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The Idea of Justice: Conference in Shiv Nadar School, Noida, 13 and 14 May


Updated: Apr 22

History for Peace in association with Shiv Nadar School, Noida invites you to the Idea of Justice: Chapter 4, a two-day conference and workshop series that promises to nourish, enrich and bring interesting and innovative ideas into the Social Science and Humanities classroom.

 Are justice and ethics interdependent? Yes, of course, they are interdependent, but there is a difference between the idea of justice and the sense of justice. The idea of justice is a fundamental concept that has been debated and discussed by philosophers, legal scholars and ordinary people for centuries. Is justice always passive, like passing laws such as the Constitution, or is justice also active such as the practice of law. What is the purpose of justice, particularly in the context of ethics? Is the need for justice made visible only when there is injustice? —Romila Thapar at The Idea of Justice conference, Calcutta, August 2023.


Some of the finest minds of our country deliberated on the most fundamental of all human values—the complex and crucial issue of justice at three History for Peace conferences in 2023. We now invite you to register for Chapter 4 of The Idea of Justice conference to be held on 13, 14 May 2024 at Shiv Nadar School, Noida.

Schools can nominate a maximum of  4 teachers and 4 students.

The participation fee is Rs. 1100 per teacher and Rs. 800 per student.


Schedule and Speakers


7.30 – 8.40 a.m. Registration

9 a.m. Welcome Address. Shiv Nadar School

9.15 a.m. Opening Address. Meena Megha Malhotra, Director, History for Peace

9.30 a.m. – 10.45 a.m.

Keynote Address: Swarna Rajagopala

'You have a choice: Just-is or Justice?'

As individuals, as ordinary citizens, how do we react when we witness injustice? There is

always a choice—to walk away or to do what we can. This talk is presented as a personal

exploration of our choices and their implications. 

Swarna Rajagopalan is a peace educator. She is a political scientist by training, has taught

Politics at several universities including currently at Krea. She is the founder of Prajnya, a

Chennai nonprofit that works on gender equality and peace through research, public

education and network-building. She writes on topics related to peace, gender, justice and

human security for both academic and general publications. 

10.45 – 11.15 a.m. Coffee break

11.15 a.m. – 12.45 p.m.

The Idea of Justice, Nivedita Menon

How can we interpret and bring to life the value of justice espoused by the Preamble to the

Constitution? What kinds of structural and symbolic transformations are required to embody

plural visions of justice? The talk will explore some possibilities along these lines

Nivedita Menon is Professor at Centre for Comparative Politics and Political Theory,

Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi.

Her latest book is Secularism as Misdirection: Critical Thought from the Global South

(Permanent Black and Duke University Press 2023/2024). Apart from research papers in

Indian and international journals, her previous books are Seeing like a Feminist

(2012/updated 2nd Edition 2022); Recovering Subversion: Feminist Politics Beyond the Law

(2004); and (co-written) Power and Contestation: India after 1989 (2007/2nd Edition 2014).

She also has two edited volumes Gender and Politics in India (1999) and Sexualities (2007);

and co-edited Critical Studies in Politics: Exploring Sites, Selves, Power (2014). She is a

regular commentator on contemporary issues on the collective blog (of which

she is one of the founders), and is active in democratic politics in India.

She has translated fiction and non-fiction from Hindi and Malayalam into English, and from

Malayalam into Hindi, and received the AK Ramanujan Award for translation instituted by


12.45 – 1.45 p.m. Lunch

1.45 – 3 p.m.

The Crisis Looming Large, Bittu Sahgal

‘The Idea of Justice’ undergoes change with changing times. Today virtually all forms of

justice in the long run depend on our ability to adapt, mitigate, or otherwise deal with the

damaging impacts of the climate crisis upon us. I would speak on this issue positioning the

conversation at the tri-junction of biodiversity, economics and climate change as it relates to justice, environmental conservation, and sustainable development, not just for present times, but for the days ahead, when today's young will need to negotiate survival on a planet altered by changes wrought by humans on the biosphere that sustains all life on Earth including Homo sapiens.

