Latest Publication 

Re-Visioning Paradigms

Essays in honour of David Selvaraj.
Foreword by Romila Thapar.
Edited by Mercy Kappen, M.Sudhir Selvaraj, S.Theodore Baskaran.

Re-Visioning Paradigms is an anthology of essays from some of the greatest academics and activists of our time. This book is also at its heart an invitation to build upon an existing narrative.The authors and editors believe a serious rethinking of the current state of affairs is essential; if not vital. Through research papers, reflections and poetry, contributors challenge us to creatively partake in this discourse of rethinking development and re-visioning alternatives.



Dr. Shobha Raghuram  is an independent researcher  who specializes in development studies and philosophy. She has worked with  the Center for Study of Developing Societies, Delhi before joining the Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (Hivos), a Netherlands based International NGO. She is currently engaged in research and writing in public policy and consulting for multilateral, bilateral, international and voluntary organizations.
Dr. S.P. Udayakumar is a teacher and anti-nuclear activist. He  has worked as professor in Monmouth University, United States.  Udaya Kumar  convenes the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy which is protesting the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant project and is campaigning for a nuclear-free world. He has written several books including Presenting the Past: Anxious History and Ancient Future in Hindutva India.
Caitlyn Schuchhart is currently pursuing her PhD in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She specializes in ecocriticism (a critical methodology which explores society’s relationship to the environment through literature). Her research includes environmental justice, indigenous literature and writer-activists. Caitlyn is an alumna of Visthar’s Social Justice Peace and Development program
Dr. Ashis Nandy is a social theorist, political psychologist and a cultural and political critic. He has written extensively, and some of his publications include  The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self under Colonialism, The Tao of Cricket: On Games of Destiny and the Destiny of Games, and Gandhi after Gandhi after Gandhi.  He was the Senior Fellow and Former Director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies for several years.
Mohan Mani  has a graduate degree in engineering from IIT Madras, and a post graduation in management from IIM Calcutta. He worked for twelve years with various public and private sector enterprises, before changing sides, and working as a trade union researcher for the past twenty five years. He works with the Centre for Workers Management set up in 1990 at the initiative of several independent trade unions in India.
Prof. Rajan Gurukkal is a social scientist, historian, professor and writer. He is currently a visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. He has written six books about the social and economic history of Kerala, historical sociology, structural anthropology and the human ecology of the Southwestern Ghats.
Dr. Corrine Kumar is  the Founder of Vimochana - a forum  women’s rights. She is also the   Secretary General of EI Taller.  Corrine is a philosopher, poet and activist and editor of two human rights journals.  Deeply involved with issues of   violence against women and militarization.  She  has edited several books titled  Asking We Walk: The South as New Political Imaginary.
Dr.Vandana Shiva is a philosopher, environmental activist, author and one of the leaders and board members of the International Forum on Globalization. She founded an independent institute, the Research Foundation for Science Technology and Ecology . She received the Right Livelihood Award in 1993. Vandana Shiva has spent much of her life in the defence and celebration of biodiversity and indigenous knowledge.
Prof. Jeevan Kumar is a professor of Political Science at Bangalore University. He specializes in Development Administration and International Organization. Dr. Kumar is the former Director of the Center for Gandhian Studies. He has published several articles including ‘Gandhian Values for Sustainable Futures’.
Rev. Dr. Dexter S Maben is a professor at the United Theological College in Bangalore. He serves as an Associate Professor of the New Testament and a chairperson of the Department of Biblical Studies. Rev. Dr. Maben also serves on the Board of Directors at Visthar Academy of  Justice and Peace.
Prof. Douglas Huff is a philosopher, playwright and professor of philosophy at Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota. He has focused himself on issues raised by Wittgenstein. Some of his articles on the subject include ‘Wittgenstein, Solipsism and Religious Belief’ and ‘Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Life and Work’. Dr. Huff has also written several plays .
Rev. Dr. Dyanchand Carr  received his PhD from the University of London and has served  as the Principal of the Tamil Nadu Theological Seminary. Rev. Dr. Carr has spoken for peace and justice in the church and society in India,  Sri Lanka and Southern Asia as a whole.
Dr. Victoria Rue  is a university lecturer,  theatre writer/director, and a Roman Catholic  priest.  Her book Acting Religious: Theatre as Pedagogy in Religious Studies  [Pilgrim Press] introduces teachers and students to embodied/enacted learning. In 2005 Victoria was ordained a woman priest.   
Chris Bacon is pursuing a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the Boston College Lynch School of Education. Bacon started his education career teaching English as a Second Language in South Korea, Morocco and the United States. His research interests include critical pedagogy, bilingualism and literacy.  


