One of the longest-serving Chief Ministers in India, Naveen Patnaik needs no introduction. Among the best administrators of the country, his political grace and calm demeanour make him a rare breed in contemporary politics. At the helm since 2000, Patnaik is known for his genteel ways, strong stand against corruption and pro-poor policies. These qualities have won him a huge support base in Odisha which has voted him to power in the last four elections. Patnaik joined politics in 1996 after the death of his illustrious father, Biju Patnaik. First elected to the Lok Sabha from Aska, he was Union Minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government between March 1998 and March 2000, before moving to the state. Over his four terms, Patnaik has steered Odisha to progress and development by deft administration and statesmanship and the support of an efficient bureaucracy. Educated at Doon School and Delhi University, he has worked actively to industrialise the state. Apart from being a politician of unflinching integrity, he is a man of letters and culture. He has authored three critically-acclaimed books, A Second Paradise: Indian Country Life 1590-1947, A Desert Kingdom: The People of Bikaner, and The Garden of Life: An Introduction to the Healing Plants of India.
A prominent face of the Narendra Modi Government, Dharmendra Pradhan is the Union Minster for Petroleum and Natural Gas as well as Skill Development. The 48-year-old Rajya Sabha member has earned plaudits for successfully implementing the “Give it Up” campaign which got over 1 crore consumers to give up the subsidy on their LPG connections in favour of the poor. Pradhan’s contribution to strengthen Brand India has been significant. The Pahal Scheme, which envisaged Direct Benefit Transfer, was acknowledged as the largest cash transfer programme in the world and even found an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records. A social worker from the start, Pradhan has worked for the development of the backward classes and rehabilitation of farmers. He was honoured with the Best Legislator Award and the Utkalmani Gopabandhu Pratibha Samman, 2002-2003. He is committed to tackling issues that concern the youth, such as unemployment and the lack of skill-based education, and has played a major role in mobilising the youth in politics and is actively working to create better leaders for tomorrow. He is interested in reading books on history and politics and in tracking social trends.
Amartya Bhattacharyya is a filmmaker, writer and artist. He was born on August 21, 1987 in Kolkata and is currently based in Bhubaneswar. Though a software engineer by training, he is a passionate filmmaker and artist. He won the Silver Lotus (Rajat Kamal) for Best Cinematography in a non-feature film at the 63rd National Film Awards by the President of India for his fantasy documentary Benaras-The Unexplored Attachments. The film also won him the Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Editing awards at the 9th NoHu International Film Festival at New Jersey, as well as the Best Film award at a film festival at Amorgos Island, Greece and Best Film on Tourism at the International Festival of Short Films on Culture and Tourism in Jaipur. His film Darjeeling–A Celebration of Solitude won him the Best Director award at Kargil International Film Festival 2017. Capital I, Amartya’s debut feature film, is the first independent feature film to come out of Odisha. It was officially selected in competition among six films at the 3rd South Asian Alternative Film Festival Paris in February 2015, and at the 20th International Film Festival of Kerala 2015, Delhi International Film Festival 2015, 8th Bengaluru International Film Festival 2016 and the 11th Habitat Film Festival, among others.
Anand Neelakantan is the author of the Bahubali trilogy, the official prequel to director SS Rajamouli’s famous films. The first book in the series Rise of Sivagami was released on March 15, 2017 and continues to top the charts. Neelakantan is also the bestselling author of Asura, Tale of the Vanquished, which retells the Ramayana from Ravana’s point of view. It was followed by the hugely successful Ajaya series which tells the Duryodhana Mahabharata. Asura and Ajaya were shortlisted for the Crossword Book award in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Filmmaker Rajamouli has now announced a mini-series based on Neelakantan’s books. It will be along the lines of Game of Thrones and will be broadcast on an international channel. Alongside his columns for Indian mainstream dailies and the Washington Post, Neelkanthan writes stories in Malayalam and scripts/screenplays for popular Hindi TV series like Siya Ke Ram, Ashoka and Mahabali Hanuman. His books have been translated into over nine languages including Indonesian. Anand is also a cartoonist and lives in Mumbai with his family.
