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The Asian Lenses Forum

Understanding the past to aspire to a better future

As a forward-thinking university, NIIT University (NU) aims to create a community of independent thinkers and problem-solvers who would emerge as the future leaders of a knowledge economy. The first step to solving problems is to identify them and understand them. We firmly believe that discussions are important to doing both. So, on 15 February 2014, NU launched a unique initiative, The Asian Lenses Forum (TALF).
Owing to centuries of dominance by western culture and economy we seem to have forgotten our [rich and diverse cultural] legacy. Asian Lens is an attempt to enable today’s youth to appreciate and understand their legacy and draw inspiration from it.” — Rajendra Singh Pawar
Damaged by centuries of social, cultural and economic imperialism, the mosaic of Asian civilisation was so irrevocably damaged that even we perceived our history and culture only through a western lens. Conversations amongst NU’s prolific executive board generated the sense that the current generation was in search of an identity. The contextual understanding of Asian realities was still, however, viewed through a western perspective.

However, the resurgence of Asia is the new global reality. TALF aspires to sensitise Asian youth to the rich and diverse legacies of the Asian continent and prepare them to know where they stand in this rapidly changing global environment.

Broadly, TALF aims:

  • To provide Asian youth with a deeper understanding of what it means to be Asian
  • To foster a deeper understanding of their nations’ heritage and legacy
  • To encourage awareness of themselves, their surroundings and their histories
  • To inspire them to play a constructive role commensurate with the rising Asian influence in the global space
  • To shift perspectives so we can view ourselves through our own diverse lenses
  • To generate relevant knowledge, to encourage multiple dialogues, to engage stakeholders across generations and nationalities
TALF’s annual seminars have covered topics such as ‘Creating a new vision for Asia’ (2014); ‘Emergence of India as a global soft power’ (2015); and ‘How on earth can we live together?’ (2016)

Attended by students and industry stalwarts alike, both in person and virtually in successive years, TALF seminars witness the participation of committed thought leaders, opinion makers and informed youth who seek to view the world through multiple and diverse Asian perspectives.

Apart from annual seminars, TALF conducts events and activities across three different segments:

  • Junior TALF Bi-annual camps engage schoolchildren on the theme of Heritage Education.
  • Young TALF Engages university students on the ‘History of Science and Technology in India and Asia’
  • TALF The online platform acts as a repository of content and discussions revolving around the ethos behind The Asian Lenses Forum.
The goal is not to create a new body of knowledge that is narrow, parochial and self-centred. The inherent objective is to understand Asia (and the diverse countries within) and establish a robust foundation for young Asians to build an aspirational future with confidence.
An initiative such as this is the need of the hour as it studies Asia through the ‘Asian eyes’.— TALF Senior Advisor Jean-Pierre Lehmann

TALF associates and speakers

Over the years, TALF has hosted a number of speakers and associates from different sectors, including:
  • Pavan K Varma, former Indian Diplomat and Author
  • Dr Ashok Khosla, Indian Environmentalist
  • Leela Samson, Bharatanatyam Dancer, Choreographer, Writer
  • Arun Kapur, Educator
  • Meeta Sengupta, Writer, Speaker, Advisor on education and skills.
  • Pallavi Aiyar, Award-winning Journalist and Author