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Prof Gita Chadha appointed as Obaid Siddiqi Chair

The Obaid Siddiqi Chair has been set up at the intersection of the practice of science, its history and culture and is awarded to eminent scholars whose work spans these disciplines. Named after Obaid Siddiqi, the founder of the Molecular Biology Unit at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and whose vision led to the development of NCBS, the Chair is supported by TNQ Technologies.

Prof. Gita Chadha is the third Obaid Siddiqi Chair in the History and Culture of Science at the Archives at NCBS. Until April of this year she was at the Department of Sociology, University of Mumbai and will start her position at NCBS in August 2023. Her scholarship lies in the areas of science studies, visual cultures, and pedagogy.

Prof. Satyajit Mayor, Chair of the Obaid Siddiqi Chair Review Committee, says, “The Chair has been attracting a number of diverse and excellent applications at the intersections of science and diverse disciplines such as Science and Technology Studies, Design and Architecture, History of Science, Journalism, Geography, and it was a difficult task to narrow down our choice to one individual. I am grateful to our eminent Review Committee for their time, energy and judgement in once again making an excellent and unanimous choice. I am personally delighted to have Prof. Gita Chadha as the Obaid Siddiqi Chair for this year and indebted to Mariam Ram and TNQ technologies for making this possible. Located in the social sciences, Gita foregrounds a rich discussion about feminist and more marginalized perspectives in the Sciences and will enrich our archives in these domains.”

Prof. Chadha brings an intersectional feminist perspective to discussions of the study of science India. Beginning with exploring questions of who gets to do science and who does not, she hopes to initiate deeper conversations on its practice, method and on the social construction of scientific knowledge. These dimensions, she suggests, are interlinked. At the archives, through a collection of oral narratives, she plans to document the experiences of men and masculinities in science, with an aim to highlight gendered cultures in science. Using principles of feminist archiving, she hopes to make visible the life and work of women in science. She will also conduct short workshops on the relationship between science and culture.

The previous Chair, Prof. GN Devy, is involved in research on the prehistory and history of Indian civilization from a linguistic perspective, dating back to 12000 years ago. He ran a course, The People of India, that brought together various disciplines – genetics, pre-history, archeology, linguistics, philosophy, culture studies and literature – in order to provide a unique and comprehensive picture of who we are and how we have evolved through the millennia as a people of many origins, languages, world-views and cultural identities. He also delivered several public lectures that questioned the meaning of doing science in India. He will deliver the Obaid Siddiqi lectures (at Mount Carmel College at 4 pm on July 13, 14 and 15) and will speak about India as a linguistic civilisation.

“NCBS is a premier research institute working on biological systems across the scales. Additionally, true to the spirit of scientific enquiry, NCBS is committed to promoting studies on science and society, such as the history and philosophy of science, the process of science, public awareness and perception of science, sociology of the scientific community, and so on. The Archives at NCBS includes rare collections that are a great resource for studies on the history of science in contemporary India,” says Prof LS Shashidhara, Centre Director, NCBS-TIFR. 

The Obaid Siddiqi Chair and several activities through the Archives at NCBS are made possible through the generous support of TNQ Technologies, a global leader in scientific, technical, and medical publishing services and technologies.