Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA) is happy to announce recipients for the 3rd Smitu Kothari Fellowship for young writers. The eleven recipients for 2020 come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, and from different parts of the country.  

The three-month-fellowship gives an opportunity to young people for a deep-dive into some of the topics they are passionate about and publish. The fellowship encourages young writers to critically look at the world of development finance beyond lending. 

This years fellowship is based on four themes – Public investments Vs Private investments in the infrastructure sector; Indian coal sector during and post Covid; privatization of public sector banks, and a roadmap for an inclusive post-Covid economic recovery.

The fellows are mentored by Rakesh Deewan, editor of Sarvodaya Press Service, assisted by the staff of CFA. 

The fellowship is instituted in the name Smitu Kothari who was a distinguished environmentalist and scholar-activist, who was involved in ecological, cultural and human rights issues.

The fellows for this year are:

Aswathi R Nair is a research scholar at Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai. Her research interests include financial and monetary macroeconomics.
Ashwati will probe into the question whether the push for privatization of public sector banks are justified.


Ayesha Minhaz is an independent journalist based in Hyderabad. She reports from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on human rights, agrarian crisis, environment and development. Ayesha is an alumna of SOAS, University of London and a Chevening Scholar.

As part of the fellowship, Ayesha will look at the tangible and intangible impacts of the smart city mission.

Donald Takkhell graduated in Economics (hons) from Delhi University and currently working as Research Associate with Indigenous Perspectives, an organisation based in Manipur.

Donald will be working on the issues around Loktak lake where he will be looking at Nga-mees (fishers) of Champu Khangpok Floating Village and their post Covid recovery. 

Jones Thomas Spartegus is a researcher hailing from Thoothukudi a coastal town of Tamil Nadu. He is keen in working to ensure rights-based development for the coastal excluded communities who live along the fringes of the coast. He has been part of public actions which are led by coastal communities to protect their ocean and coast for future generations. He is an active member of Coastal Action Network, a campaign working for the protection of coastal ecology and livelihood rights of the coastal communities.

Jones will be working on the Interational Financial insitutions and state fisheries development investments from the lens of the fishers  and coastal perspectives.

Kavita Kabeer is a writer, language trainer, multimedia journalist and upcoming researcher with experience in gender issues, scientific awareness programs and social media campaign designing. Her first book ‘Her-Story’ is under consideration for publication. She is based in Karnataka and is currently working with Peoples’ Science Movement and People First.

Kavita will look deep into the workings of the railways and focus her research on ‘Why we must not privatize Railways’.

Nihar Gokhale is a journalist based in New Delhi. He writes on land, environment, resources and the economy, combining field reportage with analysis and investigations of government policies. His work has appeared in, The Caravan,, Asia Times and Catch News. He also contributes to Land Conflict Watch, an independent network of researchers documenting ongoing land conflicts across India.

Nihar will be working on privatization of airports in India and changes in the way airport tariffs are calculated in India. 

Nikhil Varghese Mathew is a recent graduate from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and is currently a Research Associate at The Social and Political Research Foundation. During his master’s, he has received academic instruction on the nature of labour market discrimination and segmentation, developmental strategies in the global South, and the architecture and implications of the contemporary neoliberal order.

Nikhil will be working on coal sector during and post covid looking at the commercialisation and privatisation of coal mining in India.

Rohit Shivhare is a freelance journalist based in Bhopal.  He after completing his engineering degree got interested in social activities  and did his journalism course in Bhopal.  He has worked on issues of child protection, along with volunteering with Madhya Pradesh Election Watch, Narmada Bacho Andolan and National Alliance of Peoples Movements.

Rohit will be working on the impacts of covid on mine workers in two mines in Madhya Pradesh.

Shivasheesh Tiwari works with Sarvodaya Mandal in Bhopal and has completed his studies in Journalism.  He contributes articles to newspapers and magazines on various topics of social interest. 

Shavasheesh will be looking into the impact of covid on migrant workers in Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh.  He will be enquiring into how they coped and sustained during the lockdown both in the work place and in the process of migrating back to their home towns. 

Swarnima Kriti is a Fellow in Action Research at the Centre for Development Practice, Ambedkar University, Delhi. She is working on questions of gender, education and eco-sensitive agriculture in contexts of adivasi life-worlds and worldviews in Dhamtari district, Chhattisgarh with a group of subaltern women who call themselves Chinhari.

Swarnima will work on life and livelihood of two villages in Chhattisgarh in time of Covid

Uttara Purandare is pursuing her PhD under a joint programme offered by IIT Bombay and Monash University. Uttara has done her MA in Public Policy (Governance and Development) from the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague and the University of York, UK.

Uttara’s research focuses on how safety and surveillance are constructed by the smart city rhetoric and the role of private sector firms in governing the smart city.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *