Shaheen Chishti

Shaheen Chishti is an Indian-British author, world peace advocate and thought leader. Shaheen is a member of the London Literary Society and Muslim-Jewish Forum in London. He is also the founder of the Jewish Islamic International Peace Society. He is a descendant of the revered Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, whose shrine is also known as the Ajmer Sharif Dargah. Shaheen studied in Mayoor School, Ajmer before moving to London with his family at the age of 15. In London, he went to Holland Park School where he completed his secondary education. Thereafter, he pursued a degree in accountancy from London Guildhall University to become a professionally qualified accountant.

Shaheen’s writings – fiction and non-fiction – primarily focus on the upliftment of women and the emancipation of Muslim women in particular. He believes that the “empowerment of women is at the root of Muslim teaching”. “The Granddaughter Project” is Shaheen’s debut novel.

An ardent believer in the Sufi philosophy of “Love towards all, malice towards none”, Shaheen endeavours to promote the message of peace and solidarity of the Chishti Order of Sufism. Shaheen was born into the Syed Chishti family in India which traces its ancestry directly to Hazrat Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the Holy Prophet. Shaheen had a multicultural and liberal upbringing, and he grew up with ideas of peace and harmony to all of humanity.

He currently lives in London and has two daughters, Yasmeen and Saima.

Dr. Jane Goodall

Dr. Jane Goodall DBE is an ethologist and environmentalist, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and a United Nations Messenger of Peace. In July 1960, at the age of 26, she travelled from England to what is now Tanzania and ventured into the little-known world of the wild chimpanzees living in Gombe.

Equipped with a notebook, binoculars and a fascination with wildlife, Dr. Goodall braved a realm of unknowns to give the world a remarkable window into humankind’s closest living relatives. Through more than 60 years of ground-breaking work, she has not only shown us the urgent need to protect chimpanzees from extinction; she has also redefined species conservation to include the needs of local people and the environment. Today there are 25 Jane Goodall Institutes working to support JGI’s core programmes including TACARE a community conservation programme, two sanctuaries for orphan chimpanzees and Roots & Shoots, JGI’s environmental and humanitarian programme empowering young people of all ages to become involved in hands-on projects for their community, animals and the environment in more than 65 countries. 

Dr. Goodall has received many awards and honorary degrees, authored books for adults and children and featured in numerous documentaries and films.  The latest book is ‘The Book of Hope’ being published in October 2021.  Dr. Goodall is currently working virtually from her family home in Bournemouth, UK during the pandemic.

Photo Credit: Stuart Clarke

Victoria Schofield

Victoria Schofield has over many years gained a specialist knowledge and love of South Asia, having travelled widely in the region. She is acknowledged as one of the leading international experts on the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Having been a friend of the late Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, since their days together at the University of Oxford, she has recently published her memoir of her friendship , entitled The Fragrance of Tears (2020, 2021).  Her other books include   Kashmir in the Crossfire (1996), Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan and the Unending War (2000, 2002, 2010, 2021), Afghan Frontier: at the Crossroads of Conflict (2003, 2010), and Wavell: Soldier and Statesman (2006, 2010). Schofield is also the author of the official two-volume history of The Black Watch: The Highland Furies, The Black Watch 1739-1899 (2012) and The Black Watch, Fighting in the Frontline 1899-2006 (2017). She is a contributor to BBC World TV, BBC World Service and a variety of newspapers and journals including Asian Affairs and The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs .

Victoria Schofield read Modern History at the University of Oxford and was President of the Oxford Union in 1977. In 2004-05 she was the Visiting Alistair Horne Fellow at St Antony's College, OxfordShe is currently Chair of the Oxford Union Literary and Debating Trust (OLDUT) and Chair of the Editorial Board of The Round Table, The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs.

Javed Jabbar

Senator Javed Jabbar is a public intellectual, Pakistani writer, adman, politician, scholar, artist, mass communications expert and former information minister. Jabbar's roots can be traced back to Hyderabad, India.with distinctive achievements in diverse fields. His work includes writing, film-making, media, voluntary service, education, environment, national and global affairs. He has received several national and international honours.

