Abhishek, who hails from Ranchi, Jharkhand, is a development professional, and has worked on several government flagship projects. These include the Swachh Bharat Mission, Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojna, Livelihoods Mission, and Skill Development. Most recently, he worked as a district consultant with the Tata Trusts on the issue of sanitation and hygiene. He holds a postgraduate degree in social work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
Abhishek’s postgraduate research focused on themes like trafficking, migration, forced labour and marginalisation. At present, he is interested in welfare policy and planning, policy implementation and sustainable inclusive development. He hopes to better understand urbanisation, urban governance, gentrification in the urban sphere, urban housing, and the economics surrounding urban reality.
Adhip has a degree in Economics. He worked as a Research Associate at the Takshashila Institution, writing about urban economics and governance. While there, he was also involved with the Bangalore Civic Leadership Incubator Programme (B.CLIP), jointly organised with the Bangalore Political Action Committee (B.PAC). B.CLIP trains municipal activists and aspiring corporators in urban economics and urban economic practice. He then went to LSE, from where he graduated with an MSc in Philosophy and Public Policy in 2017.
Adhip is passionate about urban spaces and psychological wellbeing, mental health, the economics of urbanisation, and the social sciences in general. He lives in Bangalore where he shares a room with Neemboo, an affable yet stubborn golden retriever.
Akash hails from Shivamogga, Karnataka. After studying computer engineering from PESIT, his interest in psychology and behaviour led him to NID to pursue a Master’s in human–computer interaction. With two years of professional expertise as a user experience designer, he has worked on personal finance, IOT, healthcare and more. He believes digital interventions in urban problems can change the way cities are planned as well as the behaviour and interactions of the people inhabiting them.
Through his research, ideation and prototyping, he aims to bring design-oriented solutions to real-world problems. At the IIHS Urban Fellows Programme, he hopes to expand the domains of problem space and explore new perspectives as a designer in information visualisation, communication design, system design, and interaction design fields.
His observations, ideas and thoughts are shared at www.akashchandan.com.
Amarinder is an architect who is fascinated by cities at large, and engages with them through multiple lenses. He has always been motivated to work in the social development sector, actively exploring different ways to make a city more inclusive. For his undergraduate thesis he worked on the rejuvenation of a fishing village in Mumbai. This marked the start of his journey into questions of the urban.
In order to continue working and engaging with people and the city, he volunteered to build a school for the children of the Yamuna Khadar settlement in Delhi.
Over the past year, Amarinder has been working with the mHS CITY LAB, a social enterprise that attempts to address the safety and affordability of housing for the urban poor in India, as a community architect and project coordinator.
Amarinder thoroughly enjoys a quiet saunter down the roads of any city as this inspires him to write. He is particularly passionate about performance and visual arts. He strives to bring this creativity to everything that he engages in.
Anuja is an Economics graduate from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. After her Bachelor’s, she pursued a consulting career with one of the global Big4 auditing and consulting firms.
Anuja has a passion for civil services, especially development issues driven by education, health and sanitation. As an academic project, she conducted a semi-ethnographic study of the informal market in Mumbai and drafted a ‘Theory of Change’ for a public charitable trust in Pune. She has also co-authored a research paper examining the direct cash transfers in India and the conditional cash transfer scheme Bolsa Familia in Brazil. She is into learning new things, one kick or stroke at a time, and as a former athlete, can probably beat you in a 100 metre dash. Her current loves are football and playing the violin.
Chandni is a lawyer, almost a company secretary, a spiritualist (practising open religion), an aspiring reformist, and an environmentalist. Being born and brought up in cosmopolitan Pune in a traditional Gujarati Jain family helped her understand the disparities and diversity that underlie society, which has influenced her life choices.
The five years Chandni spent at ILS Law College made her realise that the degree she had chosen was more powerful than she had imagined. After Law College, however, like many of her peers, she decided to give corporate law a shot, but realised early on that that was not where her interests lay and that she wished to apply her degree to something more meaningful. Through this fellowship she aims to learn about various aspects of urban sustainability and how law can contribute to it.
When not thinking about law, one can find Chandni reading novels, learning a new language, and watching films and series from all over the world.
Chandu B Prasad
Chandu is a graduate of the School of Public Policy and Governance, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad. He has a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Governance with a specialisation in Urbanisation. For Chandu, his transition from a small village in the Kollam district of Kerala to the city of Thiruvananthapuram and then to the metro city of Hyderabad raised several questions about cities and urban life.
