In an age of widespread fake news, breaking and exclusive news, and 24/7 live news updates, spaces for in-depth, analytical and critical writings have shrunk. This is true for all topics, but even more on finance, which touches all spheres of our lives. Smitu Kothari Fellowship For Young Writers strives to create a little space for such writings.

This Fellowship is open to all young Indian writers and researchers below 35 years of age, writing in any Indian languages, interested in development finance. This would be ideal space for the ones who look at the world of finance beyond what the market and banks feed us, and beyond the usual prism of lending and development. This would help writers to look at the accountability of financial institutions/mechanisms which lend to projects causing irreversible damages to communities, their livelihood, environment and accelerating climate emergency.

The Smitu Kothari Fellowship¬†‚ÄĒ established in 2018 by the Centre for Financial Accountability, New Delhi¬†‚ÄĒ with an ambition to encourage young writers to critically look at the world of development finance. The Fellowship was instituted in the memory of Smitu Kothari, a¬†distinguished environmentalist and scholar-activist, who was involved in ecological, cultural and human rights issues.

The inaugural Smitu Kothari Fellowship witnessed considerable interest from youngsters working in academia, activism, and journalism. The themes for the last year were related to the Smart cities and Industrial corridors; International finance on climate change and its investments in India; Impact of the coal power plants on the Sundarbans; Progress of the strategies adopted to contain the rising NPAs in the thermal power sector; and Solar power parks and their impact on the local population. Based on the proposals, the Fellowship was awarded to five outstanding candidates.

The opportunity Smitu Kothari Fellowship offered was critical to upcoming researchers, like me, who wanted to investigate more on newly emerging, ‘under’ researched and yet deeply troubling concerns of our times. The support offered by the fellowship team with new ideas and critical feedback throughout the fellowship duration has nuanced my understanding of the issues and reflected in my work during the fellowship period.

Aravind Unni, public policy and developmental activist, Smitu Kothari Fellow-2018

The Fellowship is open to all Indian citizens below 35 years of age. We encourage participation from the young writers writing in English and other languages.

Eight fellowships with a fellowship amount of Rs 25,000 each would be awarded this year. The three-month-long Fellowship, between August and October 2019, entails writing comprehensive, well-researched, and investigative articles on the specific area/projects related to the themes mentioned below:

  1. Are today’s renewable energy projects a sustainable alternative for India?
  2. What’s ailing Non-Banking Financial Corporations?
  3. Infrastructure boom in India: At what cost?
  4. Impact of the inland waterways on the community and ecology
  5. Ease of Doing Business and policy changes on environment, land, and labour

The Smitu Kothari fellowship allowed me to kick start my work on the impact of large power projects on the environment in fragile ecosystems.

Divya Rajagopal, Senior Assistant Editor, The Economic Times, Smitu Kothari Fellow-2018

Application Procedure

Please email your cover letter, resume, along with the following documents and materials to¬†¬†with ‚ÄėSmitu Kothari Fellowship‚Äô in the subject line by July 15, 2019:

  1. Research proposal in 500-800 words on one of the above themes mentioning the rationale behind choosing the subject, and how do you intend to carry out the proposed study.
  2. Two samples of your previously published work.

Proposals on more than one topic can be sent. However, if the candidates are interested in writing in a language other than Hindi and English, the proposal must be sent to us either in English or Hindi. Women and candidates applying from non-metro cities are encouraged to apply.

Expected Deliverables

  1. One comprehensive analytical article of minimum 1200 words on the topic proposed within a fortnight of the completion of Fellowship.
  2. Present their findings on the topic to the CFA post the completion of the Fellowship.

Fellows are encouraged to get their articles published.

I got a chance to cover climate change and the financial irregularities as a Smitu Kothari Fellow-2018. During my Fellowship, I saw how the international funds for climate change or green funds released by organisations like the UN, World Bank, US Aid and others do not reach the projects directly. This is affecting some of the key climate projects, being executed at grass root levels.

Kushagra Dixit, Senior Correspondent, IANS, Smitu Kothari Fellow-2018


  1. All copyright of the work remains with the authors. However, CFA reserves the right to translate and publish the work after giving due credits.
  2. The Fellows may be required to attend an orientation programme in Delhi.

About Us

The Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA) engages in critical analysis, monitoring and critique of the role of financial institutions ‚Äď national and international, and their impact on development, human rights and the environment, amongst other areas in India.

The Centre partners with a range of civil society groups, social movements and community groups to try to ensure that the financial institutions are transparent and accountable to the people they exist to serve. However, we also look at the South Asia region and seek to reflect a global perspective, especially given the globalised nature of international finance in the twenty-first century.

Some of CFA’s publications can be seen here.

About Smitu Kothari

Smitu Kothari was a distinguished environmentalist and scholar-activist, who was involved in ecological, cultural and human rights issues. Throughout his life, he tried to collectively forge a national and global alternative that is socially just and ecologically sane.

Trained in physics, communications and sociology, Kothari taught at the Cornell and Princeton Universities in the US. He was also a Contributing Editor to The Ecologist and Development. As a prolific writer and editor, he wrote extensively on critiques of contemporary economic and cultural development, financing of the developmental projects, developmental displacement and social movements. Some of the books he edited are: Voices of Struggle: Social Movements in Asia (2006); Voices of Sanity, In Search of Democratic Space (2002); A Watershed in Global Governance? An Independent Assessment of the World Commission on Dams; The Value of Nature: Ecological Politics in India (2003); Out of the Nuclear Shadow (with Zia Mian, 2001); Rethinking Human Rights: Challenges for Theory and Action (1991); The Non-Party Political Process: Uncertain Alternatives (with H. Sethi, 1988).

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