Ambassador Pankaj Saran

Ambassador Pankaj Saran took charge as the President of LIGHTS in 2023. He is also a National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) member and the Convenor of NatStrat, a Delhi-based independent Center for Research on Strategic and Security Issues. Ambassador Saran is also a commentator and consultant on security and strategic issues. He is a former diplomat with four decades of experience in foreign, strategic, and national security affairs. Ambassador Saran has served in different capacities within the Prime Minister’s Office, the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), and Indian Missions abroad. He has served as Ambassador of India to Russia, High Commissioner to Bangladesh, and Head of the Northern Division in the Ministry of External Affairs dealing with Nepal and Bhutan. From 2018 to 2021, Ambassador Saran served as the Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Affairs, dealing with regional and global strategy formulation, maritime security, Arctic affairs, and India’s neighbourhood. He has written for The Times of India, Hindustan Times, and The Economic Times, among other newspapers and journals.

Senior Vice President

Dr. Rasik Ravindra

Dr Rasik Ravindra took over the Senior Vice Presidentship of LIGHTS in 2018. He is the current Chairman of the Society of Earth Scientists (of India) and a Member of the Research Advisory Committees of the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) and the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR). He was the Director of NCPOR (2006-2012) after relinquishing the post of Deputy Director General in the Geological Survey of India (GSI) in 2005. Dr Ravindra participated in the Indian Expedition to Antarctica in 1987-1988, led the ninth Antarctic Expedition in 1989-1991, revisiting the icy continent in 1996-1997, 2003-2004, 2007, 2009, and 2010 in various capacities for specific assignments, contributing to different facets of Antarctic science, logistics and policy. He led the first Indian Expedition to the South Pole in 2010 and the first Indian Arctic Expedition in 2008. Dr Ravindra was Chairman of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), constituted the Programme Monitoring Committee on Dynamics of Himalayan Glaciers (2007-2012), and was appointed Chair, Panikkar Professor, in October 2012 by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). He was elected member of the UN Commission on Limits of Continental Shelf from 2014 to 2017. He received the SCAR Medal for International Coordination, the National Award for Polar Sciences and Cryosphere in 2013, the National Mineral Award in 1990, the Antarctic Award in 2002, the H. N. Siddiqui Gold Medal from IGU in 2011, Prof Prem Bahadur Verma Memorial Lecture Award, Prof R C Mishra Memorial Gold Medal in 2017, Life Time Achievement Award from Paleontological Society of India, and the Dr W D West Oratory Award in 2018.

Vice President

Dr. N C Pant

Prof Naresh Chandra Pant took charge of the Vice Presidentship of LIGHTS in 2023. He is a highly acclaimed geologist from the Department of Geology, University of Delhi. Prof Pant has made significant contributions in establishing the extension of East African Orogen in east Antarctica, described high-pressure metamorphism from Indian Archean craton (Bundelkhand), applied innovative and uncommon application of Electro Probe Micro Analysis for estimating the bulk composition of selected micro-domains, inferring sub-ice geology of east Antarctic shield from proximal marine sediments and many others. He has been involved in Indian Antarctic activities for the last three and a half decades, out of which the last ten years have been in management activities of the science programme of Indian Antarctic Expeditions. He has been a chief officer of the Geosciences of Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) for the last ten years and is currently the Deputy Chief Officer. He is also a Scar Committee on Antarctic Treaty System (SCATS) member. He currently Chairs the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) national committee on SCAR. He has contributed to establishing, developing, and nurturing micro-domain characterisation laboratories in India and propagating chemical geochronology in the country. He recently retired as a Senior Professor, and before that, he served in the Geological Survey of India (GSI) and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) (Kharagpur). He has received the National Mineral Award (1996), the Antarctic Silver Jubilee Award, and the British Council Innovation Award in the form of the ICECAP-2 project (2015-2017). Prof Pant has over a hundred international and national research publications and has guided ten doctoral students, three of whom have been awarded PhDs for their work on Antarctica.