His research interests include the interface of urbanisation and the environment, with specific focus on smart cities and the informal workforce. He is also interested in studying the intersections between state and market, and social discrimination and human development. He hopes to gain a further understanding of identity, caste and religion in cities through the Right to the City framework.
Dheeraj is from Mysuru, Karnataka. He completed his Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering from Maharaja Institute of Technology and Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from the School of Planning and Architecture, University of Mysore. He found that he was bored with the curriculum’s numbers-based approach to engineering and realised that he was more interested in the functions of structures and their relationships with space, people and human life, and nature and the environment. He therefore chose to take up urban planning. Its interdisciplinary nature opened him up to the different layers and dimensions of the urban. Looking at migration and the situation of migrants in the city led him to develop an interest in sociology and psychology.
As a regular bicycle user, Dheeraj also takes an active interest in urban transportation. He looks forward to improving his skills and exploring interdisciplinarity through the fellowship programme. His hobbies include reading, travelling, hiking and cycling.
Gauri’s work seeks to find a space between academia and artistic practice. Her interests, both conceptual and formal, lead inquiries into identity, memory and nostalgia. She explores these across media ranging from video, sound and installation, to illustration and graphic design. Having graduated as an Information Artist and Designer from Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore, she hopes to release the tension between the outcomes of research and art based practices.
Gauri attempts to reimagine the applications of various media by placing them in diverse contexts and to expand their capacity such that her work is accessible to a wider audience.
Irawati has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. She has also studied economics and sociology as part of her undergraduate course and has a keen interest in philosophy. Her hometown is Pune, where she has worked with a number of NGOs that are active in the city, particularly those working in the fields of menstrual health and education.
Irawati has learnt Mandarin and German. As part of her objective to acquire an in-depth understanding of data analytics in the field of public policy, she has been honing her ability to do quantitative analysis in the political sector as an intern in a private firm.
Kedar was born and raised in Bangalore. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai with a major in journalism. Since graduating in 2015, he has worked with the Indian Express and Caravan in New Delhi. At the Indian Express, he covered the environment, municipal corporation and higher education. At Caravan as a web reporter he covered education, crime and grassroots politics in western Uttar Pradesh. He is a big music fan, tries to be an avid reader, and is currently attempting to enhance his skills so as to root his journalistic work in the urban.
Krati obtained a B.Tech in Civil Construction from CEPT University, Ahmedabad in 2017. She works on building energy efficiency as a Research Assistant at the Centre for Advanced Research in Building, Science and Energy (CARBSE) at CEPT University. She wishes to enhance her career in the field of sustainable development and contribute towards making the world a better place to live in.
Kritika did her Bachelor’s in Architecture from SRM University, Chennai, where she discovered the Pandora’s box that is the ‘urban’ while working on various projects. She spent six months studying Lucknow’s Kaiserbagh Palace complex for her dissertation, which explored the potential for urban interventions in areas of historic and cultural significance. Kritika’s work as Licensee and Curator at TEDx Chennai helped her understand the stories that can effect change in the urban environment. To understand how strategic leadership can affect urban development, she joined Takshashila for a short course in public policy in 2018. Originally from Calcutta, Kritika is a local to Chennai, Pondicherry, Bangalore, Agra and Delhi as well. Having grown up and travelled in the old parts of many cities in India, she is increasingly concerned about the ‘livability’ and ‘walkability’ of Indian cities. She likes solo travelling, sketching in cafes and observing people and culture. She hopes to help communities and cities grow, using her learnings at UFP to understand urban planning, policy and governance.
Maheep is a graduate in Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering from BITS Pilani. He honed his technical know-how in electronics through his internships at various technical institutions and his work as a hardware engineer for a major American chip-maker. He is currently interested in figuring out his role as a political citizen and an economic value-creator—one that is tied to his identity of being an Indian and its various unique advantages and opportunities. He enjoys playing the devil’s advocate—at frivolous discussions as well as in real life—and spends his time consuming human commentary on the human condition.
Malay was born and brought up in a small village in West Bengal and moved to a city to pursue his higher education. He completed his Bachelor’s in Geography (Honours) from Vidyasagar University, West Bengal. He then joined the MA programme in Geography at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, which promised to take an interdisciplinary approach to Indian society. During this time he developed a research interest in issues of the contemporary urban and worked on several term papers dealing with problems of urbanisation and urban planning in India.
His rural background has given him a different perspective from which to look at the complexity of urban life. He is eager to learn new ideas and concepts, and passionate about doing research on subaltern urbanism and the role of space in urban planning.
