Ashoka Reflections_FEBRUARY 2024

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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

F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 4

Ashoka University is India’s premier interdisciplinary research and

teaching university located in the National Capital Region, New

Delhi. It is built on the finest global best practices of institution and






thinkers, and academicians with expertise in varied fields have come

together to create the university. It brings the best contemporary

values and practices in higher education, in the tradition of the

world’s leading universities, to India. With a strong emphasis on

multi-disciplinary learning, development of skills and leadership

attributes for the 21st century, Ashoka is preparing students to be

critical thinkers and ethical leaders in an increasingly diverse world.


Ashoka University







Table of



February 2024

Feature Story

In Focus

Latest Happenings

In Other News

In the Media

Ashoka Reflections | Page 03

Feature Story

A Tribute to Brilliance:

Ashoka University's



It has been a proud month for Ashoka

University with two of our Professors being

awarded prestigious Fellowships

Ashoka Reflections | Page 04

Ashwini Deshpande, Head of the Department, Economics and Professor of Economics, Ashoka University is

among 10 to have been named annual fellows by the International Economic Association. The annual

fellowship is awarded to “economists worldwide who have made an important contribution through the

creation or dissemination of new ideas and high-quality policy work.” She is also the founding Director of the

Centre for Economic Data and Analysis (CEDA) at Ashoka University.

The IEA was founded in 1950 as a non-governmental organisation, as part of a UNESCO-driven initiative. The

IEA is governed by a council, composed of representatives of its member associations and some co-opted

members. Two of its past presidents are Amartya Sen (1986–1989) and Kaushik Basu (2017-2021). The fellow

award recipients are selected by a Nominating Committee which, according to the Association, takes it upon

itself to “ensure regional diversity and gender balance.”

On being awarded this honour, she shared, “I am truly honoured to be chosen for the International

Economic Association (IEA) Fellowship Award and am grateful for the recognition of my work. I would

like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all my friends, colleagues, and students for their messages of

support and encouragement, which have been invaluable to me. This award serves as a reminder to

continue striving for excellence.”

Dr Anurag Agrawal, Dean, BioSciences and Health Research, Trivedi School of Biosciences, Ashoka University

has been selected for the JC Bose National Fellowship instituted by the Government of India.

The JC Bose Fellowship is awarded to active scientists in recognition of their outstanding performance. The

fellowship is scientist-specific and very selective. It is named after Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose. He was a

polymath interested in biology, physics, botany and writing science fiction. He was a pioneer in the

investigation of radio microwave optics, made significant contributions to botany, and was a major force

behind the expansion of experimental science on the Indian subcontinent. Bose is considered the father of

Bengali science fiction. He invented the crescograph, a device for measuring the growth of plants. A crater on

the Moon was named in his honour. He founded the Bose Institute, a premier research institute in India and

also one of its oldest. Established in 1917, the institute was the first interdisciplinary research centre in Asia,

where he also served as the Director.

Expressing his joy over receiving this Fellowship, he shared, “It is an honour to receive a fellowship named

after a polymath like JC Bose. It is fitting to receive it at Ashoka University, allowing me to learn and

hopefully contribute across natural and social sciences.”

Ashoka Reflections | Page 05

Feature Story

The International

Economic Research

Annual Citation, 2022

“Essays on Immigrants and their Impact on the

Local Labour Market” by Dr Ronit Mukherji was

selected as the Citation winning thesis for 2022

Ashoka Reflections | Page 06

The Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) has played a crucial role in financing, facilitating, and promoting

India’s international trade and investment. In this pursuit, Exim Bank has recognised the significance of

economic research for policy evolution and informed decisions by stakeholders. The International Economic

Research Annual Citation (IERA Citation) was instituted by the India Exim Bank in 1989 as part of the Bank’s

enduring commitment to promote high-quality research. The Citation is presented to the Doctoral Thesis with

a focus on international economics, trade, development issues and related financing. Over the years, it has

been a springboard for intellectual leaders in the field of economic research. Several past winners of the

Citation are prominent economists, research scholars, and academicians today.

IERA Citation 2022 was the 34th edition and an eminent Jury of domain experts was constituted to evaluate

the entries received for the Citation. After a detailed evaluation, the thesis titled: “Essays on Immigrants and

their Impact on the Local Labour Market” by Dr Ronit Mukherji (Assistant Professor, Department of Economics

Ashoka University) was selected as the Citation winning thesis for 2022. The award was presented on 8th

December 2023 by Dr Richard Baldwin at Bharat Mandapam, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. He is a Professor of

International Economics at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), an expert in global

economic policy and theory, and an authority on understanding the economic drivers and risks of

globalisation. The welcome address was by Ms Harsha Bangari, Managing Director, Export-Import Bank of

India, and the inaugural address was by Chief Guest Dr Vivek Joshi, Secretary, Ministry of Finance,

Government of India. The Citation besides the honour, also carries a cash prize of Rs. 3,50,000 and the

winning thesis is published in the form of an Occasional Paper, intended to benefit policymakers, exporters,

industrialists, export promotion council and researchers.

The winning thesis consists of three chapters that delve into the behaviour and earnings of immigrants and

how their entry impacts the local labour market. It employs empirical analysis using microdata to establish

causal relationships between immigrant entry and local economic changes. The research combines this

empirical approach with macroeconomic models and calibration tools to gain a deeper understanding of how

these changes occur in the local economy. The first chapter of the thesis explores whether the entry of low-

skilled immigrants can explain the consistent decline in unionisation rates observed in the United States. The

chapter argues that immigrant entry has altered the incentives for native-born workers to join labour unions

and for firms to hire unionised workers. It further shows that a decline in unionisation rates concentrated

around the skill distribution extremes. The chapter also considers a model which on closer examination

predicts that low-skilled immigrant entry can explain a significant portion of the total decline in union density.

