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 analyzing and designing institutions and mechanisms of governance. He has also worked on the economics of conserving environment and natural resources. However, his current interest is on 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 has received the research medal and the outstanding research award of the Global Development Network during the early phase of his career. Santhakumar has worked on a number of consultant assignments and/​or 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.

Publications and Writings

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Click here for blogs, links to online lectures, and unpublished essays.


  • Santhakumar, V. Gupta, N. and Sripada, R. (2016) Schooling for All in India: Can We Neglect the Demand? Delhi: Oxford University Press
  • Santhakumar, V. (2014) The Roots of Ill Governance and Corruption, Sage, New Delhi
  • Santhakumar, V. (2013) Economics in Action: An Easy Guide for Development Practitioners, Sage, New Delhi
  • S. Gangopadhyay and V. Santhakumar (2013) Law and Economics: Theory and Practice (Two Volumes: Vol I Authored and Vol II Edited), New Delhi: Sage
  • Santhakumar V. (2011) Economic Analysis of Institutions: A Practical Guide, New Delhi: Sage Publishers
  • Santhakumar, V. (2008) Analyzing Social Opposition to Reforms: Evidence from Indian Electricity Sector, New Delhi: Sage Publishers.

Articles in International Journals

Azim Premji University 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

Articles in National Journals

  • Indervir Singh and V Santhakumar (2021) The Law and Economics’ of Governments’ Response to Pandemics, GNLU Journal of Law and Economics, Volume III, Special Symposium, 2020, pp. 88 – 102
  • Mani, S. and Santhakumar, V. (2011) New Technologies and Productivity Growth in Agriculture: Natural Rubber vs Coconuts, Economic and Political Weekly, XLVI6
  • 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., Rajagopalan R. and Ambirajan S., (1995), Planning Kerala’s Irrigation Projects: Technological Prejudice and Politics of Hope, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XXX, No.12, March 25, pp. A30 — A38.

Articles in Edited Volumes

  • Santhakumar, V. (2020) Education in India, in Wolhuter C. C. (Ed) Decolonising Education in the Global South: Historical and Comparative International Perspectives, Pearson, South Africa.
  • Santhakumar, V. & Charl C. Wolhuter (2020) Language of Learning and Teaching in South Africa and India: A comparative study, in Wolhuter C. C. (Ed) Critical Issues in South African Education: Illumination from international comparative perspectives from the BRICS countries, AOSIS Publishing: South Africa.
  • Sunil Mani, S.M.Mohanakumar, V. Santhakumar and T. Abhilash (2020) Conservation of Agrobiodiversity: Assessing the Policies and Institutions in Kerala in Mani, S. (ed.) Kerala and the World Economy, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum
  • V. Santhakumar, Muralee Thummarukudy and Devashree Pillai (2020) Kerala in the World Economy: Towards a Development Path that Addresses Environmental Concerns in Mani, S. (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 Mohsin 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 Bhaskar Vira and Roger Jeffery (eds.), Analytical Issues in Participatory Natural Resource Management’, Hampshire, England: Palgrave Publishing Company
  • Santhakumar V. (1996) On-farm Bio-Diversity in Wet Tropical Kerala, in Louise Sperling and Michael Loevinsohn, 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.

Regular columns in Mathrubhumi Newspaper 

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