Mercy Kappen is the Director of Visthar Academy of Justice and Peace in Bangalore. She has been involved in capacity building of civil society organizations for mainstreaming gender and diversity concerns for the past thirty years. Her published works include training manuals such as Gender, Poverty and Rights,  Institutionalizing Gender within Organizations and Programmes and Gender, Conflicts and Disasters in South Asia, co-authored with Ranjani K Murthy.
M. Sudhir Selvaraj recently received his master’s degree (with honours) in International Relations from King’s College London. His work currently revolves around research, training and writing on topics of religious freedom, development and entrepreneurship. His first play ‘We All Live in Bhopal’ which was written to mark the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal Gas Disaster, has been performed in theatre venues and college campuses in the US, UK and India.
S. Theodore Baskaran is a well known writer in Tamil. He was awarded Life Time Achievement award - Iyal Virudu - by the Tamil diaspora in Toronto in 2014. He was conferred the Degree of Doctor of Divinity (Honoris Causa) by the Serampore Universtiy in 2005.  His book The Message Bearers (1981) is a standard reference work on the cultural history of South India.
 Fr. Sebastian Kappen

Kappen Memorial Lectures

Sebastian Kappen(1924-1993) was a well known thinker, writer and socialist activist who made substantial contribution towards evolving perspectives on culture and development. Kappen highlighted the need to harness the resources of religion and culture to the task of social transformation. His bold and original path of rethinking, his breaking of conceptual taboos and his rejection of the inherited schemata make him and indispensible guide for those grappling with the question of the role of religion and culture in social transformation. Kappen was engaged in a study of communalism and the post -modern debate, when mother earth called him back on the 30th of November 1993.

Visthar has been organizing memorial lectures since 1994 in celebration of the life and work of Kappen. Selected memorial lectures are brought out in a volume titled Counter Culture Perspectives.

Latest Publication Mercy Kappen                  Ranjani K Murthy



Training Manuals

A series of Trainer’s Manuals produced by Visthar, authored by Ranjani K Murthy and Mercy Kappen. These manuals have been conceptualised to familiarise gender facilitators with ‘conceptual and strategic frames’ for institutionalising gender and diversity within development organisations and programmes. They have been used widely by civil society organizations and educational institutions in south Asia and have contributed towards engendering interventions and developing gender aware practices . For copies write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Other Titles


Our  Calendar  2017 presents children’s vision of the world they want to live in. The envisioning process  included a two day workshop for the ‘artists’ on Sustainable Development Goals. Children living and working from the Visthar Eco Sanctuary, were introduced to and reminded of the sacredness of the earth and all living beings, besides a critique of the current models of development.  They  were guided to  visualise  their dream of a new  world using  warli art. The calendar contains  selected drawings of the children who participated in the  workshop.   The text  highlights the basic vision of  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Proceeds from the  calendar will go  towards developing the Eco Sanctuary,  a place of diversity and learning.
Click here to download
By Ranjani K.Murthy and Mercy Kappen.

This manual is the fifth in the series on Gender, Diversity and Development produced by Visthar in collaboration with ICCO / KERKINACTIE. It has been conceptualised to strengthen facilitators involved in capacity building of NGOs / INGOs, activists, government officials, and research institutions on Gender Equality and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) . The manual, hopefully, would contribute towards bringing about changes in societal institutions in favour of women and girls thereby furthering gender and social equality.
For copies contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Inauguration of  Butterfly Park at Visthar Eco Sanctuary , April 1, 2017.

Just living is not enough”..said the butterfly. “one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower to love”. (H. C. Andersen)  Butterfly is a symbol of change, creativity, freedom,  joy and beauty. A metaphor of transformation. We have much to learn from butterflies. Never to resist change.  Never to rush change. Butterflies possess the ability to grow and change, leaving the safety of their cocoon to discover a new world in a new form without fear, trusting their untested wings to fly without a doubt in their minds.


They work through many important stages to become the beautiful beings they are. “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” (Maya Angelou)


Just as a butterfly, this space too has gone through different stages of change.  From a barren, abandoned piece of land, this space is being transformed (by Nazar and his team) into a sanctuary for butterflies.  And I hope the butterflies will find this sanctuary and will be able be to enjoy sunshine and freedom and plenty of little flowers to love. 

In Christian tradition butterfly is a symbol of resurrection. They are especially significant symbols during the Easter season. The butterfly can be seen as the insect who "dies" as a caterpillar, is buried in the cocoon for a length of time, and emerges in a new life. Symbolically, butterflies are creatures with the ability to transcend the ordinary and take flight into the heavens.

There is a Native American legend that says, "If you have a secret wish, capture a butterfly and whisper your wish to it.  Release the butterfly, and it will carry your wish to the Great Spirit, who alone knows the thoughts of butterflies. By setting the butterfly free, you are helping to restore the balance of nature, and your wish will surely be granted."

May  the wings of the butterfly carry our wish to the great spirit.
May she shower us with rain and happiness


Today, tomorrow and beyond.


-Mercy Kappen




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Daring to Dream : Festschrift Posters

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Eco Sanctuary Posters


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