About Pankaj Sekhsaria

Pankaj Sekhsaria is author of 'The Last Wave', (http://tinyurl.com/njatxm2) a novel based in the Andaman islands of India. He is also a journalist, photographer and researcher with four books, a dozen peer reviewed papers and nearly 200 newspaper and magazine articles to his credit. He is currently a doctoral candidate in Science and Technology Studies (STS) at Maastricht University Science and Technology Studies (MUSTS). His Phd research involves studying the techno-scientific practices inside nanotechnology labs in India to understand and articulate the idea of a 'culture of innovation'

‘Not simply a vision thing’

‘Not simple a vision thing’

The act of developing a technology is as much work inside the laboratory as it is of engaging with the state and society on various concerns and questions


India’s biosphere wealth

The green mile

A peek into India’s biosphere wealth.

A full moon rises from behind the crestline forests that are the highlight of the Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve.A full moon rises from behind the crestline forests that are the highlight of the Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve.

It was my first trip to the magnificent Nilgiris and there could not have been a better introduction to the wealth and uniqueness of this mighty mountain range than a visit to Longwood Shola, a 100-odd hectare patch of “original” forest near Kotagiri, holding on tenuously amidst a landscape that is full of villages, tea estates and plantations of exotic trees.

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The Last Wave – a review

A very recent review of my debut novel – ‘The Last Wave


By Madhusree Mukerjee

6 May 2016

Pankaj Sekhsaria’s new novel about the Andaman islands turns real life into compelling prose:

“The Last Wave is a love story, or rather, two. One is a fairly conventional tale of growing attraction between a man and a woman, thrown together not only by circumstance – confined as they are on a dungi, a small boat, with their five-person team, exploring a pristine coastline – but also by their shared wonder and concern at all that they see and hear. The other is between a journalist and an archipelago. Pankaj Sekhsaria is in love with the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and it shows – in the occasional but compelling lyricism of his writing, and in the reverence with which his characters circumnavigate the Jarawas’ territory, probing its mysteries without quite violating its boundaries: ….”

For the full review, click here
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A flame in the forest

‘A flame in the forest’

In the Indian Express, Sunday, 27 March, 2016

It was a favourite of Rabindranath Tagore, finds extensive mention in Punjabi literature, is the state flower of Jharkhand and is compared by Jayadeva in his Gita Govindam to the red nails of Kamadeva with which he wounds the hearts of young lovers. It is an integral part of celebrating Basant Panchami in Bengal and Shivaratri in parts of peninsular India, and its names are as varied as the geographies and the languages of this land — Palash, Dhak and Tesu in Hindi, Palas in Marathi, Pangong in Manipuri, Kesudo and Khakda in Gujarati, Moduga in Telugu.

The flower is an integral part of celebrating Basant Panchami in Bengal and Shivaratri in parts of peninsular India. (Photo: Pankaj Sekhsaria) The flower is an integral part of celebrating Basant Panchami in Bengal and Shivaratri in parts of peninsular India. (Photo: Pankaj Sekhsaria)

With petals the shape of a parrot’s beak and colour the vermilion of a forest fire, if there is one flower that epitomises the spirit of spring in South and Southeast Asia, it is Butea monosperma, known in English as the ‘Flame of the Forest’. Spread across the rural and forested (and often urban landscapes too), the nondescript tree that some even refer to as ugly in its non-flowering stage, comes alive with life and colour in spring.

A squirrel makes it way to the Flame of the Forest. (Photo: Pankaj Sekhsaria) A squirrel makes it way to the Flame of the Forest. (Photo: Pankaj Sekhsaria)

No one — be it man or woman, the purple sunbird or the little squirrel — can escape the lure of this flower that has, at this very moment, set the landscape ablaze with its fiery colours and striking beauty.

Pankaj Sekhsaria is the author of The Last Wave — An Island Novel.


The promise of nanotechnology?

And here is a report on my thesis and of the other two that were part of the project on the website of the Maastricht University….

