam, Shrimoyee Ghosh, Nikita Sonavane, Anjum Katyal, Ranjani Ramanathan & Charlene Judith Pereira [Schools of Equality], Neha Pradhan Arora.



Day 1

Thursday, 3 August 2023

8.30 a.m.


9 – 9.15 a.m.

Opening Address

Naveen Kishore

Naveen Kishore is founder-publisher, Seagull Books and Managing Trustee of The Seagull Foundation for the Arts, India.

9.15 – 10.30 a.m.

Keynote Address: It is just that there be Law, but Law is not Justice

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is University Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University and a founding member of Columbia’s Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. She is the recipient of 15 honorary doctorates, the Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy, the Padma Bhushan and the insignia of the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. She has also been elected as an honorary member to the American Association of Arts & Sciences as well as the British Academy. Spivak’s scholarship transcends the disciplines of comparative literature, postcolonial theory and subaltern studies, and has revolutionized the study of South Asia. In 1976, Spivak published her first major academic work, an English translation of Jacques Derrida’s De la Grammatologie, which established her as a leading voice of the ‘deconstructionist’ movement of the 1960s and 70s. Her works include In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics (1987), The Post-Colonial Critic (1990), A Critique of Postcolonial Reason (1999), Death of a Discipline (2003) and Readings (2014) among others. Spivak describes herself as an obsessive hands-on activist for holistic humanities education, ecology and feminism.

10.30 – 11 a.m.

Coffee break

11 a.m. – 12.15 p.m.

Learning Status—and the Rarity of Justice

Krishna Kumar

Learning about status and social hierarchies is a major aspect of socialization. Even if education succeeds in weakening caste barriers, separate or parallel systems of schooling may not permit a just allocation of roles that is so integral to the functioning of a democratic state. In a divided system of education, status recognition occurs early. The type of school one finds oneself in is likely to reinforce the awareness of social hierarchies and their powerful effect on one’s life chances. While knowledge brings about the hope and desire for justice, intellectual maturation gradually reveals that the barriers to justice may be too strong to be overcome within a lifetime. To treat all citizens impartially is inherent in the idea and functioning of a democratically conceived state. This idea faces a difficult problem in a sharply divided system of education. A teacher who is aware of her quasi-state function does not get any real opportunity to practise impartiality if the child population is already classified for placement in different kinds of schools.

Krishna Kumar is an Indian intellectual and academician, noted for his writings in the sociology and history of education. His academic oeuvre has drawn on multiple sources, including the school curriculum as a means of social inquiry. His work is also notable for its critical engagement with modernity in a colonized society. His writings explore the patterns of conflict and interaction between forces of the vernacular and the state. As a teacher and bilingual writer, he has developed an aesthetic of pedagogy and knowledge that aspires to mitigate aggression and violence. In addition to his academic work, he writes essays and short stories in Hindi, and has also written for children. He has taught at the Central Institute of Education, University of Delhi, from 1981 to 2016. He was also the dean and head of the institution. From 2004 to 2010, he was the director of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), an apex organization for curricular reforms in India. He was awarded the Padma Shri by the president of India in 2011.

12.15 – 1.30 p.m.

HER PEACE: WPS – ‘Agenda’ to ‘Engagement’

Meenakshi Gopinath

Women’s groups from over the world (South Asia in particular) have, from the turn of the century, entered the arena of peacebuilding through the corridors of Human Security. They have interrogated militarist and state centric notions of security. Their movements have systematically critiqued development paradigms that have been exclusionary. They have addressed the pervasive violence against women, their lack of equal representation in legislatures; the complicities of the patriarchies of family, community and state that are often arraigned against them; the lack of adequate access to health and nutrition, sexual and reproductive rights and above all their exclusion from the negotiating tables where formal peace is often ‘brokered’.

Gender justice is a cross-cutting issue and can be an enabler in addressing issues of de-weaponization, elimination of small arms in the hands of local militia and terrorist groups; zero impunity for the excesses of security forces and other threats to peace in conflict situations. The stories of the efforts of women in South Asia to deliver a transformative peace and question gendered power relations that act as obstacles to just peace, need to be highlighted. The rich repertoire of South Asian women’s activism around what is today called ‘peacebuilding’ has often been invisibilized in the formal global discourse on the Women Peace and Security (WPS) agenda.

Her Peace’ is an attempt to foreground some of the challenges and opportunities for peacebuilding in our region when seen through the gender lens. It reflects the quest for an alternative vocabulary on security by highlighting the concerns of that half of the population—namely women—whose voices are seldom heard in the meta narratives of ‘National’ Security.

