Open Minds 2018: Soft Power

Sujatha Gidla, Author

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Social Conductor

Her stolid prose offered Western readers a peek into the devouring maw of caste oppression and anxiety in modern India. Partly drawn from conversations with her maternal uncle, KG Satyamurthy, founder of the far-Left People’s War Group, her memoir, 15 years in the making, frames the story of a Dalit Christian family as a narrative of emancipation against the odds. The ants in Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India include the Dalit woman of the past—‘a gleaner of fields, a singer of songs of toil, a pounder of rice, a Bible woman… a woman who’d never spent a single moment of her life on herself’— Communist revolutionaries who struggled to reconcile the twin realities of class and caste, and Gidla herself, encountering prejudice as a college student in Warangal. Gidla’s bread and butter is a blue collar job as a New York subway conductor—she was an app developer before being laid off during the 2009 financial crisis—and she writes with awareness from a position of relative privilege, her attempts to draw parallels in America making her debut a social tableau of our times.

Complete List of Open Minds 2018: Public Square

Salman Rushdie, Author | Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Political scientist | Nandan Nilekani, Infosys Chairman | Srinath Raghavan, Historian | Ram Madhav, BJP Leader | Swapan Dasgupta, Political commentator and MP | Shashi Tharoor, Scholar Politician | TCA Raghavan, Historian | Ramachandra Guha, Historian | Brahma Chellaney, Strategic thinker | Uday Shankar, President, 21st Century Fox, Asia | Anantha Chandrakasan, Technologist | Gita Gopinath, Economist | Soumya Swaminathan, Paediatrician and clinical scientist | Prasoon Joshi, Poet and Censor Board chairman | Madhav Khosla, Scholar | Sidharth Luthra, Lawyer | Shayara Bano, Triple Talaq Petitioner | Reuben Abraham, Economic Analyst | Pratima Joshi, Architect | Reetika Khera, Economist | Shamika Ravi, Economist | Sharmila Bhattacharya, Scientist | Vijay Prasad, Historian | Nayanjot Lahiri, Historian | Avani Chaturvedi, Fighter Pilot, IAF | Pranshu and Nishant Patni, Entrepreneurs

Complete List of Open Minds 2018: Soft Power

Virat Kohli, Captain, Indian Cricket Team | Priyanka Chopra, Actor | Jeet Thayil, Author | Anju Dodiya, Artist | Alia Bhatt, Actor | Rajkummar Rao, Actor | Chetan Bhagat, Author | Jahnvi Dameron Nandan, Perfumer | Rupi Kaur, Poet | Parvathy Thiruvothu, Actor | Sujatha Gidla, Author | Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi, Architect | Prayaag Akbar, Author | Ruchika Sachdeva, Fashion Designer | Palghat R Ramprasad, Carnatic musician | Unni R, Author | Kunal Kamra, Comedian | Vikas Khanna, Chef and Television Personality | Shoojit Sircar, Filmmaker | Srikanth Kidambi, Badminton Player | CS Santosh, Off-Road Biking Champion | Mayank Austen Soofi, Author and Blogger | Ratish Nanda, Conservation Architect