CRISP Fellows

Rajamanohar Somasundaram

Founder of Hexolabs Interactive and Head of Socialabs

Rajamanohar Somasundaram uses his entrepreneurial skills to address global inequalities through technological innovations. The company which Raja founded and runs, Hexolabs Interactive, develops grounded technological solutions for the rural masses. His vision continues to grow with his current role heading Socialabs, a Hexolabs Interactive spin-off that advises non-profits/social businesses on technology foresight and appropriate technology development to reach out to marginalised groups across the world.

Raja’s impressive social entrepreneurship has been deservedly recognised: his team was named among the TR35 - TOP 20 Young Innovators in India and won ‘Social Innovator of the year 2012’ by MIT Tech Review India for the development of speech-enabled mobile solutions for the Indian market; he became a ‘TED Fellow’ in 2009 for his accomplishments in ‘Mobile4Good’ initiatives in emerging markets; World Economic Forum recognised Raja as a ‘Young Global Leader in 2012’; and in 2016, he was offered a Draper Hills Fellowship at Stanford's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.

He also co-founded Aqua Connect, South Asia’s largest aqua farmers’ network. Aqua Connect champions the United Nations ‘Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs)’ and supports Aqua farming communities on sustainability goals, technology transfer, and training.

Anil Kottantharayil

Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay

Anil teaches electrical engineering to undergraduate students and semiconductor device physics to graduate students. He also leads on a number of research projects including silicon and module reliability at the National Centre for Photovoltaic Research and Education, and the Indian Nanoelectronics Users Programme.

Anil is looking forward to studying the innovation elements of the programme, as well as developing his technology background further and developing networks with his peers. He believes that CRISP will also give him the opportunity to explore the commercial element of technology, which he will apply to converting his patents into useful products and services. 

Balathasan Sayanthan

Chief Business Development Officer at hSenid Mobile Solutions

Balathasan is Chief Business Development Officer at hSenid Mobile Solutions. He leads on global sales, business solutions, and marketing.

Innovation and leadership have become an integral part of Balathasan’s personal and professional development. He wants to use his time in the UK to critically analyse and review his current practices, and return with renewed vigour. Balathasan wants to network with UK experts to explore ways in which the UK and Sri Lanka can work together and create new ideas.

Gayani Abeyasinghe

Deputy General Manager and Head of Feminine Hygiene Solutions at MAS Holdings

Gayani is Deputy General Manager and Head of Feminine Hygiene Solutions at MAS Holdings, a global textile company headquartered in Sri Lanka. Gayani’s work in innovation aligns closely with the goals of the CRISP programme, which motivated her to apply for the fellowship. In addition, she is eager to study at the University of Oxford and absorb all that the university has to offer.

As a Chevening Fellow, Gayani wishes to develop her expertise in science, as her background is in business and finance. She is also looking forward to learning more about the innovation space in the UK, and in India, as both have practical relevance to her work at MAS Holdings. Furthermore, she is looking forward to building relationships with other fellows and academics, as well as exploring parts of the UK and Europe. 

Manish Ranjan

Director of Secondary Education in the Government of Jharkhand

Manish is Director of Secondary Education in the Government of Jharkhand. His main responsibility is to ensure effective functioning of all 2258 secondary and senior secondary schools in Jharkhand, India. He is also responsible for implementing and monitoring vocational education and ICT in state schools. He runs model schools and teachers’ training colleges and implements an annual budget of around £170 million targeting improvement in education.

Manish expects the fellowship to equip him with new analytical abilities and insights to promote transparency, leading to the achievement of good governance in India. It provides an opportunity to share and learn together with potential leaders from diverse backgrounds resulting in enriching experiences and enhancing problem-solving skills.

Mohita Sharma

Professor and Head of Centre for Operations and Supply Chain Management at the FORE School of Management

Mohita is Professor and Head of Centre for Operations and Supply Chain Management at the FORE School of Management. She is currently looking at a research partnership between faculty and students, with a view to strengthening links between industry and academia.  

The reputation of Chevening and the chance to forge relationships with Chevening Alumni motivated Mohita to apply for the fellowship. She is passionate about a meaningful interface between academics, industry, and research. She wishes to explore and share the relationship between innovation, technology, research, and policy from an academic perspective and its relevance and implications for India.

Mrinalini Puranik

Lead Scientist at Unilever Limited

Mrinalini is Lead Scientist at Unilever Limited. Prior to this, she was an academic researcher for 12 years. She is working with the Strategic Sciences Group at the Research Centre in Bangalore. She is in the process of recruiting a computational modelling team at the Bangalore centre and together, they will explore new technologies for Unilever products and businesses.

Mrinalini believes the CRISP programme will develop her soft skills and expand her training in business and industrial environments. Furthermore, the CRISP programme has a component that provides mentorship to refine professional and personal goals, and she hopes to use this opportunity to understand herself better. 