The promise of nanotechnology

by Jolien Linssen

Emerging technologies are often held up as miracle interventions: by bridging the divide between the Global North and South, they could change the world for the better. Yet in the past, nuclear power, biotechnology and ICT all failed to live up to their promise. Could nanotechnology, the next big thing, make the difference? For PhD candidates Pankaj Sekhsaria, Trust Saidi and Koen Beumer, this question formed the starting point of their research….

For the article click here

So there are three PhDs as part of the project


Enculturing Innovation – Indian engagements with nanotechnology

Dear friends,
Very happy to announce that I successfully defended my PhD thesis last week (10 March 2016)  and have now been awarded a doctorate.

The thesis is titled ‘Enculturing Innovation – Indian engagements with nanotechnology’ and is in the field of Science and Technology Studies. The research was conducted as part of a project at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University under the supervision of Prof Wiebe Bijker, Dr Aalok Khandekar and Dr Ragna Zeiss

Please msg me or send me an email at psekhsaria@gmail.com if you would like to read the thesis and I will be happy to send you the pdf. A short (3 page) summary of the thesis is also available….

The thesis can be accessed online from the Maastricht University library website at the following link:  http://pub.maastrichtuniversity.nl/00b75ea0-379b-4a9d-8689-e92a3b878a9b

You can also write to me at psekhsaria@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to email the pdf across to you!

Best wishes


Enculturing Innovation Final Pankaj Sekhsaria PhD Thesis

Island worlds – a photographic exhibition

And here’s a review of Island Worlds, my photographic exhibition that was held in Pune, India between Feb 13 and 20:

Activist as artist

Photographs from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands printed on raw silk glimmer with beauty, but also with compassion…


To read the full review click here

Urban Colloquium 10: The Andaman & Nicobars, An Island Journey

Urban Design Collective

UDC’s first Urban Colloquium of 2016 was held in Pondicherry with a presentation by writer and activist Pankaj Sekhsaria, on his work in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and about his new book The Last Wave, a novel set in the islands. The event was held in collaboration with PondyPHOTO. We thank Kasha ki Aasha for generous use of their space.

Guest contributor Ketaki Chowkhani shares with us her thoughts on Pankaj’s presentation.

The Andaman and Nicobars: An Island Journey

‘When I first surveyed this creek seven years ago,’ David finally spoke, ‘it was full of crocs. It was amazing how many you could see in a single night. It used to be great fun but not anymore. This creek has now been trashed. Completely trashed. Too many people, too much encroachment. Only the first wall of the mangroves now stands. Everything beyond has been converted to paddy fields and…

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Island Worlds


Picturing paradise

By: Kunal Ray

Author and photographer Pankaj Sekhsaria’s photography exhibition offers a multi-dimensional view of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Pankaj Sekhsaria grew up in Pune and has been working and researching in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands for the last two decades. He is a freelance journalist, academic and author of The Last Wave — An Island Novel, a story based in the Andaman Islands. He has authored-edited three other, non-fiction books, two of which are based in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Of Land and Sea & Island Worlds, scheduled to be held from February 13-20, is his second photography exhibition. Excerpts from an interview:


Island Worlds – Photo exhib on the A&N Islands

Coming up in less than a week, in Pune, India – ‘Island Worlds’ my new photo exhibition on the Andaman & Nicobar Islands

The photographs have all been specially reproduced on silk fabric to offer a new visual and aesthetic experience even as they explore the many moods and dimensions of the islands that I have myself seen and experienced over the last two decades.

At the inauguration on February 13, the poetry-music band, Mystic, will present a new concert ‘Singing the sea’ that will evoke the spirit of our world of water.