Meenakshi Gopinath is an eminent Indian educationist, political scientist, and writer. She is currently Chair, Centre for Policy Research and founder-director of Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace (WiSCOMP), an initiative that promotes the leadership of South Asian women in the areas of peace, international affairs and regional cooperation. She is also Principal Emerita at Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University where she served as Principal from 1988-2014. She is also Chair, Board of Governors, Centre for Policy Research (CPR) and has been a member of the University Grants Commission (UGC), India. Gopinath was the first woman to be nominated to the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) of India. She has authored, among others, Pakistan in Transition, and co-authored Conflict Resolution—Trends and Prospects, Transcending Conflict: A Resource book on Conflict Transformation and Dialogic Engagement and has contributed chapters and articles in several books and journals on Gandhi, the politics of Pakistan, conflict resolution and gender and peace building. She has received several awards including the Padma Shri, the Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi Award, and the Rajiv Gandhi Award for Excellence in Education for her unparalleled contribution to the field of women’s education.

1.30 – 2.30 p.m.


2.30 – 4:45 p.m.

Parallel Workshops (with a half hour coffee break)

Workshop 1: Questions of Justice—Through the Writings of Mahasweta Devi

Anjum Katyal

The idea of justice is far from simple or straightforward. The more one thinks about it, the more questions arise. Is justice the same for everyone? Does the idea of justice change over time? How is it linked to religious belief? Human rights? Ethics and morality? This interactive workshop will explore how literature can help us question and think about justice, specifically aimed at getting students to think complex ethical issues through for themselves. We will use Mahasweta Devi’s stories as the springboard for discussing ideas of justice.

Anjum Katyal is a writer, editor, translator and critic, with years of experience in curating literary festivals. She is the author of several books on theatre and performance such as Habib Tanvir: Towards an Inclusive Theatre and Badal Sircar: Towards a Theatre of Conscience. Her book on Safdar Hashmi’s theatre is in process. Chief editor of Seagull Books, Calcutta (1987–2006) and editor of the Seagull Theatre Quarterly (1994–2004), she steered two major translation projects: the New Indian Playwrights—a series of post-independence regional playwriting, and The Selected Works of Mahasweta Devi. She has translated several plays by Habib Tanvir and stories by Mahasweta Devi and Meera Mukherjee. She is currently the editor of ArthArt multi-arts journal and the director of Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival.

Workshop 2: The Idea of Justice through Power, Privilege and Allyship

Ranjani Ramanathan & Charlene Judith Pereira

Schools of Equality

French philosopher Blaise Pascal had observed, ‘Justice without power is inefficient; power without justice is tyranny.’ It has been seen that power and justice are inextricably linked to each other and are the stepping stones to achieving safety and inclusion in an unjust, oppressive world. This workshop will help teachers break down the concept of intersectionality and relate it to power, privilege and justice within the school community and the classroom. Acknowledging that privilege is often a result of systematic targeting and/or marginalization of another social group, will lead to heightened sensitivity in dealing with children and peers. Allyship follows acknowledgement and is the coalition work required in order to promote equality, equity, respect, and safety through the assurance of rights within and between communities and social groups.

Charlene Judith Pereira is the programme manager at Schools of Equality and a student of psychology, English literature and journalism from Mount Carmel College, Bangalore. She went on to pursue the Bhumi fellowship and worked with low-income schools in Chennai, working towards ‘Whole School Transformation’. She works on the ground, creates sessions plans, curates spaces and facilitates conversations with various audiences. She believes that knowledge and education have the power to change the world. She is a musician and loves to engage with varied forms of art. Pereira actively volunteers her time to organizations like iAdopt, Bhumi and Kanavu, Association of Sarva Seva Farms (ASSEFA).

Ranjani Ramanathan, the director of Schools of Equality, holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Anna University, Chennai. She has over 15 years of experience working in the design industry, being surrounded by the nuances of gender stereotyping in the workplace. Equipped with her work experience, her passion for social justice and a desire to empower women and children, she became an active team player at Schools of Equality five years ago. She has been furthering its cause in multiple ways ever since. She is also a certified coach, which has distinctly impacted her command over facilitating meaningful and authentic conversations.

