Arun Shourie is among India's best-known commentators on current and political affairs. Born in Jalandhar, Punjab (1941), he studied at St. Stephen's College in Delhi and obtained his doctorate in Economics from Syracuse University, the US. Among other portfolios, he held the office of the Minister of Disinvestment, Communications and Information Technology in Atal Bihari Vajpayee's cabinet. He was acclaimed as a “Star of Asia” by Business Week in 2002, as “The Business Leader of the Year” by The Economic Times jury for his pioneering and dogged work on privatisation. In a poll of Indian CEOs, he was acclaimed as “The Most Outstanding Minister” of the Vajpayee Government in early 2004. He is the recipient of numerous national and international awards, including the Magsaysay Award and the Padma Bhushan. He has been an economist with the World Bank, and Editor of the Indian Express. He is widely regarded as the initiator of Investigative Journalism in India. The International Press Institute, Vienna, acclaimed him as one of 50 “World Press Freedom Heroes” whose work has sustained freedom of the press in the last half-century. He has written over 25 books on a variety of topics ranging from constitutional law, modern Indian history, religious fundamentalism, governance in India, to national security. His book, Does He Know a Mother’s Heart?: How suffering refutes religions examines explanations for suffering in the basic religious texts; shows how they do not stand scrutiny; and why his own experience in serving his spastic child for 35 years has led him to the Buddha’s teaching. His book Two Saints: Speculations around and about Ramakrishna Paramhamsa and Ramana Maharshi examines the experiences of these saints in the light of neuroscience, psychology and sociology. His latest book, Anita Gets Bail: What are our courts doing? What can we do about them?, is a critique of the functioning and judgments of the Supreme Court and High Courts, and suggests what should be done to salvage this vital pillar of our constitutional system.
Aruna Sairam is a Padma Shri awardee and widely acclaimed as the one of most illustrious exponents of classical Carnatic music. She is a composer, collaborator, mentor, humanitarian, and speaker. In addition to her performances in India, Aruna has taken Carnatic music to the global arena, to prestigious venues including the Royal Albert Hall and Carnegie Hall. Currently Vice Chairperson of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, Ministry of Culture, Delhi, Aruna works towards the musical education of underprivileged students through the Nadayogam Trust, which she founded in 2011. Aruna is grateful for the training she received under her mother Rajalakshmi Sethuraman, legendary vocalist T. Brinda, and the mentorship from several other masters throughout her musical journey. Her music erased geographic borders when she incorporated Abhang, a Western Indian musical form, into a traditional South Indian concert. Aruna sings in 14 Indian languages. She has recently been nominated the Sangita Kalanidhi designate 2019 by the Music Academy, Chennai.
Audrey Truschke is Assistant Professor of South Asian History at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. She received her PhD in 2012 from Columbia University and held positions at Gonville and Caius College at the University of Cambridge and at Stanford University before joining the History Department at Rutgers-Newark in 2015. Her research focuses on the cultural, imperial, and intellectual history of medieval and early modern India. Her first book, Culture of Encounters: Sanskrit at the Mughal Court (2016), investigates the literary, social, and political roles of Sanskrit as it thrived in the Persian-speaking, Islamic Mughal courts from 1560 to 1650. Her second book, Aurangzeb: The Man and The Myth (2017), is a historical reassessment of one of the most hated kings in South Asian history (published in North America as Aurangzeb: The Life and Legacy of India's Most Controversial King). More broadly she publishes on cross-cultural exchanges, historical memory, and imperial power.
Bhakti Mathur took to writing in 2010 when she created the popular ‘Amma Tell Me’ Series of picture books about Indian festivals and mythology. After a long stint as a banker, she now juggles her time between writing, her passion for yoga and long-distance running, and her family. She lives in Hong Kong with her husband, their two children and two dogs. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from the University of Hong Kong and freelances as a journalist. Her articles have been published in the South China Morning Post. When not writing or running after her young boys, Bhakti is happiest curled up with a book in one hand and a hot cup of chai in the other.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning and bestselling novelist, poet, activist and teacher of creative writing. She has won many awards, including the American Book Award and the Premio Scanno (Italy). Her work has been published in over 100 magazines and anthologies. Her books have been translated into twenty-nine languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, Bengali, Russian and Japanese. Several of her works have been made into films and plays. In 2015, she was one of the Economic Times’s Twenty Most Influential Global Indian Women. She loves to connect with readers on social media.
Devika Cariapa is a Delhi-based author with a lifelong passion for archaeology, travel and unearthing stories from the past. She merged these passions into her award-winning book, India through Archaeology: Excavating History (2017), which encourages children to explore a wealth of stories from Indian history through the lens of archaeology. When not immersed in things historical, she battles the digital era with a collection of old fountain pens, antique maps and large batches of homemade chocolate fudge.
