William Nanda Bissell, 43, is the Managing Director of Fabindia, a company committed to the retail of products made by craft and small producer groups throughout India. Fabindia operates 118 stores (as of June 2010) and has a significant stake in East Limited a UK retailer with 78 stores, 54 independent and 24 in prominent department stores, including John Lewis stores.
Fabindia is a pioneer in the Community Owned Company movement having converted its entire supply chain of small artisan clusters into Community Owned Companies(COCs). These companies have 40,000 artisan shareholders and operate in the same regions as the artisan clusters providing them with design inputs, raw materials and access to last mile warehousing and distribution for their products.
Bissel is the author of “Making India Work” published by Penguin that outlines a plan for rapid environmentally sustainable growth for India.
He lives in New Delhi with his wife Anjali and their two children Sara and John.
Rta Kapur Chishti is the co-author and editor of the ‘Saris of India’ volumes on the previously published ‘Saris of India’ volumes on Madhya Pradesh, Bihar & West Bengal as well as ‘Handcrafted Indian Textiles –Tradition and Beyond’. She has been a contributing author to several other publications.
As a writer and translator she has written of the life and work of craftsmen and scripted for films and exhibitions. She has been consistently involved with research and development of handspun-handloom textiles.
She is founder of the “Sari School” which produces saris & organizes workshops & private classes for those who wish to learn the wonders of this unstitched garment & make it more relevant to their lives today.
Shabnam Virmani is a filmmaker and artist in residence at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore, India. 7 years ago she started travelling with folk singers in Malwa, Rajasthan and Pakistan in a quest for the spiritual and socio-political resonances of the 15th century mystic poet Kabir in our contemporary worlds. Among the tangible outcomes of these journeys were a series of 4 musical documentary films, several music CDs and books of the poetry in translation (www.kabirproject.org).
Inspired by the inclusive spirit of folk music, she has begun to play the tambura and sing folk songs of Kabir herself. Currently she is working on co-creating a web-museum of Kabir poetry & music with folk singer communities in India and developing ideas for taking mystic poetry and folk music to school classrooms. She continues to journey to new areas such as Kutch, Gujarat and draw inspiration not only from Kabir, but also other mystic poets of the sub-continent and the oral folk traditions that carry them to us. Her earlier work consisted of several video and radio programs created in close partnership with grassroots women’s groups in India.
An arts curator, Himanshu Verma is the founder of Red Earth, a New Delhi based independent arts organisation that works with Indian contemporary visual art as well as diverse forms of cultural expression, started in 2004. Under the banner of Red Earth, Himanshu curates exhibitions, visual art projects, and art festivals. His curatorial work engages with diverse themes and narratives, such as Indian seasons and festivals, Food, Delhi, as well as other themes like masculinity, and contemporary Indian urban culture.
As an artist, he is involved in multi-media collaborative art projects. Himanshu Verma is also a freelance researcher and writer.
His latest project is The Genda Phool Project , a celebration of the universe of the marigold flower through art, music and plantations.
Subodh Gupta is one of the most prolific of Indian artists and has taken part in numerous international exhibitions. Born in 1964, Bihar, the seat of Buddhist learning, he now lives & works in New Delhi. The objects he uses in his work appear as emblems, as icons which with confident simplicity codify the complex social and economic, as well as the cultural, situation of present-day India. Gupta uses a rich variety of means to express and produce large sculptures, paintings, installations, photography, video and performance.
It is perhaps as a sculptor that one ought to define this artist, aware as he is to the physical presence of the object, of the aesthetics and symbolic attributes of materials, and of the relationships between space, time and body.
Some of the recent exhibitions he has been a part of are: (Solo) Faith Matters, Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev (2010); Aam Aadmi (Common Man), Hauser & Wirth, London, (Group) The 4th Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Un Certain État du Monde, Le Garage, Moscow Centre for Contemporary Culture, Moscow, Altermodern: Tate Triennial 09, Tate Britain, London, Who’s afraid of the artists?, Palais des Arts de Dinard, Dinard (2009); “Line of Control”, Arario Beijing, China (2008).
Veer Bhadra Mishra
Varanasi based Professor Veer Bhadra Mishra has a PHD in Civil Engineering from the Banaras Hindu University. For 25 years, he ran the Swatcha Ganga Campaign, a unique effort focused on cleaning the river Ganga, by creating an interaction between science, technology, culture, faith and people at national and international level. This work has been recognized by UNEP at the time of UNCED (United Nation’s Conference on Environment and Development) at Brazil in 1992.