With over 50 films to her credit, Anu Choudhury is reckoned as one of the more versatile actresses in Odisha today. Having starred in two Odia films Bandhu Nirupama and Mamata Mage Mula as a child artiste, she debuted in 1998 as a lead actress in Maa Goja Bayani, which went on to become a huge commercial hit. Her next film Biswaprakash, where she starred opposite Nandita Das, was critically acclaimed at international film festivals and won the National Award as Best Odia Film in 2000. Choudhury has won the State Film Award for Best Actress four times, and acted in the critically-acclaimed films Dhauli Express and Kathantara besides the Rajshri Productions’ family drama Sashu Ghara Chalijibi. Not just Odia, Choudhury has also acted in both Bengali and Telugu films. Starting her career in the Bengali film industry in 2004 with Surya opposite Prasenjit Chatterjee, the actress continued to give hits one after the other with movies like Ram Laxman and Dadar Adesh. Her first Hindi film was Jitin Rawat’s Nirvana 13, but it has not been released commercially yet. It deals with a patient’s plea for relief from suffering and a nurse, played by Anu, silently wishing for the same. The film won her the Best Actress Award at the Los Angeles Movie Awards which celebrate independent motion pictures and literary arts. Choudhury has also been associated with a number of social causes including HIV/AIDS awareness. She is the brand ambassador for the public campaign, Bijuli Didi that aims to create awareness among people on electricity conservation, checking of power theft and timely payment of power bills.
Dr. Anirban Ganguly is the Director of Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, a New Delhi-based think tank. He is also the National Co-Convener of the Library and Documentation Department of the BJP and Member of the party’s Policy Research Department. He is a scholar of civilisation, history, politics and culture and a member of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE), HRD Ministry; the Governing Board of Auroville Foundation; the Visva-Bharati Samsad (Court), Santiniketan, and a Visiting Faculty at the Malviya Centre for Peace at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. Dr. Ganguly has a PhD in education from Jadavpur University, Kolkata and had his early education at Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry. He regularly lectures at leading universities and institutions across the country and has extensively travelled across the world and spoken at a number of think tanks & conferences. He has authored/edited/co-edited the following books: Syama Prasad Mookerjee: His Vision of Education; The Modi Doctrine: New Paradigms in India’s Foreign Policy; Redefining Governance: Essays on One Year of the Narendra Modi Government, Swami Vivekananda, Buddha & Buddhism; Debating Culture and Education: Philosophy & Practice. In addition , he has authored numerous papers, chapters and monographs on civilisational issues, politics, education and culture and is a columnist with a number of leading dailies including The New Indian Express.
Durjoy Datta was born in New Delhi, and completed a degree in engineering and business management before embarking on a writing career. His first book Of Course I Love You . . . was published when he was 21 years old and was an instant bestseller. His successive novels, Now That You’re Rich . . .; She Broke Up, I Didn’t! . . .; Oh Yes, I’m Single! . . .; You Were My Crush . . .; If It’s Not Forever . . .; Till the Last Breath . . .; Someone Like You; Hold My Hand; When Only Love Remains; World’s Best Boyfriend; Our Impossible Love; The Girl of My Dreams; and The Boy Who Loved, have also found prominence on various bestseller lists, making him one of the highest-selling authors in India. He also has to his credit nine television shows and has written over a thousand episodes for television. In 2012, he was one of the recipients of the Teacher’s Achievement Awards. Datta has spoken at various TEDx conferences in colleges across India. He is currently based out of Mumbai.
