Dipak Basu in Conversation with Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni


Books in Conversation

A moving, inspiring book about the brief yet exceptional life of a young woman, at once visionary and vulnerable, and her lasting legacy for teachers, students and scientists everywhere. — Chitra Divakaruni, best-selling author of Oleander Girl

I am among those who feel genuinely blessed to have known her. — Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Former U.S. Secretary of State


Mission to Teach, released in May 2013, is the memoir of a courageous young woman who took on American science education reform against deeply-established practices. She suffered several tragedies along the way that only spurred her on to astonishing achievements in her all-too-short lifetime. The book is based on the life and work of New York University Professor Jhumki Basu. Dr. Basu developed ground-breaking teaching techniques that were rooted in her own experiences as a teacher in embattled inner-city schools. She co-founded a public school in underserved Crown Heights of Brooklyn, NY, which acted as one of the laboratories for her work. Here she demonstrated the dramatic benefits of including students’ own experiences in their education, making learning science deeply engaging and fun for both students and teachers.

Incredibly, Dr. Basu realized her achievements as she battled breast cancer for seven years before it engulfed her in 2008 at age 31, but could not stop her legacy. Her work is carried on through the Sci-Ed Innovators movement that she inspired, and is supported by the Jhumki Basu Foundation, NYU, Columbia University, NYC Department of Education, NASA, Cisco, Carnegie Corporation, ExxonMobil, Ashoka, and other institutions. High school completion rates in the underserved institutions that she touched, and those touched by teachers who have followed her model, have risen from 30% to over 90% and endured. Kids, whom Dr. Basu and her followers worked for, were candidates for a lifetime of drugs and crime. They are today college graduates and on their way to careers of their dreams.

Dr. Basu’s absorbing story is made personal through its narration by her father, with whom she had a deeply loving relationship and who she included in her work.



Light reception: 1:30 pm
Program: 2:00 pm


About Dipak Basu

Writer, social entrepreneur, and high-tech executive, Dipak Basu and his wife Radha live in Silicon Valley. Following the loss of their beloved daughter Jhumki, Radha and Dipak launched the Jhumki Basu Foundation in 2009. The same year, with the support of Jhumki’s colleagues and well-wishers, and her extensive archives, he took on the responsibility to write his daughter’s biography. For Mission to Teach, he drew on his prior writing experience in historical fiction: A Flight of Green Parrots, published in 2004, and its sequel, The Tide of Silver, scheduled for release in 2014.

Mr. Basu has spent much of his life employing technology in humanitarian missions worldwide. In 2006, he set up Anudip Foundation, a nonprofit company dedicated to improving livelihoods of poor rural people in developing countries, through training in information technology and entrepreneurship. He currently serves as Anudip’s Chairman and CEO. In 2001 he founded and served as Executive Director of NetHope, a nonprofit technology alliance of the world’s largest aid agencies, applying innovative high-tech solutions to aid operations in the world’s impoverished, disaster-affected and war-torn regions. From 1995 to 2006, he held senior management positions in Product Management and Professional Services at Cisco Systems in San Jose. Prior to Cisco, he was a consultant to the Government of India, developing communications solutions for the country’s steel, energy, banking, and hospitality sectors.

Mr. Basu is the recipient of the Tech Laureate Award and NASSCOM Social Innovation Honor for IT in Humanity, and the President’s Award from Save the Children. He is a Cisco Leadership Fellow, a Reuters Digital Vision Fellow, and a Fellow of the Institute of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers.


About Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is the award-winning author of many books, including The Mistress of Spices, Sister of My Heart, One Amazing Thing and, her latest, Oleander Girl. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New York Times. Born in India, she lives in Houston and teaches in the nationally-ranked Creative Writing program at the University of Houston.


Asia Society Texas Center is funded in part by a grant from the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance.


Event Details

Sun 08 Dec 2013
1370 Southmore Blvd. Houston, TX 77004 713.496.9901
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Add to Calendar 20131208T200000 20131208T200000 UTC Asia Society: Dipak Basu in Conversation with Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni 1370 Southmore Blvd. Houston, TX 77004 713.496.9901
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