Apurva Bamezai has been selected as one of the first two Sobti Family Doctoral Fellows at the Center for the Advanced Study of India (CASI) for the 2020–21 academic year.
Established through a generous gift from Penn parents, Rajiv Sobti GR’84 and Slomi Sobti, the Sobti Family Fellowship is designed to support the University of Pennsylvania graduate students in their research related to India’s current politics, society, economy, and international relations. The Sobti Family Doctoral Fellows receive $12,500 each to develop independent research interests broadly related to CASI’s agenda.
Apurva Bamezai joins CASI from Delhi, India, and is currently entering her second year as a doctoral student in the Political Science Department of Penn’s School of Arts & Sciences. She is primarily interested in comparative politics and the political economy of development in modern India. Broadly, her research pertains to questions of state capacity and the role of identity in public provision of goods and services in developing countries.
Apurva has worked in development research and the public policy space for over eight years before beginning her PhD, mainly conducting mixed-methods impact evaluations and process assessments of government programs in India with a focus on governance and service delivery in the realms of social protection, nutrition, and early childhood education interventions.
Prior to arriving at Penn, Apurva worked as a Senior Researcher on a CASI research project related to urbanization and female labor force participation in northern India. She has also worked as a researcher in Oxford Policy Management’s Poverty and Social Protection portfolio; IDinsight; and the Poverty, Health, and Nutrition Division of the International Food Policy Research Institute in New Delhi.
In Apurva’s words, “The Sobti Family Fellowship will be immensely useful at this stage of my doctoral studies, specifically the opportunity to be directly supervised by CASI’s Director, Professor Tariq Thachil. My goal for next year is to work on my second-year research paper and lay the foundation for my dissertation prospectus. I will use the Fellowship funds in service of my research goal to investigate if (and how) identity – i.e. gender, religion, and caste – plays a role in service delivery, primarily their impact on the ability of local bureaucrats, frontline workers, and local politicians to liaise and coordinate their efforts to provide public goods. I will also develop partnerships with organisations in the field, fellow academics, and the existing network of CASI scholars.
Achieving these goals in my second year will mean that I will be better positioned to design a coherent research agenda in my third year. I am very excited to continue my association with CASI in a more formal way.”
Apurva was awarded a full scholarship by the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust to pursue her MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge. Before this, she received her MA in Development Studies from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, and her BA (Honours) in Economics from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University.