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Prof Ashwani Kumar

Professor , Mumbai campus

Centre for Public Policy, Habitat and Human Development , School of Development Studies

Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma),
M.Phil. (University of Delhi),
M.A. (University of Delhi)

In a career spanning over two and half decades teaching political science, governance, development and public policy, Dr. Ashwani Kumar has  the privilege of engaging with students, academicians, diplomats, parliamentarians, development professionals, multilateral agencies and governments, across countries (UK, Germany, Korea, China, South Africa, USA) and at various levels (as professor, researcher, member of central government committees, global consortiums, multilateral projects), helping build not only rich learning and scholarship, but also a diversity of perspectives with blending of literary traditions; which he believes has helped him to achieve excellence in social sciences  and policy action. In recognition of his potential to excel further in academics, the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) has recently awarded him the prestigious ‘Senior Fellowship’ (2016-18).

 Committed to institutional reforms in governance of welfare programs, Ashwani Kumar is proactively involved in monitoring & evaluation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) in various states & districts of India. He has served as a Member of ‘Central Employment Guarantee Council’ (CEGC), Ministry of Rural Development (GoI) and headed a Working Group of Ministry of Rural Development on Capacity Building Reforms for MGNREGA.  He was also a Member of Executive Committee for ‘Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology’ (CAPART), Ministry of Rural Development and participated in the governance reforms for voluntary sector in India. He has been involved with various MGNREGA related committees of central government that included member of selection committee for Ombudsman for MGNREGA, Expert Committee on empanelment of National Level Monitors, Reforms in Job Card and Expert Group on Evaluation Studies for MGNREGA at MoRD. He has also done  rapid assessment of  implementation of MGNREGA  and  gained crucial experience in coordinating with multiple stakeholders in federal governance in more than 30  districts such as  Dhar & Seoni (MP),  Sheohar & Gaya(Bihar), Barabanki(UP) Seoni (MP), Dhamtari, Rajnandgaon & Sarguja(Chhattisgarh), Narmada(Gujarat) Tiruvannamali(Tamil Nadu), Bagalkote & Dharwad(Karnataka), Jalpaiguri & Bankura (West-Bengal), Ernakulam (Kerala), Dhalai (Tripura), Nizamabad, Visakhapatnam, Adilabad & Vizininagaram (Andhra Pradesh), Keonjhar & Malkangiri (Odisha) etc. He was a member of MGNREGA Appraisal Team of GIZ (German Ministry of Economic Development & Cooperation) and a Special Invitee for Alagh Committee on Revamping of National Institute of Rural Development (Ministry of Rural Development). He also served as a member of Working Group of Planning Commission of India on Postal Sector for formulating 12thplan for Department of Post; (GoI).  He is also a member of academic council of Indian Institute of Forest management (Ministry of Environments & Forests, GoI).

 He has obtained his PhD in Political Science under the guidance of Prof. Robert Cox from University of Oklahoma and is the recipient of "John Halvor Leek Memorial Scholarship" in recognition of outstanding academic performance in the graduate program at University of Oklahoma for three consecutive years. As a teaching assistant, he served the staff of David Boren, former Senator and President of University of Oklahoma and Edward Joseph Perkins, former US Ambassador to the United Nations. He has earlier taught at University of Delhi, University of Oklahoma and has also been a Visiting fellow at the Centre for the Study of Global Governance at London School of Economics (London), German Development Institute (Bonn), Korea Development Institute (Seoul) North West University (South Africa) etc..

He has authored the ‘Community Warriors: State, Peasants & Private Caste Armies in Bihar’ a significant contribution to exploring the paradoxes of democracy and governance in India.  With Mary Kaldor and others at London School of Economics (LSE) and Dirk Messner, Director of German Development Institute, he has co-edited the prestigious LSE Year Book on ‘Global Civil Society; Poverty and Activism and ‘Power Shifts and Global Governance’ respectively.  He has lectured widely, nationally and internationally including University of Cambridge, University of Sussex, Center for Development Research at University of Bonn, University of Luiss( Rome), University of Chulalongkorn (Bangkok), National University of Singapore among others.

 He has led several research projects that include “Online Survey & Competition among Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) Living Abroad” for Election Commission of India; ‘Inclusive Elections and Domestic Migration’ for Election Commission of India, ‘South Africa National Project on Human Rights Literacies’ in collaboration with North West University (South Africa); Project Director for Evaluation of Flagships Development Programs including MGNREGA in Manipur, Govt of Manipur etc.  His international projects as project-director include, among others, ICSSR-ESRC (UK)'s partnership program for capacity building for doctoral scholars between TISS & University of Sussex.  He has also been Referee for “Governance; International Journal for Policy, Public Administration and Institutions”,(US), Journal on Global Governance, Centre for the Study of Globalization and Regionalization, University of Warwick, UK, The Indian Journal of Social Work”, TISS (Mumbai) and also an examiner for doctoral research at University of Cambridge (UK).

He has been on the Search and Selection Committee for the Vice-Chancellor of a State University and  the selection panels of the prestigious scholarship funding programs- The Narotam Sekshsaria Foundation Program & Inlaks Foundation Program.

In addition to his academic pursuits, Dr. Kumar is also a much acclaimed Indian English poet and has recently published his anthology ‘My Grandfather’s Imaginary Typewriter’. His poems, noted for ‘lyrical celebration’ of garbled voices of memory and subversive ‘whimsy’ quality, have appeared in Indian Literature, Little Magazine, Indian Quarterly, International Galleria, Post-Colonial Text, Muse, Kritya, and Dhauli Review among others. At leisure, he writes articles and reviews for Financial Express, Business Standard, The Hindu, Indian Express, DNA, Open Democracy, Prabhat Khabar, Outlook (Hindi) and among others.




Areas of Research

  • Public Policy & Governance
  • Elections, Political Processes & Democracy
  • State & Democracy in Comparative context
  • Violence, Insurgency & Conflict Resolution
  • Interpreting Justice & Welfare
  • Civil Society & Social Movements
  • Global Governance & International Development
  • Research Methods in Social Sciences

Research Work in Progress

  • Researching for a monograph length Study on “Public or Private Leviathan? The Politics of Crime Reduction & Infrastructure Development in Contemporary Bihar.” 
  • Researching for a monograph length Study on “Last Mile Bureaucracy & Welfare Outcomes in Indian States.’

 Advisor, Consultancy & Journal Referee

  • Research Co-ordinator from TISS for South Africa- Netherlands Research Program- (SANPAD) on Xenophobia, Migration, Conflict, and Rural Development & Cities.
  • Research & Policy Consultant for GIZ( German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development)
  • Research Advisor for Public Integrity Education Network, (PIEN) UK.
  • Referee for “Governance; International Journal for Policy, Public Administration and Institutions”,(US)
  • Referee for Journal on Global Governance, Centre for the Study of Globalization and Regionalization, University of Warwick, UK.
  • Academic Referee for “The Indian Journal of Social Work”, TISS (Mumbai)
  • Academic Referee for  Oxford University Press(OUP)
  • Doctoral Examiner for University of Cambridge(UK)
  • Worked as Resource Person for Action Aid (South Asia)’s proposal to create a "South Asia Institute of Development" 2009-10.
  • Spring 2003 Worked on the Academic staff of former Senator David Boren, (President, University of Oklahoma), Oklahoma, USA.
  • Fall 1997 Worked on the Academic Staff of Edward Perkins, (former U.S.  Permanent Representative to the United Nations), currently Executive Director of the International Program Centre, University of Oklahoma.

Lectures/ Seminars/Paper Presentations

  • Presented a Paper ‘Public or Private Leviathan? The Politics of Crime Reduction and Infrastructure Development in Contemporary Bihar’ at the Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI) Silver Jubilee International Conference on Bihar and Jharkhand, Patna, March 24-28, 2017.
  • Delivered The Keynote Address “Globalization & Xenophobia:  A Short Essay on Literary Anthropology” at the Conference on Globalization, Culture & Identity: Challenges & Prospects’, Flame University, Pune, and February 25, 2017.
  • Presented a paper ‘Wage of Politics or Last Mile Welfare? The Case of Mahatma Gandhi Employment Guarantee Act(MNREGA) ‘at the Leverhulme International Workshop on Continuity and Change in Indian Federalism’ held at University of Delhi, Delhi, 11-13 January,2017.
  • Presented a paper on “Last -Mile Bureaucracy & Welfare: A Case Study of Implementation of MGNREGA in Jamtara District of Jharkhand” for  Institute  for Human Development’s  international conference on  “Inclusive and Sustainable Development in Jharkhand: Opportunities and Challenges”, Ranchi,28-31 July, 2016.
  • Read parts of book “My Grandfather’s Imaginary Typewriter” at a literary event organized by Department of Culture, Education and Tourism, Baltonfured, Hungary, 20 May,2016.
  • Delivered a Special lecture on “Idea of Democracy in India-A Paradox or Unlikely Success? at School of Education , North West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa, 21 April,2016.
  • Presented a paper on “Poor, Human Rights and  Civil Society” at University of Witwatersrand for SIG group on Human rights Literacy ,Johannesburg, South Africa, 20 April, 2016.
  • Presented a paper in the workshop on  “Decolonizing Knowledge Systems” at School of Social & Government Study , North West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa,19 April, 2016.
  • Presented a paper on “Democracy and Development:A Regime Analysis” at BITS Goa Economics Analysis, 12-13 March,2016.
  • Delivered  Visiting Professorial lecture on  “Ghôre Baire(the Home and the World):Migrants and Inclusive elections in India” at Asia Research Center, University of Sussex, Brighton, United Kingdom,8 December, 2015.
  • Presented a paper on “MGNREGA: A Pan-India analysis of regimes, civil society trajectories and performance” at Leverhulme International Network Workshop on Continuity and Change in Indian Federalism at University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad,10 April, 2015.
  • Presented a paper on “Karmic Destiny of Prasanta Chandra Mahalnobis & Genealogical roots of Biometrika: A Postscript on the fluctuating fortunes of Bengal Renaissance” at  the National Seminar on “Tradition, Law and Social Transformation” at WB National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata, 13 March ,2015.
  • Presented a paper on “Is India a case of Ordered or Fragmented Welfare State? Exploration of Welfare Regimes & Democratic Paradox” at theConference on South Asian Development(CSAD) at National University of Singapore, Singapore, 21-22 July, 2014.
  • Delivered a lecture on, ‘Food Security & Développent; A Policy Agenda for Global Leadership ‘, at Korean Development Institute(KDI), Seoul,9-14 March,2014.
  • Delivered a talk on Management of Land Acquisition, Resettlement, and Rehabilitation (MLARR) in South Asia at the Course Review Workshop by the World Bank, Colombo,Sri Lanka 13-14 July, 2013.
  • Presented a paper titled “Divergent Paths of Growth and Welfare in Bihar & Gujarat; A Comparative State Politics Perspective” in the workshop on Regional Dynamics, Economic Growth and Welfare in India during the First Decade of 21st Century, organized by  Center for Research and Debates in Development Policy (CRDDP), New Delhi and the US-India Policy Institute, New Delhi,16 September,2013.
  • Delivered a public lecture on “Fasting and Feasting: Democracy, Poor and Realization of Justice in India", Department of Geography,  Cambridge University, Cambridge, U.K., 26 June,2012.
  • Delivered a lecture on “Global Governance & Innovations”, South  Arica-Netherlands Academic Partnership Program,(SANPAD) Durban, South Africa, 20-23 May,2012.
  • Presented a paper on “Mahatma Gandhi National Rural employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA): From Wage Employment to Water Security” at Centre for Development Research, University of Bonn, Germany, 19 May 2011.
  • Presented a paper on “Experiencing ‘New Violence’ and Living with Reconciliation: In Pursuit of a Hybrid Theory of Justice” at Global Justice: Local Justifications, University of Luiss, Rome, 4-5 December,2009.
  • Presented the theme paper on "Global Civil Society" at LSE-TISS workshop on Global Civil Society and Poverty,, Mumbai,2-4 May, 2008.
  • Presented a paper on "Emergent forms of Global Civil Society" at the International workshop organized  by German Development Institute, Bonn, Germany,12-14 April, 2008.
  • Presented a paper on "Social Audit in India" at the International Workshop on Anti-Corruption Reforms Outside the State organized by U4 Anti-corruption Resource Centre (Norway) and TIRI (UK), Dhaka, Bangladesh,12 March,2008.
  • Presented a paper on "Politics of Forgiveness: Reflection on Evil and Reconciliation", at Annual Meeting of All India Political Science Association, Jaipur, 27-29 DecemberDecember, 2006.
  • Presented a paper on “Rethinking Social Capital, Caste Violence and Dalit Politics in India" at the International Conference on Culture Matters: Understanding Development from the Perspective of Marginalized Communities" Organized by Deshkal Society, New Delhi-,13-15 October 2006.
  • Presented a paper on "Community Warriors, Subalterns and State Power in India: Analysis of Ranvir Sena, a Private Caste Army in Bihar" at the 31st Annual Conference on South Asia at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, October 2002.






Books Published

  • Kumar, Ashwani. Benaras and the Other.Paper Wall Media & Publishing Pvt. Limited, 2017.
  • Kumar, Ashwani. My Grandfather’s Imaginary Typewriter. Kozhikode: Yeti Books, 2014
  • Kumar, Ashwani & Dirk Messner. Power Shifts and Global Governance Challenges: Perspectives from North and South, London: Anthem Press, 2010.
  • Kumar, Ashwani, Mary Kaldor et al., Global Civil Society: Poverty and Activism. London:Sage International,2009.
  • Kumar, Ashwani. Community Warriors: State, Peasants and the Private Caste Armies in Bihar. London/Delhi: Anthem Press, 2008.

Government Reports on Policy and Governance

  • Chapter on academic restructuring for Alagh Committee on Revamping of National Institute of Rural Development in 2013 (Ministry of Rural Development, Govt. of India).
  • Report of the Working Group on Capacity Building for MGNREGA for MoRD( (2010).
  • Monitoring Report for CEGC on the performance of MGNREGA in Odisha (Keonjhar District) for MoRD in 2010.
  • Monitoring Report for CEGC on the performance of MGNREGA in MP (Dhar District) for MoRD in 2009.
  • Investigation of Micro-Finance related Suicide Cases in AP (Submitted to MoRD-NIRD) in 2010
  • Working Paper on “Innovations in methodologies for Evaluation Studies on MGNREGA” in 2012(Ministry of Rural Development, Govt. of India).
  • Prepared draft policy note for National Internship Policy for National Rural Livelihoods Mission in 2013 (Ministry of Rural Development, Govt. of India).

Book Chapters/Articles

  • Kumar, Ashwani. “Migration; Birds without ID”. International Gallerie, Issue38 (Vol. 19- No 1) 2016.
  • Kumar, Ashwani. Translations of excerpts from “My Grandfather’s Imaginary Typewriter’ in Hungarian Journal Tempevolgy, May-June 2016.
  • Kumar, Ashwani. “Contemporary Practices of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme; Insights from Districts’, ed. KB Saxena, New Delhi: Sage India, 2015.
  • Kumar, Ashwani. “The Modern Indian City: Adventures into a strange kind of living Graveyards”. Indian literature, Vol. January-February 2014 , New Delhi: Sahitya Akademy.
  • Kumar, Ashwani. “Hinduism related Movements in India”in Encyclopedia of Global Studies ed. Mark Juergensmeyer&Helmut, London: International Sage,March 2012.
  • Kumar, Ashwani. “The Question of Poor.” The Third Sector, ed. Rupert Taylor, Sector, New York: Springer,2010.
  • Kumar, Ashwani. “G20 and Global Governance: A New Deal for the global poor.” G20 and Global Development, ed. Thomas Fuss, DIE:
  • Kumar, Ashwani. “Global Civil Society: Emergent forms of Cosmopolitan Democracy and Justice” in Power Shifts and Global Governance, ed. Ashwani Kumar& Dirk Messner, London: Anthem Press,2010.
  • Kumar, Ashwani. “Introduction: Power Shifts, Global Governance  and Cosmopolitan Democracy” in Power Shifts and Global Governance, ed. Ashwani Kumar& Dirk Messner, London: Anthem Press,2010.
  • Kumar, Ashwani. “Introduction to the Global Civil Society 2009” in The Global Civil Society Yearbook, ed. Ashwani Kumar, Mary Kaldor & Haken Seckinelgin, 2009; Poverty and Activism, London: Sage,2009.
  • Kumar, Ashwani. “Global Civil Society and Poor”, Open Democracy, (UK), April 2009.
  • Kumar, Ashwani. “Globalization of Terror; Mumbai Violence”, Open Democracy (UK) January, 2009.
  • Kumar, Ashwani . “Hind Swaraj: An Apocalyptic Search for a Politics of Future", in Celebrating Satyagraha, ed. BS Bibhuti ,179-204 , New Delhi: Academic Excellence,
  • Kumar, Ashwani. “Exiled Between Home and Memory", Seminar, No 580, December 2007.
  • Kumar, Ashwani. “Corruption and Development: Dilemmas of Democracy in India”, in a book in Hindi titled “Rajniti Me Anya Peshe Se Aanewale Ki Bhumika”, by the Department of Political Science, Government College, Kota, (Rajasthan), 2007.
  • Kumar, Ashwani. “MacIntyre's After Virtue: Political and Policy Implications”, Indian Journal of Political Science, Vol LXVII No. 4 , Oct-December 2006.
  • Kumar, Ashwani. “Nanawati Commission: Explorations of Evil and Forgiveness", Journal of Human Rights Global Focus, Kerala (India) April-May 2006.
  • Kumar, Ashwani. “The Principles of Organization in Kautilya's Arthashastra", Indian Journal of Political Science, Vol. LXVI, No.3, July-September, 2005
  • Kumar, Ashwani. “The Politics of 91 Constitution Amendment", Mainstream, Vol. XLII NO 9, February 19, 2005.
  • Kumar, Ashwani. “Presidential Character of George Bush: Lessons for Indian Democracy", Mainstream, Vol. XLII, No 30, July 17, 2004.
  • Kumar, Ashwani. “Indian Voters No Irrational Fools", Mainstream, Vol. XLII No 25, June 12, New Delhi,2004.
  • Kumar, Ashwani. “Reflections on Gandhi, Traditions, and Modernity: An Analysis of Gandhi's Emancipatory Discourse on Bihar Earthquake of 1934.” In Special Volume on India at 50, ed. Subrata Mukherjee and Sushila Ramaswamy, Political Science Annual, University of Delhi, Delhi,1997.