Odia writer and columnist, Gourahari Das received the Central Sahitya Akademi Award (2012) for his book Kanta O’ Anyanya Galpa, which comprises 16 stories offering a glimpse into rural Odisha. Born in a small village in Bhadrak district, Das received the State Sahitya Akademi Award for his contribution to Odia literature in 2000. His creative journey began from an early age when he started writing short stories. In fact, his first short story Kshinaloka was published in the Odia magazine Kalyani when he was only 15 years old. His first book Juara Bhatta, which is a collection of short stories, was published in 1981 while studying at Ravenshaw College. He took up writing seriously soon after and has over 50 books to his credit so far. These include 16 compilations of short stories, five novels (including Chaya Soudhora Absesha and Nija Sange Nijara Ladhei), a play and an anthology of poems, essays and features, translations and vignettes. Das has also authored The Little Monk and Other Stories and Koraput and Other Stories, in English, and Door Akash Ki Panchhi, Mathura Ka Manachitra, Jhooth Ka Ped and Kanta Tatha Anya Kahaniya, in Hindi. He is associated with Sahitya Akademi (India’s highest body of letters) since 2008, as a Member of Odia Advisory Board, Executive Committee and General Council.
Jai Arjun Singh is an independent writer and critic. He has authored the books, The World of Hrishikesh Mukherjee: The Filmmaker Everyone Loves (for which he won the Excellence in Writing on Cinema Award at the Mumbai Film Festival in 2016) and Jaane bhi do Yaaro: Seriously Funny Since 1983, (about the making of the cult comedy film). Singh has also edited the anthology The Popcorn Essayists: What Movies do to Writers, a collection of essays about movies; co-edited Excess: The Tehelka Book of Short Stories; and was the sole male contributor to the anthology Of Mothers and Others, with an essay about mothers in Hindi cinema. His columns, reviews and essays–mainly about literature and cinema–have appeared in many publications, including Mint Lounge, Business Standard, The Hindu, Yahoo India, Scroll.in, Tehelka, Outlook, The Caravan, Open, Forbes Life, The Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, Elle, Vogue and GQ. Most of these writings are available online on his widely read culture blog (http://jaiarjun.blogspot.in), which he has maintained since 2004. Singh has also conducted workshops and delivered talks at several colleges and universities, including JNU and Ashoka University, and has taught the Creative Writing class at Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts and Communication, New Delhi. Having lived the last 30 years in south Delhi’s Saket, he hopes one day to work on a text + photographic project about the humans and animals of the colony.
Jairam Ramesh is an economist and politician belonging to the Indian National Congress. He is a Member of Parliament representing Andhra Pradesh in the Rajya Sabha since June 2004. Previously, he has been Union Minister for Rural Development, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Power, Commerce & Industry, and Environment and Forests. He was instrumental, as Environment Minister, in banning the use of bulls as performing animals, leading to the ban on Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu in 2016. Currently, Ramesh is a member of the International Advisory Board that gives strategic policy advice to the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme on the strategic direction of the International Environmental Technology Centre. A prolific writer, Ramesh has been a columnist for several newspapers and anchored a number of popular television programmes on business and the economy. He is the author of Making Sense of Chindia: Reflections on China and India; Mobilising Technology for World Development; To The Brink and Back: India’s 1991 Story, and One History, New Geography. His newest book, Indira Gandhi: A Life in Nature, tells the compelling story of the former Prime Minister, as a naturalist.
Madhur Ramchandra Bhandarkar is a four-time National Award-winning film director, producer and script-writer best known for making hard-hitting, realistic cinema that has not just critical value but also the best commercial success rate in the country. He is best known for the films Chandni Bar (2001), Page 3 (2005), Traffic Signal (2007), Fashion (2008), Jail (2010), Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji (2011) and Heroine (2012). Often called “the Indian answer to Hollywood filmmaker Quentin Tarantino,” Bhandarkar was conferred the Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award from the Government of India in 2016. His fascination for cinema began when he was a kid. He wanted to be a part of them in some way or the other. At the age of 16 years, he ran a video cassette library in Khar (W), a suburb of Mumbai, India, and delivered cassettes door-to-door. This gave him access to a large collection of movies and he studied film-making through it. Bhandarkar’s most recent film is Indu Sarkar, which documents the 19-month period of the Emergency in India in the Seventies.
