Ever since I was a child growing up in India, I was puzzled by why some people, countries, and regions were more privileged than others. I began to understand those disparities better in university. Trained as an architect and urban planner, I now teach at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (UHM). I did a PhD in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), M.Arch. and MA (in Environmental Planning & Management) from Kansas State University, and B. Arch. from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi. Prior to UHM, I was an Assistant Professor at the San Francisco State University. Broadly, my research explores institutional challenges to and innovations in ameliorating urban poverty in developing countries, primarily in Southeast and South Asia. My doctoral work took me to Indonesia, where I have continued to do research ever since. Community participation and empowerment, slum upgrading, decentralization and local governance, and the role of civil society in development are among my key interests. My recent research has focused on community-managed integrated microfinance, disaster risk reduction, and pro-poor shelter policies.
I have worked as an architecture and planning consultant in the United States and India. At one time, I was also the chief cartoonist for the Indian magazine, Architecture+Design.