School of Social and Political Science

Awanish Kumar

Job Title

British Academy Newton International Fellow

A person wearing black shirt sitting  around books

Room number


Building (Address)

Chrystal Macmillan Building

Street (Address)

15a, George Square

City (Address)


Post code (Address)



I am a British Academy Newton International Fellow at the School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh since March 2021. I hold a PhD in Development Studies from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India. My doctoral research explored the Dalit land question in India, drawing from the writings of Dr B R Ambedkar and a land movement waged by Dalits in Maharashtra (west India).

My academic background and research work is on political economy of development, with a focus on caste, agrarian change, social policy, and social movements. The geographical focus of my work is India. I specialise in village studies as a methodology and have conducted intensive fieldwork in the rural areas of Maharashtra, Bihar and Jharkhand.

My current research is located at the intellectual and political intersections of Marxism and Ambedkarism, especially in the fields of agrarian political economy, public health, and social movements. My empirical work is focused on land and agrarian relations in rural Maharashtra, Punjab, and Bihar. Alongside, I am trying to conceptualise the emergent caste and class relations in rural India, while working to better understand the social and economic thought of Dr Ambedkar.

University Education

  • PhD Development Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India, 2012–19.
  • MPhil, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India, 2010–12.
  • MA Development Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India, 2007–09.
  • BA (Hons) in Economics, Kirori Mal College, University of Delhi, 2004–07.
  • Certificate of Specialization in Sustainable Development, International Graduate School North-South (graduate school of Universities of Basel, Bern, Lausanne, and Zurich) 2019.


  • Consulting Editor (Book Reviews), Economic and Political Weekly, Mumbai. November 2018 to present.
  • Assistant Professor, School of Development, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru. July 2020 to March 2021.
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Public Policy at St Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Mumbai. June 2015 to June 2020.

Research interests

Research interests

My primary interest is in the following areas:

1) Political Economy of Development,

2) Caste,

3) Agrarian Change,

4) Village Studies,

5) Social Movements,

5) Public Health, especially social determinants of health such as caste and gender.

Specific areas of current research are as follows: caste and class in India, agricultural economics, political economy of Bihar and Maharashtra, land question in India and other developing countries, migration, rural/agrarian social movements.

Works within

Staff Hours and Guidance

Available at Chrystal Macmillan Building for in-person meetings, with prior appointments. Write to me at

Publications by user content

Publication Research Explorer link
Kumar A. Reservations: A project of nation-building. Economic and Political Weekly. 2021 Nov 6;12(45-46):10-12.
Kumar A. Reimagining public policy studies in India. Economic and Political Weekly. 2020 Sep 19;55(38):30-32.
Kumar A. Caste and public health. 2020.
Kumar A. Reading Ambedkar in the time of Covid-19. Economic and Political Weekly. 2020 Apr 18;55(16):34-37.
Surendran A, Kumar A. Have RCTs brought back the “empirical” into economics? World Development. 2020 Mar;127:1-2. 104828.
Kumar A. B R Ambedkar on caste and land relations in India. Review of Agrarian Studies. 2020 Jan 1;10(1):37-56.
Kumar A. Autobiography of an iconoclast. Economic and Political Weekly. 2019 May 18;54(20):25-28.
Kumar A. The crisis of the small farm economy in India. Review of Agrarian Studies. 2018 Jan 1;8(1):125-132.
Kumar A. India's unique enigma of high growth and stunted children. 2017.
Kumar A. Village India: Change and continuity. Review of Agrarian Studies. 2017 Jul 1;7(2):130-139.
Kumar A. Agrarian questions: Old and new. Review of Agrarian Studies. 2017 Jan 1;7(1):149-161.
Kumar A. The great masquerade. 2016.
Kumar A. Where is caste in development? Bihar Assembly Elections 2015. Economic and Political Weekly. 2015 Nov 7;50(45).
Shy Chau H, Kumar A, Lieberherr S. Non-family labour in the Swiss agriculture: A status report and future prospects. Journal of Socio-Economics in Agriculture. 2015;8(1):1-10.
Kumar A. Nitish Kumar's honourable exit: A brief history of caste politics. Economic and Political Weekly. 2013 Jul 13;48(28):15-17.
Kumar A. A class analysis of the 'Bihari menace'. Economic and Political Weekly. 2009 Jul 11;44(28):124-127.