Ashoka Reflections - Jan 2023

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A S H O K A U N I V E R S I T Y ' S M O N T H L Y N E W S L E T T E R

J A N U A R Y 2 0 2 3

Professor Somak Raychaudhury

takes over as Vice-Chancellor of

Ashoka University


Ashoka Reflections | Page 01

Professor Somak Raychaudhury, eminent Indian astrophysicist, takes over from

Professor Malabika Sarkar, who completed her term after serving as Ashoka

University’s Vice-Chancellor since August 2019.

Professor Raychaudhury was previously the Director of the Inter-University Centre for

Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune.

Professor Raychaudhury graduated from Presidency College, University of Calcutta, and

went on to read Physics at Trinity College, University of Oxford, supported by an Inlaks

Shivdasani scholarship. He did his Ph.D. in Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge,

supported by the Isaac Newton Studentship, where he was awarded a J T Knight prize.

He then moved to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, (CfA) at

Cambridge, USA, as a Smithsonian Fellow. He stayed on to work in the High Energy

Astrophysics division of the CfA, working for a NASA project, as part of the team that

built the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, now in orbit. At this time, he was always a Fellow

of Lowell House, Harvard University.

Professor Raychaudhury worked at IUCAA Pune as an Assistant Professor for a few

years in the 1990s before moving to the University of Birmingham, UK, where he taught

at the School of Physics and Astronomy for more than a decade. He moved back to

India in 2012, to help rebuild Presidency College, Kolkata, into Presidency University,

where he was Dean of Science and Professor and Head of Physics, till he moved to Pune

in September 2015 as the fourth Director of IUCAA, which is one of the top research

institutions in Astrophysics in the world.

His work involves a wide range of topics in Cosmology and Astrophysics and has made

seminal discoveries using observations at radio, optical and X-ray frequencies, from the

ground and from Space. He has worked on exotic stars such as black holes and neutron

stars in nearby galaxies, including our own galaxy, the Milky Way. He has worked on

observational cosmology, in determining the scale and age of the Universe.

Ashoka Reflections | Page 02

He pioneered the study of galaxy superclusters as the largest structures in the Universe

and has discovered some of the largest structures of galaxies in the Universe, including

the “Saraswati” supercluster of galaxies. In the recent past, he has been in leading

positions in several of India’s mega-science international projects, including the Thirty

Meter Telescope and LIGO-India.

He has developed innovative machine-learning algorithms for mining large

astronomical datasets, and recently co-chaired the committee to compile the Vision

document for the Government of India, for the next decade of Astronomy research.

On taking over as Vice-Chancellor, Professor Somak Raychaudhury said, “In a short

period of eight years, Ashoka has firmly established itself as a bold and innovative

institution which pioneered the kind of interdisciplinary education that the New

Education Policy has now recommended for all higher education institutions in India.

It is very inspiring indeed to join Ashoka at this exciting juncture, as the University is

poised to build its new campus, double student numbers, and build strong partnerships

in research and pedagogy across the country and the world, in pursuit of its vision to

become India’s leading University and one of the world’s leading institutions of higher

education. The success of Ashoka, as of all universities, will ultimately rest on the

people in its community, and our goal now will be to make it the preferred destination

for the best students, faculty, administrators, recruiters, and partner organisations."

Ashoka Reflections | Page 03

InfoEdge Centre for


Ashoka Reflections | Page 04

In Focus

Entrepreneurship @ Ashoka in 2022

“There are decades where nothing happens;

and there are weeks where decades happen”

~ Lenin

Our times have come to justify what Lenin said

many decades ago. When we stepped into 2022,

there was still fear and caution about the

pandemic lingering around. We continued living

our professional lives through the boxes on our

screens for almost the entirety of the first quarter.

This was not much difficult for any as the inertia of

WFH had already kicked in, the challenge was to

break it, shun our pyjamas, and don a mask in a

physical setting. There were students and

colleagues who had started their journey with us

virtually. It was an exciting period post the mid-

sem break in March to finally meet them and get

back into our work space and classrooms after two




We had kickstarted the Spring Semester in January

with a major uptick in the number of

Entrepreneurship courses being offered. We were

fortunate to have some of the pioneers and

thought leaders in their respective fields teaching

our students. From Pramod Bhasin, the Founder of

Genpact doing a Leadership course to Raman Roy,

a leader in the Indian BPO Industry and a prolific

investor doing a course on How to Start a Startup.

Then we had courses on the themes of digital

transformation, real estate, finance, and investing

added to our course catalogue. The trend of the

Entrepreneurship course offerings going north

continued for the Monsoon Semester in September

with some amazing courses being offered in the

areas of Leadership, Strategy, Finance, Digital

Transformation, Management and

Entrepreneurship. The number of students being

engaged by us makes Entrepreneurship the biggest

minor on campus.

Ashoka Reflections | Page 05

Minting NFTs

This piece does not enlighten you

about what an NFT is. However, if you

have been interested in reading

about NFT minting & some hands-on

experience of first time NFT minters,

then definitely give it a read

Our courses even attracted staff and alums who

sit through them. I am particularly proud of a

first-year student who spent her Monday

evening voluntarily attending Aditya Ghosh’s In

Pursuit of Service Excellence course. An

alumnus travelled all the way from Gurgaon to

attend the same class. It is these acts of

dedication and determination that keep us

going, and act as an assurance that we are on

the right track.

