Tara Devi Dhakal, Academic Director
Tara Devi Dhakal holds a master's degree from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, where she specialized in social and economic development and organizational management. She did her undergraduate studies in agriculture and earned a postgraduate certificate in women’s studies in India and is currently pursuing a PhD. Her studies focus on rural sociology and socioeconomic development in the eastern Himalayas, with a special interest in agro-based livelihood security and resilience in farming households in Sikkim.
Tara comes from a rural farming community of south Sikkim, located in northeast India, and has grown up doing farming and associated activities. Before joining World Learning, she worked as a researcher and development consultant with NGOs and international development organizations in India and Nepal. She has worked in a tribal district of Maharashtra as an eco-health researcher with BAIF Development Research Foundation; gender and social inclusion consultant with The World Conservation Union, Nepal; intern and consultant with International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) on a regional program on access and benefit sharing (ABS) from genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge (TK) in the Eastern Himalayan countries; consultant on community development with JPS Consultants Delhi/IC Net-JICA Japan on a preparatory study on an integrated project for sustainable development of forest resources in Sikkim. She has conducted an in-depth literature review of agro-biodiversity conservation in the eastern Himalayas from a gender perspective and executed field studies on gender-based traditional knowledge of medicinal plants and conservation of local agro-biodiversity in the region. Her areas of interest are community development with a focus on urban and rural farming, rural livelihood, agro-biodiversity, and gender issues. Tara is strongly influenced by social justice and equity and is deeply connected to sustainability and practices of environmental and humanitarian spirituality.
Awadhesh Aadhar, Senior Program and Administrative Coordinator
Mr. Awadhesh Aadhar has worked with SIT for 14 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in law and sociology from the University of Rajasthan. Mr. Aadhar brings a wealth of diverse expertise to the program, along with his vast network of public connections and resources. He is the key person for organizing and coordinating program logistics, assisting with student affairs, and performing office administration. He also assists students in language classes. He has excellent organizational skills and approaches all his work with great dedication. With his tremendous patience and smiling face, Mr. Aadhar is a valuable asset to his students and the program. Outside of work, he enjoys playing cricket and badminton.
Manoj Sain, Library and Student Services Coordinator
Mr. Manoj Sain has a bachelor’s degree in humanities from the University of Rajasthan. He has worked with SIT for more than six years and is a key person in several areas: the library, student health, and program logistics. In addition, he assists in teaching and individual tutoring in language classes. Before joining SIT, he managed his own pharmaceuticals business and worked as a tutor for more than three years. He is also a professionally trained photographer. With his versatility and wide range of experience, great sense of humor, and generous, helpful nature, Mr. Sain is a tremendous asset to the program. He loves to dance and enjoys playing cricket and badminton.
Trilochan Pandey, Academic and Field Coordinator
Mr. Trilochan Pandey received a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from the University of Delhi and studied sustainable development from the Indian Institute of Ecology and Environment. Before joining SIT, he worked with The Mountain Institute, India (TMI); Right to Food Campaign, India; Oxfam GB; Control Arms Foundation (CAFI); and Greenpeace, India, in New Delhi. He has keen interest in right-to-food policies and systems, organic farming, family farming in mountains, and the solidarity economy within. He assists students in their academics, including field studies, and facilitates their overall academic learning experience. He enjoys photography, reading books, and playing badminton.
Ms. Anjani Sharma, Language Faculty
Anjani Sharma has a master’s degree in Aacharya from Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, Delhi, and a bachelor’s in education with a focus on Hindi and Sanskrit language instruction. She has more than six years of experience teaching Hindi in both public and private institutions, including primary schools, and has taught spoken Hindi to foreign nationals. She interned for six months in Johannesburg, South Africa, and taught Hindi to American students at the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS), Jaipur. She has translated many educational high school textbooks and other material from English into Hindi. Anjani is very innovative in her teaching and possesses extensive knowledge of Indian culture, traditions, and development. She is a great resource and source of support for students. Her favorite pastimes include reading, gardening, and coin collecting.
Ms. Pragya Vardhan, Language Faculty
Pragya Vardhan has a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Rajasthan. She has worked as a language coordinator in Neerja Modi School, where she conducted the student and teacher exchange programs and taught Hindi to foreign nationals. In addition to teaching, she has assisted Dr. Matthew C. J. Rudolph in his research work on economic, political and social reforms of South Asian countries and has edited a magazine and received training at Dainik Bhaskar (a leading Hindi daily). Pragya brings a wealth of knowledge on Indian culture and traditions as well as language learning and is an extrovert with a great sense of humor who enjoys life to its fullest. She loves to dance, cook, and travel to exotic places.
Rama Kumari, Homestay and Lifestyle Coordinator
Ms. Rama Kumari has a degree in social sciences from the University of Delhi. She has been a homestay mother since 1996. She joined the SIT Jaipur team as a homestay coordinator in 2007 and now has full responsibility for the homestay needs of all students. She also plays an active role in delivering cross-cultural orientation, guiding students on social and cultural activities, and attending to other lifestyle issues. Ms. Kumari enjoys cooking various Indian delicacies. She has traveled widely across Europe, has studied German, and enjoys making new friends.
Uday Mehto, Program Officer
Mr. Uday Kumar Mehto joined SIT in 1999 as a program associate and chef. Trained at the prestigious Lodhi Garden restaurant in New Delhi, he specializes in Thai delicacies. He has also worked at Flow, a restaurant in Jaipur. He has participated in the SIT exchange training program in Kathmandu, Nepal, and has trained SIT’s Nepal staff in Indian cooking. He also offers Indian cooking classes to interested students. Mr. Mehto is a committed team player, and when not in the kitchen he is often busy helping the administrative team. He enjoys listening to traditional Hindi music and playing cricket.
Key guest lecturers for the program include:
Dr. Prathiba Jain
Dr. Jain obtained her PhD in history from the University of Jaipur, Rajasthan. For many years, she was a professor of history and served until recently as the vice chairperson of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Jaipur. Dr. Jain has published several research papers and books, including Gandhian Ideas, Social Movements, and Creativity and Honour Status and Polity, Rajputana. Dr. Jain is the recipient of many national and international awards. She is a practicing Gandhian and a renowned scholar on Mahatma Gandhi.
Dr. Rajiv Gupta
Dr. Rajiv Gupta is the professor and head of the Department of Sociology at the University of Rajasthan. He is presently the research convener on military sociology / armed forces and conflict resolution of the Indian Sociological Society (INSOSO). He specializes in the sociology of education, professions, and intellectuals; Marxism; gender studies; and development.
Pradip Saha is a development activist and an independent communication specialist and filmmaker in the areas of environment and development. He worked with the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi, as an associate director and edited India’s foremost environment and development journal, Down to Earth. He is currently a freelancer and co-directs a research and communication consultancy firm in New Delhi, catering to diverse national and international development organizations.
Pramada Menon is a queer, feminist activist. She works as an independent consultant on issues of sexuality, sexual rights, gender, violence against women, organizational development, and change and livelihoods. She is the co-founder of CREA, an international women’s human rights organization and worked as the director of programs of the organization from 2000 to 2008. Before co-founding CREA, she was the executive director of Dastkar, an organization working to ensure sustainable livelihoods for craftspeople.