Thursday, March 7, 2013

New India Foundation: Applications Invited for Fellowships

The New India Foundation: Applications Invited for Fellowships

In the six-and-a-half decades since In­de­pend­ence, there has been a large body of work produced by In­dian his­to­ri­ans and social sci­en­tists. Tak­en sin­gly, many of these studies are very im­pres­sive; viewed cu­mu­la­tive­ly, they add up to much less than what one might expect. The chief reason for this is the de­ter­mining influence on scholarly practice of that single date: 15th August, 1947. Historians rarely look beyond the attainment of Independence, where­as other so­cial scientists don't look back at all. We have solid stud­ies of the Con­gress under Brit­ish rule, with books writ­ten about its op­er­a­tions in different parts of In­dia, yet there are no sys­tem­atic stud­ies of this most in­fluen­tial of po­lit­i­cal par­ties in the post-independence pe­ri­od. Again, there are numerous eth­nographic ac­counts of the caste system.Yet, we have no analytical over­view of caste since Independence.

We have had po­lit­i­cal scientists con­duct­ing field studies of every sin­gle elec­tion since 1952. But we have no com­pre­hen­sive anal­yses of changes over time in voter behaviour, elec­tion prop­a­gan­da, or elec­tion finance.

These examples could be mul­ti­plied manifold. The Republic of India is a Union of twenty-eight states, some larger than France and Germany. Yet not even the biggest or most important of these states have had their histories written. Again, there are no serious bi­og­ra­phies of some of the key figures in our modern history: such as Sheikh Abdullah or Master Tara Singh or A. Z. Phizo or (to take figures from very different fields) Pandit Ravi Shankar or Dhirubhai Ambani.

It is this lack that the New India Foun­dation seeks to address, by spon­soring work of quality on mod­ern India.

The New India Foundation invites applications for the seventh round of the New India Fellowships. Open only to Indian nationals, these Fel­low­ships will be awarded for a pe­ri­od of one year, and will carry a stipend of Rs 90,000 a month. Fel­low­ship holders shall be expected to write original books. Proposals should be oriented to­wards final pub­lication, and out­line a road map towards that des­ti­na­tion. The Foun­dation is ec­u­menical as regards gen­re, theme, and ideology: the only requirement is that the pro­posed work contribute to the fuller un­der­standing of in­de­pend­ent In­dia. Thus Fellowship holders may choose to write a mem­oir, or a work of re­port­age, or a thickly foot­noted ac­a­demic study. Their books could be oriented to­wards eco­nom­ics, or pol­itics, or cul­ture. They could be high­ly specific–an ac­count of a sin­gle dec­ade or a sin­gle region–or wide-ranging, such as a coun­try­wide over­view.

Since 2004, a total of twenty-eight New India Foundation Fellowships have been awarded, for books to be writ­ten on such topics as the social history of Telugu films, the re­form of personal laws, refugee pol­i­tics in north-eastern India, the history of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, debates on the death pen­alty in India, and the science and politics of biodiversity conservation.

The books emanating from the New India Fellowships have been published by prestigious presses such as Penguin, Permanent Black, Palgrave Macmillan, Oxford University Press, Random House and Harper Collins. Nine books have appeared so far; these have been widely acclaimed and received several awards.

Applicants for the New India Fellowships for 2013-2014 are invited to sub­mit their c.v., book proposal, and a writing sample of at least 5000 words (published or unpublished) to the Managing Trustee, The New India Foundation, 22 A, Brunton Road, Bangalore 560025, before 30 June 2013. These may be sent by post or courier. Email applications will not be entertained. However, specific queries may be addressed to

The fellowships will be decided by a jury whose members are André Béteille, Ramachandra Guha, Niraja Gopal Jayal, Nandan Nilekani, N. Ravi, and Srinath Raghavan.

Further details about the Foun­da­tion may be found at

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