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The Idea of Democracy

July 2, 2024
6:00-8:00pm CST
Tellabs at the Kaplan Institute
3137 South Federal Street
Chicago, IL 60616

More than 60 countries head to the polls in 2024. Hear global leaders Sam Pitroda and Ivo H. Daalder discuss democracy, design, policy, and how our systems serve our people.

Sam Pitroda is former advisor to the Prime Minister of India and author of The Idea of Democracy (Penguin, 2024). Ivo H. Daalder is former ambassador to NATO and CEO of the Chicago Council of Global Affairs. Their conversation will be moderated by civic designer and ID alum Evan Chan (MDes 2019). A Q&A will follow the discussion.

This conversation will happen in the newest building on Illinois Tech’s campus, the Kaplan Institute, which is home to the Institute of Design. In-person attendees can participate in the Q&A and post-event reception. The discussion will also be streamed. Register as a virtual attendee to receive the streaming link.


Sam Pitroda is an internationally respected development thinker, policymaker, inventor, and entrepreneur who has spent over 60 years in telecom development. Credited with having laid the foundation of India’s technology and telecommunications revolution in the 1980s, during Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure, Pitroda has been a leading campaigner to help bridge the global digital divide. In the mid-1990s, he founded Worldtel in London to help privatize telecom in developing countries. He invented the electronic diary and the mobile wallet which was acquired by MasterCard in 2013. From 2005 to 2014, Pitroda was chairman of the National Knowledge Commission and adviser to the Indian prime minister with a cabinet minister’s rank. He was also chairman of the National Innovation Council and Smart Grid Task Force, and played a key part in modernizing railways and developing public broadcast reforms. He is the founder, investor and chairman of six start-ups and five nonprofit foundations. Pitroda holds over 100 patents and twenty honorary PhDs, and has published and lectured extensively around the world. He is a member of the American Academy of Engineers. He is the author of The Idea of Democracy, Dreaming Big, and Redesign the World.

Ivo H. Daalder is the Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and host of World Review with Ivo Daalder. He served as U.S. Ambassador to NATO under President Barack Obama and on the U.S. National Security Council under President Bill Clinton before joining the Council on Global Affairs as its president in 2013.

Evan Chan (MDes 2019) is an advocate for human-centered design and design for social good. He is passionate about fostering collaboration to design services and systems that work for everyone—particularly in government, whether through hosting conversations with community members, working alongside frontline government staff, or facilitating workshops between community members and government workers.