ASHIS NANDY, one of the country’s leading public intellectuals, represents many things to many people but it is universally agreed that his views challenge and provoke. He has survived the accusation of hurting sentiments by writing on the riots in Gujarat in 2002. And at the Jaipur Literature Festival, he weathered the hostility of Dalits, a group whose interests he has frequently championed, and among whose ranks he has too many friends to count.
On Wednesday, Nandy will be the guest at the Express Adda in New Delhi. A clinical psychologist and sociologist by training, and a
political psychologist and futurist by imputation, Nandy brings the rigour of his disciplines to the study of Indian society, culture and politics, in areas of interests ranging from Hindutva to modernity and utopia.
He has been director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, National Fellow of the Indian Council of Social Science Research, fellow of the Institute of Advanced Study in Berlin, and a Woodrow Wilson Fellow.
He serves on the executive councils of the World Futures Studies Federation, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, the International Network for Cultural Alternatives to Development, and the People’s Union for Civil Liberties. And he held the first UNESCO Chair at the Centre for European Studies, University of Trier, Germany.
Nandy is also one of India’s dwindling band of bilingual writers, having ventured into Bengali publishing in 2016 with ‘Footpath peroleyi Shomudra (Across the Footpath, the Sea)’. His publications are too many to enumerate, and his most recent honours include the Grand Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Cultural Prizes (2007), the Sree Narayana Guru Samiti’s Dr K K Damodaran Award for lifelong work for marginalised sections (2016), and the Hans Kilian Prize (2019).
Nandy’s work focuses on the creative and destructive possibilities of the human race. He is a reliable weatherman because he is unencumbered by the lens of political affiliation, and is free to interpret the evidence logically.
His grounding in science sets him apart from the ever-flourishing community of opinionators — he ventured into higher education as a medical student. His conclusions are based on a close scrutiny of the news, of the academic literature, of popular culture and history, and hundreds of interviews, which he conducts himself.
Nandy will be in conversation with Vandita Mishra, National Opinion Editor, The Indian Express, and Pratik Kanjilal, Literary Editor.
Past Adda guests include the Dalai Lama, the late Arun Jaitley, economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, filmmaker Karan Johar, writer Amitav Ghosh, musician T M Krishna, ecologist Romulus Whitaker, oncologist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Siddhartha Mukherjee.