Himanjali Sankar grew up in Calcutta and did her Master’s and MPhil in English Literature from JNU. She taught at the University of Indianapolis in the US for a couple of semesters and worked as an editor with various publishing houses in New Delhi for over a decade. Currently she works as Editorial Director with Simon & Schuster India. She is also an author and two of her books for children were on the Crossword Award shortlist, in 2013 and 2016, respectively. Mrs C Remembers was her first novel for adults for which she won the FICCI Publishing Award for Upcoming Author of the Year: English in August 2018. She lives in Gurgaon with her dog and some humans too.
Joeanna Rebello Fernandes is the author of Treasure at the Train Station: A Mumbai Adventure. Joeanna believes she was once an Old Building – home to a hundred different lives that sang, ate and danced within her. It explains why she’s drawn to old buildings in this life. And why her children’s book, Treasure at the Train Station, has a grand old building at the heart of it – Victoria Terminus! She writes and edits for a living.
Joshua Pollock is a Heartfulness meditation coach and co-author of the bestselling book, The Heartfulness Way. He has conducted meditation classes across the United States, India, and Europe. Joshua is a sought-after speaker, lecturing at companies including Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, the World Bank, United Nations headquarters, the New York Times, and a host of academic institutions. He has appeared on All India Radio, Doordarshan TV, and ABC and CBS in the United States. An accomplished classical violinist, Joshua has performed internationally as a soloist and chamber musician and collaborated with celebrated composer A.R. Rahman on numerous films including Ghajini and Delhi 6. He currently resides in New Delhi.
Manisha Koirala is one of India’s leading film actors. Born into the prominent Koirala family in Nepal, Manisha made her Bollywood debut with Saudagar in 1991, before going on to establish herself as one of the leading actresses with films such as 1942: A Love Story, Akele Hum Akele Tum, Bombay, Khamoshi: The Musical, Dil Se, Mann, Lajja and Company. She took a break from acting in 2012 to return five years later with the coming-of-age drama Dear Maya, Netflix's Lust Stories and Sanju. She was appointed the Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund in 1999 and 2015 and was involved in the relief works after the Nepal earthquake 2015. She promotes causes such as women's rights, prevention of violence against women, prevention of human trafficking and cancer awareness. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012 and has been cancer-free since 2013.
Meghna Gulzar began her professional career in 1989 as a freelance writer for The Times of India and other publications. Her poems have also been published in anthologies of the Poetry Society of India. A graduate in Sociology from St Xaviers’ College, Mumbai, Meghna worked with noted filmmaker Saeed Akhtar Mirza as an assistant director on the National Award-winning film Naseem; and went on to do a short course in filmmaking from the Tisch School of Arts, New York University, New York. She assisted her father – poet, writer & director Gulzar - on his films Maachis and Hu Tu Tu. Along with scripting her own films, Meghna has made documentaries for Doordarshan on contemporary issues such as domestic help in Mumbai and the burgeoning of private security agencies in Mumbai and directed music videos for several music albums, corporate ad films and also anchored several TV shows including The Amul India Show. Her first feature film, Filhaal… (2002) was about surrogate motherhood. Meghna directed A Pocketful of Poems, a short film on the celluloid and literary works of Gulzar, for the Sahitya Akademi. Her second feature film Just Married (2007) explored the fragile relationship between two people in an arranged marriage. Meghna’s short film Pooranmaashi was among the bouquet of films in Dus Kahaaniyaan (2007). In 2010, Meghna conceived and directed Closer, a documentary on Pervasive Developmental Disorders for the Special Child Trust. Heads & Tales, Meghna’s English translation of the screenplays of Aandhi and Hu Tu Tu, was published in 2014. Talvar, Meghna’s feature film based on the Noida Double-Murder case of 2008, released on October 2, 2015, to rave reviews and tremendous audience appreciation. Meghna’s last feature film Raazi — based on the true story of a young girl, who is married into a Pakistani military family and sent to Pakistan as a spy for India, in 1971 — released on May 11, 2018. Because He Is..., her biography on her father first published in 2004, was released as a new updated edition in September 2018. Meghna is currently working on her next film, based on Acid Violence and explores the story of survivor Laxmi Agarwal. A film on the life of Field Marshal Sam H F J Manekshaw MC is also in the pipeline.
