U.S. SPEAKER: Kenneth J. Cooper is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a senior news editor at WGBH, a public radio station in Boston. Cooper shared a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting series on “The Race Factor,” which examined institutional racism in Boston. His areas of expertise include government, politics, and social policy. He has worked for The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and St. Louis American. While at The Washington Post, he was their correspondent for South Asia, reporting on Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Cooper is the co-author of “Portraits of Purpose: A Tribute to Leadership,” a book that portrays and profiles 127 individuals who have worked on social change in the Boston area since 1980, mostly African-American but also allies of every race and ethnicity. Cooper was a Fulbright Scholar in Cairo, Egypt in 2008.
MODERATOR: Dhanya Rajendran is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the digital portal The News Minute that brings in-depth and incisive reporting from South India. The News Minute, in a short span of time, has established itself as one of the most credible sources of news from the five southern states. Dhanya is also the chairperson of DigiPub, India's biggest association of digital media publishers. Previously, she worked as South India head for the English news channel Times Now. In her journalistic milestones, Dhanya has reported on a range of subjects from politics to human rights and is an ardent advocate of inclusive newsrooms. Dhanya was named as one of India’s best entrepreneurs in Fortune magazine’s 40 under 40 list in 2018. She was awarded Namma Bengaluru Media Person of the Year in 2017, is a well-known speaker, and has appeared on TEDx engagements.
Yashica Dutt is an Indian writer and journalist who has written on a broad range of topics including gender, identity, culture, and caste. She was previously Principal Correspondent with Brunch, the Sunday magazine of Hindustan Times in New Delhi. She also worked with The Asian Age. As a freelance journalist, Yashica has worked with Hindustan Times, LiveMint, Scroll.in, The Wire and HuffPost India. Yashica writes on Dalit-related social issues and is the founder of dalitdiscrimination.tumblr.com, a Tumblr blog portal. “Coming Out as Dalit” is Yashica's book published by Aleph Book Company. It is her memoir about growing up in a Dalit family. In the book, she describes how she felt compelled to hide her caste and pretended to be of another caste, all along terrified of her true identity being found out. The book details her journey of coming to terms with her true identity. The book is a social commentary woven with personal experiences. She received the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar for the book in the English category for the year 2020.
Chandra Bhan Prasad is widely regarded as the most important Dalit thinker and political commentator in India today, advocating on behalf of the more than sixteen percent of India's population who have historically been regarded as untouchable by orthodox Hinduism. Mr. Prasad is a research affiliate on CASI's Dalit research program and serves as a key advisor to the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI). He was the first Dalit to gain a regular space in a nationally circulating Indian newspaper, more than fifty years after India's independence, quickly attracting national attention and widespread readership. His weekly Dalit Diary has been a regular feature of the Delhi-based English language newspaper The Pioneer since 1999 and is routinely translated into numerous other major Indian languages. His articles and books are used by South Asia faculty in universities throughout the world to question longstanding assumptions about caste and Indian society. Prasad studied at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, where he completed his M.A. and M.Phil.