He has authored 16 books, primarily on Pakistan. About to be launched this month his 17th, is But, Prime Minister... on his interactions with the world's first Muslim woman Prime Minister, on her birth anniversary. He will give us a sneak preview into this as well. His recent anthology, Pathways -- selected writings 2010-2015, won the UBL Literary Award for the Best English non-fiction Book.

He is also a noted writer, director, film producer.

Divya Dutta

Divya Dutta is an actor, author and now a poet too. The talented actor won a National Award for best actor (female) in a supporting role in 2018. She has acted in more than 100 feature films in Hindi and Punjabi language, few notable films being Veer- Zara, Bhaag Milkha Bhag, My Friend Pinto, Stanley ka Dabba to name a few. Her first poem that she wrote recently titled ‘Jab Sab Theek Hoga Na’, about going on lockdown in the country has been much appreciated. Her memoir, Me and Ma, published in 2017 was one of the most talked about books that year. The book has also come out as an audio book this year. 

With an interesting line up of feature films, web shows and short films, Divya continues to work in films while she is writing two books, one being collection of short stories and another one about memories related to work and people she has worked with, in the industry.

Divya this year bagged Filmfare OTT awards for Best Actress in Supporting Role for Drama Series 'Special OPS' while she was much appreciated for her short films Sleeping Partner and Relationship Manager.  Her forthcoming films include a comedy film directed by Umesh Shukla and Dhaakad co starring Kangana Ranaut.

Vidya Dehejia

Over the past forty five years, I have combined research with teaching and exhibition-related activities around the world. Extensive field travel in South Asia, with visits to sites of importance in Southeast Asia, has given me first-hand familiarity with the art of the region. My background in classical Sanskrit and Tamil, and knowledge of a range of modern Indian languages has proved invaluable. My writings have incorporated translations of ancient poetry, and material from unpublished manuscripts, in order to illuminate an artistic milieu. I have explored at length the theoretical basis for the portrayal of visual narratives in the context of India’s sculpture and painting, and have examined issues of gender and colonialism. A collaborative project took me in a different direction – to explore artistic agency through a study of issues relating to craftsmen, workshops, teams, stone, and tools. Over the years, my work has ranged from Buddhist art of the centuries BC to the esoteric temples of North India, and from the sacred bronzes of South India to art under the British Raj. Management and curatorial experience at the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries provided a broad mandate to convey the excitement of the field of South Asian art to non-specialist audiences.

Gargi Rawat

Gargi Rawat is a news anchor and environment reporter with NDTV. Reporting on the environment and wildlife has taken Gargi to several wildlife parks and sanctuaries across the country like Ranthambore (Rajasthan), Bandhavgarh (MP) and Corbett (Uttarakhand). She is also part of NDTV's 'Save our Tigers' campaign.

She joined NDTV in 1999 and she is currently working there for last 19 years.


Sarah Jacob

Sarah Jacob is a JOURNALIST and Senior Editor at NDTV 24×7. She is the anchor of ‘We the People’, one of NDTV’s flagship primetime shows. Previously, Sarah was the US correspondent for NDTV and covered both the 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections. Sarah has reported extensively on the environment and as part of a series titled ‘Save India’s Coast’, she has travelled India’s entire coastline reporting on the environmental destruction taking place along it. Sarah graduated on a full scholarship from New York University with a Master’s degree in Broadcast and Documentary Journalism.

William Dalrymple

William Dalrymple was born in Scotland in 1965 and is considered the most important living exponent of Anglo- Saxon travel literature, a tradition going back to Robert Byron, Evelyn Waugh, Peter Fleming and Bruce Chatwin. He has won the omas Cook Travel Book Award, the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award, the French Prix d’Astrolabe, the Wolfson Prize for History, the Sco ish Book of the Year Award, the Du Cooper Memorial Prize, the Asia House Award for Asian Literature, the Vodafone/Crossword Award for non- ction and has, prior to the shortlisting of Return of a King, been longlisted three times for the Samuel Johnson Prize. e Italian edition of Return of a King (Il Ritorno di un Re) won the 2015 Hemingway Prize and the prestigious Kapuściński Prize for literary reportage . He lives with his wife and three children on a farm outside Delhi.