Bittu Sahgal is a renowned environmental activist, writer, and the founder of Sanctuary

Nature Foundation, an Indian non-profit conservation organization that works

on environmental policy, advocacy, science, on-ground support and habitat management.

He is also the founding editor of Sanctuary Asia, a wildlife and ecology magazine.

He has been associated with Project Tiger since its inception and was greatly influenced

by Dr. Salim Ali, the famous 'Birdman of India' Kailash Sankhala, the first director of Project

Tiger and renowned conservationist Fateh Singh Rathore, the former field director

at Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve.

Sahgal has served on a number of government and non-government bodies, including the

National Board for Wildlife. He works with policymakers, social workers, economists and

scientists at the tri-junction of biodiversity, climate change and economics, speaking at

national and international platforms in support of wilderness conservation while continuing to spearhead the work of the Sanctuary Nature Foundation.

3 – 5 p.m. Parallel workshops


Sparking Conversations, Komita Dhanda

This short workshop will explore the concept of justice and touch upon its complexities

through the lens of theatre. Through various basic theatre exercises, we will engage with the

idea of equality and analyze different perspectives on justice. This workshop will also

demonstrate how art can contribute to the idea of social change. No prior theatre experience necessary! 

Komita Dhanda has been an actress, director, writer, and organizer for the Delhi-based

theatre group Jana Natya Manch (Janam) since 2004. She has worked with renowned

theatre directors like Abhishek Majumdar, Sunil Shanbag, Shaili Sathyu, and Mallika Taneja.

Apart from India, she has performed in the UK/Scotland (2013), South Africa (2014),

Palestine (2016), and the US (2023). She has done apprenticeship with the Bread and

Puppet Theatre Company in Vermont (USA). She has developed and led theatre workshops

for activists, school, and college students and teachers.  

She is currently pursuing Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance studies at School of Arts and

Aesthetics in JNU. Focusing on the works of women activist-performers as organizers,

performers and leaders, her work unravels feminist strategies, which incited new meanings

in the theatre practices of activist cultural organizations in India. As part of her larger

research project, she has been studying transnational links and cultural exchanges between

activist performance collectives, notably those in India and the United Kingdom. She has

received a grant from the Charles Wallace India Trust (British Council).

She worked for a decade teaching at multiple colleges at the University of Delhi. Served as a

Project Coordinator for the Delhi Oral History Project at Ambedkar University's Centre for Community Knowledge in Delhi.


The Question of Ethics, Angana Das and Amreeta Das—History for Peace

This workshop aims to engage students in meaningful discussions about the relationship

between ethics and social justice. Students will participate in interactive and reflective

discussions to explore questions such as: What does ethics mean to young people? Why is

it needed? What is fair and just in different and diverse contexts? Students will be

encouraged to reflect on their individual and collective sense of ethics by creating their own

“Ethics Wheel”. The activities and discussions will encourage students to critically assess

ethical dilemmas, empathise with diverse perspectives, and reflect on what they can do to

apply their sense of ethics to promote social justice in their community.

Angana Das is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. Her

research explores children’s voices on the Happiness Curriculum in Delhi government

schools and the social, cultural and contextual factors that influence their happiness and

well-being. Prior to her PhD, Angana worked as a researcher on projects related to the

Happiness Curriculum, Section 12(1)(c) of the Right to Education Act, remedial teaching and

school leadership in India. Her research interests include education for happiness and

peace, social and emotional learning in non-western contexts, and arts-based peace-

building approaches. She holds an MPhil in Education, Globalization and International

Development from the University of Cambridge and an MA in Conflict Analysis and Peace

Building from Jamia Millia Islamia. Angana is a recipient of the Commonwealth Shared

Scholarship and the Cambridge International Scholarship.