Mugdha Lele

Manager for Social Innovation at Venture Centre

Mugdha is Manager for Social Innovation at Venture Centre. She drives social technology innovation activities at Venture Center with a focus on affordable healthcare solutions for disabled people, the elderly, and those who require assistance with day-to-day living.

Mugdha’s primary reasons for applying for CRISP were to gain necessary tools and insights to build a strong social innovation program for Venture Center by learning principles and best practices; to develop networks in the UK innovation ecosystem, where UK funding agencies, research institutes and the business community could collaborate with Indian entrepreneurs and researchers; and to build strong India-UK business ties. Upon returning to India, Mugdha will build upon these networks further and implement them in order to build a world-class social innovation programme.

Nitin Gandhi

Co-founder and Director of IN-RDVS Electrical Consulting Private Limited

Nitin is Co-founder and Director of IN-RDVS Electrical Consulting Private Limited. He manages the technical roadmap and deliveries, supports strategy development, and marketing initiatives.

For Nitin, the Chevening Fellowship provides an ideal platform to help bridge the technical and skill development gap which India faces for the growth of its young population. The fellowship will offer opportunities and open doors to help build relationships where technology can be imported for use in India and people can be trained to work on future technologies. During his fellowship, Nitin wants to explore potential avenues for working with UK technology leaders to help grow the local industry.

Parag Nemade

UGC Assistant Professor at the Institute of Chemical Technology

Parag is UGC Assistant Professor at the Institute of Chemical Technology. He teaches postgraduate and doctoral students and provides technical consultancy services to the industry in some of his areas of research.

CRISP is complementary to Parag’s profession as an academic and researcher. The management and entrepreneurial content will be of great assistance to him in his eventual goal of setting up his own venture. His focus is on sanitation and water recycle aspects, working not just on technology aspects but also social aspects to improve on the status quo. Parag is looking forward to exchanging ideas, learning about culture, and being part of an innovation ecosystem both in Oxford and the UK. 

Purnima Nerukar

Deputy General Manager at Air India

Purnima is Deputy General Manager at Air India. Her duties include fleet planning, aircraft acquisition, and network development. Her educational background in management and involvement in high financial value projects has helped her develop core insights in this subject.

As a mid-career professional, Purnima believes that she will find the CRISP fellowship for leadership development extremely useful not only for professional development, but also for her organisation. She also thinks that CRISP will be the ideal platform to acquire skills and exposure to a multi-cultural and multi-faceted environment. During her fellowship, Purnima would like to explore training areas specifically related to aviation. Upon completion of her fellowship, she wants to build course content for aviation training. Outside of academia, she is looking forward to spending time exploring the UK and learning about its rich history. 

Purushottam Basava

Ministry of Tourism, India

Purushottam works for the Ministry of Tourism. His responsibilities include assisting the minister in policy-making for tourism, culture, and civil aviation, as well as working with other ministries.

For Purushottam, the CRISP fellowship at the University of Oxford is a chance to get exposure to new technologies sweeping the world. As India and the UK’s administrative structures of governance share many similarities, Purushottam is looking forward to learning how the UK framed its policies and governance structure, as well as the policies that have enabled it to excel in the field of science and innovation. 

Sidharth Chopra

Senior Scientist at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research - Central Drug Research Institute

Sidharth is Senior Scientist at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research - Central Drug Research Institute (CSRI-CDRI). He is currently working on antibacterial drug discovery and development and leads a group of researchers in this highly competitive field.

Sidharth’s motivation for applying for the fellowship was to use it as a platform to bring awareness about antimicrobial resistance, in addition to new drug discovery. He thinks that these areas are the backbone of the Indian healthcare system but it must be developed further in order to reach its full potential. Furthermore, he wants to work with UK experts in this area in the hope of bringing about inter-governmental collaboration which could expand these areas even more.

Vinita Srivastava

Director in the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, India

Vinita is Director in the Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises. Her responsibilities include production performance, research & development, and policy planning. Her primary goal is to ensure growth and development in the capital goods and heavy engineering sector, in line with the assigned growth targets laid down in the country's economic policy.

Vinita believes India needs senior technocrats with the right mix of qualifications, experience, skills, and networking, who will accelerate India’s policy and programme implementation in the technology field. She is confident that the CRISP Fellowship will bring significant benefits in terms of opening up new opportunities and greater potential for advancement.

Vishak Iyer

Chief Development Officer, Varanasi

Vishak is the Chief Development Officer, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. He monitors and supervises the activities of various departments at district level and ensures inter-departmental coordination to facilitate effective implementation of government schemes. As CEO of State Nutrition Mission, he also monitors the overall health status and nutrition levels of children in the 0-5 age group and coordinates efforts to reduce malnutrition.

Vishak believes studying the CRISP fellowship will help him familiarise himself with advanced IT-based systems, which can address issues related to service delivery in the field of education, health, and rural infrastructure development. Being part of the Chevening network would provide Vishak with an opportunity to interact with young leaders from across the globe.