‪#‎thelastwave‬ ‪#‎islandworlds‬

A river’s journey

A river’s journey

“Rising along the eastern slopes of the Agasthyamalai range of the Western Ghats, the Tamirabarani river travels a short 125 kilometres before reaching the Gulf of Mannar near Punnaikayal. Passing through Tirunelveli and Thoothukkudi districts in Tamil Nadu, it spells life for those in the dry and arid plains along this part of the south-eastern coast of India. …”


Continuing from my last post on the forests of KMTR, in India’s southern western ghats, here is a feature on the River Tamabarani that originates in these mountains – the journey of a river from source to the sea, from the canopy to the coast and the many things that happen along the way…This feature appeared in The Hindu Sunday Magazine on October 18, 2015, and really really underlines the nature’s infrastructure theme for me in more ways than one. For the full text and more pics click here


KMTR’s one-mile corridor

KMTR’s one-mile corridor

The story of how a small patch of forest in India’s southern-western ghats (a global biodiversity hotspot) was saved in the 1970s…at it’s heart is the work in the decade of the 70s of two American primatologists, who were studying the rare and endemic Lion-tailed macaque, the enimatic, canopy dwelling primate of these forests…These forests are also the source of much of the water security of the region (a key point in the natural infrastructure’s that I’ve been discussing a bit on this blog!!)

For the full story including some incredible 1970s pics of the region by the primatologists see http://www.sanctuaryasia.com/conservation/field-reports/10169-kmtrs-one-mile-corridor





Threads of tenacity

Threads of tenacity

Continuing here from my last post – on the magic of indigo and the master Yellappa –  here is another older story of another such tradition and master-craftsman from the same part of the country…This is a feature on the technique of ikkat (tie-and-dye) weaving in the southern Indian state of Telangana; the story of K Narasimha…

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/blink/article6488781.ece#im-image-001 chitiki Business line02chitiki Business line2

Last of the blues

Last of the Blues

Remembering the exceptional Yellappa, a man who carried the knowledge, skill and practice of colouring cotton yarn with natural indigo as part of a rich tradition in the Indian sub-continent.

In The Hindu Sunday Magazine, December 13, 2015




Frugal and Reverse Innovations – Quo Vadis?

*Frugal and Reverse Innovations – Quo Vadis?*
by Henri Simula, Mokter Hossain and Minna Halme
*Current Science*, 10 November 2015, 109(9), 1567-1572.
*Abstract*: The concepts of frugal and reverse innovations are recent
entrants to the innovation literature. Frugal innovation conveys the
important idea of innovating under circumstances of resource scarcity.
Reverse innovation refers to another significant turn in thinking and
practice – innovations from low-income contexts can enter wealthier markets,
a major shift from the previous innovation paradigm. There are some
hallmark examples of these types of innovations but the current academic
literature is still limited. The purpose of this article is to study these
concepts and present a conceptual framework that combines underlying
drivers. We also present ideas for future research avenues.

*Download Full-Text PDF*:

Click to access 1567.pdf

Patterns of COMMONING


Promises to be very interesting….
Patterns of COMMONING
What accounts for the persistence and spread of “commoning,” the irrepressible desire of people to collaborate and share to meet everyday needs? How are the more successful projects governed? And why are so many people embracing the commons as a powerful strategy for building a fair, humane and Earth-respecting social order? Continue reading

A Jugaad reading list

Since it was jugaad that got Nicholas to get me to blog on Installing (Social) Order, here’s a ‘jugaad reading list’ that I’ve used in the writing of my doctoral dissertation. It’s reasonably comprehensive and is a combination of newspaper articles, Journal publications and also books. Some of these are accessible online and I do have pdfs of many of the journal publications – so if anyone is looking for the full text please email me at psekhsaria@gmail.com

A Jugaad reading list

Birtchnell, T. (2011). Jugaad as systemic risk and disruptive innovation in India. Contemporary South Asia, 19(4), 357–372.

Bound, K., & Thornton, I. (2012). Our Frugal Future: Lessons from India’s Innovation System. London: Nesta.

Cappelli, P., Singh, H., Singh, J., & Useem, M. (2011). The India Way – How India’s Top Business Leaders are Revolutionizing Management. Boston, Massachusets: Harvard Business Press.

