Meet the panel, moderator and judges for FPJ's upcoming discussion on what COVID-19 pandemic taught us -

Meet the panel, moderator and judges for FPJ’s upcoming discussion on what COVID-19 pandemic taught us

It has now been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic began. On Tuesday, India’s cumulative COVID-19 tally crossed the 20 million mark, even as experts continued to predict a third wave of the virus in the upcoming months. But with the nation in the grips of a far deadlier second wave, clocking up to four lakh cases a day, it would seem that there are some lessons that are simply not learnt.

The only lesson history teaches us is that history teaches us no lesson. And the only lesson the pandemic appears to have taught us is that the pandemic has taught us no lesson. In recent days, India’s healthcare infrastructure has come alarmingly close to being overwhelmed in recent days. Several states have re-imposed lockdowns and curbs, and our case tally is now setting global records. But how did we come to this stage?

Last year we were battling unknown unknowns. This year we were, at worst, confronted with unknown knowns. How then have we have been found so wanting on healthcare and economic preparedness? Did we just ignore past learnings or are learnings without resources meaningless?

To find out more, the Free Press Journal will be holding a debate on the motion ‘COVID-19 has taught us nothing’. Living as we do in the times of a pandemic, it will be a ‘virtual debate’ on 7th May 2021.

Event: The Free Press Journal Debate

Motion: COVID-19 has taught us nothing

Date and Time: 7th May 2021 at 4:00 pm


Geeta Rao: She is an influencer, blogger and brand storyteller who runs ‘Geeta’s List’. The former Regional Creative Director of Ogilvy and former Beauty and Health Director of Vogue India has been published in many of India’s leading magazines and continues to write columns. She has been a visiting faculty member for Mumbai’s Sophia College and a media advisor for an NGO, Akshara.


Alok Rai: The Vice Chancellor of Lucknow University, Professor Alok Kumar Rai is a scholar of management and also teaches students at the Institute of Management Studies at Banaras Hindu University. He is a NAAC expert for assessment and accreditation, and an MHRD expert for different committee and has provided professional training and consultancy services to different government departments, leading PSUs and several private companies.

Dr. Praveer Sinha: The MD and CEO of Tata Power, Dr. Sinha holds a Master’s Degree in Business Law from National Law School, Bengaluru and is also professionally trained as an Electrical Engineer. He is also a member of the Faculty Board at Faculty of Management Studies and a member of Board of Governors at the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi. He has over three decades of experience in the power sector.

Harit Nagpal: The MD and CEO of Tata Sky, he has over three decades of industry experience. He had worked with multiple well known brands including Vodafone, Shoppers Stop, Pepsi, Marico and Lakme. He has had an extensive career working in sales and marketing, and it is worth noting that Tata Sky routinely ranks among ‘India’s best employers’.


Tista Sen: The Regional Creative Director of Wunderman Thompson, South Asia began her career at the leading ad film production company, Whitelight Productions. She has assisted on more than one hundred commercials, before working with Lowe Lintas, Ogilvy and then, J Walter Thompson. She has been ranked among the 20 most creative people in Asia and has worked on several award-winning campaigns. She was invited to be part of the jury at the London International Awards in 2018 and join the Economic Times Women’s Forum. She is also a founding member of The Collective, an initiative solely created for women in the Indian advertising, media and design industry to fight sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

Smruti Koppikar: She is a Mumbai-based independent journalist who has written for many of India’s leading publications and has held senior editorial positions. She teaches journalism at SCM Sophia and is the winner of the Sanskriti Award for Excellence in Journalism. She has also contributed to books chronicling the transformation of Mumbai and writes a weekly column dubbed #MumbaiNama.

Dr. Shashank Joshi: He is a Padma Shri awardee, a member of Maharashtra’s COVID-19 Task Force and a consultant endocrinologist at Mumbai’s Lilavati Hospital. He is the president of the Indian Academy of Diabetes and the Association of Physicians of India, as well as being the Chairperson of the Indian chapter of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology. He has published around 18 books and over 600 research publications and is the founder of the Indian Journal of Critical Care Medicine. He is also the editor of several leading publications in the field.

Neeraj Hatekar: He is a Professor of Econometrics (Retired) with Mumbai University, and has taught numerous courses at the post graduate level in various Indian universities. He holds a doctorate in Economics and has also helped design numerous courses that have since been implemented by educational institutions or the government of Maharashtra. He had been the Director of the Mumbai School of Economics and Public Policy, University of Mumbai and has authored numerous papers. He has been a visiting fellow for Wolfson College, University of Cambridge and was invited to deliver a series of lectures at Dartmouth College last year. He is associated with grass root organisations working among tribal and urban informal communities as a member of Board of trustees or in an advisory capacity.

Anupria Goenka: She is an actor and model who has worked on numerous Hindi and Telugu films. She essayed the role of Agent Aditi in the action blockbuster War, and was hailed for her portrayal of Queen Nagmati in the 2018 epic film Padmaavat as well as slew of web series. She has worked in the corporate sector, been a part of theatre productions and was even the face of the government’s Bharat Nirman ad campaign. Over the years she has worked on commercials for leading brands and even hosted a home shopping show.

Mahesh Zagade: A retired IAS officer and the former principal secretary to the government of Maharashtra, he has in the past been the Municipal Commissioner of Pune, Commissioner of FDA, Transport Commissioner, Collector and District Magistrate of Nashik and more. In a career spanning nearly four decades, he has handled countless civic and administrative issues – be it the management of Kumbh Mela in 2003 or introducing the concept of ‘Right to Information’ in Sindhudurg district (this was four years before the act was enacted by the government).

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