Click Here To Register : Registration Form
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik needs no introduction. One of the most admired and respected political leaders in the country, he has been consistently ranked among India’s best-performing chief ministers year after year. Blessed with the trust of the people, he is the longest-serving Chief Minister of Odisha with an uninterrupted stint since 2000.
Under Patnaik's leadership, Odisha has undergone a massive transformation from a BIMARU state to one that is hailed for its economic growth and social progress, posting a complete turnaround in human development indices, poverty alleviation, and industrial and infrastructure development. Patnaik is also lauded for leading a transparent and corruption-free government.
Patnaik joined politics in 1996 after the death of his 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. Educated at Doon School and Delhi University, he has worked actively to industrialise Odisha. Apart from being a politician of unflinching integrity, he is a man of letters and culture.
The bellwether politician has authored the critically acclaimed 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.
The Union Cabinet Minister with two portfolios — Education and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship — Dharmendra Pradhan, hails from Talcher, Odisha.
The 48-year-old Rajya Sabha member started his political career with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student’s wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and rose through the ranks to now become one of the most prominent faces of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. He is also among the top-performing ministers in the Cabinet.
During his time as the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas of India (2014-2021), Minister Pradhan launched initiatives like PAHAL, which is the world’s largest Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme, and the campaign #GiveItUp, which received support from the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. Under his leadership, the Ujjwala scheme crossed the targeted five crore gas connection distribution among poor people, eight months ahead of schedule. Minister Pradhan also made some key decisions in the hydrocarbon sector.
In his previous tenure (2017 to 2019), when Pradhan held the portfolio of Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, he launched several measures focused on skilling, reskilling and upskilling the manpower of India.
Pradhan’s heart lies in social work and he has always worked for the development and welfare of farmers, backward classes, and poor and marginal sections. He is also committed to tackling youth-related issues such as unemployment and the lack of skill-based education.
Sampurna Chattarji is a writer, translator, editor and teacher with 21 books to her credit. These include Wordygurdyboom!, her translation of Sukumar Ray’s poetry and prose (Puffin Classics 2008); Dirty Love, a short story collection about Bombay/Mumbai, (Penguin 2013); and Space Gulliver: Chronicles of an Alien (HarperCollins 2020).
Chattarji's translation of Joy Goswami’s prose poems, After Death Comes Water (Harper Perennial 2021) was hailed as being ”inventive and vivid as the English of Joyce”. She co-edited Future Library (Red Hen Press 2022), an anthology of contemporary Indian writing released in the United States. Her eleventh poetry title is Unmappable Moves, just out from Mumbai-based indie-press Poetrywala.
She can be found on Instagram at @ShampooChats.
Dr Sachidananda Mohanty is a former Professor and Head, of the Department of English, University of Hyderabad.
Winner of many national and international awards, such as the Katha, British Council, Fulbright, Charles Wallace, and the Salzburg, Dr Mohanty has published extensively in the field of British, American, gender, translation and post-colonial studies. His books have appeared in Oxford, Sage, Routledge, and Orient Longman, among other notable publishing houses.
Prof Mohanty was a Senior Academic Associate at the American Studies Research Center (ASRC) Hyderabad. He was nominated to India's Commission on Education to UNESCO and is the former Vice-Chancellor of the Central University of Odisha.
Dr Nivedita Mohanty is a well-known scholar of modern Indian history. She is a PhD from Heidelberg University, Germany, in 1978. She has been conferred DLitt (Honoris Causa) from the FM University, in 2015 and Ravenshaw University in 2019.
Dr Mohanty’s book titled Oriya Nationalism, Quest for a United Orissa (1866-1956) has earned wide acclaim as an authentic book on the subject. Her other book, The Eloquent Silence published in 2006 provides as much of a biographical sketch of the legendary (and physically challenged) artist Bipin Behari Choudhury, ARCA (London), the grandson of Fakir Mohan Senapati, as an insight into the socio-political history and the art traditions of Odisha in the first half of the 20th century.