Mukta was brought up in Pune and studied at Fergusson College. During this time, she was able to explore the rich cultural heritage of the city and became curious about the factors that come together to give any city its vibrancy and identity. She found her passion in the learning space of Bhoomi College, Bengaluru, where she spent the last year exploring sustainability. A ‘voluntourist’ by heart, she loves to work for worthy causes and meet interesting people. She is convinced that urbanisation is inevitable, and hopes that through the UFP she will develop a holistic understanding of how this transition can be made as sustainable as possible.
Naksha is an enthusiastic and ardent learner and a diligent worker. She believes that action in the present can help build a better future. She has a Bachelor’s degree in architecture from CEPT University, Ahmedabad. She has worked with Urban-Think Tank on the development of design schemes for incremental housing for townships in Cape Town.
Naksha is interested in understanding the intersections between IT and the organic mechanisms of cities. She wishes to explore how technology can deal with contemporary complexities of our society. Apart from these academic engagements, she loves to discover new places, record experiences through sketching, and share them through writing. She believes in collective learning and standing for the rights we are entitled to.
Neha’s interest in the urban began with her involvement in protests at Kathputli Colony, Delhi’s first case of in situ redevelopment. Interactions here offered a glimpse into how various stakeholders approached a housing problem—activists, the community and DDA alike. She enjoyed making connections between these experiences and the theory she read in her Urban Sociology classes.
She then spent three years working with an NGO skilling urban communities for employment and income generation. Gaining first-hand access to various infrastructure and service-related problems on the ground, she began writing journalistic pieces about these for online publications. Realising the importance of understanding the seemingly dominant mainstream narrative of ‘economic’ development, she also began reporting on business and the economy for ASSOCHAM TV.
Through the fellowship, Neha hopes to gain a fresh perspective from the interdisciplinary approach, which will enable her to write insightfully about the urban. She has a BA in History from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University, and an MA in Sociology from the Delhi School of Economics. She enjoys exploring folk culture, food, music and religion.
Priyam is a systems thinker, researcher and design nomad. She is originally from Gujarat, but since her graduation she has been travelling and shifting her base whenever she has come across interesting working or learning opportunities. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Product Design from the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad. Post her graduation, she has been freelancing and applying her expertise to a variety of projects. Some of these projects are ‘Social Innovation in Infant Nutrition and Breastfeeding’, ‘Innovate Inside: Towards creative prison industries’, and ‘Low Energy Lifestyles for Sustainable Living’. She recently finished a six-month-long work-fellowship at Dalberg Design, Mumbai.
Priyam believes in interdisciplinary collaborations and is excited by the mutations the design process undergoes in different contexts. Her growing interests revolve around design for changing mindsets, system thinking, participatory design and data visualisation.
Born and brought up in Calcutta, Priyanka has always been fascinated with the changing dynamics of the cityscape. In her Master’s dissertation as an art history student, she has explored the city of Calcutta through the ideas behind Vivan Sundaram’s installation at the Victoria Memorial, titled ‘Structures of Memory: Modern Bengal’. She wishes to develop discourse on the site as archive, and explore the city itself as a geographical and political archive. Her ultimate aim is to be able to create a visual dialogue between the city and its people, keeping the ideas of sustainability and communicability in mind.
Rajeswari has recently completed a Bachelor’s in Geoinformatics at Andhra University, Visakhapatnam. She was born in a town in the East Godavari district of Andhra, but was brought up in different parts of the country. Coming from an academic background in geospatial sciences, she finds it interesting to analyze and understand the dynamics of a place from a location-based approach. Through her internship at an oil analytics company, she has worked on building geospatial models to understand and determine how various spatial features interact in a region. She now wants to work on fronts where technology solves social problems. She strongly believes that embracing diversity, in all its forms, is very important for sustainability of a system. The diversity statement of UFP and its interdisciplinary nature are what drew her to the Programme. When she’s not working on any project, she reads almost anything she can lay her hands on even if it’s a kids’ story book or travelogues from far off lands. She likes to explore cafes and restaurants and believes that good food is like music to taste buds.
Ravindra was born and brought up in Jalor district, Rajasthan, which has the lowest literacy rate in the state. He completed his graduation in Geography, Hindi Literature and History from the Government PG College, Jalor, where he was an active member of the National Service Scheme and visited several slum sites in the city. During his Master’s at the Central University of Punjab he participated in socio-economic surveys of Bathinda city’s slum areas, which exposed him to various kinds of inequalities in a city. His interest in the domain of the urban developed over the course of his postgraduate study of the Geography of Urban Systems and Planning, which introduced him to different types of urban transformations. He is also interested in studying the relationship between caste and the city, which is particularly complicated in the case of Rajasthan.