Dr Malabika Ray wears many hats with elan. Apart from being an eminent actor, she’s a lyricist, a public speaker and an anchor. A popular name in the culture and literary spheres of Odisha, she has been a lyricist with All India Radio (AIR), Cuttack and Doordarshan since 1965. She has penned lyrics forcmore than 300 songs and written several poems, short stories, essays and features. For both AIR and Doordarshan, she has worked as a drama artiste in 1963 and 1979 respectively. Her many interests and a multifaceted career notwithstanding, she still nurtures her love for composing and writing music. She has acted in four Odia films, Nagaphasa, Anurag, Aparichita and Muhurta. While Muhurta could not be released, Ray’s performance in Nagaphasa received critical acclaim. These apart, Ray has acted in Pandit Mosai, a film produced by the National Film Division and directed by Nisith Mukherjee in 1997. The film was dubbed in 14 Indian languages. The accomplished actor-lyricist is also a motivational speaker, frequently inspiring people with her talks on Sri Aurobindo’s teachings, and was the first lady mountaineer of the Mountaineering Institute of Manali in Himachal Pradesh. As member of the Central Board of Film Certification for Odia films for two terms, Ray was a part of the jury that chose films for International Film Festivals in 1988, 1989, 1990, 1995. She was also appointed to the Board of Directors of Kalinga Studio Limited by the Government of Odisha. She received the Golden Jubilee Award of Odia Film, instituted by the Government of Odisha, in 1984.
Manish Tewari is a practising lawyer in the Supreme Court of India. He has been a Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) and was Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting in the Government of India and a Member/Special Invitee to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs and Cabinet Committee on Investments etc. He was also a Member of numerous Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) and Group of Ministers dealing with a diverse array of policy issues, and a Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committees of External Affairs, Law & Justice and Defence. Tewari is the National Spokesperson of the Indian National Congress, and Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Department of the Congress. He is the Distinguished Senior Fellow of Atlantic Council, Washington DC, US. He has traveled widely both in his professional and personal capacities and has an interest in History, International and Strategic Affairs. He recently published a book titled Tidings of Troubled Times, a collection of articles written by him over the past year or so. He called it his “ode to free speech”.
Milan Vohra is an author, screenplay writer, playwright, advertising professional and believer in doing what you love. She started her journey in writing fiction when she won a national short story writing contest by Harlequin Passions and became the first Indian Mills & Boon author. Her book, the first Indian Mills & Boon, The Love Asana, went on to become a phenomenal success and put her on international platforms with romance legends like Penny Jordan. Vohra has been on live shows with iconic hosts like Jenni Murray in Women’s Hour on BBC, CNN IBN, People magazine, etc as the largest selling Harlequin romance writer in India. Vohra’s work has been dramatised and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She has also written short stories for Young Adults for Penguin in Love like that and other stories and literary short stories for Unisun in Vanilla Desires. She has recently completed a screenplay for an international project. Vohra’s latest book, Tick-Tock we’re 30, by Westland Publishers, is a wacky rom-com about old friendships and new chemistry. In short, Milan likes to juggle. She juggles writing fiction and ad campaigns. She juggles writing novels and short stories. She juggles writing romances that involve tall, dark, broody men (in the The Love Asana), mixed up millennials with multiple piercings and as many relationship issues (in Tick-Tock we’re 30) and pious Indian people who have relationships with their agarbattis (in ad land). She juggles living between Delhi and Bangalore. So far, all the balls are still up in the air.
Neelesh Misra is India’s most loved storyteller, also a journalist, author, lyricist, and entrepreneur. He has had cult radio shows including Yaadon Ka IdiotBox with Neelesh Misra on 92.7 Big FM and now The Neelesh Misra Show on 93.5 Red FM. On the Saavn app, he has three shows including Kahaani Express, Qisson Ka Kona and Time Machine, with mythological stories. As a journalist, he has covered conflict and insurgency over the past two decades in South Asia, travelling deep into the hinterland. His travels have taken him from the rebel heartlands of Kashmir to Naxalite-dominated areas of central and eastern India, to the faraway north-east which is home to some of the world’s longest running insurgencies. He has closely studied the Maoist insurgency in Nepal. For his reportage from India’s insurgency lands, he received the Ramnath Goenka Award For Excellence in Journalism and the KC Kulish Memorial Award in 2009. At present, he is the Editorial Director of his rural newspaper Gaon Connection. Neelesh is the founder of India’s biggest rural media platform, Gaon Connection, and a writers’ company, Content Project.