Datta, P. (2010). A Case Study Special on Innovation – Making Aspirations Count (Editorial). In P. Datta (Ed.), (p. 4). New Delhi: BusinessWorld.

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2016 Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) Annual Meeting – Singapore


Formed in 1958, SHOT is an interdisciplinary and international organization concerned not only with the history of technological devices and processes but also with technology in history, the development of technology, and its relations with society and culture –that is, the relationship of technology to politics, economics, science, the arts, and the organization of production, and with the role it plays in the differentiation of individuals in society.

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More on the wildlife-infrastructure conundrum

Continuing along the lines of my earlier post, Wildlife’s Infrastructure nightmare, here are links to two very recent news-reports on this wildlife-infrastructure link, if it can be called that…
a) Cutting a rail-link through a forests cuts off the corridor for primate movement and then we construct a bridge to bridge the earlier cut…The story of a rare primate in a small forest of the North-east Indian state of Assam
Bridge to connect gibbon families

b) And in the same region of the country, a wild Asian elephant dies, when human negligence results in the electrocution of the pachyderm when he comes in contact with a live high-tension electric cable: The death of an elephant

Wildlife’s infrastructure nightmare

Dear Friends,

I’m very honored and excited to be invited as a guest blogger on Installing (Social) Order and am hoping I can make some interesting and valuable contributions. And I start here on the issue of infrastructure, but from a completely different vantage point – that of wilderness and wildlife. One on my key interests going back more than 2 decades is wildlife conservation in South Asia, the part of the planet I belong to and have been living in since I was born. As part of my work with the environmental NGO Kalpavriksh, I have been editing a newsletter on wildlife for over 18 years now. It is called the Protected Area Update, and one issue that comes up repeatedly is the impact on wildlife, wilderness and the environment on account of our relentless drive to create more and more and more ‘infrastructure’. It is something I keep reporting and commenting on and here is one small editorial I wrote for the February 2012 issue of the newsletter. It’s a little old if one goes by the date, but the concerns on the ground today are just as real if not actually more acute. The piece is also a little India specific, but I think it captures the challenges and that is why I’m sharing it here.

And here’s where you can access the entire 24 page newsletter in case you are interested in reading the specific newsletter or the entire set check Protected Area Update – 2012


(Editorial, Protected Area Update Vol. XVIII, No. 1, February 2012)

More roads that penetrate deeper, railway lines that connect better and faster, dam projects for power and irrigation, coal mining for more electricity, high-tension power lines to evacuate that electricity…. This is one side of India’s infrastructure and constantly lauded growth story.

There is another side to that very story which reads something like the following: Roads that cut through rich forests, railways lines that regularly kill elephants, dam projects that drown pristine forests and wildlife habitats, coal mining that rips apart tiger corridors, high tension lines that kill elephants in Orissa and flamingoes in Gujarat…

From the Nallamalla forests of Andhra Pradesh to the valley of the Alaknanda in Uttarakhand; from the elephant forests of Orissa to the Great Rann of Kutch in Gujarat – the story is the same – what is unfolding is nothing short of a nightmare for India’s wildlife. The infrastructure for our automobiles, power and lifestyles is leaving nothing of the natural infrastructure that the wild denizens need. As we travel faster, longer, and deeper and as the GDP becomes the only mantra, the elephants, the tigers, the leopards and even the flamingoes are getting hemmed in more and more with every passing day.

The fate of the flamingoes in Gujarat highlights this starkly. Their only option on being disturbed at night by vehicular noise in the Great Rann was to fly into high-tension wires hanging above and get charred instantly. Between the vehicle and the wire, India’s beleaguered wildlife is getting sandwiched and slaughtered like never before.

One ‘eco’ – the economic is soaring as everything ecologic is being torn to shreds. The tragic irony is that the same system sells to us and to the world the prowling tiger, the gamboling elephant, the soaring birds and, yes, the dancing tribal as ‘Incredible India’. We at the PA Update are part of a small crowd that’s watching on with incredulity. And with despair.