She and scholars from Germany and Odisha edited 2013, Imaging Odisha, two volumes on the history and culture of Odisha, Ravenshaw College: Orissa’s Temple of Learning, 1868-2006 was published in 2017.
Earlier a faculty in the government colleges in Odisha, she subsequently did her post-doctoral from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur. As the Senior Research Fellow of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), she has worked extensively on Adivasis in Jharkhand.
As an independent researcher, she is recognised today as an authority on Regional Studies and a front-ranking scholar on the subject of Odia Identity.
Dr Gourahari Das is an Indian author writing in Odia who has the distinction of having received two prestigious awards from Sahitya Akademi, the highest institution of literature under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India: one in the field of creative literature and another in translation.
Born in 1959 in a back-of-the-beyond Indian village, Sandhagara near River Mantei of Bhadrak District in Odisha, Dr Das has come a long way. Real-life experiences acquired while growing up in an impoverished monastery sharpened his skills as a writer and endowed him with a sensibility laced with compassion and humour, which gives his creative being its distinctive character. By now, he has published more than 75 books, which include collections of essays, novels, short stories, fiction for children, plays, travelogues, poetry and vignettes. Many of his major works have been translated into Hindi, English, Tamil, Punjabi and other Indian languages. His fiction has been made into both television serials and stage plays in various languages and presented by the artists from various organisations including the National School of Drama in different states.
Dr Das is an academic who has received two master’s degrees, one in Language and Literature and another in Journalism and Mass Communications. He has a vast range of experiences as he has been long associated with the General Council and Executive Board of Sahitya Akademi and other cultural institutions. He is the President of the pioneering theatre group of Odisha, Satabdira Kalakar and Shabdaranga.
Besides, Dr Das has been actively associated with one of the largest media houses in Odisha, the Sambad Group for more than 38 years in various capacities. He has worked in all three verticals of mass media: print, radio and television and earned rich experiences. As an efficient organiser, he has organised hundreds of major cultural events, festivals, exhibitions, and seminars plus participated in international and national events. He has visited several countries as a member of the Indian Writers’ delegation and participated in the World Book Fairs held in Frankfurt, Germany and Paris, France. He lives in Bhubaneswar.
Abhiram Biswal is an essayist, columnist, reviewer, culture critic, public Intellectual, bi-lingual speaker and writer, educationist and social science scholar.
As an academic, he taught Political Science in various parts of Odisha like Rourkela, Bhadrak, Bolangir, Angul, Nabarangpur and Bhubaneswar for more than three decades.
The main areas in which Biswal engages himself as a writer and speaker include language and literature, Odisha, nationalism, mass movements, art, music, cinema, feminism, identity, politics, Gandhi, Marx, multiculturalism, human rights, icons and Post-Modernism among others.
Biswal has contributed to leading Odia dailies like Sambad, Samaja, Prajatantra, Dharitri and Prameya. Currently, he writes a regular column Aalaap O Alochana (meaning Dialogue and Discussion) for Sambad, Bhubaneswar. His writings are marked by gripping narrative, signature style, innovative interpretation, multidisciplinary approach and articulation of less explored, unknown facts.
Biswal has been the Vice-President of Odisha Political Science Association (OPSA) and the Editor of the OPSA Journal. He was the Co-Editor of Rethinking Indian Culture (with Dr Sitakanta Mahapatra as the Chief Editor) and The Paika Rebellion.
Biswal has also worked at BJB Autonomous College, Bhubaneswar where he was Head of the Department of Political Science.
Sampad Patnaik is a freelance journalist based in Odisha. He has previously worked with The Indian Express and Reuters News in Delhi and Bengaluru.
Sampad studied politics and history at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. He was awarded the Legislative Assistants for Members of Parliament (LAMP) Fellowship by PRS, Delhi to work as a legislative aide for a Member of Parliament.
He currently contributes pieces for The Wire, Open Magazine, and Down to Earth Magazine. He has previously written for Scroll, The Diplomat, and The Khaleej Times.
Surender Mohan Pathak is India’s highest-selling crime writer with more than 275 full-length novels to his credit. His writing career ran side-by-side with a full-time government job and initially started as short stories.