Riddhi is a law graduate from the National University of Study and Research in Law, Ranchi, where she specialised in International Law and Human Rights. She has worked with Amnesty International, India, as campaigner and legal researcher for the Access to Justice Programme. She has monitored various failures of the state in protecting undertrial prisoners’ fair trial rights and worked towards the amendment of existing bail laws that victimise people who are unable to afford bail. The cumulative effect of her work is her keen interest in the ability of laws to protect socially and economically vulnerable people who may be rendered even more vulnerable as a cost of ‘development’.
She hopes the Fellowship will help her achieve a multidisciplinary and nuanced understanding of urban development and its problems. In the future she plans to work on policy imperatives that can facilitate social mobility like access to affordable and durable housing and public health initiatives.
Saba has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Delhi University and a Master’s degree in Development Studies from Ambedkar University, Delhi. She worked on a pilot project under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Assam, as part of her MA internship. Her Master’s dissertation was a study on the role of education among the tea tribes of Golaghat district, Assam. Intrigued by the linkages between conflict, security and development, she took up an MPhil in International Studies with a specialisation in the South Asian Region at the MMAJ Academy of International Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia. She has recently completed a post graduate diploma in Human Rights, International Humanitarian and Refugee Law from the Indian Society of International Law and has authored papers reflecting on the policies of the present government. Though she has worked with different non-governmental organisations, her training has been largely theoretical. She now wants to transition to the role of a practitioner.
Born and brought up in Delhi, she enjoys exploring new places on her own. She is an avid reader and passionate writer with a keen interest in studying migration, inequality and notions of security in urban spaces.
Saniya grew up in a small town on the outskirts of Mumbai. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Sociology at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai out of a desire to study the relationship of individual existences to society as a whole. She went to on complete a Master’s in Economics from the University of Mumbai.
Her daily train journeys from the semi-urban suburbs to the mega-city of Mumbai helped her develop a fascination with urban communities that extended beyond the classroom. She saw cities as both vibrant and unequal spaces, and came to question the contrasts inherent in the process of urbanisation. Her exposure to areas of study such as the urban, transportation and environment economics, and her internship experience with conservancy workers gave her a sense of the nature of socio-economic hierarchies, and of the core problems of urban spaces. She is interested in studying the challenges of emerging cities and analysing how best practices adopted in cities across the world can be applied to solve these challenges.
Saranya is a graduate in Civil Engineering from Cochin University of Science and Technology. A native of North Kerala, she grew up in the Middle East before moving back to India. Living in both thriving global cities and fledgling metropolises gave her a unique opportunity to observe the process of urbanisation and experience the different facets of urban issues first hand. She has interned with the upcoming Kannur International Airport and the Kerala Irrigation Department, where she gained insights into the processes of planning, administration, and management of public resources. The experience also helped her understand the challenges faced in the implementation and execution of infrastructure projects. She is deeply passionate about sustainable development. Her academic project work on self-healing concrete and sponge cities dealt with innovations in urban sustainability.
Saranya is an avid reader and adores animals. She also enjoys travelling and is a vocal advocate of responsible, low-impact tourism.
Shilpy was born and brought up in Jammu and trained as an architect from IPSA, Rajkot,Gujarat. The projects she worked on during her Bachelor’s varied from designing housing for economically weaker sections of society to designing urban scale institutional projects. Her keen interest in the socio-economic and socio-political aspects of cities, her love for her home city, and her desire to establish a connection with the land were the ideas that came together in her undergraduate dissertation, ‘Making of an Organic City: A case study of the Old City of Jammu’. She believes that there is a stark imbalance between what we are taught in the classroom and what we are expected to produce in the field, and is eager to find a balance between the two in the course of the fellowship.
Belonging to a family of artists, Shilpy is inclined towards art and music. She loves reading, travelling, and being involved in discussions.
Siddhant has a Bachelor’s degree in Literary and Cultural Studies from FLAME University, Pune. After graduating, he worked as an independent writer and researcher for two years. During this time, he wrote for various national publications about protests, land issues and history. His interest in Delhi made him a part of multiple projects exploring the city’s cultural history, ethnic composition and migratory patterns. He likes to spend his time thinking about issues surrounding sustainability and exploring various creative media.
Smriti was born and brought up in Roorkee, a tier-two city in the state of Uttarakhand, and graduated with a degree in architecture from Dehradun.
