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Public Intellectual & Retired Civil Servant

Jawhar Sircar and Siddharth Raja discuss the political dynamics of West Bengal, in the run up to the state assembly elections of 2021. They discuss the political history of the state, the ethnic, caste and class lines along which politics has taken place over the 20th century, and what conflicts lie ahead for the state in the 2021 elections. 

Jawhar Sircar is a public intellectual and a retired civil servant who writes and speaks often in the popular press. He served as the CEO of Prasar Bharati, India’s public broadcasting agency between 2012 and 2016. Before that, he was Secretary, Department of Culture, Government of India between 2008 and 2012. He writes regularly for the New Indian Express as well as several other publications.

Siddharth Raja is a corporate lawyer. He was previously on BIC Talks as a guest on Episode 34, to talk about the rich history of the Nandi Hills near Bangalore.


Jawhar Sircar

Public Intellectual & Retired Civil Servant

Jawhar Sircar retired in 2012, after four decades in the IAS — as India’s longest serving Culture Secretary. He was immediately appointed CEO of Prasar Bharati in charge of All India Radio & Doordarshan for five years.

He is known for his research in Social History, Indian Civilisation and Culture, Media and on the Anthropology of Religion. Sircar contributes regularly to reputed Indian and foreign newspapers and journals. He has been awarded by the British Museum and the 235-year old Asiatic Society for his contribution to art, culture and civilisational studies.

He is a known pubic speaker and opinion-maker and he was recently honoured by NCPA Mumbai to deliver the prestigious Dr Jahangir Bhabha Memorial Lecture on the Arts. He has also addressed international institutions like UNESCO and dozens of foreign and Indian universities and forums — on Indian culture, civilisation and media.

He is currently Chairman of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata.

Siddharth Raja


Siddharth Raja is a seasoned corporate lawyer now in his 23rd year of practice. He focuses on private equity and venture capital transactions, and on cross-border and domestic mergers and acquisitions. He has been highly ranked for several years, including by Chambers & Partners – lauded for his “global business perspective”, “attention to detail” and “excellent technical knowledge”.

Siddharth is currently one of the founder Partners of the Bangalore-headquartered full-service law firm, Saakshya Law; his fourth law practice. Siddharth previously co-founded Narasappa, Doraswamy & Raja that merged to form Samvad: Partners, where he was one of the co-founders. He has also worked in Hong Kong, with the international law firm, O’Melveny & Myers.

Siddharth graduated from St. Joseph’s Boys’ High School. A Gold Medalist with a Bachelor’s Law degree from National Law School of India University, Siddharth also holds a Master’s in Law from the University of Warwick Law School, where he was a British Council & Foreign and Commonwealth Office Chevening, and J. N. Tata, Scholar.

Siddharth is or has been a Visiting Professor at NLSIU; Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Science; and IIM, Bangalore.

Siddharth is currently an elected Governor on the Board of Governors of the Bangalore International Centre – he was previously an elected member of the Executive Committee. He was also a member of the Bangalore Tourism Advisory Committee established by the Karnataka Government.

His love for history has led him to run a successful historical walking tour company – along with his wife, Priya – called “Nandi Valley Walks”. In his free time, Siddharth pursues historical research on the Princely State of Mysore, through the biographical prism of one of its Dewans, Sir Albion Rajkumar Banerji.