His first published short story was Sattavan Saal Purana Admi (A Man Who Lived 57 Years Ago), published in 1959 in Manohar Kahaniyan which was an extremely popular magazine back then. His first novel, Purane Gunah Naye Gunahgar (Old Sins New Sinners), was published in Neelam Jasoos, another widely-read magazine, in 1963. Thereafter, he continued getting published at a regular pace notwithstanding his government job –- and is still going strong with 312 published books to his credit.
Pathak's most popular serial heroes are Sunil Chakravarti, a press reporter (123 titles), Vimal alias Sohal, a wanted criminal with a conscience (46 titles), Sudhir Kohli, a private detective (23 titles) and Jeet Singh, a lock-buster (12 titles). Besides that, he has written more than 50 thrillers and 27 jokebooks. His most famous novel is 65 Lakh ki Dakaiti (65 Lakh Heist), which has so far run into 23 editions including the one in English. It has sold more than thirty lakh copies and is still going strong.
Mani Shankar Aiyar was born on April 10, 1941, in Lahore in pre-partition India.
He was educated at The Doon School and St Stephen’s College, Delhi University, where, in 1961, he graduated with a BA in Economics Honours, standing first in the university. He then went on to pursue an MA in Economics from Trinity Hall, Cambridge, UK. In 2010, his Cambridge college did him the rare honour of electing him an Honorary Fellow of the college.
He started his career with the Indian Foreign Service in 1963, during the course of which he served in Brussels, Hanoi, Baghdad and Karachi, besides various assignments, particularly in economic posts, at headquarters. His enduring interest in India-Pakistan relations dates from his Karachi assignment reinforced by scores of visits, official and private, to that country.
From 1985 to 1989, Aiyar was on deputation to the Office of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, following which, he took voluntary retirement from the Indian Foreign Service and embarked on a second career in politics and the media.
He was thrice elected to the Lower House of Parliament from Tamil Nadu (1991, 1999 and 2004) and also served a six-year term in the Upper House (2010-2016) as the President’s nominee. In 2006, he was conferred the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award.
He served as a Cabinet Minister from 2004 to 2009, holding several different portfolios, including Panchayati Raj (of which he was the first-ever incumbent); Youth Affairs and Sports; and Development of the North-East Region. He was also Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas from 2004 to 2006, and during this short period, his contribution was recognised as so significant that India Today named him the best Minister in Dr Manmohan Singh’s cabinet in 2005 and the following year, the Indian School of Mines bestowed on him Doctor of Science Honoris Causa. He is also the India Chapter of South Asia Foundation (SAF) established by the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador late Madanjeet Singh and has branches in all of the eight South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries.
He has made a reputation for himself as one of India’s leading columnists and is often seen on television. He has thus, far published eight books, including Pakistan Papers and Confessions of a Secular Fundamentalist. Believing as he does that secularism is the bonding adhesive of India’s nationhood, he founded in 1990 the Society for Secularism.
In 1973, he married Suneet Vir Singh, whom he had first met at an elocution contest fourteen years earlier. They have three grown-up married daughters and six grandchildren.
Nila Madhab Panda is a writer and filmmaker who was born on the bank of the River Mahanadi. Through the language of cinema, he has created a neo-narrative that offers dense and critical insights into mankind. Panda achieved cult status with his debut feature film, I am Kalam, which won 34 international awards and a national film award. His second feature film, Jalpari (Desert Mermaid), received the MIP Junior Award at Cannes. Later, he directed Babloo Happy Hai (Babloo is Happy), Kaun Kitney Paani Mein (In Troubled Water), Kadvi Hawa (Dark Wind) - a story about winds, and "Halkaa" (Relief), all of which received numerous awards and critical acclaim across the globe.
Panda’a recent feature film, Kalira Atita (Yesterday's Past), focuses on the impact of climate change and sea level rise on the east coast of India. The film was part of many prestigious film festivals across the globe. The film received the National Film Award in 2020 and was also honoured with the Mohan Sundar Dev Goswami Award for Best Feature Film and Best Director at the Odisha State Film Awards.
