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Prof. Rajni Kothari

Prof. Rajni Kothari is one of the most well known and respected experts in the field of Political Science, with a vast number of publications to his name. He has also won international recognition, especially for his work on the economic and political problems of developing countries.


Prof. Kothari was born in 1928 and spent his childhood in Burma. Later he completed his education from Public School, Mumbai and St Xavier’s College, Mumbai. He began taking a deep interest in politics while in college and was actively involved with student and labour issues. He participated in and was jailed during the Royal Indian Navy Mutiny in 1946.

Prof. Rajni Kothari with his grandson

From 1954-57, Prof. Kothari studied in the London School of Economics, and later worked as a Professor of Politics in the M.S. University in Vadodara. He was appointed as Assistant Director in the National Institute of Community Development, but in 1963 moved away from the government machinery and set up his own Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi, which he headed till 1976.


Subsequently Prof. Kothari was associated with many renowned national and international research bodies in different roles and capacities, and wrote a number of highly appreciated books on Indian politics and related subjects. He was also associated with a number of UN bodies and programmes, including being Special Advisor to the Rector of the United Nations University, author of the conceptual paper on Environment and Development for the UNEP/ESCAP Workshops on Alternative Development Strategies and Lifestyles, and a Consultant to UNESCO on State and Nation Building.

He also held the position of President of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), a well respected national level human rights organization.


After 1980, Prof. Kothari was actively associated with a new type of action oriented research through a platform called Lokayan (meaning ‘Dialogue of the People’). Through this body he helped organize interaction between intellectuals and grassroots activists, and help integrate the diverse experiences they had gained at the micro-level with the policy debates and political action at the national and international level.


In recognition of his achievements in this field he received the Right Livelihood Award from the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm (widely referred to as the Alternative Nobel Prize) on behalf of Lokayan in 1985. He has also received the UGC’s Swami Pranavananda Award in Political Science.

Prof. Kothari lives in Pune now.

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