The Core Team

(In Alphabetical Order)



He is mostly quiet, mostly thinking, a faraway smile hanging in his eyes. He says he is a sum of all his meandering journeys and the people he met on the way.

Amit was born in an indigenous village in Gumla, Jharkhand, largely sheltered from the outside world. So when he went for his graduation degree in Economics to Loyola College, Chennai, he was in a culture shock. Slowly, he adapted and learnt to live away from his homeland; ever so often his heart would be heavy with longing. Seeking a livelihood avenue, he enrolled for his Master's at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai and then a Business Management degree at XLRI, Jamshedpur.

He began his work life in Jharkhand, in the development sector, first with Care, and then with Ekjut, in the area of public health. His last engagement was with the CSR division of Tata Steel where he led Empowerment and Youth Initiatives across Jharkhand and Odisha, including robust programmes on indigenous languages and cultural identity. He also was deeply engaged with the pan-India Tribal Leadership Programme.

Amit is a fellow of the IATSS Leadership Programme, Japan, and a Caux scholar in Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding.

He practises the simplicity of his roots, though he does not deny his worldliness



He likes to cook, be it dreams, desserts or ways to discover little transformations. With a background in the performing arts, Anish has been a theatre actor, theatre activist and theatre reformer almost all his work life.

A co-founder of the Bangalore-based organisation Rafiki, Anish has worked with and trained under masters such as Probir Guha, Raja Ravivarma, Kanan Kumar, Anamika Haksar and Michel Casanovas. He has also performed in the productions of some of the most talented directors in the country.

His critically-acclaimed solo performance Koogu is a result of his conversations with French ballet dancer Michel Casanovas on questioning their calling as performing artistes. His collaboration with Maraa, a media and arts collective, resulted in Unreserved, a project on identity, which witnessed train journeys spanning 10,000 kilometres, involving people and organisations from Karnataka, Assam, Kashmir and Kerala.

While Anish has worked with all ages and all genders, his strength lies in sharing the joys and challenges of theatre with children and young adults, currently with a special focus on autistic children.

His training includes various forms, such as devarattam, silambattam and tai chi qigong. Whenever he finds a bit of time, he takes refuge in his guitar.



Bhawana, the Executive Director at LEAD (Leadership for Environment and Development) India, has been serving and strengthening the cause of leadership-building for two decades; she says it is interwoven with her heart strings.

While working on sector reforms countrywide — with communities and their organisations on the one hand, and policymakers, business entities and donor organisations on the other — her team and she have created deep engagements with thousands of seekers of leadership learning. Many of them today are tall change makers.

Bhawana is also a Systems Thinker and a certified Climate Adaptation trainer. She designs and delivers learnings in the areas of natural resource management, sustainable livelihoods and water-sanitation.

Her work with communities has achieved sanitation behaviour change in Chambal in Madhya Pradesh and rural Himachal Pradesh.

She has worked with CAPART, UNICEF, UNDP and Knowledge Links (a World Bank Associate). As part of the global faculty of the GIZ and LEAD, she imparts experiential learning.

Bhawana is nurtured by the love of Nature, which she deeply connects with. She enjoys her quiet time, loves being in the mountains, awaits awakening to the unknown, and feels a divine presence in all sentient beings.

She is associated with Disom in a voluntary position.



"Let what comes, come. Let what goes, go. Find out what remains." Ramana Maharshi's words are a leitmotif in Biren's life, a recurring inspiration.

Biren embarked on his career with a multinational bank in Chennai. Soon, he gave it up to cut his teeth as a broadcast journalist with NDTV, where he reported on business, finance and the economy extensively, and created a series called India Business Report for BBC and a home series on corporate sustainability called Beyond Business.

The search for a deeper engagement with India then took him to the indigenous heartland of Bastar in Chhattisgarh. Here began a life-long love affair with tribal communities that reshaped his worldview; he believes that to save the world we must embrace indigenousity, which holds in its womb the true principles of sustainability.

Biren's longest stint has been with Tata Steel, as the Chief of Corporate Social Responsibility. In this capacity he worked on the whole spectrum of community development in tribal Jharkhand and Odisha. It led him to co-envision a countrywide tribal identity programme, Samvaad, which, to date, remains one of the sub-continent's biggest international indigenous conclaves. The rich output convinced him to co-create a funnelled national Tribal Leadership Programme, yet again a pioneering initiative. He left the company in 2018.

An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta, a fellow of the Management Development Programme from the Ross Business School in Michigan, and a recipient of the Gurukul Fellowship from the Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Biren serves on the board of several prominent non-profits — Gram Vikas in Odisha and SeSTA in Assam. He is also on the CSR Advisory Council of Tata Metaliks in West Bengal.

Previously, Biren has briefly but passionately worked for the conservation of the Olive Ridley sea turtles in Odisha, with the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Biren loves Urdu poetry and Hindustani classical music.



In 385 BC, Greek philosopher Aristotle said something she took to heart: Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all. Although she would stumble upon the saying later in life.