Amreeta Das has finished her B.A and M.A in English Literature from Jadavpur University in

2021 and worked as a writer and researcher at DAG Museums, Kolkata. At DAG she broadly

worked on a range of education initiatives that equips students and teachers to use art in the

classroom and co-led heritage walks. Her areas of academic interest are South Asian print

culture and more specifically the circulation and reception of printed pictures in periodicals

and ephemera, time consciousness and temporal discipline in colonial Bengal, history and

sociology of colonial pedagogy, among others. She will join her doctoral programme at the department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago in the coming fall. Amreeta has interned at History for Peace during which time she has conducted workshops and been part of research and development of teaching resources.


Balancing Scales: In Pursuit of Fairness, Ranita Ray—History for Peace

How do we decide what qualifies as just? Is it easier to recognize the violation or absence of

justice rather than its presence? Is justice a necessary fantasy? Is our sense of justice innate

or social? This workshop seeks to i) explore imaginations of a just society drawn from history, and ii) encourage participants to reflect on and discuss ideas of justice through an engagement with fiction, 'the lie that tells us true things, over and over'. 

Ranita Ray is presently a teacher of English Literature and Library programming curator at

Modern High School for Girls, Kolkata. She has previously been Programme Officer at The

Seagull Foundation for the Arts, working primarily on its education projects History for Peace

and PeaceWorks, with a focus on the Anne Frank: A History for Today project. 


Seeking Justice: Educational Considerations, Barry van Driel

The focus of this 2-hour workshop will be on the issue of justice and injustice. How do

societies tend to view these two concepts and how do we translate such views into

classroom practice. The format will be interactive. In this workshop we look at justice at

different levels: the personal, familial, the school, local, national and international. We will

examine present day injustices, how they are dealt with and whether they bring ‘just’

solutions for a better world. The final part of the workshop will revolve around what kinds of

activities teachers can do with their (high school) students.

Barry van Driel is President of the International Association of Intercultural Education (IAIE)

and the Senior Editor in Chief of Intercultural Education. He has extensive experience as a

consultant in the field of intercultural and inclusive education, and has been involved in

various working groups in Europe on education policies, as well as in international projects

on curriculum development and teacher training.




Justice in Teaching and Learning, Sundar Sarukkai

What are the ideas of justice that occur in the classroom? And, more generally, in the

process of teaching and learning? How can understanding the idea of justice help in

incorporating it into the act of teaching? This workshop explores the complex concepts of justice in relation to the classroom and its inhabitants. 

Sundar Sarukkai works primarily in the philosophy of the natural and the social sciences.

He has held positions of professor of philosophy at the National Institute of Advanced

Studies, Founder-Director of the Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities, and Visiting

Faculty at the Centre for Society and Policy, Indian Institute of Science. He is the founder

of Barefoot Philosophers, an initiative to take philosophy to children and to the public. He is

the author of the following books: Translating the World: Science and Language, Philosophy

of Symmetry, Indian Philosophy and Philosophy of Science, What is Science?JRD Tata

and the Ethics of PhilanthropyThe Social Life of Democracy, and two books co-authored

with Gopal Guru – The Cracked Mirror: An Indian Debate on Experience

and Theory and Experience, Caste and the Everyday Social. His book for children

titled Philosophy for Children: Thinking, Reading, Writing has been translated into Tamil,

Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi. His latest publication is a novel, Following a



Why Our Reflections Matter: Writing for Each Other as Social Justice Educators

Kaveri, Grace David, Neha Pradhan Arora

A teacher’s daily life, more often than not, is fraught with impossibilities both within the

classroom and beyond. While we read and hear about successful endeavours in teaching

and learning, our ordinary lives feel weary and exhausting, and several days are spent

questioning the decision to remain teachers. If we reflect on what often keeps us going

during these difficult moments, or can keep us going, it is to remind ourselves of the larger

purpose for which we teach. Our work may not offer us a conscious education about what

social justice entails, but there are quite a few of us who respond sensitively to distressing

situations, even encourage critical discussions at the risk of inviting the school

administration’s wrath. Teachers themselves experience many injustices at the workplace,

and only a few of them are related to their professional abilities. Most often, these issues are

related to biases with regard to caste, gender and other such identities. 