Currently working with The Roseate New Delhi as Corporate Chef, Nishant Choubey started his career with the Oberoi Group of Hotels at Rajvilas, Jaipur. After working there for over two years, he moved to Dubai and joined the Jumeirah group as part of the pre-opening team for Madinat Jumeirah. Three years later, he moved back to India to join the Olive group and started working at Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mehrauli. He was also a part of the company’s pre-opening team for Olive Beach in Bangalore, Olive’s Japanese restaurant Ai and Lap, both in the capital. Choubey did his schooling at Kendriya Vidyalaya in Bokaro Steel City and graduated from Bhopal Catering College in Madhya Pradesh. His cooking motto is simple and he says, “Cooking for me is giving a gourmet experience to my esteemed guest in the most sustainable environment. I always allow my food to speak for my repertoire!” He has won many laurels in his career, including the 1st prize at the Bocus d’Or competition in 2009; the Gold medal at Aahar 2013 in the innovation category; and Chef Of The Year prize from Outlook Traveller. Some other notable milestones include attending Master Chef Classes at the World Gourmet Summit (Rising Stars of the Century) in Singapore in 2006 and 2010, alongside 12 top chefs from around the globe; and being selected for Southern US training by Southern Foods Program in 2010. A versatile chef, Choubey has created chef d’oeuvre pop-ups in Thailand, Spain, South Africa, Nairobi, Argentina and Japan. The concept he holds most dear is that of “sustainable progressive cuisine”.
Paramita Mahapatra, Managing Director, UMSL Limited, has had an exceptional career spanning three decades. An Economics Honours graduate with a Master’s in Personnel Management & Industrial Relations from Utkal University, Paramita started her journey as a Human Resource professional at Indian Metals & Ferro Alloys Ltd, India’s leading ferro alloys company in 1986. She rose to head the Human Resources Department handling multiple areas, e.g., recruitment, appraisal, training and development. In 2000, she took responsibility of the fledgling logistics company UMSL Limited and turned it into a leading player in the construction and infrastructure services sector. Under her leadership, UMSL is now recognized as a quality service-provider of construction and infrastructure projects, operating in Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. Mahapatra is also a director on the Board of IMFA and several other companies. She has established the ‘Ila Panda Centre for Alternate Healing’ to promote holistic good practices for physical and emotional well-being.
The Nainital-born and food-obsessed Pushpesh Pant was schooled at home before graduating from DSB Government College (Agra University) and earning post-graduate degrees in History, Law and International Relations. He taught at Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University for over four decades and lectured at many other universities. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2016. Years ago, Pant forsook foreign policy for food and hasn’t stopped drooling since then. He is the author of bestsellers like India Cookbook, Gourmet Journeys in India, Food Path and other books on food, travel, culture and international relations. When not researching, tasting or curating food, he teaches law at North Cap University (Gurgaon) and contributes columns to Hindi and English newspapers and magazines and anchors TV programmes. A firm believer in the dictum that the proof of the pudding and everything else is in eating disregards medical prohibitions and prescriptions routinely. He is a firm believer that our food is the key to our civilization. Pant currently divides his time between Delhi, Gurgaon, Ranikhet and Bageshwar. His forthcoming publications are: Food in the making of Indian nation (Penguin), Indian vegetarian cook book (Phaidon), Paan Bakhan (Raj Kaml), Indian Breakfast (Nyogi Books) and Luzzatnama (Rupa).
