Making virtue out of our lockdown necessity, on 23 March the College celebrated twenty years of partnership with Karnatak University, Dharwad, in managing the Pavate Fellowship scheme.

Established in 2000, the scheme was the brainchild of Sharad Javali, Senior Advocate in India’s Supreme Court and grandson of DC Pavate. In honouring the memory of his grandfather, who had graduated from Sidney in the 1920s, he wanted to create a programme whose beneficiaries would not only receive the stimulus of exposure to a great university, where DC Pavate had studied, but who would then make a genuine contribution to Indian society and the education of its citizenry on their return, goals to which he had devoted his life.

The scheme is administered by Karnatak University in Dharwad, and since 2001 has enabled a total of 43 Fellows to come to the College. Twenty of these – one a year – have been selected from the original field for the Fellowship of International Relations and its cognate disciplines, including Law and International Political Economy. Following the expansion of the programme in 2008 to include two further broad fields: Management and Business, Mathematics and Sciences, and a further expansion in 2019 to include English Literature, a further 23 Fellows have joined the Pavate community and spent a term at Sidney.

Travel restrictions from the global pandemic have prevented the College from welcoming any Fellows since spring 2020 and so we decided to reunite the Pavate community at a symposium to which we welcomed former Pavate Fellows, and faculty members from Karnatak University, albeit virtually, to Sidney. The event proved to be both socially rewarding and intellectually exciting. We were indeed fortunate to have Sidney Fellow Sir John Walker (Nobel laureate in Chemistry 1997) to deliver the keynote address, 'The fuel of Life: a Personal Odyssey’. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is the molecular energy-carrier in the cells of all known forms of life. We greatly enjoyed Sir John's 'behind the scenes' account of his ATP research that led to the award of the prize in Stockholm, and his continued work and further discoveries up to the present time. After the keynote address, we broke into three specialist groups (following the major categories of the Pavate Fellowship programme) for further discussion. The conversations were wide-ranging, enabling Fellows to talk about their current work, as well as coalescing around some common themes.

In the Social Science and Humanities group, after hearing from Professor Christopher Hill about the impact of Brexit on multilateralism in Europe and from Dr Edward Wilson-Lee on  the potential contribution of literary scholarship to the social sciences, discussion focused on three broad themes – the implications of the shift in power from west to east and the geopolitics of Asian rivalries for world order, the feasibility of international economic reform and the continued relevance of international legal norms on such matters as conservation. These were all issues on which former Fellows are actively engaged and have already published distinguished work. The future of Sino-Indian relations was clearly uppermost in many Fellows’ minds.

Resilience, innovation and sustainability provided a thread through the business and management group which opened with a fascinating account of how governments can innovate to enable more citizen-centric services from Professor Jaideep Prabhu, who has published a book 'What can governments do?' on the subject.

The Mathematics and Sciences session benefited from the participation of fellow chemists Sir John Walker and Prof. K. B. Gudasi (VC, Karnatak Univ.). Focusing on Indian perspectives, there were lively discussions on climate change, on the current pandemic (in particular, vaccine manufacture), and on the National Education Policy 2020 approved last July by the Union Cabinet of India.

The event concluded with comments from the VC of Karnatak University, and great enthusiasm from all participants that even when normal travel is once again resumed we should hold similar events in the future.

Written by: Professor James Mayall, Director of Studies in Human, Social, and Political Sciences at Sidney, and Emeritus Fellow in International Relations

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