The Madras Institute of Development Studies offers fine prospects for scholars to undertake research under competent faculty.

Right in the heart of Chennai, there is an institute noted for its commitment to quality research in social sciences — the Madras Institute of Development Studies.

MIDS, as it is popularly known, was founded in 1971. It is located at Gandhinagar, Adyar, Chennai – 600 020; Website:

The institute was reconstituted as a national institute in 1977 under the joint sponsorship of the Union government and the Tamil Nadu government.

The Reserve Bank of India established a Chair in applied research in regional economics in the institute in 1985. The central bank had been granting fellowships to Ph.D. scholars. Later on, the RBI made it an endowment.

The institute promotes cooperation among social scientists of South Indian universities. It provides professional advice to departments of the Union and the State governments, autonomous agencies, non-governmental organisations, universities and international organisations.

Broad areas of research

The wide variety and diversity of the subjects studied by this centre promise fine prospects to scholars for undertaking research in areas of specific interest to them, under competent faculty. The opportunities are bound to develop excellent social scientists and economists capable of making a remarkable contribution to the intellectual wealth of the country. Indications of the broad areas of studies in the institute are given below. The studies have in general a special focus on Tamil Nadu, though many of them keep in mind a national perspective. The institute promotes critical thinking on development issues.

Economic theory: Pure theory as in institutional economics, social choice, and general critiques of the neoclassical paradigm. Development theory as on the processes of marketisation and interpretation of the economy as an evolving complex social system.

Development and planning: Global capitalism and the Indian economy. Adjustment and equity. Security options for developing countries. Interaction between the State and market. Strategies for growth and social justice. India’s planning and development. World Trade Organisation and India.

Centre-State relations: Administrative and financial aspects of Centre-State relations. Decentralised planning and implementation. Issues relating to fiscal systems and taxation.

Poverty, inequality and social sector development: Measurement of levels of poverty, malnutrition, inequality and discrimination and their socioeconomic determinants. Evaluation of poverty alleviation and employment generation programmes. Access to health across different socio-economic groups. Occupational health as in specific job environments.

Agrarian issues and institutions: Growth and fluctuation, decomposition of growth and factors underlying the growth performance for the agricultural sector. Crop specific studies. Food economy. Public expenditure on agriculture and rural development. Public procurement and public distribution.

Irrigation and irrigation institutions: Irrigation and water management, including trading in water. Investment and pricing issues in irrigation development. Development of different irrigation regimes and of various surface and sub-surface systems. Impact of irrigation on productivity. Traditional irrigation systems.

Labour: Rural labour, its spatial variations and determinants. Impact of agricultural development on rural employment. Labour market segmentation. (This refers to the division of labour market into separate groups in which wages and conditions of work are different. The workers may not be able to move from one group to another. Different wage pattern for men and women for the same work is an example.)

Village resurveys

Industry and infrastructure: Political economy of industrialisation. Regional patterns in industrial development. Small-scale sector and State policies. Organisational structures and their influence on resilience, survival and efficiency in specific industries. Changing forms of business organisations in India. Organisational patterns of business houses. R&D and foreign collaboration, entrepreneurial development, technology transfer and technology choice.

Demography, migration, and urbanisation: Demographic transition. Infant mortality. Migratory patterns and their links to the agrarian structure. Urbanisation patterns in South India. Urban services such as water supply, solid waste management.

Natural resources and environment: Urban environmental management. Management of renewable natural resources. Natural resources accounting with special reference to the water. Ecological economics. Indigenous knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights.

Data system: Evaluation of government databases. Questions concerning data and their reliability.

Education: Development in education including growth of technical and industrial education. Political economy of basic education. Literacy and educational attainments of different social groups. Education and weaker sections. Evaluation of non-formal and adult education programmes.

Social movements and social transformation: Dialectics and dynamics of social transformation in relation to polity, economy and society. Peasant struggles and land reforms.

Caste, constitution, communalism and electoral politics: Social mobility through the caste system, constitutional provisions and political mobilisation. Caste, politics and reservations. Communalism, Hindutva and minority politics.

Social exclusion: Caste, social exclusion and social integration. Politics for emancipation.

Ideology: Social construction of self and culture. Dalit ideology. Interaction between media and politics as in cinematic representations.

Gender: Gender bias in demographic planning and policy making. Handicap for women in employment, education, and science and technology. Gender and reproductive rights. Women in urban employment sector. Women and the law. Sexual division of labour. Social construction of sexuality.

State and social policies: Backward classes and reservations. State-sponsored social security schemes. Civil rights.

Doctoral programmes

The full-time Ph.D. programmes of the institute have won recognition for their quality, rigour and originality. Many of the studies are interdisciplinary. The Ph.D. scholars generally receive a monthly stipend of Rs. 16,000 and an annual contingency grant of Rs. 20,000 for three years. The institute undertakes research projects in a number of important areas for various Central and State government agencies and international institutions. There are three different categories of doctoral programmes.

ICSSR doctoral fellowships.

RBI doctoral fellowships.

The Elizabeth Adiseshiah Ph.D. merit scholarship.

Selection is on the basis of qualifications, research proposal and personal interview.

To get a general idea of the diverse areas and nature of studies, a few ongoing and completed projects are indicated below.

Sustainable development in forest policies and of local practices in tree and forest management. The extent to which people’s participation can enhance governance outcomes and improve local governance performances.

Transforming livelihoods: Work, migration and poverty.

Politics of India’s Special Economic Zones.

Management of irrigation and its effect on productivity.

Satellite-based interactive training and communication programme of grama panchayat.

Maternal anaemia.

Impact of agricultural reforms on the rural poor.

The institute brings out a journal, Review of Development and Change.

The members of the faculty carry out substantial research and enhance the knowledge resources of the institute. Some of their contributions cover the areas indicated below.

Poverty, inequality and deprivation; development economics; collective choice theory; welfare economics; human development and population; natural resource management; climate change and sustainable development; skill upgrade of rural youth and employability potential; food security; water resource management; gender studies; social mobilisation and social justice; political economy; political theory; mass media, and social and cultural history.

Prospective researchers have much to hope for in this temple of research.


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