About me


The following are a few successes that organizations I worked with have had, in which I am proud to have played a role

  • Government to citizen payments in many transfer programmes often fail to reach the beneficiaries. Libtech India, a group that I founded, has helped reduce delays in payments in hundreds of thousands of cases, and we hope to have a stronger systematic impact in the times to come.
  • Enactment of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) that followed a long campaign by the Right to Food Campaign.  I coordinated the support group of the campaign, and thus played a facilitating role. NREGA is one of India’s largest welfare programmes today.
  • Expansion of school feeding that now reaches over 110 million children in India.  Only a few states of India including Tamil Nadu and Gujarat had extensive school feeding programmes by 2001.  The right to food litigation and the campaign for school feeding led to a major expansion of the programme, and most children in government schools across India receive a noon meal today as a result of this campaign.
  • Amending India’s Constitution to make education a fundamental right: I was a part of the National Alliance for the Fundamental Right to Education (NAFRE), a coalition of over 2,400 CSOs that campaigned for amending India’s constitution to make education a fundamental right.  The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on the day when NAFRE organized its largest demonstration and was passed the next year.
  • Initiating the placement cell at the Delhi School of Economics, which has since become highly successful.





Vivek S. (2014). Delivering Public Services Effectively: Tamil Nadu & beyond. New Delhi: Oxford University Press

Book Chapters (Peer reviewed)

Vivek Srinivasan 2008. “School Feeding as a Global Obligation.” In Global Obligation for the Right to Food, edited by George Kent. New York: Rowman & Littlefield. [Google books preview]
Vivek Srinivasan, and Basudeb Guha-Khasnobis. 2007. “Rights-Based Approach To Development: Lessons From The Right To Food Movement.” In Food Insecurity, Vulnerability and Human Rights Failure. Studies in Development Economics and Policy. Basingstoke: UK: Palgrave-Macmillan.
Vivek Srinivasan, and Sudha Narayanan. 2007. “Food Policy and Social Movements: Reflections on the Right to Food Campaign in India.” In Food Policy for Developing Countries: The Role of Government in the Global Food System. Ithaca: New York: Cornell University. [link]

Conferences, Newspapers & Reports

Mander, Harsh, Jean Dreze, and Vivek Srinivasan 2002. Freedom from Hunger and Fear. New Delhi: Rajiv Gandhi Centre for International Studies.
Vivek Srinivasan 2003a. “Notes from the Right to Food Campaign: People’s Movement for the Right to Food.” In Vol. New Delhi. Delhi: World Food Program. [link]
———. 2003b. “Hope in Our Hands.” Humanscape X (Xii; 10th Anniversary Series). [link]
———. 2009. “Exploring Linkages of Rights Based Approach to Development & the Human Development Approach.” In Human Rights and Human Development. Bombay, India: Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
———. 2010. “Rights Based Approach and Human Development: An Introduction”. Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
Vivek Srinivasan, and Basudeb Guha-Khasnobis. 2006. “Gender and the Right to Food: A Critical Reexamination.” In Gender and Food Security. Kolkata: United Nations University: World Institute of Development Economics Research.
[Contributor] Citizens’ Initiative for the Rights of Children Under Six. 2006. “Focus on Children under Six”. Delhi: Circus. [link].
সরকার পারে না, এটা একেবারেই ঠিক নয়.  Anand Bazaar Patrika Opinion piece, 24 April 2014 [in Bengali]

Current projects

  • Combating corruption with mobile phones: The project supports Civil Society Organizations working in rural India to fight corruption and improve the delivery of public services using technology. The project started in 2012 with support from Google and has been implemented in five states of India. Based on encouraging results, the project received a grant in 2017 for scaling and evaluation.
  • Mobilizing equity: The project aims to improve the effectiveness of Elected Women Representatives in rural India by creating a knowledge base that they could access on questions of governance. We are working towards a digital platform that combines features of a learning platform (with structured content) and a Q&A platform (with an emphasis on peer-led learning).

