Karma Dialogues

November 12, 2020

    Find Inspiration to think and act with
Aamir Khan
on UNDP’s Karma Dialogues    


One of India’s most popular actors, Aamir Khan, is set to star on a whole new stage.

Khan is going to be a special guest on the UN Development Progamme’s (UNDP) Karma Dialogues series, this Friday 4 December. The special program kicks off at 7 p.m, live India time, and can be watched on UNDP’s zoom, Facebook Live or YouTube channels.  

The Karma Dialogues – that debuted last week – is a series of conversations with inspirational leaders, innovators, and trailblazers, who have persevered in the face of challenges, to achieve success, and while doing so are changing the world for the better. It aims to provide a voice and vision that can help empower and motivate people to do good, despite the challenges.

“‘Karma’ speaks to destiny, a journey of cause and effect, across space and time. Our past and current actions impact future existence; it reminds us to be mindful that our ideas and actions have consequences,” said Kanni Wignaraja Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific. “In the best of these ideas and actions, comes the ability and belief in being able to play even a small part in influencing outcomes for the greater good.”

Aamir Khan embodies that spirit of striving for the greater good. As a top-ranked, influential actor, director, filmmaker, and television talk-show host, his work over the decades exemplifies the struggles facing society every day. And he has succeeded in making the ordinary extraordinary.

“When I came into the industry, I was a lone ranger, trying to do films that I believed in. I was constantly swimming against the tide. Now the tide has changed,” said Khan.

His television show Satyamave Jayate that probed sensitive social issues, in India – such as rape, domestic violence, untouchability and honor killings – drew hundreds of millions of viewers.  The programme motivated social movements, and helped trigger amendments to laws, and acts, as well as changes in policies.

Following the success of the show, Aamir Khan set up the Paani Foundation, in 2016, an innovative community driven initiative on water conservation. The foundation has been working in rural areas – in the Western state of Maharashtra – to tackle drought and bring prosperity to thousands of villages.

    Introducing the Karma Dialogues    

Kanni Wignaraja, Assistant Secretary General and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and Pacific

‘Karma’ speaks to destiny. A philosophical journey of cause and effect, across space and time. Our past and current actions impact future existence. From a more everyday reading, it reminds us to be mindful that our ideas and actions have consequences. And in the best of these ideas and actions, comes the ability and the belief in being able to play even a small part in influencing outcomes for the greater good.

The Karma Dialogues – brought to you by UNDP in Asia and the Pacific – aims to have that kind of impact and influence. By bringing together our ‘believers in the good’, we hope to catapult their stories to motivate and inspire others. These are the voices we need to hear in times of such uncertainty, be it facing COVID-19, social injustice, political strife or the rising risks from climate change.

The Karma Dialogues brings together UNDP’s youth empowerment initiatives across 36 countries in Asia and the Pacific. The dialogues will feature guests from various fields and experiences, who have shown grit and perseverance to beat the odds and achieve their success. Sometimes at an individual level, and others in larger spaces.

Join us for The Karma Dialogues beginning November 23, for a series of conversations that will inspire you to change the world!


Aishah Sinclair

Aishah Sinclair is an accomplished TV host, emcee, radio host, actor and entrepreneur from Malaysia. She is an environmentalist, and the spokesperson for Yayasan Anak Warisan Alam (YAWA), a Malaysian non-profit organization established to instill a love of the environment in youths. She is a devoted mother of two, as well as a cat-lover, dreamer, shoe addict and foodie.

    Guest Speakers     

   Monday, 23 November 2020 | 7:30 pm  

Shyam Selvadurai

Shyam Selvadurai is an acclaimed award-winning novelist. Born in Sri Lanka to a Sinhalese mother and Tamil father, he emigrated to Canada in 1983. He is best known for his novel Funny Boy, which won the WH Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction. He is the editor of an anthology, Story-Wallah: A Celebration of South Asian Fiction and served as the Festival Curator for the Galle Literary Festival for two years. In 2016, a species of spider was named after him called Brignolia Shyami.

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   Tuesday, 24 November 2020 | 7:30 pm  

Nurkurniati Aisyah Dewi

Nurkurniati Aisyah Dewi, better known as Nia Dinata, is an Indonesian film director of, both feature films and documentaries. She has faced heavy censorship and controversy because of the subjects she covers. However, she has also won critical acclaim internationally, with two of her films being submitted to the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. She has established her own independent film company, Kalyana Shira Films, and has founded Kalyana Shira Foundation, a not-for- profit organisation that supports young directors from across Indonesia to tell their stories. Nia has also created her own alternative screening venue, Cine Space in Serong. 

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  Wednesday, 25 November 2020 | 7:30 pm  

Rehan Mudannayake

Rehan Mudannayake is an award-winning Sri Lankan film director and actor, as well as a critic, video installation artist and founder of the film and advertising company Odyssey. Having been enamored with filmmaking at an early age, he is highly aware of the power of cinema to raise consciousness and ignite change. His latest film DIDI has been selected – from over 6,000 submissions – for the Academy Award-qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival. 

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Shomy Hasan Chowdhury

Shomy Hasan Chowdhury is a multi-award-winning Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) activist from Bangladesh. She is Co-Founder of global youth-led organization Awareness 360, a Global Changemakers Fellow, a US State Department Alumna, a Global Citizen Youth Advocate, and a Global Youth Ambassador for Theirworld. She has received global acclaim for her social work, including a President’s Volunteer Service Award from Barack Obama and the Princess Diana Legacy Award. Most recently she was named the UNDP-Samsung Global Generation17 Young Leader, the first person to receive that recognition, in Asia and the Pacific.

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   Thursday, 26 November 2020 | 7:30 pm  

Kasturi Wilson

Kasturi Wilson is a businesswoman and the first female Group CEO of a public conglomerate in Sri Lanka. This October she was appointed as Group CEO of Hemas Holdings PLC. As a single mother she is highly aware of the pressures on women navigating the corporate world that is dominated by men. Before she rose up the corporate ranks, she was captain of Sri Lanka’s basketball team.

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Niluh Putu Ary Pertami Djelantik

Niluh Putu Ary Pertami Djelantik is a designer and entrepreneur from Bali, Indonesia. Raised by a single parent, she spent much of her childhood helping her mother sell clothes at a market stall, in Denpasar. After a high-profile marketing career in Jakarta, she quit in 2003 to pursue her dream of creating high quality, handmade, leather shoes, crafted by Indonesian artisans. She started with a tiny shop in Bali, with two local artisans. But soon she caught the attention of local and international shoppers, including supermodel Gisele Bundchen. Now, her shoes and accessories are sold across the globe and are worn by several Hollywood A-listers.

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    UNDP's Youth Empowerment Initiatives     

UNDP Asia Pacific has a long track record of working on youth empowerment and leadership. Check out the inspiring stories of young people from across the region through the link below.

One of its current flagship programmes is Youth Co:Lab. Youth Co:Lab positions young people front and center in order to solve the region’s most pressing challenges. Co-created in 2017 by the UNDP and the Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to empower and invest in youth, so that they can accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship.

Check out the short video below or read more about Youth Co:Lab here


Kanni Wignaraja, Assistant Secretary General and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and Pacific