Philanthropy in India is rapidly gaining momentum, yet relevant research remains scarce. Therefore, the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy (CSIP) at Ashoka University is launching a research fellowship aimed at building this field, strengthening research capacity, and creating high-quality, rigorous outputs.


Beginning late October 2020, a cohort of 10 fellows will spend 9 months conducting research on a topic related to Indian philanthropy and giving trends. The fellows are expected to undertake primary research, attend monthly calls, and participate in three online workshops to develop their skills in background research, literature review, data collection methods, analysis and writing.


This 2020-2021 Research Fellowship will be conducted digitally, with all primary research undertaken via computer, tablet, or phone. At the end of the fellowship, fellows are expected to produce an 8,000-word high-quality working paper to be published on CSIP’s website.


Fellowship stipend: INR 1,00,000/month per fellowship.


Research Areas

The broad areas of research for this year are as follows:


What does philanthropy in India look like?

  • How do we define philanthropy in India?
  • What kind of philanthropy exists in India? Why does it look the way it looks? What are drivers of philanthropy and giving in India?
  • What does the philanthropy and giving landscape look like outside of the main metros? Do practices differ across geographies, and urban and rural locations?
  • How is philanthropy diversifying out of traditional sectors towards topics such as climate change, scientific research and mental health?
  • Does philanthropy fund movements, and if so, how? Do we see philanthropists joining forces to fund bigger causes?
  • How do different civil society organisations approach philanthropy in India? What are their fundraising strategies?
  • What has been the impact of COVID-19 on the philanthropy ecosystem in India?


What do different kinds of giving look like in India?

  • What does individual giving look like? Who gives, for what, how and why?
  • What does community-based giving and volunteering look like in different communities?
  • How do family offices give?
  • What does diaspora giving look like in India? – see specific questions
  • What are practices associated with giving in kind?
  • Non-formal giving (not giving to an institution but to a family member, employee or similar)
  • How do people decide how much to give – norms on level of giving. Is it about who asks?
  • How does giving differ in India compared to other countries? What are specific incentives and traits that affect the way giving takes place in India compared to other countries?
  • How does the diaspora give in India? What are different drivers of giving among the Indian diaspora? Does diaspora giving to India differ to how diaspora give elsewhere?


Research during the first year of the Fellowship will have to be undertaken digitally and any methodology should assume that there will be no face-to-face fieldwork.

Research Topic:

The motivation of religious giving in India



Malini Bhattacharjee



About Malini

Malini works as an Assistant Professor at the School of Policy and Governance at Azim Premji University in Bangalore. In this capacity, she has been teaching and developing courses for the Masters in Public Policy and Governance and the Masters in Development programmes at the University. Her research interests revolve around issues of religious nationalism, the politics of humanitarianism and disaster relief, partition history and the intersections emerging between religion, development, and public policy in contemporary India.










Research Topic:

Faith-based organisations and giving in Kashmir



Mudasir Amin




About Mudasir

Mudasir is a PhD candidate at the Department of Social Work, Jamia Millia Islamia, India. His research is an exploration of the work done by various civil society actors including NGOs, human rights defenders and faith-based groups in Kashmir, looking into their strategies, ideologies, and areas of intervention and how they are shaped and reshaped by the ongoing conflict. His research articles, policy reports and opinion/analysis write-ups have appeared in Economic and Political Weekly, Identities and Contemporary South Asia journals and media outlets like Aljazeera, Jacobin, Himal, Middle East Eye, and The Caravan among others.








Research Topic:

Contemporary Parsi philanthropy



Zubin Miller



About Zubin

Zubin is currently conducting research on early childhood education with Delhi-based NGO Pratham. Prior to this, he was with Sahbhagi Shikshan Kendra, an NGO that works towards participatory community development in UP, Bihar and Jharkhand. He has an MSc in Social and Cultural Anthropology from University College London, where his main areas of interest were in ritual, religion, and gender, with a focus on Linguistic Anthropology. Along these lines, he has undertaken research on topics ranging from the current rhetoric used by female Hindu preacher-politicians to stand-up comedy in India in the context of identity formation.









Research Topic:

Service organisations as a form of philanthropy



Shohini Banerjee



About Shohini

Shohini has spent the last eight years working in the intersection of gender, poverty and violence across non-profits, humanitarian organizations and grassroots networks. She has expertise in sexual and gender-based violence, community-engagement and qualitative research. Most recently, she has completed projects producing informational materials on how to effectively provide gender-based violence support.