Workshop 3: Nurturing A Mindset of Justice—The Whole School Approach

Neha Pradhan Arora

Justice as a concept is abstract and complex. How do we, as educators, help students not just understand this theoretically but also develop a mindset of justice? How can we create a mindset that helps them to identify what is fair or unfair, just or unjust especially in the context of the world around us? How can we nurture a mindset that also helps them to question injustice and equips them with the skills to work towards justice? A whole school approach with multiple elements integrated into the curriculum and the school calendar is the most impactful and effective way to do this. In this presentation you will become aware of this approach while also identifying the tools and methods to implement this approach in your own school.

Neha Pradhan Arora has worked in the education and development sector for 20 years with a focus on building collective responsibility and transforming children, teachers and classrooms, through dialogue and shared learning experiences. A social worker and teacher by qualification, she has been the primary resource person for the Social Justice and Advocacy programme in the Edmund Rice schools in India since 2018. In this role, she has been building the capacity of close to 50 animators across the schools, structuring the programme, developing resources and content, while exploring the real meaning of social justice and ways to bring social justice into the classrooms and culture of the school. She is also the co-founder of Mudita Foundation that works with vulnerable groups and communities on issues of safety and protection from abuse, violence and exploitation.

4:45 - 6 p.m.

The Question of Cultural Injustice and Political Injustice


The concept of cultural injustice is often invoked in the context of colonial conquests—how they decimated indigenous cultures, robbed people of their language and imposed an alien frame on local communities. The cases of the Americas and Africa readily come to mind. Does the Indian subcontinent also fit in this frame? Why has the idea of undoing the cultural injustice, done to such people, become particularly powerful during the last few years? And how has this belief become the biggest obstacle in the path of those who are fighting against political injustice? How does this diminish their own status in contemporary India?

Apoorvanand is a professor of Hindi at the University of Delhi where he has been instrumental in redesigning the department’s academic program. He has worked on the development of Marxist Aesthetics in Hindi Literature. He was part of the core group that designed the National Curriculum Framework for School Education in 2005 and was a member of the national Focus Group on Teaching of Indian Languages formed by the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT). He has worked with the advisory committee on the Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education in India under the chairmanship of Yash Pal. Created by the government of India in 2008, the committee crafted a new vision plan for the higher education sector in India. Apoorvanand has also published two books of essays in literary criticism: Sundar ka Swapna and Sahitya ka Ekant. His critical essays have appeared in all major Hindi journals. Apart from his academic and literary writings, he also contributes columns in Indian newspapers and magazines on the issues of education, culture, communalism, violence and human rights.

Day 2

Friday, 4 August 2023

9 – 10.15 a.m.

Right to Hospitality and Citizenship

Suraj Gogoi

Human meanings can come to an end when we reach the shores of citizenship. As much as the lack of hospitality highlights the crisis of our times, it is a value that allows us to talk of universal humanity, justice and ‘rights of man’. In The Dawn of Everything, David Graeber and David Wengrow write that a deep history of civilization can be written, taking hospitality as a subject. We are all leaves of the same tree. Like culture and language, webs of hospitality inform the commonalities of human society. Hospitality is culture, as Derrida argued. We love to be cared for and treated as equals, welcomed particularly in strange, unknown places. What would post-partition South Asia look like if our Constitution was not hospitable to diverse people and minorities?

The growing intolerance in India is real with far-right forces gaining increased social legitimacy. Is this intolerance a part of Indian culture and its potentialities? Is cultivating tolerance enough for a healthy society and democracy, let alone fight such forces and emerging cultures? The idea of tolerance itself indicates a threshold, a limit. One of the crises we face today is the totalitarianism of the everyday, which creates an ethical and political vertigo, something that tolerance can't fully address. One must cross the thresholds of tolerance to arrive at ‘pure’ and ‘unconditional hospitality.’ In this talk, we shall turn to thinkers such as Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Levinas, Immanuel Kant, Anne Dufourmantelle, Jürgen Habermas, and Seyla Benhabib to problematize hospitality and how it pushes the frontiers of democracy, ethics and justice. Hospitality, both politically and ethically, is indispensable for peace and violence-free spaces if not perpetual peace and non-violence.

The right to a home and hospitality must be a universal right. We shall also discuss hospitality as a political move for convivial living and a critique of the Indian caste system. Thinking with Ambedkar, Primo Levi, Gandhi, Marcel Mauss and Tagore we shall address the political, moral and social need of hospitality and how its spirit is indispensable to the idea of justice and citizenship process around the world.