Parvathy Thiruvothu is among India's leading contemporary actors, best known for her varied and powerful performances in Malayalam films. In a career spanning over a decade, she has played various characters in Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, and Hindi cinema. Hailing from Kozhikode, Kerala, she made her acting debut in the 2006 Malayalam film Out of Syllabus. She shot to fame with her performances in critically and commercially successful films including Notebook (2006), Poo (2008), City of God (2011), Mariyan (2013), Bangalore Days (2014), Uttama Villain (2015), Ennu Ninte Moideen (2015), Charlie (2015), Take Off (2017), and My Story (2018). Parvathy made her Hindi feature debut with Tanuja Chandra’s Qarib Qarib Single (2017) opposite Irrfan Khan. Most recently, she appeared in Anjali Menon's Koode (2018). Her awards and accolades include the 2016 Best Actress Kerala State Film Award for her performance in Ennu Ninte Moideen. She won the award for the second time for Take Off, in addition to the IFFI Best Actor Award (Female) at the 48th International Film Festival of India and her first special mention at the National Awards. She has won Filmfare awards for various roles including Ennu Ninte Moideen and the Tamil film Poo. She also won the 2015 Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as RJ Sarah in Bangalore Days (2014). She is one of the founding members of the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC), an Indian nonprofit organisation for women in Malayalam cinema. Founded in 2017, it is the first organisation of its kind for female artists in the country, focused on working towards the welfare of women in Malayalam film industry.
Perumal Murugan is a contemporary Tamil author and poet from Thiruchengode, Tamil Nadu. He has published anthologies of poems, short stories, novels and essays. Seven of his novels have been translated into English, among them Koola Madari (Seasons of the Palm, which was shortlisted for the Kiriyama Prize in 2005), Nizhal Mutram (Current Show) and Madhorubhagan (One Part Woman); Pookuzhi (Pyre); Poonachi Alladhu Oru Vellattin Kathai (Poonachi: Or the story of a black goat). He has also published The Goat Thief, a collection of short stories earlier published in Tamil; and a collection of poems Oru Kozhaiyin Paadalkal (Songs of a Coward). Nizhal Mutram was also translated into Polish. Poonachi has been translated into multiple Indian languages. Murugan has received several awards for his writings, including from the government of Tamil Nadu, Katha books, the Vilakku Prize in 2012 and the Kasthuri Srinivasan Trust award in 2013. In January 2015, he announced he was giving up writing when his novel Madhorubagan was attacked for defaming a community. In July 2016, the Madras High Court ruled in his favour and he has resumed his writing career. In 2018, One Part Woman was longlisted for the National Book Award in Translated Literature.
Rajmohan Gandhi, a historian and biographer, divides his time between India and the United States, where he teaches at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His latest book is Modern South India: A History from the 17th Century to Our Times. Other books by him include Understanding the Muslim Mind (1987); Rajaji: A Life (1996); Mohandas: The Man, his People and the Empire (2007); Punjab: A History from Aurangzeb to Mountbatten (2013); Patel: A Life (1990); and Understanding the Founding Fathers: An Enquiry into the Beginnings of the Republic (2016). In the 1990s he served as a member of the Rajya Sabha.
Ramachandra Guha is a historian and biographer based in Bengaluru. He has taught at the universities of Yale and Stanford, held the Arné Naess Chair at the University of Oslo, and served as the Philippe Roman Professor of History and International Affairs at the London School of Economics. Guha’s books include a pioneering environmental history, The Unquiet Woods (1989), and an award-winning social history of cricket, A Corner of a Foreign Field (2002), which was chosen by The Guardian as one of the ten best books on cricket ever written. India after Gandhi (2007) was chosen as a book of the year by the Economist, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, Time Out, and Outlook, and as a book of the decade in the Times of India, the Times of London, and The Hindu. Ramachandra Guha’s most recent book is a two-volume biography of Mahatma Gandhi. The first volume, Gandhi Before India (2014), was chosen as a notable book of the year by the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. The second volume, Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World (2018, was also chosen as a notable book of the year by the New York Times. Guha’s books and essays have been translated into more than twenty languages. The New York Times has referred to him as ‘perhaps the best among India’s non-fiction writers’; Time Magazine has called him ‘Indian democracy’s pre-eminent chronicler’. Ramachandra Guha’s awards include the Leopold-Hidy Prize of the American Society of Environmental History, the Daily Telegraph/Cricket Society prize, the Malcolm Adiseshiah Award for excellence in social science research, the Ramnath Goenka Prize for excellence in journalism, the Sahitya Akademi Award, and the R. K. Narayan Prize. In 2009, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan. In 2008, and again in 2013, Prospect magazine nominated Guha as one of the world’s most influential intellectuals. In 2014, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in the humanities by Yale University. In 2015, he was awarded the Fukuoka Prize for contributions to Asian studies.
Sanjay Pinto is an Advocate at the Madras High Court, a Columnist and Author. Before his transition from the newsroom to the courtroom, Sanjay was the face of NDTV in South India for 15 years. In his previous avatar as the Resident Editor of NDTV 24x7 and Executive Editor of NDTV Hindu, he reported and anchored news and talk shows from South India. Sanjay appears on prime time TVdebates as a political analyst and is the author of three books: My NDTV Days, Justice For All and Speakers Are Made Not Born. A former National Debating Champion, Sanjay is a public speaking mentor and a guest lecturer on Media Law at National Law Schools in India.