Panda's dedication to children's storytelling continues with his new film, Biswa, which has been selected for ten international film festivals around the world. In addition to his feature films, he also directed the documentary, God's Own People" in 2016, narrated by Amitabh Bachchan, which explores the Lord Jagannath Nabakalebara festival. Most of Panda's films are available on popular OTT platforms such as MUBI, MX Player, Netflix, Amazon, Sony and Zee5.
The filmmaker’s most ambitious project to date is the OTT show The JENGABURU Curse on SONY LIV, India's first Cli-Fi (Climate Fiction) thriller series released in August 2023. In recognition of his contributions to arts, Panda was honoured with the prestigious civilian honour Padma Shri in 2016 and was conferred with an honorary DLitt degree by Utkal Cultural University in 2018.
Panda’s oeuvre is characterised by the intent to combine filmmaking with activism. His project Interdependence, part of an anthology of 11 shorts from 11 countries produced by ART for the World in association with the UNDPI, premiered at the UN headquarters in Geneva and launched at the Rome International Film Festival in 2020.
Panda also founded the International Screenwriters Lab in 2008 in India to create quality scripts for family and children’s audiences of Asian cinema. He was also the Indian Creative Associate for 60x60 Seconds funded by the Arts Council England. As a part of this project, sixty-one-minute films were commissioned on the theme of Home and Beyond from artists in India, Pakistan and the UK.
Apart from a plethora of film awards, Panda has been awarded Odisha icon (2011), Living Legend (2012), Son of Odisha (2012), Bharat Gaurav (2015), Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Award (2017), Karmaveer Purasakar (2015), India’s Creative Future (2007), with the Longest Journey Award from the IIM-B/ British Council (2006), as the United Nations Media Fellow by the UN, UK environmental Film Fellowship (2005) and for Excellence in Media (2010) for his work on socially relevant issues.
Parakala Prabhakar studied at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and the London School of Economics. He was the Communications Advisor to the Government of Andhra Pradesh between 2014 and 2018 and held a Cabinet rank. He is currently the Managing Director of RightFOLIO, a knowledge enterprise based in Hyderabad.
Prabhakar is also a widely-read columnist on current affairs and has a popular YouTube channel, Midweek Matters, where he discusses issues related to India’s politics, economy and contemporary society.
Anand Ranganathan obtained his BSc (Honours) degree in Chemistry from St Stephen’s College, Delhi, after which he left on a Nehru Centenary Scholarship for Cambridge, UK, where he obtained his BA (Tripos) in Natural Sciences, his MA, and his PhD.
After a post-doctoral stint at Cambridge, Anand returned to India to join the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Delhi, where he ran his lab for 16 years as a Staff Research Scientist. In 2015, he joined the Special Centre for Molecular Medicine, at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi and became a full Professor in 2019. His laboratory works in the area of Directed Evolution and Pathogenesis, with special emphasis on Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Scientific contributions from Anand's lab have been published in peer-reviewed journals like The Journal of Biological Chemistry, Chemistry & Biology, The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Journal of Clinical Investigation, and Nature Communications.
Anand Ranganathan writes and appears frequently on television debates, on politics, media, and science. His columns have appeared in Swarajya, DNA, NL, Firstpost, and Quartz. He is also the Consulting Editor of Swarajya. Anand has authored five books: The Land of the Wilted Rose (Rupa, 2012); For Love and Honour (Bloomsbury, 2015); The Rat Eater (Bloomsbury, 2019; co-authored); Soufflé (Penguin, 2023); and Hindus in Hindu Rashtra (BlueOne Ink, 2023). His forthcoming book is on India's forgotten scientists (Penguin, 2023; co-authored).
Screen, stage and television — there is no format that actor par excellence Mita Vashisht hasn't excelled in. After many poignant roles in movies like Khayal Gatha (1990) and Drohkaal (1994), her role in Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki further made her a force to reckon with. She has won acclaim, accolades and awards for her roles.