Suraj Gogoi is an assistant professor at the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, RV University, Bangalore. As a sociologist he is interested in questions of law, state, violence, ideology, nationalism, minorities and citizenship. His academic articles have been published or are forthcoming in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Asian Ethnicity, Critical Asian Studies, Economic and Political Weekly and Borderlines Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. His forthcoming book (co-authored with Manoranjan Pegu) frames the social and political life in contemporary Assam by situating the figure of the tribal in conversation with caste Assamese society (and culture), official language politics and the nature of Assamese nationalism. Gogoi’s current research engages with regimes of citizenship against the backdrop of NRC/CAA and the figure of the minority citizen-subject in South Asia. He is also working on two separate projects involving death/citizenship and food/racism/environmental crisis. His public and collaborative writings on social, political and ethical life in South Asia appear regularly in various national and international forums such as Himal Southasian, Asia Times, The Diplomat,, The Telegraph, The Hindu, The Quint, Hindustan Times, Newslaundry, The Wire and others.

10.15 – 10.45 a.m.

Coffee break

10.45 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Notes on Law and Lawlessness in Kashmir

Shrimoyee Ghosh

This lecture will be a reflection on the tortuous landscape of the India-Kashmir legal relationship, how the living and permanent Emergency in Kashmir was established, and how it is sustained. It enters the story at a point of rupture—the abrogation of Article 370, tracing the historical trajectories of the article, to open up questions about Kashmir’s constitutional and legal status, across domestic and international jurisdictional scales. The talk will examine how claims grounded in rule of law, democracy and constitutionalism are the machines that drive ‘normalcy’ in Kashmir—the normalization of a state of perpetual violence and permanent war. This talk grapples with the challenge that constitutional amnesias and legal exceptionalism vis-a-vis Kashmir pose to the scholar’s own legal imagination, and how they have shaped and foreclosed personal ideas of justice.

Shrimoyee Ghosh is a lawyer and legal anthropologist, whose work focuses on questions of rights and justice, and the law’s relationship to everyday forms of subjectivity and violence. She has worked with local coalitions and organizations on a number of human rights documentation and litigation efforts in Kashmir, Mumbai and New Delhi. Her scholarly work has appeared in Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law, Contributions to Indian Sociology and other academic journals. She is a member of LASSNET (Law and Social Sciences Network), the Critical Kashmir Studies scholarly collective and the Kashmir Scholars Advocacy and Consultative Network (KSCAN). She has a BA LLB (2003) from National Law School of India University, Bangalore; a Masters in Research (2006) from Birbeck School of Law, London and a PhD (2017) from the Centre for Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and has been the recipient of a Yale-Fox International Fellowship for her doctoral studies. Ghosh’s writings have appeared in reputed journals such as Critique of Anthropology, TWAILR, Contributions to Indian Sociology and The Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law among others.

12 – 1.15 p.m.

Mediating Speech: Between freedom and violence

Shahrukh Alam

Hate speech is sometimes posited as being inherent to free speech, as if they were complementary ideas. However, the idea of ‘free speech’ stems from the idea of equality: from the democratic impulse whereas hate speech comes from a tendency to ‘bully for power’. In that sense, ‘hate speech’ is not a ‘speech problem’ at all. It is a problem of systemic bullying with an eye towards exclusivist, political power.

Systemic hate speech is not always meant to lead to physical violence. In fact, it is in itself violent in its persistent stigmatizing and calls towards exclusion. It builds over time in a discursive, cumulative manner, and the targeted group suddenly finds itself being pushed out of social, economic and political spaces that it earlier inhabited. Hate speech does not refer to offensive, or foul-mouthed speech, or to vitriolic complaints directed at the government. It is speech that can cause actual material harm through the social, economic and political marginalization of a community. Thus it must be understood as linked to systemic discrimination and eventual marginalization. To be sure, it is not just random, episodic vitriol: rather it feeds into a broader context of discrimination. For this reason, ‘hate speech’, which causes a ‘democratic deficit’ vis-a-vis the targeted community, by seeking to push it out of the polity, is always inflected with social, political or majoritarian power. In mediating speech, in law, as in society, it is important to first recognize that discursive hate speech causes structural violence which is embedded and insidious. It manifests in instances of constant degradation and discrimination. It causes ‘constitutional harm’, and not just ‘law and order’ issues. The response to discursive hate speech thus needs to be layered, pedagogic and comprehensive, and not just reactionary, catering only to risks of immediate violence.