Research Topic:

Fundraising of NPOs working with marginalised communities



Satyendra Kumar



About Satyendra

Satyendra is a Co-Founder and Director at the Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion (CSEI). The organization is concerned with deepening democracy and developing our body politic by promoting equity and social inclusion of marginalised children and young people for their social, economic and cultural (SEC) rights. With more than 15 years of working and networking experiences across the globe, his passion and expertise lie around youth rights and the promotion of social equity and inclusion.










Research Topic:

The emerging landscape of family firm philanthropy in UP



Shweta Singh



About Shweta

Shweta has a Ph.D. in Development Communication along with corporate experience in the areas of public relations and advocacy. She is also the proud mother of a six-year-old. Currently, she is a visiting faculty at Banaras Hindu University. She continues to read avidly and write on matters relating to development, education and media.












Research Topic:

Mapping norm perceptions pertaining to Charitable Giving



Monisha Dhingra



About Monisha

Monisha is a Research Associate at the Societal Psychology Lab in the Department of Psychological and Behavioral Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where she studies psychology of income inequality, and poverty in the South Asian context.











Research Topic:

Philanthropic mobilisation for craft sector during COVID-19



Binil Mohan



About Binil

Binil is an experienced design management professional, currently affiliated with the Indian Institute of Crafts & Design (IICD), Jaipur as an Associate Professor. He has a rich decade-long experience in crafts education, artisan outreach and had anchored the pioneering program ‘Crafting Luxury and Lifestyle Businesses’ at IICD along with IIM, Ahmedabad. Binil works in an advisory capacity with a philanthropic initiative – Kalhath Institute, Lucknow which works on promoting, training & sustaining the craft of Indian embroiderers of Uttar Pradesh. He is a Sahapedia -UNESCO Fellow and actively works in the culture and heritage space.











Research Topic:

Practices of giving and sharing of North-East tribal communities



Rimi Tadu



About Rimi

Rimi is an independent researcher and writer. Her area of work is in local history, oral history and traditional knowledge systems among the indigenous communities. She is a former fellow at Max Webber Kollge, University of Erfurt and former post-doctoral fellow M.S. Merian – R. Tagore International Centre of Advanced Studies ‘Metamorphoses of the Political’ (ICAS: MP) is an Indo-German research collaboration of six Indian and German institutions. Her work focused on understanding the Indian state establishment and socialisation processes among formerly non-state borderland communities in Arunachal Pradesh.











Research Topic:

Philanthropy for the ocean


Fellows: Dakshin Foundation





Sanjana Chevalam: is a Research Assistant and a member of the fundraising team, she is involved with institutional fundraising, developing proposals, tracking donors and conducting prospect research. She has a postgraduate degree in Environmental Sustainability from the University of Edinburgh, where her primary areas of study were political ecology, environmental politics and justice, development theory and participatory environmental governance.







Adithya Pillai: works with Dakshin’s Marine Fisheries programme and is currently involved in understanding fisheries development issues related to subsidies. He has previously worked with Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun and UNESCO MGIEP, New Delhi. His educational background is in sociology and the humanities and he has been an Erasmus Mundus Fellow.











Adit Dsouza: is currently involved in tracking donors, developing proposals and conducting research on conservation. His research focuses on wildlife films, and media; conflict and violence in conservation; and the philosophy of conservation. He holds a master’s in social anthropology from the School of Oriental and African Studies, and has an undergraduate degree in combined humanities – history, literature and philosophy from Azim Premji University.










Research Topic:

The landscape of philanthropy for Adivasi women at the grassroots


Fellows: Adivaani






Ruby Hembrom: is an Adivasi cultural documentarian and practitioner. She is the founder and director of adivaani (first voices), an archiving and publishing outfit of and by Adivasis (the indigenous peoples of India) started in July 2012 as a non-profit organisation.






Christy Nag: is an Adivasi social worker and researcher whose work lies in the intersections of Adivasi, gender and child rights.






Nolina S. Minj: is an Adivasi feminist researcher and writer based in Mumbai. She has worked in the social sector on gender issues such as violence against women, migration, housing rights and health workers.











Research Topic:

Philanthropy for gender equality


Fellows: Gender at Work Trust





Aayushi Aggarwal: is a feminist researcher, activist and writer. She works as a communications manager at Gender at Work, and been engaged in various research and communications projects in multiple countries, at different levels. She has previously been associated with UN Women and Forum-Asia, managing and supporting their communications and programs. She holds a Masters in Human Rights and Democratization from the European Inter-University for Human Rights and Democratization; and a Masters in English Literature from Delhi University. In addition, she has published research around sexual harassment in Indian media houses, and gender and migration.