A trained architect, Ratnamala Swain is the only woman real estate developer based in Odisha. However, it is Odia literature which is her true love and passion. Swain was the editor of leading Odia literary magazine Chitra, known for its thought-provoking editorials and intense content, from 1993 to 2010. She has translated, from English to Odia, Sushma Deshpande’s novella Her Mother’s Story, Bhag Kalu Bhag (drama) by Krishna Baladev Vaid and A Ladki, a novella by Krishna Sobti. She has also translated Sitadevi Khadenga’s Jeevansmruti from Odia to English in collaboration with Purabi Das which was published by the Central Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. Swain is currently translating Modern Indian Drama, a collection of 15 plays, edited by GP Deshpande and published by the Central Sahitya Akademi. Her own works of poetry have been published in three collections: Diary Kabita, Naeera Ghara and Photoframe. Her poems talk of relationships and life. She lucidly describes interfaces between the inner-self and outer-self and the dynamics and conflicts between physical and metaphysical existence. Director of DN Homes, Swain completed her engineering in architecture from Women’s Polytechnic, Bhubaneswar. She decided to apply for a contractor’s licence and in 1989, defying all social norms, became Odisha’s first woman contractor. As someone whose career revolves around bricks and mortar, Swain’s softer side is revealed as she seamlessly switches mode from construction to poetry. She is also involved in the world of theatre, cinema and art.
Ravi Shankar Etteth was born in 1960 in Palakkad, Kerala. His first short story was published in 1992 as a last addition to the Penguin Book of Horror Stories. It was followed by a collection of short stories dealing with the supernatural in 1996, The Scream of the Dragonflies. His first novel The Tiger by the River, about a man searching for the bones of his grandfather who was a Holocaust victim, appeared in 2001. It was published in nine languages including Serbian. His next two novels, The Village of the Widows and The Gold of Their Regrets, appeared in 2002 and 2007 respectively. Both were crime novels. Etteth has written two books on Kerala too. He has been a political cartoonist for over 30 years and worked as a graphic designer for over a decade. He is also a senior political columnist. Etteth’s interests are crime fiction, historical fiction set in the Indian medieval ages, the Elizabethan age, Chinese imperial times and the Holocaust. His most recent work is The Book of Shiva.
Odia culture and tradition are an integral part of Sabyasachi Mohapatra’s films. The Sonepur-born writer, director and producer makes films that highlight the plight of tribals of the state. His career in the Odia film industry as a director began in 1989 when he made Bhukha in Kosali language based on a play written by Manglu Charan Biswal. The first Odia film to get an International Jury Award at the Gijón International Film Festival, Bhukha portrays the plight of the ‘Bajnias’ or ‘Ganda’ tribals of Odisha who are traditionally drummers by profession and the negative impact of cultural dominance on them by the upper caste. Mohapatra then made a mega budget mythological film Jai Jagannatha that was released in 15 different Indian languages in 2007. Twenty-five years after Bhukha, Mohapatra returned to making films on Odisha’s tribal and rural culture with Sala Budha (The Stupid Old Man). The Kosali language movie received seven awards at the 25th State Film Awards including the prestigious Best State Film Award - Mohan Sundar Dev Goswami Award - for 2013. The film, which portrays the lives of simple god-fearing villagers of Western Odisha, is based on a novel by Mohapatra’s father and renowned author Kapilesh Prasad Mohapatra.
The filmmaker’s Adim Vichar (The Ancient Justice) was screened at Indian Panorama category of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2014, at Goa. Also penned by Kapileswar Prasad Mohapatra, it deals with the societal structure of Kondh tribal community in Kandhamal. Pahadara Luha, made in 2015, was based on industrialisation and subsequent displacement of Paraja tribals in Koraput district of Odisha. The film went on to win the Best Feature Film in Odia language at the 63rd National Film Awards.
Shankkar Aiyar is a prominent India-based political economy analyst, columnist and author. He has chronicled the transformation of India’s economic and political landscape. His recent book Aadhaar: A Biometric History of India’s 12-Digit Revolution traces the journey of Aadhaar, the world’s largest identity platform now 1.16 billion identities and growing. His path-breaking book Accidental India: A History of India’s Passage through Crisis and Change fetched him acclaim as a public intellectual. A journalist for over three decades, Aiyar has covered every parliamentary election since 1984. His 1991 scoop on India pledging its gold reserves drew world attention to the crisis in the economy which consequently compelled liberalisation. Aiyar has analysed every Budget since liberalisation. As a columnist, he specialises in the interface of politics and economics. He has authored a study on India’s socio-economic fault-lines and its hundred worst districts. His investigation on 25 years of political corruption is part of an anthology. He has been a Wolfson Chevening Fellow at Cambridge University where he studied the lifecycles of emerging economies, and is a Visiting Fellow at the IDFC Institute. Aiyar is currently working on his third book and policy research on evolving demographics and implications for the next economy.
