Harsh Mander

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Harsh Mander
Harsh Mander.jpg
Harsh Mander talking at The Energy and Resources Institute Bangalore on the subject "Unequal India", program hosted by Azim Premji University
Born (1955-04-17) April 17, 1955 (age 64)
OccupationWriter, Activist

Harsh Mander (born 17 April 1955) is an Indian author, columnist, researcher, teacher, and activist who works with survivors of mass violence and hunger, as well as homeless persons and street children. He is the Director of the Centre for Equity Studies[1] and a Special Commissioner to the Supreme Court of India in the Right to Food case. He is associated with various social causes and movements, and writes and speaks regularly on issues of communal harmony, tribal, dalit and disabled persons' rights, the right to information, custodial justice, homelessness and bonded labour.

Mander speaking on 28 February 2017


Harsh Mander formerly worked in the Indian Administrative Service, serving in the predominantly tribal states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh for almost two decades.

He is a founding member of the National Campaign for the People’s Right to Information. He was a Member of the Core Groups on Bonded Labour and Mental Hospitals of the statutory National Human Rights Commission of India; and also on various national official National Committees such as those for Social Protection and the Below Poverty Line (BPL) populations. From October 1999 to March 2004, he worked as Country Director, ActionAid India, a development support organization. He is Founder-Chairperson of the State Health Resource Centre, Chhattisgarh, which established the Mitanin Community Health Programme, the fore-runner of the Asha Programme, and the Chairperson of INCENSE (The Inclusion and Empowerment of People with Severe Mental Disorders). He is also a member of the Working Group of the Project on Armed Conflict Resolution & People's Rights, University of California, Berkeley.

He was appointed a Member of India’s National Advisory Council by the council President Sonia Gandhi in June 2010. He convened the working groups on the Food Security Bill, Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Bill, Child Labour Abolition, Urban Poverty and Homelessness, Disability Rights, Bonded Labour, Street Vendors and Urban Slums, and co-convened the groups on the Communal and Targeted Violence Bill, Dalits and Minorities and Tribal Rights, among others. His tenure was not renewed in 2012.

He is currently the Director of the Centre for Equity Studies, an autonomous institution engaged in research and advocacy on issues of social and economic justice and equity. He is also the founder of the campaigns Aman Biradari, for secularism, peace and justice; Nyayagrah, for legal justice and reconciliation for the survivors of communal violence; Dil Se, for street children; and Hausla for urban homeless people. He has also been appointed the Special Commissioner to the Supreme Court of India for the purpose of monitoring the implementation of all orders relating to the right to food (PUCL vs Union of India and others, Writ Petition 196 of 2001).

Teaching career[edit]

Harsh Mander teaches courses on poverty and governance at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, and St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. Past teaching assignments include the LBS National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, and the Nelson Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution at Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi. He has also lectured at the California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco; the Centre for Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi; Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK; NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad; MIT, Boston; University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and at the Universities of Stanford, Washington (Stanford), Austin, among others.

Writing career[edit]

Harsh Mander has written and co-authored several books and regularly writes columns for newspapers like The Hindu, Hindustan Times and Dainik Bhaskar, and contributes frequently to scholarly journals. His stories have been adapted into films such as Shyam Benegal’s Samar, and Mallika Sarabhai’s dance drama, Unsuni.

Some of his selected publications include:

  • (2019) 'Between Memory and Forgetting: Massacre and the Modi Years in Gujarat' (New Delhi, Yoda Press)
  • (2019) 'Partitions of the Heart: Unmaking the Idea of India' (New Delhi, Penguin Viking)
  • (2018) 'The Right to Food Debates: Social Protection for Food Security in India' (New Delhi, Orient BlackSwan) (authored with Ashwin Parulkar, Ankita Aggarwal)
  • (2018) 'Reconciliation: Karwan e Mohabbat’s Journey of Solidarity through a Wounded India' (New Delhi, Context)
  • (2016) 'Fatal Accidents of Birth: Stories of Suffering, Oppression and Resistance' (New Delhi, Speaking Tiger)
  • (2015) 'Looking Away: Inequality, Prejudice and Indifference in New India' (New Delhi, Speaking Tiger)
  • (2012) 'Ash in the Belly: India's Unfinished Battle Against Hunger' (New Delhi, Penguin India)
  • (2009) 'Fear and Forgiveness' (New Delhi, Penguin India)


Among his awards are the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award for peace work, the M.A. Thomas National Human Rights Award in 2002, the South Asian Minority Lawyers Harmony Award in 2012 and the Chisthi Harmony Award in 2012.


External links[edit]