Secretary General

Dr. Sulagna Chattopadhyay

Dr Sulagna Chattopadhyay is currently the Secretary General of LIGHTS. She is also the founder- editor of ISSN and RNI-accredited Geography and You (G’nY), a journo-magazine focusing on climate change, development, and the environment in particular, being published since 2001. She has worked in climate change, polar studies, disaster management, and biodiversity for nearly three decades. She has been involved in various research and outreach programmes and has co-authored two books, Climate Change and the White World; Science and Geopolitics of the White World: Arctic- Antarctic-Himalaya, published by Springer, and six other books on varied topics. She is a founding member of LIGHTS. Dr Chattopadhyay has been the convenor of national and international conferences/ seminars, notable being the round table conclave on seas and oceans around India and Science and Geopolitics of Arctic and Antarctic (SaGAA) in 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2023. She has been a member of the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) FICCI Geospatial Award Jury. She is in the Advisory Body of CEMAS, Mumbai University, and has engaged in various efforts toward conservation and climate change. She has a deep interest in polar studies and policy and has built a think tank, SaGAA, for policy and advocacy of the three poles. She also won an Environmental Documentary Short Film Contest, STL-2: 2015, for her short film, O Bhai Saab. NDIM awarded her Business Excellence and Innovative Best Practices Academia Award in 2019.


Dr. Narmadeshwar Prasad

Dr Narmadeshwar Prasad has been appointed as treasurer of LIGHTS in 2023. He is the Founder and Director of the Parliamentary and Administrative Research Institute (PARI), New Delhi. Dr Prasad has vast experience in parliamentary procedures and has worked in different capacities in the Rajya Sabha Secretariat in Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees on Commerce, Home Affairs, Science and Technology, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), etc. He has drafted over 50 Parliamentary Reports during his stint at Rajya Sabha for over two decades. Dr Prasad founded PARI in 2017, intending to impart training on various aspects of parliamentary procedures, public policy management, public health policy administration, mental health systems development, preventive vigilance, vigilance management, protocol and privileges, etc., to officers of the government, PSUs and Autonomous bodies under the Central Government. He has successfully entered into collaboration with International Institutions/Universities: The School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Australia; The John Curtin Institute of Public Policy, Curtin University, Perth, Australia; and the International Anti-Corruption Academy, Vienna, Austria; and the has completed several capacity building courses so far. Dr Prasad has been editing a Hindi magazine on Environment and Development, Bhugol Aur Aap, since 2002. He has authored a book, Towards World Parliament: A Saga of Inter-Parliamentary Union.


Dr. B Meenakumari

Dr B Meenakumari has been a member of LIGHTS from 2018 onwards. She is the Chairperson of the Research Advisory Committee of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research-Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (ICAR-CIFRI), pursuing initiatives in societal applications in fisheries research and committed to the conservation of bioresources and their sustainable use in the country. She is the former National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) Chairperson, Chennai, under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). Dr Meenakumari was the Deputy Director General (Fisheries) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi, before joining the NBA. She is the first woman scientist to occupy this prestigious position. Earlier, Dr Meenakumari, who has more than three decades of service in ICAR, was the Director of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research-Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (ICAR-CIFT), Cochin. Her research areas include developing newer fishing gear for coastal and deep sea fishing, conserving fishery resources, upgrading gear systems for reservoirs and responsible fishing, introducing eco- friendly fishing methods, pollution monitoring, environment impact assessment, marine corrosion, and bio-fouling. In all her research programmes and projects, gender mainstreaming was an inevitable component. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Young Scientist Award of Kerala Science and Technology (1989), Women and Technology Innovation Award (2007), Panjab Rao Deshmukh Agricultural Scientist Award (2002), VASVIK Award (2003), Marie Curie Mahila Vijnana Puraskar (2010), R C Dalela Oration Award (2009), Dr M S Randhawa Memorial Award (2012) and Society of Fisheries Technologist Award (2015). She has been conferred a D.Sc by Vidyasagar University (2016), West Bengal, for her study on ‘Innovations in Fishing Technology’. She has made significant contributions as a scientific administrator and in promoting scientific research through publications and outreach programmes in fisheries and biodiversity conservation. She has more than 150 research publications to her credit.