Bedotroyee Bhattacharjee: is a communications associate for Gender at Work, Bedotroyee is also pursuing a Ph.D. in Literature. Before joining Gender at Work, she worked as an educator at a High School in Jharkhand to expand her understanding of the educational and development needs of young people. Bedotroyee is an experienced researcher in the field of women’s rights and literature.









Arundhati Sridhar: is a feminist activist, researcher and facilitator with over five years of experience in organising and mobilizing around women’s human rights at the grassroots in Gujarat. She has a background in travel writing and sports journalism and brings her passion for stories into her work with gender and development. She is currently engaged with building leadership among young women from marginalised communities, and strengthening collectives of young women to be able to negotiate with society and state for their voice, choice and agency. She is currently working with Gender at Work, among other organisations, to foreground a gender perspective amongst organisations and within programs.


Candidates must be based full-time in India, demonstrate an interest and relevant background in philanthropy, have the capacity to undertake rigorous research during the fellowship period, and be able to produce a working paper of publishable quality (with help from workshops and support).


For the 2020-2021 Research Fellowship, we seek two types of fellows: 1) individual researchers; 2) individuals that work with small grassroots nonprofit organisations in India, who can spend half of their time on the research project. For the second type of fellow, a fellowship may be shared between two or three individuals in a small organisation.


Fellows will be selected based on the strength of their research proposal, relevant background and drive of the individual, ability to commit to the fellowship, and ability to produce the desired output. Research proposals will be evaluated based on: uniqueness of the proposed topic; rigorous and sound methodology; feasibility of research project; coherent and well thought through proposal; and relevance to the research topics highlighted.


Application Process

Interested candidates should submit the following by September 10, 2020:


  • One-page proposal for your research idea
  • CV
  • One-page cover letter detailing your interest in and qualifications for the fellowship.
  • A sample of your written work (such as a blog post, paper, article or report)


Language: For this year’s fellowship, English will be used.


Shortlisted candidates will be requested to submit a more detailed proposal together with three references. Only complete applications will be considered. Fellows will be selected by a jury of experts. The jury’s decisions will be final.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can undergraduate or masters students apply?

No. The individual fellowship is for individuals with several years of relevant professional research experience.


Can a group of individuals apply for a fellowship?

No, we accept only individual fellowships. The only exception is if you and a colleague already work at a grassroots-based small nonprofit and wish to apply as a group.


Who is eligible to apply as a group working for an NGO?

Only staff already working with small grassroots nonprofit organisations are eligible to apply for a shared fellowship as part of that nonprofit. Staff should have several years of working experience.


Can individuals from multiple NGOs apply together?

No. You either apply as an individual for an individual fellowship or as a member of staff of a small grassroots nonprofit organisation.


Can I apply if I already have a job or am faculty / doctoral student /post-doc?

You may apply provided that you can make at least 60% of your time available during the workweek for working on the project AND your employer/university provides us with a NOC before taking up the fellowship. (The NOC is not required at this stage).


Will you respond to all applicants that have applied?

No. Unfortunately, due to the expected large number of applications, we will only respond to successful applicants that go through to the second round.


Will you let me know if my application is not complete?

No, we will only consider completed applications and will not let you know if your application has not been completed. Please read the instructions carefully. Please also note that you need to put “Research Fellowship Application” as the subject line for your application. If you don’t, we cannot guarantee that we will see, or consider your application.


Will you cover research costs on top of the monthly stipend?

There is some scope for covering specific additional research costs. However, these will be decided on a case by case basis, and primarily for research infrastructure. We will not entertain additional funding for research assistants, for example.


Should my proposed research topic cover both philanthropy and giving?

No. The list of themes is a guide as to what areas that are of interest to us this particular year, so you don’t need to cover all themes. Pick one from the list that you would like to work on.


I have an idea that is not included in the of relevant list themes – can I submit it instead?

The shortlisted topics were drawn up after careful consideration and align with our priorities this year. It is unlikely that a topic that does not closely link to the list of themes, will align as well with our priorities.


Do you have an upper or lower age limit?

No, we don’t.


Can I live anywhere in the world?

No, you need to live full-time in India and have the right to work in India.


Are the workshops optional?

No, the workshops will be mandatory.


Can you complete the research fellowship in a shorter period of time?

No, we expect fellows to be part of the fellowship for the full duration.


What will I get at the end of the fellowship?

You will get a certificate from CSIP and your working paper will be published on our website.


Will you actually respond to all email queries?

We will respond to all queries that have “Research Fellowship Query” in the subject line. We cannot guarantee that we will see and respond to other messages.


How much is the fellowship amount?

The stipend will be INR 1 lakh per month per fellowship, for both individual and group fellowships. When two or three persons share a fellowship they also share the INR 1 lakh stipend.