Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA) is happy to announce recipients for the 4th Smitu Kothari Fellowship for young writers. The thirteen recipients for 2021 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 year’s fellowship is based on six themes – Privatisation of public sector; pandemic, public finance and public health; energy extraction and renewables; infrastructure finance; state preparedness and capacity to deal with the pandemic and steps to revive the economy.

The fellows are mentored by Rakesh Dewan, editor of Sarvodaya Press Service, assisted by the experts at CFA. 

The fellowship is instituted in the name of 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:

Yogita Suresh has completed her master’s in Sociology from Ambedkar University, New Delhi. She has a graduate degree in English (Hons) from Hindu College, University of Delhi. Her research interests include questions around the intersections of education and labour, education and gender and that of gender and technology. 

Yogita will be working on the National Education Policy, 2020, mainly focusing on labour patterns and privatisation.

Sumit Chaturvedi is an independent journalist and researcher. He writes on politics, policy, political economy, environment and art. His articles have been published in Economic and Political Weekly, The Wire, First Post, India Spend, Polis Project, and NewsLaundry among other publications. 

Sumit’s research will be looking into the need for integration of economic measures in disaster management, vis-à-vis the pandemic.

Sruti MD is a journalist based in Chennai and working for Newsclick. She widely covers people’s and trade union movements. She focuses on urban infrastructure development and allied livelihood issues. 

As part of the fellowship, Sruti will look into the  Introduction of Technology in waste management  and the resulting labour lay-offs in sanitation work with a private company due to shift of waste management from the city corporation to a private company.  

Sangam Dubey is a journalist based in Bhopal. He has done post graduation in journalism from MCU university and reports on various social issues from the city and the country. 

As part of the fellowship, Sangam will probe into the workings of the ‘Baag print’ industry and the impact of the pandemic on the livelihood of the workers.

Prudhviraj Rupavath is presently working as a researcher, Land and Forest Governance, with Land Conflict Watch. Previously, he worked as a reporter/journalist with Newsclick studying Government policies, social movements, politics in Telugu States, public sector units and corporate developments. He has a postgraduate degree in Masters in Communication from the University of Hyderabad.

He’ll be working on the political economy of the renewable energy sector in Rajasthan.

Prachi Salve has been a project manager with IndiaSpend for the last 9 years. She has been covering health and gender issues. She has two masters degrees: In economics from Mumbai University and in development studies from the University of Sussex, UK.  She has been a research assistant at the Institute of Development Studies (UK) and the Young Foundation (UK). 

Prachi’s research will focus on health financing and the Centre-State relations in the context of Covid-19 pandemic.

Nikita Chatterjee completed her Master’s in Development Studies from Azim Premji University. She has a keen interest in researching and writing about issues of gender, ecology and education. 

She will be working on understanding the consequences of the New Mineral Amendment Bill in North East India.

Hariprasad VM is pursuing his PhD at Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas, IIT Bombay. He has done his MSc in Environmental Studies and Resource Management from TERI University, New Delhi. His research focuses on the larger debate around environment, development and society, and specifically on how the water-control structures act in a wetland ecosystem which is more fragile.

During the fellowship, he will be working on the Sustainability of Infrastructure: A critical understanding of the proposed Silver Line Rail Project in Kerala.

Gunjan Jena is a lawyer and legal researcher working out of Cuttack and Bangalore. He has worked extensively with the Government of India and state governments on legislative drafting projects and policy advisory. He is deeply interested in issues relating to technology and its impact on society. Gunjan intends to explore the creation of regulatory systems for technology that centre human rights and democratic values.

During the fellowship, he intends to interrogate the environmental and human cost of the Indian government’s push for building data centres in India.

Gagandeep is an alumnus of National School of Drama and gold medalist from the department of Theatre and TV, Punjabi University Patiala; she has been working as theatre director and designer for various national and international ventures. Presently she is  working as Assistant Professor at Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata. 

Her research will look into the implementation of PPP model through Smart school policy and its relation to privatisation of education in Punjab.

Arun PS is a lawyer from Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University, Visakhapatnam. He is a public policy professional based out of Kochi with over four years experience in working with policymakers at different levels.

As part of the fellowship, Arun will look into Union government, Pandemic actions and its impact on fiscal federalism and look at a framework to strengthen Centre State relations.

Ankit Mishra is a writer and social activist from Madhya Pradesh. Presently he is working with the ‘campaign to save Buxwaha forest’ and is writing and creating awareness about the same. 

His research will enquire into the destruction of Buxwaha Forest due to diamond mining and its impact on clean air.


Alan Paul Varghese is a final year undergraduate student at Zakir Hussain College under University of Delhi and an independent writer. He has contributed articles to Truecopy Think Media and other online portals. 

Alan will be researching the public sector and its role in tackling the pandemic.



The works of Smitu Kothari fellows 2020 can be read here.

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