For Intersectionality: Beyond standard issue ‘diversity & inclusion’ conversations in contemporary India

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by Virapandy Thulasimani on Monday, September 18, 2017


Session type

Technical level


In its most effective culmination, this workshop envisions realizations and a nuanced positioning for the participants in relation to the dialogue regarding inclusion and diversity, in India


Often, it is claimed that India embodies ‘Unity in Diversity’. But on another end our conversations regarding inclusivity and diversity mostly seem to be centered on gender alone. It is encouraging to see the dialogue broaden to include sexual orientations, gender identities and differentiated physical abilities. Yet, our country is a melting pot of religion, language, caste, ethnicity, and geographies. We are woefully inadequate in our conversations surrounding diversity. Even Uber, the frat boy of silicon valley, talks on a wider spectrum of diversity when it talks ( So what is stopping us from having a broader approach?

A dialog as this is extremely relevant in the context of today’s post-truth politics.

This workshop will generally wade through activities designed to
(i) Open up the collaborators (participants)

(ii) Sensitize the collaborators on different dimensions of individual identity

(iii) Exchange of perspectives and experiences between the collaborators

(iv) Provide relevant viewpoints from feminist theories, critical theories etc.

(v) Highlight evidences from socio-economic studies


Projector and screen, Stickies, pen, markers, adhesive tapes (we can make the arrangements

An open mind. And 2.5 hours of your attention. We take it for granted that if you are there for the workshop then you are interested in participating in the dialogue around diversity or the lack of it

Speaker bio

Workshop will be facilitated by Gayatri & Vira

An engineer / MBA currently working with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). At UNDP Gayatri focuses on promoting rural enterprises through a National Rural Livelihoods Mission funded by Government of India. She engages with a diverse set of people across the length and breadth of the country – from state capitals to remote villages

Vira prefers to use words like ‘business agilist’ for a professional outlook and ‘cat herder’ for his everyday work. Essentially a Business Analyst on a Thoughtworks team that puts in place solutions, mostly tech, for clients across domains. Apart from that he plays a role in furthering Thoughtworks India’s ‘diversity & inclusion’ initiatives (which includes workshops as these).

Beyond work he travels, primarily to engage with life and culture in different corners of the world. And when he cannot travel, he delves in history, current happenings, social justice, philosophy. And he indulges in some endurance activity or other - distance running, triathlon, trekking, cycling, biking, fasting et al when he can. He has a preference for the unorthodox and random happenstances.


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    [-] Zainab Bawa 2 years ago

    Thanks for submitting this proposal, Vira. I have a couple of questions:
    1. Why workshop format?
    2. Who should participate in this workshop? What background knowledge should they have or what background should they be from to participate in this workshop.
    3. Do you intend to get participants to produce specific outcomes from this workshop? Else, what are the more concrete takeaways for participants who attend this workshop?

    Disclaimer: I organize diversity meetups at HasGeek, and one of the biggest challenges is “what can participants do” when they go back. There is lots to talk about – I am verbosity personified when I organize these meetups. :)

    • 1

      [-] Virapandy Thulasimani 2 years ago (edited 2 years ago)

      Hi Zainab
      Let me share what we are am thinking
      1) Workshop because it will provide an opportunity for the collaborators to reflect under the conditions that we hope to create.
      2) We do think it is suitable for folks who want to get initiated or is already initiated with the dialogue around diversity (or the lack of it). If someone is already familiar or leading initiatives around diversity, inclusion then they would be valuable by bring in additional perspectives to the workshop.
      3) Yes, the best case outcome would be for the participants to acknowledge privileges or the lack of it. Central to our proposition is familiarization with intersectionality. With a deeper understanding about the spectrum along which we can make sense of identities and privileges we hope that the participants appreciate the need for a greater diversity
      4) ‘What can we do’ is a significant question. Certainly a case can be made for action in the personal domain (our secret pitch!). It does indeed seem that we are far away from any institutional or policy action. As we see it, the conditions that are unconducive to diversity are indeed structural. And any individual action can seem insignificant and too little. That is the challenge that we either take it head on or resign. What sometimes is astounding is the near silence in common settings. Personally, even having a wider conversation around this is a starting point.
      5) Yes, we do not want to claim that we wouldn’t be verbose, at least for parts of it. But yeah, we are making an attempt for the workshop to be more engaging and activity driven.

      Hope, this answers your questions. If not, happy to talk more!

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