Faculty & Staff

Demo Image

Dr Jagannath Ambagudia

Associate Professor , Guwahati campus

Dean - School of Social Sciences and Humanities

M.A., M. Phil., Ph. D. in Political Science (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)

Jagannath Ambagudia is Dean, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, and Professor at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati Campus. He was also the Chairperson, Unit for Research and Development, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati Campus. Previously, he taught at Rajdhani College, University of Delhi; National Law School of India University, Bangalore and ARSD College, University of Delhi. A sincere grounding gained at the Bachelor and Master level provided him with the opportunity to specialise in the areas of Indian Politics with a focus on Politics and Social Justice, which offered him the opportunity for debate, research and in-depth analysis of matters of particular concern to the country and beyond. He is trained in Political Science under the mentorship of Prof. Sudha Pai and Prof. Pralay Kanunago. He is also the Board Member of the International Political Science Association Research Committee on Political Elites. 

Dr Ambagudia is currently working on the broader theme of  Scheduled Tribes and Democracy in India, where he explores the role of tribal political representatives at the decision making level both at the state and national level. Dr Ambagudia's writings are published in Economic and Political Weekly, Asian Social Work and Policy Review, Social Change, Studies in Indian Politics, International Review of Social Research, Conflict Studies Quarterly, Journal of Social Inclusion Studies and National Law School of India Review, among others.


Jagannath Ambagudia's research primarily investigates the different dynamics of Adivasi (Indigenous) society, especially Adivasi politics, every day experiences of inclusive policies of the state, development and deprivation, social discrimination and marginalisation, preferential treatment, distributive justice, their relationship with other communities in the context of resource utilisation in India. Though his research essentially focuses on Adivasi issues, he is also interested in migration studies, policy studies, democracy and development, etc.


Jagannath Ambagudia (2019), Adivasis, Migrants and the State in India, London and New York: Routledge.

This book looks at the contested relationship between Adivasis or the indigenous peoples, migrants and the state in India. It delves into the nature and dynamics of competition and resource conflicts between the Adivasis and the migrants. Drawing on the ground experiences of the Dandakaranya Project – when Bengali migrants from erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) were rehabilitated in eastern and central India – the author traces the connection between resource scarcity and the emergence of Naxalite politics in the region in tandem with the key role played by the state. He critically examines the way in which conflicts between these groups emerged and interacted, were shaped and realised through acts and agencies of various kinds, as well as their socio-economic, cultural and political implications. The book explores the contexts and reasons that have led to the dispossession, deprivation and marginalisation of Adivasis.


Edited Book(s)

Jagannath Ambagudia and Virginius Xaxa (2021), Handbook of Tribal Politics in India, New Delhi: Sage.

The volume is undoubtedly the most authoritative source for a systematic and comprehensive study of this vibrant field of scholarship. Divided into three sections, the chapters cover a broad range of themes ranging from a general introduction to tribal politics to exploring contemporary issues and concerns within the discipline. The book presents a trajectory and authentic overview of tribal politics while keeping in mind the changing relationship between tribal communities and democracy. Using qualitative and quantitative data, it studies the role of tribal political representatives in public policy-making, issues related to communities, and the nature and dynamics of tribal politics at the state and national levels. It explores the patterns, conditions and challenges of tribes’ participation in electoral politics and presents the issues and agendas that will continue to affect tribal politics in future. This book is an essential resource for teaching and research in political science and other social science disciplines studying comparative political dimensions.


Journal Articles (Selected)

Jagannath Ambagudia (2020), "Democracy and Political Marginality: Reading Invisible Resistance to Political Reservation in India", National Law School of India Review, 32(2), pp.