Vashisht is also the author of essays which have been published in prestigious Hindi magazines like Katha Desh and Bicycle.
Anirudh Kala is a psychiatrist and works at Mind Plus Retreat, Ludhiana.
Dr Kala was a member of the expert group constituted by the Government of India to write the first-ever Mental Health Policy for the country, which was implemented in 2014. He has been instrumental in forging cross-border links between the two sides of Punjab and is the Founder of the Indo-Pak Punjab Psychiatric Society.
He is a part-time writer and has written two books of fiction. Unsafe Asylum: Stories of Partition and Madness is his collection of interconnected stories about the exchange of the mentally ill, the prisoners and the women kidnapped during Partition of India.
His novel, Two and a Half Rivers, is about the years of terrorism in Punjab. His non-fiction book, Most of What You Know About Addiction Is Wrong, was published by the Speaking Tiger Books in March, this year.
Dr Sanghamitra Mishra is a Professor in the PG Department of Odia at Utkal University. Her PhD was on A Special Study on Natyakar Manoranjan Das and her DLitt was on a Comparative Study of Oriya & Hindi Nataka (Symbolistic). She has won Dr Rabinarayana Dash Prabandh Puraskar, Satadru Prabandh Samman and many more.
Mishra has written books like Nataka Parampara O Paribhasa, Etihasa ra Hagila Khia and several others.
Chirashree Indrasingh is a poet and fiction writer from Odisha, India. She has published ten short story collections, two novellas and three poetry collections. She has translated Bhalchandra Nemade's novel Kosla, Jayant Mahapatra's anthology of poems Sky Without Sky and Namita Gokhale's Academy award-winning novel Things to Leave Behind into Odia.
Published regularly in major literal journals and newspapers, Indrasingh's writings have received critical acclaim from readers for their range, sensitivity and style. Recently, she published an anthology of thirty-one poems titled Sadhi, which depicts the myriad roles played by Indian women in different life situations with the saree as a symbol of womanhood.
Indrasingh has received Bhubaneswar Book Fair Award, Kanheilal Galpa Purashkar, Subrat Rath Memorial Award Kadambini Award and many more with a Fellowship from the Department of Culture, Government of India. She is a reader in Political Science and a researcher at Udaynath College of Science and Technology, Adaspur, Cuttack.
Sarojini Sahoo, a well-known Indian feminist writer, born in 1956. She started fiction writing from 70s. She has 14 anthologies of short stories to her credit. Sukhara Munha Munhi, Nija Gahira Re Nije, Choukath, Dukha Apramit, Luchakali and so on.
Sahoo has also written 11 novels like Upanibesh, Pratibandi, Mahajatra, Gambhiri Ghara, Pakshibas, Bishad Iswari and so on.
An essay book titled Sensible Sensuality in English, published in 2010, deals with femininity and the Eastern perspective of feminism and sexuality.
The awards that Sahoo won are the Prajatantra Award (1982), Jhankar Award (1993), Odisha Sahitya Academy Award (1993), Utkal Sahity Samaj, Fakir Mohan Upanya Purskar, Binapani Mohanty Galpo Purskar and so on.
Sahoo has been enlisted as one of the 25 exceptional women of India by Kindle magazine of Kolkata.
Lipipuspa Nayak, PhD, is a senior academic, translator, freelancer and author. She is known for her English translations of difficult Odia classics, spanning timescales.
A recipient of the National Culture Fellowship, Lipipuspa is credited with fourteen published works of translation, one edited volume of critical writings on post-80s Odia plays, and her first novel Carry on Ms Caretaker (Vanguard Press, UK), besides book reviews and civilisational writings. A high point of her creative career is her translation of Lakshmi Purana (Grassroots, Bhubaneswar, 2006; Black Eagle Books, US, 2021), a 16th-century Odia verse narrative, with its explicit feminist concerns, excerpts from which continue to be anthologised in representative volumes on Indian classical poetic oeuvre.
