Rachna Shanbog

Dublin City University


Rachna Shanbog had been working in the development sector in India for the last nine years before she joined DCU in September 2017. She has worked with organisations such as UN Women India, The Huner Project (INGO), and other various organizations at the national level on issues concerning women and children. A strong urge to live in an equitable society was one of the main reasons why she chose to study Social Work in her Post Graduation (Masters in Social Work, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi, 2008). Having worked for nine years now, her desire to change existing power structures and question injustice has only become stronger. Rachna also completed a Graduate Certificate in Public Policy (GCPP) programme (by Takshashila) in 2014, a 12-week course which equips students with knowledge and skills related to India’s public policy.

She has a Bachelors degree in Commerce from Delhi University (Jesus & Mary College, 2006). Rachna strongly believes that democratic, accountable and transparent policy-makers and/or governments have huge potential for bringing about positive change in society, and she remains steadfastly commited to doing her best to promote social and gender justice. As one of the five Early Stage Researchers on the Marie Skłodowska-Curie ETN on Global India, at the Ireland India Institute at Dublin City University, Rachna will undertake her PhD on ‘India’s foreign aid policy’.

PhD Abstract

In 2003, Finance Minister Jaswant Singh announced in the Parliament that India will no longer be an aid recipient, instead, it will intensify its own development aid programme. This marked the beginning of the new phase in India’s external aid programme and as one of the leading countries in South-South Development Cooperation, India claims to be different to the Development Assistance Committee (OECD -DAC) members when it comes to providing aid and, like China, calls itself a ‘development partner’ rather than a donor.

This thesis, will analyse this new departure, both in terms of the strategic goals of the aid programme and also the actual consequences in terms of where aid is spent, what it is spent on, and the purpose of the aid programmes. The research will examine the relationship between India’s foreign aid narratives, and the programme outcomes in terms of aid volumes, and types of aid. Using the case studies of Nepal and Sri Lanka it will analyse, in more depth, the Indian government’s narrative on the aid relationship with these countries, the specific details of these bilateral relationships, and the consequences for State to State relations and aid recipients.

The research will use elite interviews with government administrative officers; former Ministers and retired bureaucrats in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. It will conduct interviews with members of civil society organisations in India and in the recipient countries. The research will involve document analysis of publicly available documents in India, including Parliamentary debates, documents of the Ministry of External Affairs (annual reports, speeches, details of country’s assistance programme) and relevant government statements and speeches. It will also use print media coverage of relevant events.

The research aims to contribute to understanding the motivation and ‘impacts’ of India’s development assistance programme, in a way that will be useful for policy development and to inform the actions of practitioners.