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Researcher Spotlight: Kiran Shinde

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Get to know the people involved in ARCH-India. From senior experts to early career researchers, learn about their careers, what makes them tick, and how they are collaborating. 

Dr. Kiran Shinde is the convener of the Community Planning and Development Program at La Trobe University in Victoria, Australia. His research draws on his vast experience as a planner in India, Australia and Thailand. He is currently working on two projects: examining the Buddhist heritage and tourism circuit in India; and investigating environmental challenges in ten pilgrimage sites in Maharashtra.

What gets you excited about work?
I get excited about opportunities to explore and unpack the many layers of cultural heritage and how they intersect with challenges around managing urban growth. I am particularly interested in how the cultural and religious domains in heritage cities influence tourism planning and management.

What’s the best part of your work?
I believe my work (both in teaching and research) offers ways of enriching life around me.

As a planner I am able to work on projects and policies that can have real world impact in creating better places for people.

What sparked your interest in your field?
I witnessed environmental degragation in India and began to wonder about the role of religious tourism. This led me to examine environmental issues in Tirupati and Vrindavan – two popular pilgrimage places in India. As I investigated, I found several complexities and contradictions in the way religious activities, including pilgrimages, negatively impacted natural ecosystems. Since then, I have been engaged in this phenomenal field of research that spans across religion, culture, heritage, planning and governance. 

What does Independence Day mean to you?
For me, Independence Day means a reminder that now I have the ability to think freely and act freely – a privilege that my predecessors may not have had and therefore I need to use it judiciously.  

Who is your favourite Indian celebrity?
Shah Rukh Khan would be the first on my list – simply because of his inspirtatonal journey to stardom and his wide-ranging interests in philanthropic work. I like his qualities of persistence, perseverence and hard work.

What are you watching at the moment?
I am watching the Amazon series called Panchayat. It is an amazing peek into rural life in India and how some things have moved at a faster pace than others. I get quite nostalgic watching it because I was born in a village myself and am still connected with my native place.

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