An empanelled translator (Odia-English) for Sahitya Academi (New Delhi), Muse India (Hyderabad), Wasafiri: the Magazine of Contemporary International Writing (London), Lipipuspa is based in Bhubaneswar. Lipipuspa is associated with films, with a 45-minute feature film and a documentary on the lesser-known temples of Odisha.
Aparna Ray is a qualitative researcher and ethnographer by profession. She has a Master’s Degree in Applied Psychology.
Passionate about people, cultures and technology, Aparna’s researcher avatar loves to deep dive and understand attitudes as well as behavioural dynamics that lie at the intersections of technology, culture and daily lives.
A citizen media enthusiast, Aparna is a member of Global Voices Online, an international citizen media newsroom and has also served on its board.
When it comes to limericks, Aparna can’t help herself from being head over heels in love with this form of wordplay. A keen observer of life and its idiosyncrasies, she delights in expressing her views on news and events around us, through limericks, which she sometimes publishes on her blog Newsmericks. She is also a contributing editor at OEDILF (a dictionary in limerick form!).
Aparna’s other interests include backpacking adventures, books, movies, storytelling and a good conversation over a steaming cup of tea.
Born and brought up in Lucknow (1959), Hpraz Srivastava — officially known as Priya Raj — is a First Class First MBA from Monirba, Allahabad University.
Advertising and brand management
Known in corporate circles as Priya Raj, he worked on the management side of newspapers, magazines, internet portals and television channels; worked in advertising agencies handling large brands such as Rasna, Cerelac, Bayer, S Kumar’s and IndiaInfoline (IIFL). He has also been a core faculty member at MICA Ahmedabad teaching brand management and conducting MDPs.
Priya Raj started with poems, moved to satire, and then began cartooning with his works appearing in leading Hindi magazines. While he was in the university, his political cartoons appeared daily in Bharat, the newspaper published from Leader Press.
After Priya Raj joined the corporate world, cartooning and creative writing took a backseat. After a gap of nearly 20 years, he once again started a news cartoon column in The Daily, Mumbai and a management cartoon column in The Pioneer which later moved to The Financial Express. He also contributed a weekly business cartoon in The Hindu and a daily corporate cartoon in DNA. He was the first Indian cartoonist to publish his daily cartoons on the internet (India world.com), own website (priyaraj.com) and the first cartoonist to have a daily cartoon column abroad (HongKong Standard). He also launched India’s first cartoon channel on 123India.com.
His cartoons have appeared in four books: Under The Pyramid (IBH), Counterpoint (BPI), Business Cartoons and Corporate Cartoons (both by Vision Books).
After his student days, Hpraz Srivastava has been occasionally writing poems in Hindi and English. Hpraz has now become a poet of limericks. His limericks are based on amusing topical news stories. He has been posting new limericks on X (earlier known as Twitter) almost on a daily basis and has received good feedback.
Bibek Debroy is an economist and was educated at Ramakrishna Mission School, Narendrapur; Presidency College, Kolkata; Delhi School of Economics and Trinity College, Cambridge. Presently, he is Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM); and Chancellor, Deccan College Post Graduate and Research Institute, Pune, Government of Maharashtra.
Debroy has worked at Presidency College, Kolkata (1979-83), Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune (1983-87); Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi (1987-93); as the Director of a Ministry of Finance/UNDP project on legal reforms (1993-98); Department of Economic Affairs (1994-95); National Council of Applied Economic Research (1995-96); Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies (1997-2005); PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (2005-06); Centre for Policy Research (2007-15); Member, NITI Aayog (2015-19); and President, Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) (2018-22). He has authored/edited several books, papers and popular articles and has also been a Consulting/Contributing Editor with several newspapers.
Debroy was awarded the Shriram Sanlam Award for Financial Journalism (in 2013); Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award of India (in 2015); DLitt (Honoris Causa) by KIIT University (in 2015); DPhil (Honoris Causa) by Amity University (in 2016), DPhil (Honoris Causa) by Jagran Lakecity University (in 2017); DSc (Honoris Causa) by the University of Engineering and Management (in 2018); Lifetime Achievement Award by US-India Business Summit (in 2016); Skoch Challenger Golden Jubilee Award (in 2017); Lifetime Achievement Award by Prestige Institute of Management and Research (in 2018) and Bharatiya Manavata Vikas Puraskar by Power Brand (in 2018). He was conferred the title of Vachaspati by the Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha (in 2018) and Sir RG Bhandarkar Smriti Puraskara by the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) Pune (in 2023).
