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Rohit Chopra will be in conversation with Salil Tripathi on the significance and role of the Gita, religion, and tradition in the contemporary world. Examining the challenges posed by the present-day global order—-including political instability, the rise of authoritarianism, the epidemic of fake news and subversion of democracy through the weaponization of social media, the backlash against the rights of caste, ethnic, or racial minorities, and climate change—the dialogue will address what the Gita may offer in helping us respond to such demands and where it may fall silent. How, for instance, might we reconcile the endorsement of patriarchy and a hierarchical caste order in the Gita with modern day notions of rights, justice, and dignity? The discussion will also speak to the urgent need for evaluating the Gita on the basis of a framework of public reason rather than of religious authority.
Rohit Chopra is Associate Professor of Communication at Santa Clara University. His research centres on global media and identity, digital media, and the relationship between media, memory and violence. He is the author of The Virtual Hindu Rashtra: Saffron Nationalism and New Media (HarperCollins, 2019) and Technology and Nationalism in India: Cultural Negotiations from Colonialism to Cyberspace (Cambria, 2008), and co-editor of Global Media, Culture, and Identity: Theory, Cases, and Approaches (Routledge, 2011). Rohit also writes extensively in a journalistic capacity on media, politics and culture in global contexts. An expert on the role of social media in fomenting sectarian violence, he works with non-profits, think tanks, and technology and media firms on developing strategies to combat the negative effects of social media. Rohit is also the co-founder and co-host of the IndiaExplained podcast, a biweekly conversation on matters related to India (www.soundcloud.com/indiaexplained).
Salil Tripathi is the Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International since 2015, with his term ending at the Centenary Congress in late September. From 2009-2013 he was co-chair of the Writers at Risk Committee at English PEN. He lives in New York.
Salil is an award-winning journalist and writer. He was born in India and started as assistant editor at Indian Post and later, as a correspondent at India Today. In 1991 he moved to Singapore and Hong Kong where he was correspondent for Asia Inc and Far Eastern Economic Review, among others. He lived in London between 1999-2019. He writes for Mint and Caravan in India and for many leading publications worldwide.
His awards include the Citibank Pan Asia Economic Journalism Award in 1994, Bastiat Prize (third prize) in 2011, and Red Ink Award for Human Rights Journalism in 2015. His books include Offence: The Hindu Case (Seagull, 2009), The Colonel Who Would Not Repent: The Bangladesh War and its Unquiet Legacy (Aleph, 2014 and Yale University Press, 2016), and Detours: Songs of the Open Road(Tranquebar, 2015). He is currently working on a book about Gujaratis. He has also been published in several anthologies.
He is a co-convenor of the South Asian Media Defenders’ Network and an adviser at the Global Reporting Center at the University of British Columbia. In a parallel life, he is senior adviser – global issues at the Institute for Human Rights and Business, and has been published in reputed human rights journals and has contributed chapters to books on human rights.