My writing practice is undergirded by the ethic of representation and recovery, a response to the chaos of the everyday mayhem where where things seems just about ‘normal’. Writing ethnographic archives is the core of my written word artistic practice. Long term projects are painstakingly hard, takes a lot of time, yet the series of conversations with Autowallahs and Cabbies are a glimpse in to urban life, entrepreneurship, tech innovation and the view from below. It is a chronicle of agency more than any other tangential impulse.
With writing taking on a professional avatar this year, speaking opportunities in your webinaritis era were generous and kind. The 2020 speaking roster included:
- Speaking on Growth to students at Enactus DTU, or Delhi Technological University in July.
- Speaking on Repivoting Careers at a Business School in Navi Mumbai in the month of April in the heart of the lockdown where hope was in short supply for young professionals.
- Presenting on AI Ethics and Sociotechnical Resilience at a Faculty Development Programme at my Alma Mater, Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra in July.
- Spoke to final year thesis students doing research at the Rizvi College of Architecture sharing thoughts on resources and methods in October.
- I was on the Cafe Khaleej Podcast speaking on my book project in November.
- I was on a panel on migrant narratives at the Global Migrant Festival 2020 in November.
As an alt-academic, opportunities to speak to diverse practitioner communities is generative in many ways.
I thank all sponsors deeply for the opportunities, this year.
Happy to speak in 2021 as well. Please do let me know if a shared conversation can be held.
I had an enriching chat with an entrepreneurial policy academic regarding the challenges of institutional development today over chai at the famous Marzorin Cafe on MG Road, Pune.
2020, a year benefitting many new metaphors and semi baked vocabularies has been a year of brisk learning while being in one city the entire year, probably for the first time in my life. As a writer and researcher, I love travel however I made up for it by walking the bylanes of Pune. Travel is measured in miles rather it should be gauged in understanding the depth of the place. Which place has the best Chai for instance. Or which Kirana store was open serving the community in the heart of the pandemic lockdown.
Having made a pivot to writing as a career thanks to the pandemic, being Aatma Nirbhar is not that hard. Fear is all that needs to be conquered along with resetting of desires. Working on writing and institution building of ventures begins with the mind. As chaos stifles the imagination. The pandemic has caused a stuttering of the mind as the normal sublimated into the unknown abyss of the radical present. Build back better, is more than jargon this crisis.
I wish we can travel at ease in 2021. Wishing everyone a safe and blessed new year.
I have always been kiasu, paranoid to fail and a determined vitae building machine since my high school days. The elusive fear of success, drives me to think that I am worthless and link my sense of self worth to what I do. 2020 has given me a new lens of worth that I can be worthy as I can create projects and initiatives digitally on my own with the help of kind souls who share a common vision.
One does not have to be necessarily affiliated with a brand to create value. One can be a brand themselves in this remote era. The gig economy has created an economy of contractors and a different mindset is needed to succeed. My journey has been turbulent this year but the clarity can be very peaceful.
Aatma Nirbhar or self reliance , is a frame of mind rather than a political slogan.
There is an entire discourse in to professionalising of disciplines which hampers reskilling in the heart of darkness aka uncertainty. The narrow disciplinary lens forecloses opportunities to tap in to arena which are around the corner. As an environmental engineer I took up modules in public policy and studied STS-sociology, Social Change Communication and read a lot of history to get the granular context of decolonisation and decarbonisation pathways.
The obsession rather needs to be about being amateurs, as that is the very spirit of innovation. And take the cv less seriously.
Experiment, be lean and agile.