We hope that this workshop creates a space that allows teachers to explore reflective writing

as a tool for ourselves and as a resource in our classrooms, even as we try to integrate

social justice as a concept and value in our practice. We hope to not only recognise the

countless and persistent efforts, few or far between as they maybe, but also help each other

feel less alone in our social justice practices and inspire others to do more of the same.

This workshop is also part of a larger project which aims at a collective celebration of all

teachers who work hesitantly, persistently and hopefully, towards the ideals of social justice.

It is an invitation towards hope.

As an educator, Kaveri has enjoyed a diverse career spanning nearly 8 years. Her roles

have encompassed working with schools and NGOs across various places in India, both

rural and urban. She had the privilege of teaching english, history and politics, and she is

deeply passionate about building critical thinking in young adults. While she deeply enjoy the process of reading, writing and research, nurturing young minds towards a feminist future iswhat fulfils her.

Grace David  has a Master’s Degree in English from Delhi University. She is also a student

of Christian theology and is completing her Master's Degree from Vidyajyoti College, Delhi.

Her experience for the past 20 years has been largely with youth groups, Church

communities and faith formation as well. For the last nine years she has been working as the

Coordinator of Catechetics, Values and Social Justice Education in St. Columba’s School,

New Delhi. She has also authored several devotional books in English and Hindi along with

papers and articles on theological themes.

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 learning experiences.  A social worker and teacher by

qualification, she has been the resource person for the Social Justice and Advocacy

programme in the Edmund Rice schools in India since 2018. She is also the co-founder of

an organisation that works on the issues of safety and protection of women and children

from abuse, violence and exploitation.


9 a.m. – 10.15 p.m.

Experience of Justice and Injustice, Sundar Sarukkai

Whether we can conceptualise justice properly or not, an experience related to justice is

available even for young children. Most often, this experience is not of the positive idea of

justice but an experience of injustice. What do these experiences of injustice teach us about

the ideas of justice? To answer this question, we have to understand the nature of

experience, the possibility of translating it into language, as well as clarify how the concept of justice can be acquired through these experiences. These are some of the issues this talk

will address.

10.15 – 10.45 a.m. Coffee break

10.45 a.m. – 12.45 p.m. Parallel Workshops


Balancing Scales: In Pursuit of Fairness

Ranita Ray—History for Peace


Sparking Conversations

Komita Dhanda


The Question of Ethics

Angana Das, Amreeta Das—History for Peace


Why Our Reflections Matter: Writing for Each Other as Social Justice Educators

Kaveri, Grace David, Neha Pradhan Arora



Seeking Justice: Educational Considerations

Barry van Driel


Justice in Teaching and Learning

Sundar Sarukkai

12.45 – 1.45 p.m. Lunch

1.45 – 3.45 p.m. Parallel Workshops


The Question of Ethics

Angana Das, Amreeta Das—History for Peace


Balancing Scales: In Pursuit of Fairness

Ranita Ray—History for Peace


Sparking Conversations

Komita Dhanda


Justice in Teaching and Learning

Sundar Sarukkai



Why Our Reflections Matter: Writing for Each Other as Social Justice Educators

Kaveri, Grace David, Neha Pradhan Arora


Seeking Justice: Educational Considerations

Barry van Driel

3.45 – 4.45 p.m. [All the participants together]

World Café

History for Peace Team

Each school can nominate a maximum of  4 teachers and 4 students. The participation fee is Rs. 1100 per teacher and Rs. 800 per student.  

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