Kabir Bedi

Kabir Bedi is the original crossover Indian star. His trail-blazing international career spans Bollywood, Europe and Hollywood in three mediums: film, television and theatre. He is known for his starring roles in the James Bond film Octopussy, the American series The Bold and the Beautiful, the European series Sandokan, and the Bollywood blockbuster Khoon Bhari Maang with Rekha. He is a voting member of the Academy which presents the Oscars. In 2010, Italy bestowed Kabir with its highest civilian honour, “Cavaliere”.   His credits continue starring with Michael Caine in Ashanti and Roddy McDowell in Thief of Baghdad, and playing the title role in the Italian film The Black Pirate (Il Corsaro Nero). On American television, he has acted in Highlander, Murder She Wrote, Magnum, P.I., Dynasty and many HBO mini-series. On stage, he starred in John Murrell’s Taj at the Luminato Festival in Canada, and M.M. Kaye’s The Far Pavilions in London’s West End. In India, he has done close to seventy Bollywood films.  

Kabir adds another feather in his cap and turns debut author with his best-selling autobiography, Stories I Must Tell: The Emotional Life of an Actor. Defying convention his memoir is written as a series of short, deeply evocative and emotional stories told through the prism of people and places he has known and loved. He dares to bare his soul, and the stories  tumble out. That first magical encounter with the Beatles as a student in Delhi. The sudden move to Bombay, away from home, friends and college. His exciting years in advertising, his extraordinarily successful career abroad and his many painful setbacks. His relationships that changed the course of his life. Of the scars they left, and the trauma of three divorces, and how he finally found fulfilment. And why his beliefs have changed.  He also tells the fascinating love story of his Indian father, a philosopher in Europe, and his British-born mother, the world’s highest-ranked Buddhist nun. And most poignant of all, the battle to save his schizophrenic son. Equally, it is the tale of how he survived the roller-coaster journey of the making, unmaking and remaking of him as a person.  

Kabir lives with his wife Parveen Dusanj, a producer, in Juhu, Mumbai.

John Elliott

John Elliott is a former Financial Times journalist who lived in India for more than 25 years till 2018 and wrote a book, “IMPLOSION: India’s Tryst with Reality”. Now based in London, he writes a blog on Indian current affairs called “Riding the Elephant”. He also writes for Asia Sentinel in Hong Kong and occasionally for India-based In Asia from 1983, he contributed to The Economist, Fortune magazine and the New Statesman as well as the FT.

Fakir Aijazuddin

Fakir Aijazuddin is one of Pakistan’s leading scholars and art-historians whose specialty has been the history of the Punjab. He belongs to the famous Fakir family of Lahore which achieved considerable prominence during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
Aijazuddin has published a number of books on this period of Punjab history. The first was Pahari Paintings and Sikh Portraits in the Lahore Museum (1977), a catalogue of the miniature paintings collection in the Lahore Museum. The counterpart to it is in the Government Museum & Art Gallery, Chandigarh.
His second book Sikh Portraits by European Artists (1979) was a biographical study of the paintings in the Princes s Bamba Collection, Lahore Fort. The collection had once belonged to Maharaja Duleep Singh.
Amongst his other books are two books on Lahore, one on rare maps of Pakistan, an account of Henry Kissinger’s secret visit to China in 1971, another on US-Pakistan diplomatic relations between 1969 and 1974, two books on his alma mater Aitchsion College, Lahore, to commemorate its centenary (1986) and its 125th anniversary (2011).
He is a regular columnist for Pakistan’s leading daily DAWN.

Rachel Dwyer

Rachel Dwyer is Professor Emerita of Indian Cultures and Cinema at SOAS University of London.  Her most recent books are Bombay before Mumbai: Essays in Honour of Jim Masselos (co-edited with Prashant Kidambi and Manjiri Kamat, 2019) and Cinema and Soft Power: Configuring the National and Transnational in Geo-politics (co-edited with Stephanie Dennison, 2021).  She writes a monthly column on Indian culture in ‘Open’.

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