Malini Bhattacharjee

Areas of Interest & Expertise

  • Secularism and Indian Politics
  • Hindu Nationalism
  • Politics of Disaster Relief and Recovery
  • Philanthropy in South Asia
  • Relationship between Religion and Development in India
  • Citizenship in Northeast India


I am a political scientist by training and am interested in understanding the interplay between religion and politics and religion and development in India. I also study the politics of humanitarianism particularly in the context of disasters, the institution of philanthropy in South Asia and the question of citizenship in Northeast India in the context of Partition history. 

My most recent book publication Disaster Relief and the RSS studies the political implications of the humanitarian work of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) by examining the institution of seva (service) in disaster situations. This book provides a refreshingly new perspective of the RSS by recognising its compassionate’ aspects and understanding its appeal from the point of view of its benefactors.

My research and teaching interests are guided by an attempt to examine the limitations of the secular’ and the repercussions of the political project of secularism to suppress and de-recognize the non-secular experience. 

I earned my PhD, MPhil and MA degrees in Political Science from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. I started my career at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and subsequently worked in a conflict resolution firm named Meta-Culture in Bangalore. I have been associated with Azim Premji Foundation since 2010.

Currently, I am working on a project titled Religion and Philanthropy in India’ where I examine religious subjectivities and motivations for giving and the challenges encountered by religious organizations in an essentially secular philanthropic space.

In my free time, I love travelling to forests and gardening with my daughter.



Book and Book Chapters

  • Bhattacharjee, Malini.(2019). Disaster Relief and the RSS: Resurrecting Religion’ Through Humanitarianism. Sage Publications.
  • Bhattacharjee, Malini.(Eds.)(2019). Hindutva as a Sacred Form’: A Case Study of Karnataka’ in Religion in Indian Politics. Routledge.

Journal Articles

Popular Press

  • Bhattacharjee, Malini. (2021, Forthcoming). Serving the Other’ During the Pandemic: Hindu Nationalist Groups and Covid Relief in India, Religion and Covid-19 under observation: the Asia-focused research blog CoronAsur, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore (Converted into a book chapter). https://​ari​.nus​.edu​.sg/​20331 – 28/

On-going Projects

  1. Sacralising the Secular’: Religion and Philanthropy in India
  2. Unforgetting Sylhet’: Redeeming a Subverted Narrative