The technical option developed by the Swatcha Ganga for cleaning Ganga at Varanasi uses natural processes and gravity, thus ensuring minimum use of electricity, and effectively removing harmful bacteria from waste. Dr Mishra has also initiated projects in the field of literature and Indian classical music associated with temples and rivers: the Sankat Mochan Sangeet Samaroh and Dhrupad Mela of Varanasi.
He was one of 7 Heroes of the Planet, according to Time Magazine (August, 1999).
Naman P. Ahuja is Associate Professor of Ancient Indian Art and Architecture at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi where his research and graduate teaching focus on Indian iconography, sculpture, temple architecture and Sultanate period painting. He currently also holds a Nehru Fellowship at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Teen Murti House. Previously he was a Fellow at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, where he authored a catalogue of the museum’s collection of Ancient Indian antiquities.
From 2001 to 2002 he was Curator of Indian sculpture in the Department of Oriental Antiquities at the British Museum, London. He was lecturer of the MA program on the Religious Fine and Decorative Arts of India at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, London University) from 1998 to 2000 and Tutor of the SOAS / Christie’s and latterly the British Museum’s Diploma in Indian Art. He has curated several exhibitions in India and abroad on themes ranging from Ancient to Modern Art.
Some of his publications include: Divine Presence, The Arts of India and the Himalayas (Five continents editions, Milan, 2003) which was translated into Catalan and Spanish, “Changing Gods, Enduring Rituals: Observations on Early Indian Religion as seen through Terracotta Imagery c. 200 BC – AD 200” In South Asian Archaeology, Paris, 2001, and, Ramkinkar Through the Eyes of Devi Prasad (Delhi, 2007).
As CEO of Naandi Foundation, Manoj feeds 1.2 million hungry children every day, provides safe drinking water to 3 million people in rural areas, runs 1726 schools guaranteeing quality education to over 100,000 children and works with 12,000 adivasi small farmers to export over a million kgs of coffee every year. And most of this is done by convincing government to outsource poorly run programs for the poor to Naandi.
A Robert McNamara Fellow of the World Bank, Manoj shifted career from banking to social sector with a pit stop in micro-finance, before taking over leadership at Naandi. Currently he is also a Fellow of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Having taken Naandi to a scale and prominence that makes it one of the top-notch not-for-profits in India today, Manoj is now busy breaking down this organisation that he built, into separate for-profit social business ventures.
Manoj is currently chasing the dream of banishing malnutrition from India.
Dr. M M Alex, a human life scientist, is the founder of Vedik-India Society and The Institute of Ancient Integrative Therapies. He is a former south Indian actor and a jury for National Film awards. The Govt. of India titled him as “Samskrita Mitra” considering his contributions towards the propagation of Sanskrit language. He was honored as the “Ambassador for Peace” by Universal Peace Federation.
Dr Alex authored over 220 titles ranging from World religions, distant education, human rights, tourism, health, and so on. He digitized and developed a massive database on 250 common ailments and therapies from eastern disciplines like Ayurveda, Yoga, Mantra, Tantra, Sangeetha sastra, Manas Ayurveda, Gandharva veda and twenty other similar sciences.
He invented a unique custom made device called “ALEXONICS”. The repeated listening to its vibrations can enhance and regulate the physiological as well as the psychological body. The ambition of Dr. Alex is to make the whole humanity peaceful and healthy. To attain this noble dream, he has planned to disseminate “ALEXONICS” to a few selected world leaders and world pioneers who architect the future mankind.
Rabbi has come some way since his watershed eponymous debut album’s release in 2005. Now he’s comfortably settled in the role of a rebellious, uncompromising though a wee bit elusive artist.
He’s constantly avoided treading the path of maximum returns and instead chosen to keep the flag of besieged independent music’s flying. His later releases–film Delhii Heights soundtrack and album Avengi Ja Nahin have shown a continuation of the layered, deeply passionate, and stylistically varied currents first seen in Rabbi.
These days he’s often seen fighting the cause of ecology especially in Punjab.
Arvind Gangaram Talekar, represents the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust of Mumbai, better known as the Dabbawalas of Mumbai. The word “Dabbawala” can be translated as “box-carrier” or “lunchpail-man”. The Dabbawalas of Mumbai, employing 5000 people, deliver and collect 200,000 tiffin boxes across the metopolis. What is phenomenal is their famed accuracy in delivery – with over 400,000 transactions a day (pickup and drop of lunchboxes), they have an error rate of 1 in 16 million transactions, and a six sigma performance with 99.999999 accuracy. All, at an affordable price of Rs. 350-400 (around $8) per month. Arvind, born in 1968, served as a dabbawala for 2 years.
One of the many volunteers who helped make Akshardham a reality, Kalpesh Bhatt’s work covers many fields – from disaster relief in India’s rural areas to the creation of high-tech international cultural shows. A Computer Engineer with a Masters in Physics from BITS Pilani, he quit his job in the US and returned to India to render humanitarian services. As a volunteer with BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, Kalpesh has driven projects fusing technology and spirituality, tradition and modernity.
As Creative Director and Producer for the giant-screen epic Mystic India, he managed a cast of 45,000, shooting in 108 locations. The film encapsulates India’s vast geographical and cultural diversity along with inspiring messages of faith, courage and harmony. Mystic India has been released in 54 IMAX® theatres across 13 countries, winning the International Viewers Choice award at La Geode, Paris.
Kalpesh’s latest project was producing India’s finest watershow – Sat-Chit-Anand – in collaboration with world-renowned show designer Yves Pepin. The spectacular 45-minute show incorporates state-of-the-art technology in using water, fire, video, lasers and lights to tell an ancient story of a child’s wisdom and courage in the face of death.
As a core member of Akshardham’s design and project management team, Kalpesh shares the fascinating story of Swaminarayan Akshardham’s creation, a testament to synergy and service as beautiful and inspiring as the complex itself.
Chewang Norphel is a retired civil engineer, generating water and greenery in the barren landscape of Ladakh. He makes zings (tanks) and artificial glaciers. Coming from a middle class family of Leh, Norphel went to Amar Singh College in Srinagar as a student of science, and completed a diploma course in civil engineering from Lucknow in 1960. In June 1960, he joined the rural development department of Jammu and Kashmir in Ladakh as a civil engineer. One year after he retired, in 1996, Norphel joined the Leh Nutrition Project. Norphel proposes artificial glaciers created close to villages as a substitute for dams, which to him result in environmental and social problems, besides being a financial burden.
Anuj studied post graduation in Apparel Design at the famous design school, National Institute of Design (NID), India. He was then awarded prestigious Charles Wallice India trust scholarship in 2002 to study Masters in High performance Sportswear Design from the University of Derby, UK. He was also invited to attend fashion coterie in New York. He was selected amongst four finalists for International Young Fashion Entrepreneur of the Year award (IFFEY) by British council, India. He was recently awarded the most innovative collection of the year award at Marie Claire Made in India fashion awards, 2009.
He was recently invited by British Council, India to do a show at Alchemy festival in London.
Mainly working with areas of craft development and performance wear, Anuj’s other areas have included teaching fashion and understanding human behaviour with the help of fashion. He has previously shown collection in Japan, Uk and has been a regular at Lakme fashion week in Mumbai.
Devin Narang is the Chairman of the UK based Freeplay Energy group, which are pioneers and global leaders in self generating eco-friendly products, capable of converting human/animal energy into electrical energy by a patented hand-cranked mechanism and alternator. Freeplay has its operations in India, Europe, Africa and North America. Born in London in the year 1963, Devin is the scion of one of the oldest and most reputed Industrial families of India – The Narang Family. The family’s business tradition goes back to the year 1908 when the founder of The Narang Group, Dr. Sir Gokul Chand Narang set up India’s first Sugar Mill in the State of Uttar Pradesh. The group further consolidated its business by venturing into banking, insurance, distilling and brewing. Having sold his interests in the Beer & Alcoholic beverages, Devin is currently focusing on the core sectors like Non-Conventional Energy Sources, Real Estate etc.
Naveen Jindal is a Member of Parliament, a successful entrepreneur, and sports enthusiast. He is the youngest son of the steel visionary and Minister of Power in the government of Haryana, India, Late Sh. O.P. Jindal. At a very young age, he has transformed Jindal Steel & Power Limited (JSPL), a moderately performing company in the steel sector, into a star performer. JSPL is part of US $ 12 billion diversified O.P. Jindal Group, which is the fourth largest business entity in India. As issues of national pride, self-esteem, and India’s image in the world have always been uppermost in his mind, he has taken up several public causes with characteristic ardour, dedication and commitment. One such cause was getting every Indian the right to fly the national flag.
Naveen is also a national record holder in skeet shooting. The Indian Shooting Team, under his captaincy, won Silver medal in the South Asian Federation Games, April 2004, in Pakistan. Besides winning numerous medals in shooting at national and international levels, he has also excelled in Polo. Naveen was among 25 Indians who were part of the annual list of 250 Global Young Leaders in 2007 prepared by the Geneva Based World Economic Forum (WEF).