She has worked as an architect with Spidergrass Collective in Shimla and as a project assistant with Recity, Mumbai. She has worked on a range of housing, conservation and waste management related projects, and has conducted research on the phenomenon of urban floods, particularly in the context of Mumbai. Her forays into urban practice helped her develop an understanding of the politics of land use and wetlands, and the importance of participatory development strategies in formulating interventions. She is a traveller at heart and loves to explore different aspects of a place through photography, writing, film and art. Her research interest lies in exploring how gender, class, caste and ability related identities are the bases for exclusion, marginalisation and violence in both public and private institutions. She is also deeply interested in land politics within the housing sector and in how architecture and urban design can be used as tools to create an inclusive city fabric. She believes the UFP will help her connect the dots and fill the gaps in her understanding of the city.
Sukrit’s interest in urban informality and governmentality emerged during his Master’s in Development from Azim Premji University, Bangalore. Through the programme, he pursued two internships that brought to light a sense of the city that was vastly different from familiar, intimate spaces. These introduced him to issues that did not otherwise find mention in mainstream characterisations of the Indian urban growth story: informal settlements, the relationship between citizenship and land tenure, the incorporation of local issues in electioneering, and the politics of institutional remedy in context of Indian cities. After his Master’s, Sukrit began his career working for a development evaluation firm where he worked on projects in the field of education, life skill building, and women’s occupational health. The nature of work and travel allowed him to delve into the heterogeneity of cities and towns in India. Bolstered by this, he switched jobs to work at Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) where he spent two years working with residents of informal settlements in three cities: Ajmer, Jhansi and Muzaffarpur.
Tejaswi is curious about how people interact with each other economically and emotionally, as well as with their natural environment. She has worked in the field of sustainability and inclusion, and has a deep interest in these subjects. She graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Stella Maris College, Chennai. In the future, she hopes to work on creating communities that are inclusive by design, especially for children, senior citizens and the differently abled. She is also exploring ideas for a closed loop fashion economy.
Vivek is from Mumbai and holds a graduate degree in economics from St. Andrew’s College of Arts, Science, and Commerce and a postgraduate degree in politics from the Department of Civics and Politics, University of Mumbai. He has worked with several local, regional and international youth-led movements. His work has been concerned with the upliftment of some of India’s most vulnerable groups like Dalits, refugees, Adivasis and women. He has also taught street children and conducted capacity building workshops for youth on education, gender equality, human rights and peace and conflict.
Vivek is the Advocacy and Policy Coordinator for The QKnit, an Indian LGBTQIA+ collaborative, where he organises capacity building activities and oversees the implementation of critical queer-focused projects. He has been awarded the prestigious Praja Elected Representatives Fellowship in Mumbai. Vivek’s research interests include urbanisation, urban governance, the city and development, and the environment.
While pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Physical Planning from School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, Yamini realised the importance of tackling urban issues which lead to inadequate city planning. Growing up in a humble Malayali home in Abu Dhabi, and later moving to Delhi helped her recognise that urban inequality and spatial injustice were issues that were common to a diverse set of cities. As a student, she had the opportunity to intern at the Urban Development and Housing Department, Gangtok and the Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi. Yamini is a native of Thrissur, Kerala, and her thesis entitled ‘Integration of Hallmark Events for City Development’ focused on the famous annual festival ‘Thrissur Pooram’ and its implications
on the city.
Yogesh was born and brought up in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, and went on to study architecture at the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. He discovered his interest in exploring human settlements in his initial years of architectural education. He has been involved in the documentation and analysis of a wide range of rural and urban areas as part of various academic and non-academic projects.
Driven by an inclination to work for the marginalised sections of society, Yogesh’s Bachelor’s dissertation focused on the challenges faced by homeless people in Delhi and strategies adopted for their shelter. He interned at People in Centre Consulting, Ahmedabad, which further motivated him to work towards sustainable and equitable development. The desire to bring positive change in society at large has fuelled his interest in subjects like sociology, urban planning, policy-making, economics and history; hence the Urban Fellows Programme.
Yogita was born in Marout, a small village in Haryana’s Jhajjar district. Jhajjar, till very recently, had the worst sex ratio in the country. Having spent the majority of her childhood in the village, she often witnessed gender-based discrimination in the form of female foeticide, denial of education, dowry, bride buying, honour killings and caste-related hierarchies. Her experiences and privileges led her to pursue a career in law and she recently completed a Master of Laws in Human Rights course from NLSIU, Bangalore. She has worked on issues ranging from environmental conservation and tribal rights to gender justice and legal aid. Recently at NLSIU, she was part of the drafting committee for two legislations for the Government of Karnataka: one on ‘devadasi’ women and another on slum dwellers’ land rights. She is passionate about world cinema, art, history and criminal litigation. Through this fellowship, she wants to understand the various aspects of urbanisation which impact crime rates in cities.