Harsh Mander

Chief Mentor

Harsh Mander, human rights worker, writer, columnist, scholar and teacher, works with survivors of mass violence, hunger, homeless persons and street children. He is Director, Centre for Equity Studies and Special Commissioner to the Supreme Court of India in the Right to Food case. He worked formerly in the Indian Administrative Service in Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh for almost two decades. As Member of India’s National Advisory Council from June 2010-12, he was convenor of working groups on several Bills: Food Security, Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation, Child Labour Abolition, Manual Scavenging Abolition, Urban Poverty and Homelessness, Disability Rights, Bonded Labour, Street Vendors and Urban Slums, Communal and Targeted Violence, Dalits and Minorities, and Tribal Rights. He is Chairperson of INCENSE (The Inclusion and Empowerment of People with Severe Mental Disorders) and a member of the Working Group of the Project on Armed Conflict Resolution & People’s Rights, University of California, Berkeley.

Harsh is the author of several books, the most recent of which is Looking Away: Inequality, Prejudice and Indifference in New India and his stories have been adapted for films, such as Shyam Benegal’s Samar, and Mallika Sarabhai’s dance drama Unsuni. He writes regular columns in the Hindu and Hindustan Times, speaks regularly at universities and International Development Organizations across the world and teaches courses in leading universities on issues of social justice.

Harsh has been a member of several National Committees, for Social Protection, Rural BPL and for Urban BPL, Chairperson of the Urban Health Mission, and a Member of the Core Groups on Bonded Labour and Mental Hospitals of the statutory National Human Rights Commission. He is founder Chairperson of the State Health Resource Centre, Chhatisgarh, which established the Mitanin Community Health Programme, which was the fore-runner of the Asha Programme.

He is a founding member of the National Campaign for the People’s Right to Information, and has founded multiple people’s campaigns: Aman Biradari, for secularism, peace and justice; Nyayagrah, for legal justice and reconciliation for the survivors of communal violence; Dil Se, for street children, and ‘Hausla’ for urban homeless people. The Ferdinand Centre is the most recent in a long list of organizations for social change established and mentored by Harsh.

Harsh Mander