The second chapter of the thesis investigates the impact of exchange rate fluctuations between the source

and foreign economies on immigrant workers' earnings and labour supply. It suggests that a source country's

currency depreciation leads to a decrease in earnings—indicating a backwards-bending supply curve. The

final chapter examines the influence of macroeconomic conditions (such as the unemployment rate) at the

point of entry for immigrants into the foreign economy and how it affects their short- and long-term earnings.

The chapter investigates the earnings of immigrant workers during economic downturns and whether long-

term success varies among immigrants with different skills, education, nationality, and gender.

Dr Ronit Mukherji is grateful for the award and recognition. He would like to thank his thesis supervisors at his

alma mater, the University of British Columbia. They are Prof. David Green, Prof. Michael Devereux, and Prof.

Kevin Milligan. He also would like to thank his parents and colleagues for their support.

In Focus



In Focus

Ashoka University's Living Lab:

LiveGreen@Ashoka Leading the

Way in Circular Economy


Ashoka Reflections | Page 08

Rajni Kaushik

Assistant Director- Sustainability | Ashoka University

Lead | LiveGreen@Ashoka Initiative

The initiative empowers the Ashoka community to adopt green

technologies, implement behavioural changes, and actively participate

in operational interventions that promote sustainability

In the global pursuit of sustainability, academic institutions are transforming profoundly—redefining their role

as dynamic hubs of innovation. The imperative for circular economy innovations is underscored by the Ellen

MacArthur Foundation's report, presenting compelling scientific data that accentuates the pressing need for

change on a global scale. The report highlights that transitioning to a circular economy by 2030 can yield a net

economic benefit of $4.5 trillion and promises substantial reductions in carbon emissions and waste. In this

landscape of urgency, academic institutions, with their wealth of resources and diverse communities, are

positioned to become living labs for sustainability initiatives. Ashoka University stands at the forefront of this

movement with LiveGreen@Ashoka—a university-wide sustainability endeavour led by students and staff. It is

a tangible manifestation of the university's commitment to transforming its campus into a living lab for

circular economy innovations and sustainable practices, serving as a model for other academic institutions.

Ashoka Reflections | Page 09

With the support of Professors Gautam Menon and L.S. Shashidhara, I launched LiveGreen@Ashoka under

the Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability as a student-focused initiative aimed at improving

sustainability on campus. The initiative's mission was to create a strong connection within the Ashoka

community and inspire everyone to adopt sustainable choices on campus. It envisioned a campus where

every action contributed to a greener and more sustainable future, nurturing sustainability from within. It all

began with analysing activities related to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and sustainability, speaking

to student societies and clubs identifying interest areas, challenges and redundancy in projects across

different student societies. Recognising the gaps, I emphasised the importance of students taking charge and

collaborating with staff, societies, and clubs on various sustainability and SDG projects. Our commitment to

inclusivity supports bottom-up initiatives and cross-departmental collaboration, promoting sustainability

practices, raising awareness, and encouraging meaningful behavioural changes within the Ashoka community.

The three-pronged approach of LiveGreen@Ashoka integrates green technology interventions, behavioural

changes, and operational interventions, making sustainability a tangible and integral part of campus life. The

initiative empowers the Ashoka community to adopt green technologies, implement behavioural changes, and

actively participate in operational interventions that promote sustainability.

Beyond being a mere vision, LiveGreen@Ashoka is a dynamic movement that leads by example. Initiatives

such as the Green Agneepath Plastic Collection Drive, conducted in collaboration with Blue Nudge, Blue

Planet's initiative, and the Environment Ministry, address the pervasive issue of plastic waste generated

during events like sports fests. Student volunteers play a pivotal role in transforming events into collective

responsibility campaigns by collecting, segregating, and upcycling plastic waste into benches for students.

As part of LiveGreen@Ashoka, students can speak up and implement their ideas on campus. Throughout the

past year, the program has collaborated actively with societies and passionate individuals on various projects.

An example of such a project is the proposal of a vendor to recycle menstrual waste-Padcare, to handle

menstrual waste at Ashoka, by our student Aishwarya Sunnad. As a result, Padcare facilities have been

established throughout campus thanks to the collaborative support of the university administration and

operations team. Another impactful initiative, the E-Waste Campaign, in collaboration with Tarang

(Environment Ministry) and Attero, showcases the university's commitment to the responsible disposal of

electronic waste. Besides contributing to a greener mining sector, the campaign aligns with global efforts to

reduce import dependency and create sustainable supply chains through expert presentations.

LiveGreen@Ashoka collaborates extensively with the AU SDG Club on projects such as LiveGreen@Ashoka

Idea Box, Thrift Your Bags, and the Do You Know This About Ashoka series.

These initiatives engage students and staff in creating awareness about existing sustainability features,

sharing ideas for enhancing sustainability efforts and repurposing resources—a testament to the collective

commitment to responsible practices.

A recent initiative with the AU SDG Club involves transforming Ashoka's paper waste into a student-led and

run recycled stationery brand. This ambitious project minimises paper waste and reinvests proceeds into

other sustainability-related initiatives, establishing a circular economy model within the campus. The project

kickstarted with students painting waste cardboard boxes, later distributed in offices and resident halls across

campus. The Digital Carbon Footprint Series, another brainchild of LiveGreen@Ashoka, addresses the often-

overlooked aspect of carbon emissions in the age of rapid digital expansion. In collaboration with the

Environment Ministry, the series sheds light on the environmental consequences of daily digital activities,

empowering the community to make conscious choices and take sustainable actions in the digital realm.

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