Michel Danino

Michel DaninoBorn in France in 1956, Michel Danino has been living in India since 1977 and is an Indian citizen. An independent student of Indian civilization, he authored The Lost River: On the Trail of the Sarasvati (Penguin India, 2010), a multidisciplinary study of the Vedic Sarasvati river, and Indian Culture and India’s Future (DK Printworld, 2011). The Dawn of Indian Civilization and the Elusive Aryans is under preparation.

Michel Danino has lectured across India on many aspects of Indian civilization and culture. Twice a scholar-in-residence at IIT Kanpur (2011 and 2014), he was a visiting faculty at IIM Ranchi and since 2011 has been guest professor at IIT Gandhinagar, where he has assisted the setting up of an Archaeological Sciences Centre and given courses exploring ancient India’s heritage.

Michel Danino co-edited (with Prof. Kapil Kapoor) a two-volume textbook on “Knowledge Traditions and Practices of India” for a CBSE elective course for class XI and XII. As convener of the International Forum for India’s Heritage, he has been coordinating a project to produce a multimedia educational DVD on Science and Technology in Ancient India. He is also a member of the Indian Council of Historical Research.

His other interests include nature conservation, a field in which he was especially active during his stay in the Nilgiris (1982–2003).

Abstract of the talk

Cities and states emerged in India during the third millennium BCE in the Indus or Harappan civilization. They reflected a number of fairly precise and specific norms and conventions — in other words, a definite notion of planning. Town planning re-emerged in the Gangetic civilization of the first millennium BCE, with both commonalities with and considerable differences from their Harappan predecessors. The first lecture will explore this evolution, as well as a few other features of civic architecture in ancient India, which often attempted to relate the concept of the city to cosmic concepts, even in apparently “secular” contexts.

Town-planning is also a reflection of the state, its structure, polity and administration. These grew enormously in complexity in classical India, and will be the object of the next three lectures, which will also delve on the ethical system underlying Indian polity. Apart from textual evidence, a few historical cases from classical to contemporary times will be used to illustrate India’s system of ethics and values.