Awanish Kumar

Areas of Interest & Expertise

Agrarian Studies, Social Policy, Social Movements


Awanish is a visiting faculty with the School of Development, at the University.

He has taught at the postgraduate department of public policy at St Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Mumbai prior to joining the University.

His research interest lies in the areas of Agrarian Studies, Social Policy and Social Movements. He holds a Bachelors in Economics and all postgraduate training in Development Studies. His doctoral research was on the Dalit Land Movement in Maharashtra, methodologically situated at the intersection of social-anthropological village studies and political economy.

His research papers and articles have been published in various journals such as Economic & Political Weekly, Review of Agrarian Studies and World Development. He also serves as the Consulting Editor (Book Reviews) at the Economic & Political Weekly. He has worked extensively with a number of research organisations, policy advocacy groups, and grassroot movements in Jharkhand and Maharashtra. He has an abiding interest in food, Hindi literature and poetry, Bhojpuri folk music and Bombay cinema.

Publications and Writings

Journal Publications

  • Reading Ambedkar in the Time of Covid-19’, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol 55, No 16, 16 May 2020, pp. 34 – 37.
  • B R Ambedkar on Caste and Land Relations in India’, Review of Agrarian Studies, Vol 10, No 1 (January-June 2020).
  • Have RCTs Brought Back the Empirical” into Economics?’, Symposium on Development and Poverty Alleviation, World Development, Vol 127, March 2020 (with Aardra Surendran).
  • Where is Caste in Development? Bihar Assembly Elections 2015’, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol 50, No 452015.
  • Non-family Labour in the Swiss Agriculture: A Status Report and Future Prospects’, Journal of Socioeconomics in Agriculture, Swiss Society for Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, Vol 78, 2015 (with Huey Shy Chau and Silva Lieberherr).
  • Nitish Kumar’s Honorable Exit: A Brief History of Caste Politics’, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol 48, No 28, 2013, pp. 15 – 17.
  • A Class Analysis of the Bihari Menace’, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol. 44, No. 28, 2009, pp.124 – 127.
  • Structural Adjustment Programme and the Organised Sector Employment in India’, Asian Journal of Public Affairs, Vol. 2, No. 2, Fall 2008 (with Aditi Dixit)

Book Reviews/​Review Articles

  • Autobiography of an Iconoclast’: Review of Gopalganj to Raisina: My Political Journey by Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nalin Verma, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol 50, No 20, pp. 25 – 28.
  • The Crisis of the Small Farm Economy in India’: Review of How Do Small Farmers Fare? Evidence from Village Studies in India (2017) by Madhura Swaminathan and Sandipan Baksi (eds.), Tulika Books, New Delhi, Review of Agrarian Studies, Vol. 8, No. 1.
  • Village India: Change and Continuity’: Review of The Changing Village in India: Insights from Longitudinal Research (2016) by Himanshu, Praveen Jha, and Gerry Rodgers (eds.), Oxford University Press, New Delhi, Review of Agrarian Studies, Vol. 7, No. 2.
  • Agrarian Questions: Old and New’: Review of Critical Perspectives on Agrarian Transition: India in the Global Debate (2016) by B B Mohanty (ed.), Routledge, New York, Review of Agrarian Studies, Vol 7, No 1.

Publications in Popular Media

Paper Presentations

  • Crop Insurance in India: Has PMFBY overcome Persistent Challenges’, National Seminar on Indian Agriculture: Policy Shifts and Emerging Challenges, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, 20 – 21 June 2019.
  • Ambedkarite Land Question in India’, Work in Progress Seminar, Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Edinburgh, 23 May 2019.
  • Gairan Land Movement in Marathwada, Maharashtra State: A Dalit Land Question?’, Second International Dalit Studies Conference, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi. January 22 – 242018.
  • Class in Itself? Caste for Itself? Latest Phase of Rural Agitations in India’, International Conference on New Extractivism, Peasantries and Social Dynamics, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), Moscow, October 13 – 16, 2017. (with Anisha George)
  • Studying the New (Dalit) Movements in Gujarat and Maharashtra’, International conference on New Extractivism, Peasantries and Social Dynamics, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), Moscow, October 13 – 16, 2017. (with Silva Lieberherr)
  • Emerging forms of Agrarian Resistance under Globalisation: Insights from Maharashtra State, India’, Fourth International Conference of BRICS Initiative for Critical Agrarian Studies (BICAS), China Agricultural University, Beijing, China, November 2830, 2016. (with Silva Lieberherr)
  • At the Margins of the Hindi Heartland: Bihari Identity and its Contradictions,’ Third International Conference on Bihar and Jharkhand: Shared History to Shared Vision, Asian Development Research Institute, Patna, March 24 – 272017.
  • Some Aspects of Employment and Labour in Marathwada, Maharashtra: Findings from a Village Resurvey’, Tenth Anniversary Conference on Agrarian Issues, Foundation for Agrarian Studies (FAS), Cochin, 9 – 12 January 2014.
  • Employment and Labour in Marathwada’, 55th Annual Conference of Indian Society of Labour Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, 1 – 3 December 2013.
  • Land and Caste in a Maharashtra Village: Towards an Understanding of a Social Movement’, 15th Sustainable Development Conference, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Islamabad, 11 – 15 Dec, 2012.

On-going Projects

Currently co-editing a book on Agrarian Relations in Bihar based on socio-economic surveys of two villages.