About Words on Water: Author Conversations

Words on Water, the Literary Festival of Indian & American Writers, attempts to mainstream the ideas of contemporary India & Indian writing in English for an American audience. Of all the practiced arts writers capture the essence of societies and put into words what many of us just sense but have not been able to articulate.

The attempt is to move from the purely academic and portray Indian writing as enlightening and engaging. Through topical issues we hope to capture the mind space of a broad swath of people and introduce American audiences to the trends in Indian writing in English of recent times.


Commonwealth Prize—winning author Rana Dasgupta’s forthcoming portrait of Delhi and its new elites is a story of global capitalism unbound, and looks set to do for Delhi what Maximum City did for Bombay.


Rana Dasgupta is a British Indian novelist and essayist. He grew up in Cambridge, Englandand moved to Delhi to write in 2001. His first novel, Tokyo Cancelled, appeared in 2005 and was shortlisted for the John Llewelyn Rhys Prize. Solo (2009) won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. His latest book, Capital, is a non-fiction portrait of twenty-first century Delhi.


Srikanth Reddy is the author of two books of poetry—Facts for Visitors (2004) and Voyager (2011)—both published by the University of California Press. A critical study, Changing Subjects: Digressions in Modern American Poetry, was published by Oxford University Press in 2012 as well. The recipient of awards and fellowships from the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Creative Capital Foundation, Reddy is currently an Associate Professor English at the University of Chicago, where he directs the Program in Poetry and Poetics.


Conquering The Chaos: Win In India, Win Everywhere ” talks of the unique position of India in the Global market. In conversation with Ameet Sachdeva, a business reporter with the Chicago Tribune, Ravi speaks of the many multinationals interested in entering the Indian market and the advantages the markets holds for them.

Ravi Venkatesan 2

Ravi Venkatesan is the former Chairman of Microsoft India and currently Chairman of Social Venture Partners India, a network of engaged philanthropists addressing social problems through venture philanthropy. He is a Venture Partner at Unitus Seed Fund, a director on the boards of AB Volvo and Infosys Ltd. and Vice Chairman of a successful family business. Ravi is the author of a newly released and critically acclaimed book “Conquering the Chaos: Win in India, Win Everywhere” published by Harvard Business Review.

As Chairman of Microsoft India between 2004 and 2011, Ravi helped build India into Microsoft’s second-largest presence in the world as well as one of its fastest growing markets. Microsoft India was consistently rated one of the country’s most respected companies, amongst the most admired brands, and one of India’s best employers. Ravi was instrumental in creating Microsoft India’s Project Shiksha, a computer literacy program which has so far trained over 35 million school children in India. In 2011, Ravi was voted India’s Most Influential Multinational Company CEO in the annual survey conducted by The Economic Times, India’s leading business newspaper.

Prior to joining Microsoft, as the Chairman of the publicly listed Cummins India, Ravi led its transformation into the country’s leading provider of power solutions and automotive engines. He helped establish the Cummins College of Engineering, India’s first engineering college for women, in Pune.

Ravi has a BS in engineering from IIT Bombay, an MS from Purdue University, and a MBA from Harvard Business School where he was a Baker Scholar. He is a recipient of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay’s Distinguished Alumnus Award and Purdue University’s Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award. He was recently voted as one of India’s best management thinkers by Thinkers50.


AMEET-SACHDEVAmeet has been a business reporter after graduating from college in 1993, largely at the Chicago Tribune which he joined in 2000. He was witness to the many changes the paper encountered in its transition to adapt to the digital word. Before joining the Tribune, Ameet worked for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentuckyand the Poughkeepsie Journal in New York. He has journalism degrees from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.


Award winning artist and educator, Indira Freitas Johnson’s public art and community-engaged projects address a broad spectrum of peace and social justice issues including those of ethnicity, gender, domestic violence, health and the environment. Born in Mumbai, India, Johnson received her undergraduate degree from the University of Bombay and the Sir JJ Institute of Art and her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including the prestigious Illinois Governors Award for the Arts. Most recently Chicago Magazine named her the 2013 Chicagoan of the Year.

Johnson’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is represented in numerous private and public collections including the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI, Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile AL, State of Illinois Building, Chicago and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA.

Ten Thousand Ripples, Johnson’s current Chicago area Public Art, Peace and Civic Engagement initiative uses art as a catalyst for conversations about peace and nonviolence.

JBL – sandro miller 1JIM LASKO — Executive Artistic Director of Redmoon

Jim Lasko is an artist creating ephemera that reveal and celebrate overlooked and hidden cultural assets. He has served as Artistic Director of Redmoon for over 20 years. Jim’s work has activated a wide range of public spaces, from the Museum of Contemporary Art to the Jackson Park Lagoons, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Spertus Center and urban interventions that pop up in some of the Chicago’s most underserved communities. He was Chicago’s first ever Artist in Residence, a recognition of his civic minded theater. Jim is currently at work on the Great Chicago Fire Festival, a massive spectacle event and the Mayor’s first cultural initiative for the city of Chicago.

In the early part of his career Jim was focused on theater making and achieved both critical and commercial success for his image based adaptations of classic novels. Hunchback; Frankenstein & Once Upon a Time, Redmoon’s outdoor spectacles remain some of the finest examples of Jim’s vision for a new civic theater. Long Live the King was enacted in and around a mobile 30-foot steel tower and toured Chicago’s neighborhoods before a sold out run in Lincoln Park. Sink, Sank, Sunk was a wild extravaganza staged at the nexus of Chicago’s transportation systems. Last of My Species played on Chicago’s lakefront. Jim has created site specific spectacles as s part of the International Collaboration ‘Dream Masons, and designed an interactive installation for the Spertus Institute.


LiseLake2014Lise McKean is a social anthropologist and writer based in Chicago. She has traveled and done research and consulting in India since the 1980s. In 2013 she curated StreamLines, an exhibition of contemporary art in Vaishali, India. She writes about art and activism, with a special interest in artists in and from South Asia, and has published articles about work by the Sahmat Collective, Sheba Chhachhi, Fatima Haider, Indira Johnson, Jitish Kallat, Amar Kanwar, Nilima Sheikh, and Vivan Sundaram. She is currently translating, Kuch Ankahi (Something Unspoken), a Hindi novel about three generations of women by Mridula Behari.

Event Info:

  • Saturday, 21st June
  • The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, 1 PM
    1306 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605