Kolkata-born Soumyadip Chowdhury is a chartered and cost accountant by training and a career corporate banker. He now runs his own wealth management consultancy firm. As a quizmaster, he has travelled and conducted quizzes across India in various institutes and in open quizzes. This includes a sports quiz for corporate houses organised by Sony Max, which he co-hosted with Kapil Dev. He remains an active quizzer and was a participant in BBC Mastermind India in Season 2002.
Beyond work and quizzing, Chowdhury is a shutter bug and an intrepid traveller. He writes blogs and photo features on his travels.
People earn to eat; Sourish Bhattacharyya eats for a living. A Delhi-based food columnist and blogger, tracker of dining trends, and a newspaper journalist with 32 years behind him, he was the Executive Editor of Mail Today (India Today Group) for seven years till he decided to become a freelance writer and blogger in 2013. This freedom from the exacting routine of daily newspaper journalism gave Bhattacharyya the time and energy to become the co-founder of the Delhi Gourmet Club as well as of signature food and beverage events such as Top Chef Awards, India Wine Awards / delWine Excellence Awards, Indian Wedding Travel Mart, and Asian Hawkers Market, which is India’s first public food event dedicated to Asian cuisine. Most recently, he co-created the Tasting India Symposium, a two-day international think fest dedicated to India’s gastronomical heritage, culinary tourism, healthy eating and sustainable living. Apart from contributing to BBC Good Food, Man’s World, TimeOut and the magazines of The Oberoi and The Leela hotels, Bhattacharyya writes for the India Today Group, BW Hotelier and is the force behind www.indianrestaurantspy.com. Bhattacharyya also has the distinction of being the first Indian to write a book on Japanese food, titled Sakura’s Kitchen: The Cuisine and Culture of Japan.
Srikumar Misra is an entrepreneur and founder of India’s first VC-funded food & beverage startup, Milk Mantra. The startup is a conscious capitalist entrepreneurial white revolution and its Milky Moo brand is one of the fastest-growing dairy brands in the country and has nearly 50,000 network farmers as part of its Ethical Milk Sourcing program. Earlier, Misra was with the Tata Administrative Service in London. He quit his job in 2009 and returned to India to set up his own venture in Odisha to address the large problem of consumer trust deficit with the integrity of milk and milk products. Srikumar has been written about as ‘India’s New Age Milkman’; and Stanford Business School did a case study on his fund raiser. Misra is a Fellow of the Aspen Institute, US as a thought leader and was among Fortune India’s 40 under 40 in 2016. With a number of product innovations to address the evolving dairy nutrition market, Misra has created a revolutionary product – the world’s 1st milkshake with curcumin (active ingredient of haldi) and has a patent pending in India and the US.
Actress Tillotama Shome has created a repertoire of exceptional performances in critically-acclaimed, award-winning films, both international and national. She is an extraordinary actress who navigates between cultures and languages effortlessly. Her debut as Alice in Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding won hearts the world over and was applauded by The New York Magazine as something that has “a moonstruck quality right out of A Midsummer Nights Dream”.
A maverick at heart, Shome quit films to do a second master’s from New York University in Educational Theatre and received the prestigious Inlaks scholarship for it. She went on to work as a teaching artist in New York, exploring issues of violence and sexuality, in prison and in domestic violence shelters. She returned to films four years later and, since then, has done more than 25 films in various languages. Tillotama’s performance as a girl who is raised as a boy in Qissa by Anup Singh won her awards and accolades. The Variety described her work as a “fearless performance that combines gender assumptions so seamlessly that the border between male and female seems to fade into irrelevance.” She was most recently seen in Konkona Sen Sharma’s debut film A Death in the Gunj and the comedy-drama Hindi Medium.