As always, our courses had learning

components even beyond the classroom

through late-night Dhaba conversations with

the faculty and guest speakers, field trips, and

real-life immersive assignments where the

students had the opportunity to gain hands-on

experience through directly working with

organizations, running live social media

marketing campaigns, conducting sales

research on the field, and even minting NFTs. A

highlight of this year was the Dinner with

Founders where our students could interact

with Ashoka University founders like Ashish

Dhawan, Pramath Raj Sinha, and Aditya Ghosh

interact with students in an informal setting,

singing along with them while strumming the


Another gratifying moment this year for us has

been to see so many of our Entrepreneurship

students acknowledging that their experiences

with us have immensely contributed to their

success during the Placement Season.

We continued empowering and supporting

student-led initiatives on campus through

various clubs like the Entrepreneurship Club

and the Business Club, better known on the

campus as E-Club and B-Club, besides assisting

the Ashoka Investment and Consulting Clubs.

They have surely been able to enhance the level

of engagement on campus through their

various intra as well as inter-institution events.

Supporting the startup founders and the

startup ecosystem is of prime importance to us.

The Startup Incubation Lab and the

Entrepreneur-in-Residence programs witnessed

Ashokapreneurs (student and alum startup

founders) being systematically supported by

mentors like Srikant Sastri, the President of TiE

Delhi-NCR. We also participated in initiatives to

strengthen the startup support ecosystems

locally as well as globally.

Collaboration is a cornerstone of

Entrepreneurship, and we were able to

contribute to some interesting initiatives

like the Panchkula Urban Dialogues with

the Government of Haryana and the

Registrar’s Office, Inclusion Through

Innovation: Designing Barrier-free

Environments with the OLS, and an L&D

initiative for the staff and a fun staff after

hours with the HR.

As Entrepreneurship at Ashoka

progressed in leaps and bounds, there

was a personal high for me in 2022. My

book, ‘Leapfrog: Six Practices to Thrive at

Work‘ co-authored with Prof. Mukesh Sud

was published by Penguin India. It lays

down six evidence-based insights to help

readers advance their careers at an

incredible pace.

In 2023, as we look to reinforce our

various offerings including our courses,

we would strive to promote and practice

Human Centered Entrepreneurship and

live the Ashoka Sutra values. We definitely

want the weeks of 2023 to become

fruitful, and help us set even higher

benchmarks for ourselves. May 2023 in

the pages of Ashoka’s history be a period

where a ‘decade’ happened.

Prof. Priyank Narayan is the Director of

the InfoEdge Centre for Entrepreneurship

at Ashoka University.

Ashoka Reflections | Page 06

Read more

An Evening With Neil George, MD,

Nivea And A Comic Book Author

The InfoEdge Centre for Entrepreneurship

at Ashoka University hosted Neil George,

the Managing Director of Nivea India, on

the 3rd of November, 2022. A report by

Abhirup Chatterjee (ASP'23)

Read more

Constructing, Deconstructing

and Reconstructing Paradigms of


While Prof. Asha Kaul already teaches

Business Communication and Negotiation

here at Ashoka, she demystifies the subject

for the wider ecosystem through this piece

Read more

Between Classes & Office Hours:

Web3 & the Creator Economy

Jaspreet Bindra is a thought-leader on

digital transformation and digital

technologies. During one of his trips from

Cambridge to Ashoka, he penned down his

insights on the Creator Economy in the


Read more

A Candid Conversation with Prof.

Mukesh Sud

On a cold winter morning as Prof. Sud

takes a break to enjoy his fruits, we got a

brief opportunity to have a candid

conversation with him to get to know him


Read more

Ashoka Reflections | Page 07

Ashokapreneur Highlight: Abbas

Ali Zaveri, Founder, Hypefly

This interview attempts to capture the

entrepreneurial journey of Abbas (UG’23)

and the trajectory of Hypefly

Read more

Ashokapreneur Highlight: Amaan

Andicot, Co-Founder, Finforall

This case blog captures the story of

Finforall’s journey from inception to

getting acquired and everything in between

Read more

Experience of Teaching as a

Visiting Faculty at Ashoka

Sridhar Sethuram is an investor and a

prolific traveler. In this blog he describes

his journey and his experience as a Visiting

Faculty at Ashoka

Read more

Learning about myself and the

world at Ashoka

Rohan Manoj shares his experience of

choosing Entrepreneurship courses in his

last year and the impact it has had on him

and his outlook

Read more

Ashoka Reflections | Page 08

Experiencing entrepreneurship


This piece takes a look at the journey of

Ayush Agarwal as an entrepreneurship

student at Ashoka and how it has helped

shape his professional journey

Read more

What is Your Idea of a Perfect


Avnie Garg shares her experience with

Entrepreneurship at Ashoka as a student

and now as a workplace while being a

startup founder too

Read more

From scepticism to belief with

Entrepreneurship at Ashoka

Abhiir Bhalla retraces his journey from

being sceptical about Entrepreneurship in

a Liberal Education setup to staying back

the fourth year to pursue a Minor in


Read more

A journey of deep gratitude

In this gratitude blog, Kavya Satish reflects

on her Ashoka journey and

Entrepreneurship’s impact on it. Having

donned multiple hats as a student from

starting and leading a club to assisting in

the delivery of courses, Kavya is set to join

McKinsey soon

Read more

Ashoka Reflections | Page 09

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