SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Vidya Venkat

BA (Madras), MA (SOAS)
  • Publications


Vidya Venkat
Vidya Venkat
Email address:
Thesis title:
India’s Democratic Revolution: The Right to Information and the Anti-Corruption Discourse
Internal Supervisors


Vidya Venkat has worked in India for over a decade as a journalist in a reputed English newspaper and as a communications consultant in the international development sector. She started her Ph.D. in Social Anthropology at SOAS in 2018. She was at SOAS earlier as a Felix scholar in 2011-12 to study for an M.A. in Social Anthropology of Development. In the past, she has held numerous prestigious fellowships and has covered stories of national and international significance for the Indian press, including attending the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals summit in New York in 2015 and the Paris climate summit, where world nations came together to sign the global agreement to address climate change.

Her primary research interests are political anthropology; anthropology of the state and bureaucracy; anthropology of development; anthropology of South Asia; and anthropology and climate change. In 2020, she organised a major international conference commemorating 70 years of the Indian Republic with the SOAS South Asia Institute that saw senior academics and early-career researchers congregate to discuss the journey of India as a constitutional republic and produce a critical assessment of the journey so far. Eleven papers were presented by early-career researchers and the event concluded with a discussion on the theme of where India is headed in its democratic journey. 

Vidya is a member of the American Anthropological Association; the Socio-Legal Studies Association; the National Campaign for People's Right to Information, India; the Earth Journalism Network, Internews; and a Student Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 

PhD Research

My PhD research pertains to India's right to information movement. It is based on ethnographic and archival research conducted in Delhi and Rajasthan in 2019-20. My research is supported by the SOAS Research Studentship and the Fred Lightfoot Scholarship from the SOAS South Asia Institute.



Venkat, Vidya (2019) 'Despite Free and Fair Elections, Our Idea of the Republic Is at Risk'. Economic and Political Weekly, (54) 3.

Conference Items

Venkat, Vidya (2021) 'Power, compromise and the legitimisation of rule: Notes on India's right to information movement' In: 49th Annual Conference on South Asia, University of Wisconsin-Madison, October 21-24, 2021, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. [Unpublished]

Venkat, Vidya (2021) 'Registering the everyday state in India via the Right to Information Act, 2005' In: Registering The Everyday: Documents, Bureaucracy, And The Socio-Legal (Socio-Legal Studies Association, Annual Conference 2021), March 30-April 1, 2021, Cardiff, UK. [Unpublished]

Venkat, Vidya (2021) '“Diversity, Culture and Transformation - All Injustices are Connected." Exploring economic, social, and political facets of poverty and investigating the ways in which organizations engage with communities, as well as how local authorities respond.' In: Spring Workshop Series with SOAS: Training for Transformation and Participatory Methods for Engaged Research Fund (Open Society University Network), March 16-22, 2021.

Book Reviews

Venkat, Vidya (2021) 'Migration and Development in India: Provincial and Historical Perspectives'. Migration and Society, (4) 1, pp 210-212.

Venkat, Vidya (2020) 'On the idea of 'the people''. Biblio: A Review of Books, (26) 10-12, pp 5-6.

Venkat, Vidya (2020) 'A divided bench: Inside the world of courts and their verdicts'. The Hindu.

Venkat, Vidya (2019) 'Shadow Power : [review of] Emergency chronicles : Indira Gandhi and democracy's turning point by Gyan Prakash.'. Biblio - A Review of Books, (24) 1/3, pp 12-12.

Venkat, Vidya (2018) 'Another Freedom Struggle'. Biblio-A Review of Books, (XXIII) 7-9.

Venkat, Vidya (2017) 'Towards the Flame'. The Hindu.

Venkat, Vidya (2012) 'India's Development Paradox Explained'. Biblio-A Review of Books, (XVII) 9-10.

Venkat, Vidya (2012) 'Nature and Nationalism'. Biblio-A Review of Books, (XVII) 1&2.

Venkat, Vidya (2010) 'A timely treatise'. Biblio: A Review of Books, (15) 7/8, pp 37.


Venkat, Vidya (2012) Right to Information and India's anti-corruption movement: Exploring hidden transcripts. Masters dissertation. SOAS University of London. [Unpublished]

Opinion Pieces / Media / Blogs

Venkat, Vidya (2021) In India, democracy isn't dead.

Venkat, Vidya (2020) Right to information and the shrinking space for dissent in India.

Venkat, Vidya (2020) India: why secrecy over Narendra Modi’s coronavirus relief fund damages democracy.

Venkat, Vidya (2019) Subhash Chandra Agrawal on his fight against corruption in the judiciary.

Venkat, Vidya (2019) India: government continues to suppress citizens’ right to information ahead of election.

Venkat, Vidya (2015) Paisa, power, and politics.

Venkat, Vidya (2014) Discretion, the better part of valour.


This list was last generated on Friday, 27th May 2022, 23:02 Europe/London.