Amitabh Kant is presently India’s G20 Sherpa.
Kant is a governance reformer and a public policy change agent for India, having driven key reforms and initiatives during his tenure as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) (2016-2022) and the Secretary of the Department for Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) (2014-2016), Government of India. He has been a key driver of flagship national initiatives such as Startup India, Make in India, Incredible India, Kerala: God’s Own Country and the Aspirational Districts Program. These initiatives have repositioned India and Kerala and have widely been recognised as transformational.
The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) is India’s apex policy-making institution, with the Prime Minister as its Chairman. As CEO of NITI Aayog, Kant has driven a vast range of national-level developmental and policy initiatives which catalysed India’s social and economic development and have brought about a paradigm shift in policy-making.
As Secretary, DIPP Kant has driven the Start-up India movement which has led to India emerging as the third-best ecosystem for start-ups globally, with over 70,000+ start-ups and over 110+ unicorns. His focus has been to facilitate Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) through predictability, consistency of policies and elimination of rules, regulations and procedures. This led to India jumping 79 positions in Ease of Doing Business Indicators. He also initiated competition and ranking amongst Indian states based on their EoDB indicators. The competition and ranking have led to a transformational impact on states.
Amitabh Kant is the author of the following books: Made in India; Branding India-An Incredible Story; Incredible India 2.0 and editor of The Path Ahead - Transformative Ideas for India. He is the author of over 500 published articles in leading Indian newspapers.
Durjoy Datta is the author of nineteen bestselling romance novels. Born in New Delhi, he 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 twenty-one years old and was an instant bestseller. His successive novels — Till the Last Breath, Hold My Hand, When Only Love Remains, World’s Worst Best Boyfriend, The Girl of My Dreams, The Boy Who Loved, The Boy with a Broken Heart and The Perfect Us — have also found prominence on various bestseller lists, making him one of the highest-selling authors in India.
Durjoy also has to his credit eleven television shows, for which he has written over 1,000 episodes. For more updates, you can follow him on Instagram @durjoydatta.
Manish Gaekwad has worked as a reporter in Mumbai for such publications as Scroll.in and Mid-Day, and freelanced for The Hindu. The Last Courtesan is his second book, a memoir about his mother's life. His first novel, Lean Days, was published by HarperCollins India in 2018. He has also written a Netflix series She and worked as a script consultant in Badhaai Do.
Madhur Gupta has been hailed as one of the leading Odissi dance masters of his generation. News reports have lauded Gupta as one of the few male artists (in a field mostly dominated by women), who not only pursued Indian classical dance with devotion but also excelled at it.
Beginning his initial training in Kathak with a maestro like Padma Vibhushan awardee Pandit Birju Maharaj, Madhur Gupta was strongly drawn towards Odissi as his life’s calling. He has had the fortune of interacting and learning from masters like Madhavi Mudgal, Bichitrananda Swain and Kumkum Lal.
Madhur is currently in advanced training under the renowned dancer and Guru Sharon Lowen in the Padma Vibhushan Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra style of Odissi. He is also the author of the bestselling book Courting Hindustan published by Rupa Publications. Apart from extensively touring, performing, and writing, Madhur has established a premier school of Indian classical dance and music, Sangeet Vidya Niketan in New Delhi, where he teaches Odissi.
Vidya Shah is a singer and musician from New Delhi, India. She was initially trained in Carnatic music, and later received guidance in the North Indian genres of Khayal (from Shubha Mudgal and Mujahid Hussain Khan) and Thumri Dadra, and Ghazal (from Shanti Hiranand). She has performed at national and international forums, including the Tansen Samaroh in Gwalior, The Kennedy Centre in Washington DC, the Asia Society in New York and the Bode Museum in Berlin.
