View our conversation below with award-winning Indian film actress, director, and committed human rights advocate, Nandita Das. She spoke with NYU Anthropology Professor Ritty Lukose, Hunter Public Policy Distinguished Lecturer Shyama Venkateswar, and Hunter Economics Professor Karna Basu.

Doors opened at 5:15 PM and the conversation lasted from 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM. The event was free and open to the public. It took place at Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, located at 47-49 East 65th Street, between Park and Madison.

This event was presented by the Hunter College Human Rights Program and co-sponsored by the Hunter College Women and Gender Studies Program, the India-China Institute at the New School, and South Asia @NYU.



Karna Basu joined Hunter College in 2009. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago from 2006 to 2009. He works on topics at the intersection of behavioral economics and development, with a particular focus on informal banking.


Nandita Das is an award-winning Indian film actress and director, and committed human rights advocate. She focuses on issues of social justice, especially those of women, children, and marginalized communities, through various platforms. Her best known works include Fire, Earth, and Firaaq. In 2008, the French Government conferred upon Nandita the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters, their prestigious civilian award. In 2011, she became the first Indian to be inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Women’s Forum. She has recently finished shooting for a Spanish film, which was with an all women crew.


Ritty Lukose‘s teaching and research interests explore politics, culture, gender, globalization, and nation within the context of colonial, postcolonial, and diasporic modernities, especially as they impact South Asia. With a background in anthropology, she is particularly interested in the relationship between politics and culture within the context of western, global and non-Western feminisms. Professor Lukose’s research has been funded by the American Institute of Indian Studies, the Fulbright Program, the Spencer Foundation, and the National Academy of Education, and she has published several book chapters and articles on this research in journals such as Cultural Anthropology, Social History, Social Analysis, and Anthropology and Education Quarterly. Her book, Liberalization’s Children: Gender, Youth and Consumer Citizenship in India, was published by Duke University Press (2009) and co-published in India by Orient Blackswan in 2010. A forthcoming co-edited book, South Asian Feminisms: Contemporary Interventions, is forthcoming from Duke University Press (2012) and Zubaan, a leading feminist press in India. She teaches courses on globalization, India/South Asia, nationalism and colonialism, diasporic studies, gender and feminism, and ethnography.


Shyama Venkateswar is Distinguished Lecturer and Director of the Public Policy Program at Roosevelt House. She has over fifteen years of experience in research, policy and advocacy focusing on social justice issues, both in the U.S. and globally. Before coming to Hunter College, she worked at the National Council for Research on Women (NCRW), where she served as Director of Research & Programs, and helped provide the vision and strategic direction for the Council’s policy agenda on economic security for low-income women, diversity in higher education and the corporate arena, women’s leadership, and ending global violence against women. She is co-author of two recent NCRW reports, Caring for Our Nation’s Future; and The Challenge and the Charge: Strategies for Retaining and Advancing Women of Color in addition to numerous commentary and opinion pieces on poverty, job creation, peace-building, and immigrant rights published in The Miami Herald, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Asia Times, The Indian Express, and the Chicago Sun-Times. She has given Congressional briefings, and presented her research findings to academic, policy, advocacy and corporate communities.

In addition to her work with NCRW, Shyama served as an Academic Adviser for Queens College, City University of New York, where she helped to shape the content and programs for a proposed Immigration Center, and design the structure and curriculum for the College’s Year of India Initiative. She also served as a consultant to the President of Queens College on strategies to advance gender diversity and multiculturalism among the College’s faculty and senior administration.

Shyama’s previous positions include: founding Executive Director of Mercy Corps’ Action Center to End World Hunger; Director of the Asian Social Issues Program at the Asia Society; and Program Officer at the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University and is a graduate of Smith College.

Shyama Venkateswar  

Karna Basu  

A Conversation with Nandita Das | Posted on March 21st, 2014 | Human Rights Program Events, Public Programs