India Speak: The CPR Podcast

CPR Perspectives Episode 6: Rohan Venkat in conversation with D Shyam Babu

Episode Summary

This month on CPR Perspectives — our flagship interview series commemorating the Centre for Policy Research’s 50th anniversary — we bring you a conversation with D Shyam Babu, a Senior Fellow at CPR, who has over the years worked on subjects as varied as nuclear non-proliferation and national security as well as socio-economic mobility among Dalits and the societal impacts of liberalisation.  Shyam Babu was first associated with CPR in 1989, after which he spent time as a journalist and then as a fellow at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies, before returning to the Centre in 2011. After working on questions of national security in his initial years in policy, Shyam Babu shifted focus to look at social change, helping conduct a number of key socio-economic surveys that examined the impacts of liberalisation on the Dalit community.  He is the co-author of Defying the Odds, a critically acclaimed book that profiled the rise of Dalit entrepreneurs, as well as co-editor of a number of other books, including The Dalit Question: Reforms and Social Justice and The India Mosaic: Searching for an Identity… More recently, Shyam Babu has been working with CPR to conduct research workshops for scholars from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities.  In the first part of the conversation with Shyam Babu, we spoke about what it was like to work across two very different policy disciplines, why he thinks an understanding of society is vital for IR scholars and the ideas that led to his research and book on Dalit entrepreneurs.  In the second part of the conversation, which you will receive in a fortnight, we spoke about the need to challenge conventional wisdom on social justice in India, why he has looked more closely at the question of ‘social cognition’ in recent years and what role think tanks like CPR have to play in making the research world more inclusive.