Ashoka Reflections_MARCH 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

M A R C H 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



March 2024

Feature Story

In Focus

Latest Happenings

In Other News

In the Media

Ashoka Reflections | Page 03

Feature Story

‘India needs to grow by 9-

10% per year to become a

USD 35 trillion economy by

2047’, says Amitabh Kant

Ashoka Reflections | Page 04

Delivering the keynote address at the ‘Viksit Bharat’ debate held at Ashoka University, India’s G20 Sherpa and

former CEO NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant said that “India needs to accelerate and grow by 9-10% for the next

three decades to become a USD 35 trillion economy by 2047.” He stated that the country needs constant

innovation and disruption to realise this vision, focus on digital and manufacturing-led growth and maximise

the potential of sunrise sectors such as CleanTech and ClimateTech.

The event was jointly organised by New India Junction and Orator’s Club at Ashoka University with

Amitabh Kant as the keynote speaker. New India Junction (NIJ) is an online knowledge platform that

facilitates conversations on issues of national importance among students and change-makers, such as union

ministers, parliamentarians and entrepreneurs. The Orator’s Club at Ashoka University is a student-led body

that fosters public speaking skills among students by providing them with a safe space to practice and learn

through feedback.

Talking about India’s growth story in the last decade, Amitabh Kant stated that the new government in 2014

faced many economic challenges. The reforms undertaken, such as the introduction of Goods & Services Tax,

digitisation of the economy, reduction of corporate tax, and new bankruptcy and insolvency code, have been

the big drivers for achieving “macroeconomic stabilisation.”

Speaking on financial inclusion and transformation, he mentioned that between 2015-17, the government

managed to open 550 million bank accounts, linking them with Aadhaar and mobile phones, which gave birth

to the fast payment infrastructure. It made India a global leader in the category, and enabled access to

services such as “insurance in less than a minute.”

Highlighting the achievements of the incumbent government, he further stated that it enabled “growth with

equity,” provided 40 million houses, 110 million toilets, pipe water connection to 243 million Indians,

electricity to 30 million households, and built 77 thousand kilometres of roads.

A lively Q&A session ensued with students inquiring about EV technology, vision-oriented policies,

manufacturing, digitalisation, and women empowerment. When asked about a perceived lack of overarching

vision in policymaking, he countered the notion of overall incompetence, citing the achievements of NITI

Aayog's aspirational district program and highlighting the importance of competition for increased efficiency.

He further addressed a new plan being worked upon across sectors, which will lay down a clear vision and

action plan for Vision 2047.

While emphasising the role of EV technology, he warned that India could lose its market share if it doesn't

adopt electric vehicles by 2030. Speaking on women-led development and bridging the digital divide, he

underlined the importance of ensuring greater access to digital education for women and enabling them to

take the lead in every area of growth.

Ashoka Reflections | Page 05

The event featured a student debate on the topic, ‘The only agenda for India right now is Viksit Bharat 2047.’

Teams led by Stavan Mehta and Gourab Saha (Team A – For the Motion) and Urvashi Balasubramaniam and

Rishav Mitra (Team B – Against the Motion) debated whether this vision could be achieved inclusively and

equitably. The three-round debate delved into discussions around the ideal model of development. Team A

began by outlining the current vision of creating an inclusive and sustainable economy, emphasising different

facets of development such as economic prosperity, social advancement, and environmental sustainability as

key to India becoming a 30 Trillion US Dollar economy. Team B countered, arguing that the Eurocentric

development model has been misunderstood and highlighting contradictions in the development roadmap.

They pointed out that environmental sustainability coexists with excessive urbanisation, and industrialisation

increases general wealth without addressing wealth inequality.

As the debate progressed, the participants delved deeper into the nuances of India's development. Each team

presented persuasive arguments and counterarguments, creating an atmosphere of intellectual vigour. The

thought-provoking exchange set the stage for a stimulating conclusion. Kritika Padode Bhandari, a

distinguished alumna of NLU Delhi was the judge for the debate. Team A was declared the winner for their

clear and concise statements, supported by strong factual evidence.

