Santhakumar V

Areas of Interest & Expertise

  • Education and Development: Inter-Linkages
  • Institutional Economics
  • Governance
  • Economics of Norms and Values
  • Economics of Public and Non-Profit Organisations


While working as a civil engineer on a non-governmental initiative to plan watershed management in a village in Kerala in the late eighties, Santhakumar felt the need for a social science education. That led him to pursue Masters and Doctoral degrees in social science (IIT Chennai) followed by post-doctoral fellowships at the Wageningen Agricultural University (Netherlands) and Vanderbilt University (USA).

He has been on the faculty of the Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum from 1996. He has used neoclassical economics (and broadly the rational choice approach) in analysing and designing institutions and mechanisms of governance. He has also worked on the economics of conserving the environment and natural resources. 

However, his current interest is in the inter-linkages between development and education, and the ways of shortening the distance’ between population groups so as to mitigate the development differences’ between them.

He received the research medal and the outstanding research award from the Global Development Network during the early phase of his career. Santhakumar has worked on a number of consultant assignments and research projects funded by the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, UNEP, UNDP, Azim Premji Foundation, and CIDA across India, Cambodia, Tajikistan, China, Palestine, Laos, Bangladesh, Brazil, and Indonesia and on regional and global issues.


Santhakumar is an advocate for connecting academic work with education and development practice. Several of his articles on education and development practice or ideas for practitioners are available here.

Click here for blogs, links to online lectures, and unpublished essays.


Journal Articles

  • V. Santhakumar (2022). Social incentives and the enforcement of law: Some reflections. GNLU Journal of Law and Economics, 5(1), 40 – 47.
  • Santhakumar, V., Dietz, G., Castillo Guzmán, E., & Shephard, K. (2022). ¿Indigeneizar la educación superior? Perfiles Educativos, 44(176), 186 – 200. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​2​2​2​0​1​/​i​i​s​u​e​.​2​4​4​8​6​1​6​7​e​.​2​0​2​2​.​1​7​6​.​60908
  • Shephard, K., Kalsoom, Q., Gupta, R., Probst, L., Gannon, P., Santhakumar, V., Ndukwe, I.G., & Jowett, T. (2021). Exploring the relationship between dispositions to think critically and sustainability concern in HESD. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 22(5),1166 – 1185. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​1​0​8​/​I​J​S​HE-07 – 2020-0251
  • Singh, I., & Santhakumar, V. (2021). The law and economics’ of governments’ response to pandemics. GNLU Journal of Law and Economics, 3, 88 – 102.
  • Santhakumar, V. (2017). The state of India’s environment: reflecting its underdevelopment. Sustainability in Debate, 8(3), 75 – 83.
  • Mani, S., & Santhakumar, V. (2011). New technologies and productivity growth in agriculture: Natural rubber vs coconuts. Economic and Political Weekly, 46(6), 58 – 63.
  • Santhakumar, V. (2009). Entry fees as an instrument for environmental management study of a wildlife park in Kerala, India. Tourism Economics, 15(2).
  • Cohen, M., & Santhakumar, V. (2007). Information disclosure as a regulation: A theoretical analysis. Environmental and Resource Economics, 37, 599 – 620.
  • Santhakumar, V. (2003). Citizens-action for protecting the environment in developing countries: An economic analysis of the outcome with empirical cases from India. Environment and Development Economics, 8, 505 – 528.
  • Santhakumar, V. (2003). The impact of distribution of costs and benefits of non-reform — a case study of power sector reforms in Kerala between 1996 and 2000. Economic and Political Weekly, 38(2), 147 – 154.
  • Santhakumar, V. and Chakraborty, A. (2003). Environmental costs and their impact on the net present value of a hydroelectric project in Kerala, India. Environment and Development Economics, 8, 311 – 330.
  • Santhakumar, V. and Rajagopalan, R. (1995). Green revolution in Kerala? A discourse on Technology and Nature. South-Asia Bulletin, 15(2),109 – 119.
  • Santhakumar, V., Rajagopalan, R., & Ambirajan, S. (1995). Planning Kerala’s irrigation projects: Technological prejudice and politics of hope. Economic and Political Weekly, 30(12), A30 – A38.

Chapters in Edited Books

  • Santhakumar, V. (2020). Education in India. In R. Yule, N. McKay, J. Seroto, M.N. Davids, C.C. Wolhuter (Eds.), Decolonising Education in the Global South: Historical and Comparative International Perspectives. Pearson.
  • Santhakumar, V. & Wolhuter, C.C.. (2020). Language of learning and teaching in South Africa and India: A comparative study. In C.C. Wolhuter (Ed.), Critical Issues in South African Education: Illumination from International Comparative Perspectives from the BRICS Countries. AOSIS Publishing.
  • Mani, S., Mohanakumar, S.M., Santhakumar, V., & Abhilash, T. (2020). Conservation of agrobiodiversity: Assessing the policies and institutions in Kerala. In S. Mani (Ed.), Kerala and the World Economy. Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum.
  • Santhakumar, V., Thummarukudy, M., & Pillai, D. (2020). Kerala in the world economy: Towards a development path that addresses environmental concerns. In S. Mani (Ed.), Kerala and the World Economy. Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum.
  • Santhakumar, V. et al. (2005). An economic analysis of mangroves in South Asia. In M. S. Khan (Ed.), Economic Development in South Asia. Tata McGraw Hill.
  • Santhakumar, V. (2001). Analyzing failed participation with a new institutional economics perspective: Evidence from Kerala. In B. Vira & R. Jeffery (Eds.), Analytical Issues in Participatory Natural Resource Management. Palgrave Publishing Company.

Working Papers

  • Santhakumar (2016) An Intervention into the Debates on Work-in-Education’ and Skill Development in India, Azim Premji University Working Paper No.3
  • Santhakumar V. (1996). On-farm biodiversity in wet tropical Kerala. In L. Sperling & M. Loevinsohn (Eds.), Using Diversity. IDRC, New Delhi CDS Working Papers.
  • Santhakumar V. (1998). Inefficiency and institutional issues in the provision of merit goods: A study of public water supply in rural Kerala, CDS Working Paper No. 285, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum.
  • Santhakumar, V. (1997). Institutional Lock-in in Natural Resource Management: The Case of Water Resources in Kerala, CDS Working Paper No. 276, Centre for Development Studies: Trivandrum.

Policy Notes and Studies on Local Governance

Other Writings

  • Santhakumar, V. (2003). Resolving Conflicts in Indian Fisheries: A Property Rights Approach, Policy Paper No. 8, Delhi: Julian L. Simon Centre for Policy Research.
  • Santhakumar, V. (2006). Electricity Sector in Kerala: A comparative Perspective, in S. Mani et al (Eds.) Kerala’s Economy: Crouching Tiger, Sacred Cows, Kottayam: DC Books.
  • Santhakumar, V. (2007). Managing Water: The Pragmatic View, in B. Mitra et al. (Eds.) Keeping the Water Flowing, New Delhi: Academic Foundation.