 Book Reviews

  •  Kumar, Ashwani. "The Broken Ladder: The Paradox and Potential of India's One Billion", The        Financial Express, 21 May, 2017.
  • http://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/anirudh-krishnas-the-broken-ladder-the-paradox-and-the-             potential-of-indias-one-billion-a-poignant-narrative-of-the-extremes-in-india/678188


Articles in Print Media






Research Projects


  • Project Director , Assessment of Technical Quality and Economic Assessment of Category B Asset Under MNREGA in Sikkim.( 2016-17)
  • Project Director for research on Elections and Electoral Management in India for India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM), Election Commission of India.
  • Project Director for Election Commission of India’s project “Online survey & Competition among Non-Resident Indian (NRI) citizens living abroad” (2016).
  • Project Director for Election Commission of India’s project on “Inclusive Elections in India: An Overview of Characteristics of Domestic Migration”   2015-16.
  • Project Director for ‘South Africa National Project on Human Rights Literacies’ in collaboration with North West University (South Africa) 2015-16.
  • Lead Researcher for ICSSR –ESRC (UK)’s PhD Partnering Scheme between School of Development Studies at TISS & School of Global Studies at Sussex University, 2012-15.
  • Project Director for ICSSR grant for organizing National Seminar  on “Contesting Spaces & Negotiating Development; A Dialogue on Geographies of Power, Politics and Citizenship in India” in September-October 2015.  
  • Project Director for Election Commission of India’s Project on Compilation & Analysis of KABBP Surveys, 2013-14.
  • With Aaditya Dar (George Washington University) Principal Investigator for project on “ Does political background of leaders matter for development? Funded and sponsored by International Growth Center (IGC)’s Bihar Project at LSE (UK) 2013-16.
  • Project Co-ordinator for NSS-NUDS Project on Skill Development for Rajasthan &  Bihar, 2012 upto Oct. 2013.
  • Project Director for Ford Foundation supported Consortia of Management Institutes for implementing Rural Livelihoods Internship in seven states of India, 2012-15.
  • Project Director for India Post-TISS-NIOS Project on Rural Entrepreneurship Program (Ministry of Telecommunication and Post, GoI), 2010-11.
  • Project Director for Evaluation of Flagships Development Programs including MGNREGA in Manipur, Govt of Manipur, 2011-13.
  • Project Co-Coordinator from TISS on multi- country research on Xenophobia, Urban Governance & Rural Development by South Africa Netherlands Research Programme on Alternatives in Development (SANPAD).
  • Courses Taught at Tata Institute of Social Sciences
  • Interpreting Justice & Welfare ( MPhil in Development Studies)
  • Development Discourses & Practices ( MPhil in Development Studies)
  • Public Policy; Theory and Processes ( MA in Development Studies)
  • Seminar in Monographs in Social Sciences ( MPhil-PhD in Social Sciences)
  • Institutions, Governance & Policies ( MA in Development Studies)
  • State, Democracy &Civil Society( MA in Development Studies)
  • Development of the Marginalized: Perspectives and Challenges (MA in Development Studies)
  • Social Exclusion: Theories and Processes ( MA in Development Studies)
  • State, Democracy and Politics in India; ( Foundation Course for MA programs)
  • Governance and Public Policy ( MA in Labour and Globalization)
  • Social Planning and Policy Research ( MA in Social Work)
  • Political Dimension of Business Environment ( MA in HRM& LR)


Email: ashwani[at]tiss[dot]edu

Email: ashwanitiss@gmail.com/ashwani@tiss.edu