Shahrukh Alam is a constitutional lawyer, a human rights activist and an advocate at the Indian Supreme Court. Alam is also a scholar of sociology and works within the disciplinary field of Law and Society. Alam’s litigation practice defends Indian ‘prisoners of conscience’ or political prisoners who are arrested on unconstitutional charges. Alam is a graduate of the National Law School of India University in Bangalore and holds an LLM degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Alam's political commentary has appeared in The Wire, The Leaflet, LiveLaw and The Indian Express among others. Alam has also spoken extensively on civil rights in India at national and international fora including the Internet Freedom Foundation and American Society of International Law annual conference 2023.

1.15 – 2:15 p.m.


2:15 – 4.30 p.m.

Parallel Workshops (with a half hour coffee break)

Workshop 1: Questions of Justice—Through the Writings of Mahasweta Devi

Anjum Katyal

Workshop 2: The Idea of Justice through Power, Privilege and Allyship

Ranjani Ramanathan & Charlene Judith Pereira

Schools of Equality

Workshop 3: Nurturing A Mindset of Justice—The Whole School Approach

Neha Pradhan Arora

4.30 – 5.45 p.m.

Casteist Carcerality: The case of ‘Habitual Offenders’ in India

Nikita Sonavane

This discussion will focus on the construction of casteist criminality in the law, through the criminalization of Denotified Tribes/ Vimuktas in India. It will explore the casteist carceral legacy of the Criminal Tribes Act, that continues in Indian policing today, especially through the provisions surrounding ‘Habitual Offenders’. The talk will share insights from the Criminal Justice and Police Accountability Project’s empirical research on excise policing to reflect on the category of Habitual Offenders.

Nikita Sonavane has worked as a legal researcher and an advocate. She is the co-founder of the Criminal Justice and Police Accountability Project (CPA Project), a Bhopal based litigation and research intervention focused on building accountability against criminalization of oppressed caste communities by the police and the criminal justice system. Nikita has previously worked on issues of local governance, forest rights, and gender in Gujarat. She graduated with a BA (Political Science) from St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, LLB from Government Law College, Mumbai and an LLM degree in law and development from Azim Premji University (APU), Bangalore. She is a visiting research fellow at the University of Oxford working on anti-discrimination law in India. Her writings have been at the intersection of policing, caste and digitization of the criminal justice system in India and have been published by the AI Now Institute at New York University, Indian Express, The Hindu and The Caravan among others.

Day 3

Saturday, 5 August 2023

9 – 10.15 a.m.

In Search of Justice through Failures of Reconciliation, The Volatility of Dissent and Systemic Forgetting: A Performative Analysis

Rustom Bharucha

Structured in three sections drawing on performative evidence from different parts of the world, this talk will focus on a wide range of artistic, cultural and activist practices lying outside the jurisdiction of law. It will begin by examining how the institution of law can acknowledge its inability to deal with the sheer scale of violence resulting from long histories of apartheid and genocide. In the process, governments seeking transitional justice have legitimized experiments like Truth and Reconciliation in post-apartheid South Africa and the grassroots adaptation of people’s courts (gacaca) in post-genocide Rwanda. To what extent are these extra-legal performative measures effective forms of justice?

Turning to different forms of dissent through applied theatre practice, the talk will examine the potentialities and risks of enacting peace in states of war and institutionalized violence. Through examples of prison theatre in Durban, South Africa and the rehabilitation of Tamil child-soldiers in states of war in Sri Lanka, the talk will address how such peace-building performative initiatives can be hijacked by inter-ethnic dissensions and conflicts within oppressed communities. The unquestioned ‘right to intervene’ can result in a backlash of vigilante justice.

In the final part of this talk, the focus will shift to images of some of the most searing scenes of suffering endured by people during the pandemic in India, notably the non-availability of oxygen and the absence of transportation, food and healthcare. While such blatant neglect (and systemic forgetting) on the part of state and civic authorities are widely recognized in the public domain, the evidence of such ‘crimes against humanity’ may not hold up in the eyes of the law. This leaves us as civilians with the imperative to search for more communitarian and less technocratic forums of justice in civil society in direct dialogue with survivors of violence. Paradoxically, these forums cannot give up on law even as they are excluded by it.

Rustom Bharucha is a writer, cultural critic and dramaturg based in Kolkata. He is the author of several books including Theatre and the World, The Politics of Cultural Practice, Terror and Performance, The Question of Faith, In the Name of the Secular, Another Asia: Rabindranath Tagore and Okakura Tenshin, Rajasthan: An Oral History, Performing the Ramayana Tradition (co-edited with Paula Richman), and more recently, The Second Wave: Reflections on the Pandemic through Photography, Performance and Public Culture. He taught in the School of Arts and Aesthetics at Jawaharlal Nehru University between 2012 and 2018 and is a corresponding fellow of the British Academy.

