Topics: Development Policy
Peace and Human Rights
Social Change
Regional focus: Asia and the Pacific
Origin: India
Fellowship: Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow

Harsh Mander is a human rights and peace activist, writer, and lecturer. He is Director of the Centre for Equity Studies in India, a research center focused on social and economic justice.

Previously, he worked on the highest level in the Indian Administrative Service in Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh for almost two decades. In 2002, he retired in protest against the role of the state in the communal massacre in Gujarat. From 1999 to 2004, he served as Country Director at ActionAid India, a development support organization. From 2005 to 2017, he was special commissioner to the Supreme Court of India in the Right to Food case, and from 2010 to 2012, he was a member of the National Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, mainly on social policy and legislation.

He has founded and been a member of many campaigns and initiatives on issues such as homelessness, secularism, peace, reconciliation and legal justice, for example the campaign Aman Biradari and the National Campaign for the People’s Right to Information.

As a lecturer, he has taught at, among others, the Centre of South Asian Studies at Cambridge University, the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, the Institute for Development Studies at the University of Sussex and at MIT in Boston. Harsh Mander authored several books, including "Partitions of the Heart: Unmaking the Idea of India" (2019), "Looking Away: Inequality, Prejudice and Indifference in New India" (2015), and "Ash in the Belly: India's Unfinished Battle Against Hunger".

He has received a number of awards, including the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award for peace work, the M.A. Thomas National Human Rights Award 2002, and the South Asian Minority Lawyers Harmony Award 2012. Harsh Mander has a PhD from Vrije University in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Last updated: 2021