Padma Shri Dr. P S Goel

Dr P S Goel joined LIGHTS in 2023, though he has mentored it since its inception. He is the Raja Ramanna Chair Professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) and Honorary Distinguished Professor at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) headquarters in Bangalore. He has contributed significantly to developing magnetic altitude control systems and mission planning for remote sensing, communication, and scientific missions. Dr Goel developed the spin axis orientation system, Bhaskara I and II satellites, magnetic control for spinning satellites, momentum-biased three-axis control system for APPLE, zero momentum-biased three-axis control system for IRS V, and configuration momentum-biased altitude control system for highly stabilised INSAT-2. Dr Goel was Chairman of the Spacecraft Systems Advisory Board for IRS-1, project engineer AOCS for APPLE, and associate project director of INSAT-I. He was Head of the Control System Division, Group Director of AOCS, Associate Director of ISAC, and Director at the ISRO Satellite Centre from 1997 to 2005. He was DRDO Chair at RCI, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Hyderabad, pursuing space for National Security. Dr Goel moved to Delhi as Secretary of the Department of Ocean Development and transformed it into the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) by integrating Ocean, Atmosphere, Geo Science and Technology. He was the first Chairman of the Earth Commission. He oversaw the commissioning of India's Tsunami Warning System, initiated the modernisation of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), and pursued the exploration of deep oceans.
Dr Goel was awarded Padma Shri in 2001. He has received several awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Aeronautical Society of India and the Distinguished Scientist Award from ISRO. He is a fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore; National Academy of Sciences, Prayagraj; INSA, New Delhi; Institution of Electronic and Telecommunication Engineers, New Delhi; ASI, Bangalore; and Third World Academy of Sciences. He has been honoured with a Fellowship from the Indian Society of Systems for Science and Engineering. He has authored over 100 research papers in referred journals and conferences.

Dr. Sachidanand Sinha

Prof Sachidanand Sinha became a member of LIGHTS in 2018. He was a Professor and Chairperson at the Centre for Studies in Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. His area of research broadly included social geography and geography of well-being, tribal and rural studies, and research on socially marginalized sections concerning access to health and education. He was awarded the Bhugol Bhushan Award by Deccan Geography in 2013.

Shri S. Bal Shekar

Shri S Bal Shekar was the former President of LIGHTS and has been its member from 2017 onwards. He retired as the Secretary General of Lok Sabha (Lower House), Parliament of India, from 2013 to 2014. Shri S Bal Shekar has a rich experience of 33 years in the Administrative, Executive, Legislative and Committee systems of the Indian Parliament, including being Chief of Protocol and Conference Branch involving event management and visiting various countries on conference duty as Secretary to Parliamentary delegations. He has rendered advice on numerous matters of Parliamentary practice and procedure to the Hon’ble Speaker and the Lok Sabha. Being the head of the Lok Sabha Secretariat, Shri S Bala Shekar has handled all aspects of the administrative work of the Secretariat, which consists of about 3000 employees. He has been a permanent faculty member of the Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training (BPST), an institution under the Lok Sabha imparting training to parliament members, speakers and parliament officers from various countries worldwide. He has organized several international and national conferences on parliamentary matters, apart from organizing multiple ceremonies and functions in the Central Hall of Parliament, including arrangements for addresses by international dignitaries such as the U.S. President etc.

Dr. M Sudhakar

Dr M Sudhakar joined LIGHTS in 2020. He retired as Director of the Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology (CMLRE), Kochi, Kerala, serving the institution from 2018-2020. Before this, Dr Sudhakar served two premier research institutions of the country—the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) and the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) in Goa. A veteran oceanographer, he has occupied various project leader and scientist positions. Dr Sudhakar has spent more than 1,500 days at sea on board research vessels as leader of expeditions to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. He represented India at the Preparatory Commission for the United Nations Law of the Sea (PrepCom). He was an Elected Member of the Legal and Technical Commission of the International Seabed Authority (ISBA) for 2007-2011 and 2012-2016. Dr Sudhakar was also a member of the Scientific Committee on Oceanographic Research (SCOR) and International Council for Science (ICSU), serving for a second term until 2014. He was a visiting scientist at the Aachen University of Technology, Germany; a Resource Person of the International Ocean Institute, Malta; a Member of the National Steering Committee for Science and Astronomy Olympiads; and a Member of the Scientific Committee of the International Geological Congress 2020. He was the ‘Commissioner General’ of the Government of India for the Yeosu (World) Expo 2012 held in the Republic of Korea.

Shri J. Vinod Kumar

Shri J Vinod Kumar joined as a LIGHTS member in 2021. He retired as Director (Policy and Co- ordination) of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the apex anti-corruption institution of India. CVC is mandated under the CVC Act, 2003, to exercise superintendence over the Vigilance Administration and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) functioning. Shri J Vinod Kumar is a veteran with over 37 years of knowledge and experience in all aspects of Vigilance Administration and Anti-corruption policy and its implementation. In addition, he possesses vast knowledge in the review of existing practices and procedures and has assisted the CVC in devising fresh guidelines and advisories for the Central Government Departments, CPSEs, PSBs, PSICs, FIs and Autonomous Bodies. Shri J Vinod Kumar has also served in the Corporate Vigilance setups of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOCL) and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (OÑGC) on deputation. He was part of the Indian Delegation at various fora: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) meetings, the Group of Twenty (G20) and Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) Anti-corruption Working Group meetings, at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Anti-Bribery Convention, and many other international conferences. Shri J Vinod Kumar has been a regular faculty member of CVC for induction training for Chief Vigilance Officers (CVO) conducted by CVC, CBI, etc., since 1998. He also serves as faculty for other training institutes such as the Institute of Secretariat Training and Management (ISTM), CBI Academy, National Police Academy and other training centres of CPSEs and public sector banks on diverse areas of vigilance administration, anti-corruption matters, service and disciplinary matters.

Dr. Veenu Seth

Prof Seth became a member of LIGHTS in 2013. She retired as a Professor at Lady Irwin College, Department of Nutrition, Delhi University in 2012. Presently, Prof Veenu Seth works as a nutrition consultant. She also served as the Clinical Director (Health Promotion) at the Special Olympics International. Prof Seth’s primary interest and specialization is the nutrition of children with disabilities. Other areas include teaching, research in clinical nutrition, nutritional assessment, diet and nutrition counselling, community outreach programmes, and diet counselling workshops for school parents on feeding and nutrition of children with special needs.

Dr. K.J. Ramesh

Dr K J Ramesh joined as a member of LIGHTS in 2021. He was the Director General of Meteorology (DGM) at the India Meteorological Department (IMD) from 2016 to 2021. Dr Ramesh specialised in Numerical Weather Prediction, including hazard and climate risk assessment and early warning. He has worked on model diagnostics, monsoon dynamics and disaster mitigation modelling. He was involved in monsoon research at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi for ten years, followed by a Group Head position in the National Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) and as Head of the Disaster Management Unit of the Government of Andhra Pradesh. He was heading Atmospheric Science Services and Climate Change Research Programme Development in the Ministry of Earth Sciences before taking over as DGM, IMD. He is an elected Fellow of the Andhra Pradesh Academy of Sciences and an elected Member of the National Academy of Sciences, Prayagraj. He has more than 50 papers in peer-reviewed journals to his credit.

Dr. Sarfaraz Alam

Prof Alam joined LIGHTS in 2018. Dr Alam is a Professor in the Department of Geography, Institute of Science, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. He has briefly served at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) as a Reader in Geography (School of Sciences). Dr Alam has also worked at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), New Delhi and JP University, Chapra (Bihar). He has a PhD in Political Geography from the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. His research interests include geopolitics, environmental conflict and security in South Asia and geography education. Presently, he is writing a book on the Geography, Environment and National Security of Bangladesh to be published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing, UK.

Dr. Bhaswati Das

Dr Bhaswati Das joined LIGHTS as its member in 2023. She is an Associate Professor (Population Studies) at the Centre for the Study of Regional Development, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Her area of interest includes the study of population in the context of development. Her research focuses on health issues, migration, and ageing. She has published over thirty articles in journals of national and international repute and as chapters in edited books. She has authored two books and edited one book on population studies. She is the Associate Editor of the Journal of Health and Population: Perspectives and Issues (HPPI) of the National Institute of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. She is also a member of the Internal Ethics Review Board of JNU and an external member of IAIP of IIHMRU, Jaipur.

Dr. Abul Amir Khan

Dr Abul joined LIGHTS in 2023. He is currently the Head and Assistant Professor at Amity Centre for Air Pollution Control (ACAPC) and Ocean Atmospheric Science and Technology (ACOAST), respectively, at Amity University, Haryana. His research interests involve the hydrosphere- cryosphere-atmosphere interaction, stable isotopes, physical and chemical properties of aerosols, and air pollution. Previously, he worked as a project scientist in an International Project with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria. Dr Amir has conducted extensive fieldwork in some rugged terrains in the Himalayas and Ladakh in the last ten years. He has also visited several Indian Himalayan glaciers, including Gangotri, Satopant and Bhagirathi Kharak in the upper Ganga basin of central Himalayan and Hamtah and Patsio glaciers of the western Himalayan region. He was invited as a field expert and instructor in the Earth and Space Exploration Programme held in Leh-Ladakh and adjacent areas in 2021 and 2022. He has published several International/National papers and book chapters in reputed journals and books.

Mr. Ishaan Gera

Shri Ishaan Gera became a member of LIGHTS in 2022. He is currently a Senior Assistant Editor at The Economic Times. Before this profile, he worked for the Business Standard in a similar domain. Shri Gera has also worked for Financial Express as an Assistant Editor.