10.15 – 11.15 a.m.

India: Her Constitution’s Country

Menaka Guruswamy

How do we think about, teach and disseminate the Constitution, and constitutional values? What is the Constitution's India? And how are we all tasked with being narrators of our Constitution?

Menaka Guruswamy is a Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India. Through her litigation practice, she has successfully sought reform of the bureaucracy in the country through fixed tenure, defended federal legislation that mandates that all private schools admit disadvantaged children, and overturned section 377, the 150 year old colonial-era law that criminalizes consensual same-sex relations. She has also litigated the case for marriage-equality before the Supreme Court of India. In her private law practice she litigates in the areas of civil law, commercial law and white collar crime. Guruswamy was educated at the University of Oxford, Harvard Law School and the National Law School of India, Bangalore. She was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and a Gammon Fellow at Harvard. She has been visiting faculty at Yale Law School, Columbia Law School, New York University School of Law and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Guruswamy has also supported the constitution-making process in Nepal. She was on Foreign Policy magazine’s list of 100 most influential Global Thinkers for 2019 and along with Arundhati Katju on Time Magazine’s 2019 list of 100 most influential people. She has written widely for publications including the New York Times, the New York Review of Books and the Indian Express.

11.15 – 11.45 a.m.

Coffee break

11.45 a.m. – 1.45 p.m.

The Question of Ethics

Romila Thapar, Ranjit Hoskote & Naveen Kishore

In conversation

Romila Thapar is a pre-eminent Indian historian specialising in the field of ancient India. She is Professor Emerita of ancient history at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. Thapar’s research into early Indian history has heralded the groundbreaking shift from the scholarly treatment of ancient history as Indology towards establishing it as a social science. Her work has reimagined the questions that were typically asked of textual and archaeological data in the study of ancient Indian history. Consequently, her scholarship has transformed historiography as a field and embedded modern perspectives of writing history into the study of ancient India. Thapar holds honorary doctorates from Brown University, the University of Oxford, the University of Chicago, Edinburgh University and the University of Calcutta among others. She is also a recipient of the prestigious Kluge Prize (American Nobel), is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is an honorary fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and St Margaret’s Hall, University of Oxford. Thapar’s works include seminal books such as Interpreting Early India, Narratives and the Making of History, Cultural Pasts, Essays in Early Indian History, Early India, and Which of Us Are Aryans? Rethinking the Concept of Our Origins. Her most recent book, published by Seagull Books in 2020, is Voices of Dissent.

Ranjit Hoskote is a poet, cultural theorist, translator and curator. His collections of poetry include Vanishing Acts, Central Time, Hunchprose, Jonahwhale and Icelight. His translation of a celebrated 14th century Kashmiri woman saint’s poetry has appeared as I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Ded. Hoskote curated India’s first-ever national pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2011) and co-curated the 7th Gwangju Biennale (2008). From 1996 to 1999, he served as The Times of India’s first Religion & Philosophy Editor. He has received the Sahitya Akademi Golden Jubilee Award, the Sahitya Akademi Translation Award, the S. H. Raza Literature Award and the JLF-Mahakavi Kanhaiya Lal Sethia Award for Poetry.

Naveen Kishore is the founder-publisher of Seagull Books and Managing Trustee of The Seagull Foundation for the Arts. Kishore founded Seagull Books in 1982, a publishing house specializing in arts and media, including drama, film, fine arts and culture studies. Today, Seagull Books also publishes poetry and other fiction, as well as nonfiction. In 1987, Kishore set up the Seagull Foundation for the Arts as a non-profit charitable trust, of which History for Peace is a part. Kishore is a photographer specializing in theatre photography and has extensively documented folk theatre originating from Manipur, Bengal and Punjab over the past few decades. Kishore’s past exhibitions include In A Cannibal Time, Epic and Elusive and Tramp. Kishore is also a published poet. His works include Mother Muse and Knotted Grief.

1.45 – 2.30 p.m.


2:30 – 4:45 p.m.

Parallel Workshops (with a half hour coffee break)

Workshop 1: Questions of Justice—Through the Writings of Mahasweta Devi

Anjum Katyal

Workshop 2: The Idea of Justice through Power, Privilege and Allyship

Ranjani Ramanathan & Charlene Judith Pereira

Schools of Equality

Workshop 3: Nurturing A Mindset of Justice—The Whole School Approach

Neha Pradhan Arora


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