Previous initiatives

  • Massive Open Online Course on using technology to promote transparency: I was the course leader for a Massive Open Online Course that discusses ways of using technology to promote transparency and accountability. The course was offered in partnership with the National Democratic Institute and involved presentations by over a dozen leaders in this space. It was offered on Stanford Online during Aug-Oct 2016, and select teams from the course met in DC and in San Francisco for an in-person program during summer 2017.
  • Constitution Explorer, a structured database of constitutions that will help people identify how different constitutions have dealt with various problems. I started this initiative with colleagues at Stanford, and the idea was adopted half-way through the project by colleagues in the University of Chicago and University of Texas, and it is now alive as www.constituteproject.org
  • Secretariat to the Commissioners of the Supreme Court in the Right to Food litigation: The Supreme Court of India appointed Dr. N.C. Saxena and (the late) Dr. S.R. Sankaran as commissioners in what is known as the ‘right to food litigation’. I established their secretariat and worked with them for three years. The commissioners have been instrumental in framing many of the arguments in this landmark litigation.
  • Placement Cell, Delhi School of Economics: Started an initiative to set up the placement programme at the ‘D.School’ that has since become well-established and very successful.

Invited presentations (selected)

Presentations on my work at the Right to Food Campaign: Boston University (2006), Harvard University (2006), Syracuse University (2007)

Delivering Public Services Effectively: Tamil Nadu & Beyond: Ashoka University (2016), Azim Premji University (2015), Cornell University (2014), Institute of Development Studies, UK (2015), London School of Economics (2015), Queen Elizabeth House of Oxford University (2015), Stanford University (2012, 2014, 2015), Syracuse University (2009), University of Connecticut (2012)

Presentations on technology & accountability: Asia Foundation (2011), Harvard India Conference (2014), Oxford Internet Institute (2015), Singularity University (2012), Stanford University (2011), Syracuse University (2014)

A few links to know me better


From my formative years, I tried my best to run away from well-defined boxes that people wanted me to identify me in.  I have been many things: economist, techie, sociologist, designer, activist, ventriloquist, spouse and dad.  Barring the last three categories, I have been identified by those labels only as the “other”.  Activists have called me a techie while techies preferred to call me an activist.  Social scientists of various disciplines recognize the training I have in a discipline not their own.

What I have done well is to traverse different social worlds, enough to understand the basic tenets and idioms in them.  I hope to use this ability to act as a bridge between different intellectual worlds, by translating languages, and by recognizing what resources we can borrow from different fields towards a common goal.

There are three worlds that I am keen on connecting: activism, technology and the social sciences.   I have spent many years gaining experiential and academic training in these subjects and there is so much that could be done by bringing together imaginations from each of these fields.

My academic as well as activist life (see below) have been based on my conviction that basic public services such as health, education, water, sanitation and other amenities make a huge difference to the quality of our lives, and that that society should ensure that everyone has access to such services. In the past, I worked with several rights-based campaigns that work on basic education, the right to food, care for children under six, and the right to information. While working with these campaigns, I was struck by the vast differences in the provision of public services across Indian states, and I believe that states such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu have contributed enormously to human well-being by ensuring the availability of these services to most people. My dissertation looked at why Tamil Nadu developed the social commitment to providing public services, and this was published by the Oxford University Press in 2014 entitled, “Delivering public services effectively: Tamil Nadu & beyond”.

Academically, I have a broad range of interests in development-related issues including the right to food, the right to education, anti-corruption movements, collective action and the role of institutions in development. These interests are a direct fallout of my work with various campaigns for socio-economic rights in India. I have been a “grease monkey” with technology, but it has recently turned into an academic interest as well, given my location at the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford. My main line of work at Stanford is to look at the role that ICT could play in making governments transparent. One of my projects currently underway in India seeks to create proactive disclosure of information using mobile phones that have become ubiquitous in India. I am also working towards building a detailed guideline for policymakers on amending different sets of laws, including access to information laws, in order to ensure the greatest use of technology for transparency.

Other than academic pursuits, I have a wide range of interests including in movies, bird watching, ventriloquism, travel, music and of course, spending a lot of time with friends. You can learn more about me, my interests and my life through this website including some gossip, my research, articles I published, reflections on life as a doctoral student, etc.  Off late, I have moved away from the academia as my mainstay and have started consulting in the corporate sector.  I will have more to about that experience when I have it figured out better 🙂

Considering that you have come this far in this page, it looks like you have some interest in my life.  Do come back, and I promise to keep this updated!