A post-graduate in English Literature and Language, Deepa has spent 15 years in print journalism and national broadcast newsrooms. In her last engagement, she was with NDTV as a national and prime-time news editor for award-winning documentation on social justice (New York Festivals, the Commonwealth Broadcasting Awards). She simultaneously helped build, in an editorial capacity, a robust social campaigns vertical that focused on education, environment, healthcare and livelihoods in rural India. She has a special place in her heart for a series called Every Life Matters funded by the Gates Foundation. She co-created it with a brilliant reporting team, using the methodology of community-led solutions journalism; it led to several impactful governmental interventions.

As a social entrepreneur, today she heads Pipilika Enviro Private Limited, a development communication and strategy firm that works with large-scale rural projects run by CSR divisions of companies such as Tata Steel and ITC Limited. Pipilika's work is largely focused on indigenous communities and women farmers and has touch points in 14 states.

She is the editor of The Rising, a book of essays by some of the most impactful indigenous thinkers and change makers.

Learning from the communities she has worked with, she believes that true development is only possible if knowledge-sharing and planning is not top-down. To create leaders, planners, thinkers and change makers, development work has to have at its core compassion and conversation. Hence, Aristotle, belatedly, but firmly.

She loves to travel, in her mind, not to mention the actual miles.

She is associated with Disom in a voluntary position.



She imagines herself as a pilgrim on this planet; a pilgrimage on which she travels light, engages with respect, celebrates diversity, lets go joyously, pushes on with compassion, soaks in pure listening and embraces the unknown.

Her trails have included learning the A-B-C of theatre directly from Alkazi Ebrahim, Boal Augusto and Children (below six years of age). As a WISCOMP Scholar of Peace fellow, she has worked with some of the most marginalised communities, creating spaces to connect through art and dialogue.

Jaya is a recipient of the USAID Award and the Show of Force Award that recognises her work with women's groups to address issues of violence; she has worked intensively on building survivor leadership with communities that have faced communal violence, sexual abuse and trauma of displacement.

She has worked in leadership positions with non-profits Sankalp and Pravah and the government's Nehru Memorial Museum Library. She has been a guest faculty with the Bachelor of Elementary Education, Bosco Institute, the National School of Drama's Theatre In Education Company, Ambedkar University (MPhil Programme in Development Practice), and the National Museum Institute of History of Art, Conservation And Museology.

As a theatre professional, Jaya has developed and staged over 20 major productions and 1,000 studio, street and community performances. Her productions have won Sahitya Kala Parishad's Best Play of the Year and been showcased in Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Urdu Theatre Festival, Sriram Summer Festival and Theatre for Truth Festival. She has travelled extensively with her performances and as a trainer across India and the world.

She created and led campaigns on nuclear disarmament, food and seed sovereignty, gender justice, child rights and civil liberties.

Dance, performances, heritage walks, martial arts, nature contemplation, designing curriculum, facilitating, cooking with local produce, painting and drawing, poems and stories, all have been her paths to heal herself and those around her. She laughs a lot and cries easily.



A part of the team which constructed India’s first indigenous nuclear submarine, he has operated six attack submarines in his naval career. On promotion to Commander, he headed the Submarines’ Division in Naval Dockyard, Mumbai, and was thereafter Project Coordinator of the simultaneous construction of six Scorpene submarines at the Mazagon Dock, Mumbai.

An avid outdoorsman, he can roll on skates, control a puck on ice and ski on water as well as snow-laden slopes. He has para-dropped from aircrafts and taken laser boats for spins.

His journal on his ascent of Mt. Everest, has been published in Malayalam as the Everest Diary.

An alumnus of Yale University and the Robert Bosch Foundation, and a fellow at the Institution of Engineers (India), he is the Founder-Executive Director at the US-based Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam Foundation that works alongside NGOs in the space of education, public health and conservation across the globe. He is also a Founder-Director at the Government to Citizens Changemakers Foundation, created for inclusive social development by better connecting governments, citizens and corporates.

He has been associated with the works of the Mauna Dhwani Foundation, Estah, Guru Puraskar Foundation, Young African Leadership Initiative, Red Cross and UNDP-IBIN.



Madhavi, an alumna of the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, and the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, has a career spanning two decades in the corporate sector, across industries and functional roles.

Process quality and re-engineering has been her longest vocation, as a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt in the IT sector (IBM Corporation).

As an account and operations manager with an IT service provider in South Africa for three years, Madhavi was involved in various technology solutions for Durban municipality and local municipalities across the Kwa-Zulu Natal province.

As a Design Thinking proponent at her current organisation, Sonata Software Limited, where she has also led the process quality division, Madhavi has held various internal and client facilitation workshops.

Previously she has worked in sales and marketing with Maruti Suzuki, Coca Cola, Standard Chartered and ICICI Prudential Mutual Fund.

In her own time, which is scarce, she runs to music, visualises and sketches.

She is associated with Disom in a voluntary position.