Speaking at the event, Pramath Raj Sinha, Co-founder and Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, Ashoka

University, stated, “At Ashoka, we firmly believe in nurturing an environment for meaningful dialogue that

can help shape India’s growth story for the coming decades and beyond. It was our privilege to welcome Shri

Amitabh Kant to the campus to participate in today’s deliberations and engage with students on issues of

national importance. His reputation as a ‘doer’ and his experience of implementing some of the largest

reforms in the country serve as an inspiration for the next generation of leaders.”

The Orator's Club has outdone itself by hosting the phenomenal NIJ Debate. Such events not only provide a

platform for insightful discussions but also play a crucial role in shaping the narrative for India's development

trajectory in the coming decades. Inspiring addresses by esteemed professionals like Amitabh Kant further

encourage youth to reflect deeply on socio-economic issues.

(With inputs from Ahana Walanju, a political science major from the batch of 2025 at Ashoka University)

Ashoka Reflections | Page 06

Feature Story

Ashoka University

Celebrates 10th Founders'

Day: Reminiscing a Decade

of Growth and Excellence

This year’s Founders' Day was special. Ashoka

University achieved a historic milestone—10

successful years. Spread over two days, the

event was attended by founders and others who

have played an important role in building this


Ashoka Reflections | Page 07

Day 1 in Delhi began with updates from the University leadership, with Chancellor Rudrangshu Mukherjee

and Vice-Chancellor Somak Raychaudhury sharing anecdotes from their time at the University. Pramath Raj

Sinha, Chairperson, Board of Trustees, Ashoka University, took the audience on a memorable journey—from

the University’s inception to date.

“Ashoka started with 58 Young India Fellows in 2011. We will be recruiting our 14th batch of fellows this year.

Our undergraduate programme started with 126 students, growing six times to 760+ students last year. With

close to 2,500 undergraduate alumni, 2,200 YIF alumni, and the current cohort of 3,000 students on campus,

Ashoka has so far touched the lives of more than 8,000 students,” Pramath shared.

Rudrangshu Mukherjee reminisced, “When Pramath offered me to come on board a decade ago, it was the

last thing I really expected anybody to offer me. This is a very emotional moment for me, it has been 10


The University is set on the expansion of its campus to cover 100 acres, four times its current size, which will

include a Science Park, a Makerspace Lab, the Trivedi School of Biosciences and various centres that will

encourage the sciences to talk to each other.

The day also marked the launch of the Harish and Bina Shah School of Humanities. The School will offer

majors, minors and double interdisciplinary majors in History, English, Philosophy, Media Studies, Creative

Writing, Visual and Performing Arts and various Languages, within and with other Ashoka Schools. The School

will also house Centres of Excellence including writing and communication, historical archaeology, translation

and digital humanities.

Ashish Dhawan, Founding Chairperson, introduced Ashoka’s newest founders, including the Harish and Bina

Shah Foundation (HBSF). As part of a panel discussion that had Harish, Bina and Amira Shah in conversation

with Ashish, they spoke about building the School of Humanities and establishing Ashoka as a world-class


The evening concluded with a session where some faculty members presented the research they conducted

at the University. The speakers included Ashwini Deshpande, Founding Director, Centre for Economic Data

and Analysis (CEDA) and Professor of Economics; Anurag Agrawal, Dean Biosciences and Health Research,

Trivedi School of Biosciences; Nayanjot Lahiri, Professor of History; and Pavan Mamidi, Director, Centre for

Social and Behaviour Change.

Day 2 of Founders’ Day was held on the main university campus. The day commenced with a panel discussion

with alumni and students, moderated by Aniha Brar, Dean, Young India Fellowship and Vice Chancellor’s

Office, who talked to alumni-turned-founders, Jairaj Bhattacharya and Mahesh Jakhotia, about their Ashoka

experience and the spirit of giving back. Raghvi Garg, Ashoka's first Ph.D. graduate, spoke about how the

University prepared her to overcome challenges. At the same time, Anulya P, a current master's student

talked about finding a home away from home here.

The highlight of the day was Ashoka Rasa. Students from different cohorts and programmes put together a

captivating performance based on the nine rasas mentioned in the Natyashastra. The performances also

focused on various disciplines housed under the School of Humanities. They included a mix of Indian classical

and folk dances, ghazals and classical music recitals.

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