A popular performer and a prolific composer, she is a recipient of the Charles Wallace Award and a Senior Fellowship from the Government of India for her project Women on Record, a performance highlighting the contributions of the forgotten women performers in the Gramophone era. She is also the recipient of the Tagore scholarship from the Government of India for research on Indian Culture.
Vidya Shah writes and speaks on music and is the author of Jalsa: Indian Women's Journey from the Salon to the Studio (Tulika Books). She was the Nana Shirgaokar Chair Professor for Indian Music at Goa University from 2016-20
Vidya made her Bollywood debut in the film Manto with the beautiful Bol Ke Lab Azad Hain Tere. She is the Director of Bhooma Trust, set up to preserve and promote the intangible heritage of India.
Author, lawyer, stand-up comic, papercut survivor and pretend swordfighter. As evident, Gourav Mohanty's life has many tabs open. A gold medallist from Symbiosis Law School, Pune and editor of Symbiosis Law School Journal, he won numerous scholarships in his time in law school, one of which took him to the castles of Europe. Ever since he has wanted to play medieval matchmaker by conjuring a world where Vedic India meets Gothic Renaissance.
As a lawyer, Mohanty worked with India’s top law firm, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas Mumbai for six years as a Senior Associate and practised before the Bombay High Court, Gujarat High Court and Supreme Court before taking a sabbatical to be a writer.
Sons of Darkness is his first book and India’s first epic-grimdark fantasy saga. Inspired by the ancient tales from Vedic Lore, and filled with treachery, war and vengeance in the tradition of George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire Series, Sons of Darkness has become an international phenomenon.
San Francisco Book Review called it “an unforgettable wild journey set in re-imagined Vedic India”, Midwest Book Review called it “Game of Thrones meets Mahabharata” and Anand Neelakantan, author of Baahubali series and writer of Taj show on Zee5, found it “breathtaking and fascinating”.
Sons of Darkness is also the first Indian book to be picked up by Russia’s largest publisher, ESKMO, for translation into Russian.
For his work, Mohanty was also awarded the Best Author of the Year 2022 by Ukiyoto Publishing. Initially published as a local indie book in 2022, Mohanty's debut book series was picked by Bloomsbury and Head of Zeus in a seven-figure deal and Sons of Darkness is set to be re-released on July 6, 2023.
A connoisseur of mythologies and momos, Mohanty also publishes video content on Indian history and mythology with a special focus on Odisha. His videos on Saving Murals of BBSR and Bali Jatra are some of his most viewed videos.
Gourav also practices stand-comedy as a hobby and is one of the few comics from Odisha who performs his sets in English.
Satyarth Nayak is an author and screenwriter based in Mumbai. A former the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Award-winning Correspondent with CNN-IBN, Delhi, he holds a Master’s in English Literature from St Stephen’s.
Satyarth’s best-selling biography, Sridevi – The Eternal Screen Goddess, published by Penguin in 2019 and charting the journey of the screen legend from child star to becoming India’s First Female Superstar, met with high acclaim.
His debut novel, The Emperor’s Riddles, that released in 2014, and became a bestselling thriller, earning comparisons with Dan Brown for being a ‘history meets mystery’.
The author’s new book, the magnum opus Mahagatha, published by HarperCollins this year, is an epic collection of 100 greatest mythological tales from the Puranas of Hinduism. Containing stories of Gods, demons, sages and kings in a unique chronological order and described by Anand Neelakantan as ‘a must-have in your home library’, Mahagatha has become a national bestseller.
Satyarth has also scripted Sony’s epic historical TV show, Porus, touted as India’s most expensive series that aired from 2017 to 2019. His short stories have won the British Council award and appeared in Sudha Murty’s Penguin anthology, Something Happened On The Way To Heaven.
Named one of the Top 50 authors to follow on social media and a regular speaker at national and international literature festivals, Satyarth is currently scripting a high-profile web series and a Bollywood film and writing the biography of Shabana Azmi.