This article focuses on the changing relationship between democracy, marginalised communities, and political reservation, in India. While doing so, the article is structured in the following way. First, it briefly discusses political reservation in India. Second, it examines the relationship between the judiciary and reservation and explores whether political reservation has been subjected to litigation. Third, it traces the politics of political reservation, especially in recent demands for reservation by various communities. Fifth, it unravels the various facets of invisible opposition to caste- and ethnic (tribe)-based political reservation in India. Sixth, it analyses the reasons for the invisible and silent nature of opposition and resistance to political reservation for the SCs and the STs in India. This is followed by the conclusion. Though the article does not focus on reservations in government employment and educational institutions per se, it makes frequent comparative references to understand the nuances of the issue of political reservation in India. The article argues that the opposition and resistance to caste- and ethnic (tribe)-based political reservation continue to be invisible because the issue of merit, which is at the root of the heated debate, is blurred in the context of political reservation, and due to the ample scope for the democratic dominance of dominant communities in the existing political structure in India.


Jagannath Ambagudia and Sasmita Mohanty (2019a), "Adivasis, Integration and the State in India: Experiences of Incompatibilities", International Review of Social Research, 9(2), pp. 108-121.

Anthropologists, administrators and policy makers debated the adivasi question in post-independent India from the perspectives of isolation, assimilation and integration. Amidst discourses, integration approach was followed to address the adivasi issues in the post-colonial period. Following the integration approach, the Indian state made series of promises to the adivasis in terms of granting equal citizenship rights in social, economic, political and cultural spheres; providing equal opportunities and committed to preserve and protect adivasi culture and identity. Despite such promises, adivasis continue to live at the margin of the post-colonial state, and thereby experiencing different forms of marginalization, dispossession and deprivation. They have developed cynicism towards the integration policy and experiencing a declining sense of involvement in the (mainstream) society. The integration approach of the Indian state has become a means of exclusion for the adivasis in India. Within this backdrop, the paper critically examines the contemporary dynamics of integration of adivasis in the Indian state.


Jagannath Ambagudia (2019b), “Adivasis, Preferential Policy and the State in Odisha”, Social Change, 49(2), pp. 199-215.

The Indian state has ratified preferential policies enshrined in the Indian Constitution by ensuring a reserved quota for geographically isolated and underprivileged communities such as adivasis, thereby attempting to integrate them within mainstream society. Computing the data available on the impact of a preferential policy on the adivasis of Odisha, this article argues that although the policy has been relatively useful in securing employment, adivasis of the state remain underrepresented in aggregate numbers and in different groups of services. The article also indicates the existence of a regional disparity even among the adivasis of Odisha with regard to their representation in elite government employment. The real problem is not the preferential policy per se but its poor implementation, abject poverty, bureaucratic apathy and the lack of political will to implement preferential policies effectively. In fact, the practice of preferential policies has sporadically led to violent community conflicts in Odisha and impacted the changing relationship between policy and politics.


Jagannath Ambagudia (2019c), "Scheduled Tribes, Reserved Constituencies and Political Reservation in IndiaJournal of Social Inclusion Studies, 5(1), pp. 44-58.

Scheduled Tribes (STs, indigenous people) are one of the most marginalised communities in the political sphere. Political marginalisation of STs due to historical injustices has compelled the Indian state to explore alternative means to ensure adequate representation for them by adopting a political reservation system. Political reservation has, therefore, become their primary means of political empowerment, wherein it has ensured the redistribution of political resources in favour of the marginalised communities. Against this backdrop, the article explores the location of tribal communities in the colonial political system and the reasons for their disproportionate representation, the nature and dynamics of ST reserved constituency and the effects of political reservation on these communities. Further, the article concludes by suggesting that the political reservation system has brought both hope and despair among the STs.


Jagannath Ambagudia (2017), "Doing Political Science Differently: Experiences from an Institute of Social Sciences", Studies in Indian Politics, 5(1), pp. 67-72.

The contemporary social sciences are fast acquiring an interdisciplinary character, and pose a challenge to the relevance of the ‘mainstream’ disciplines. The institutions of higher learning are increasingly focusing on interdisciplinary courses, particularly at the postgraduate level. The recently established central universities2 and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) are some of the relevant examples in this context. These institutions are disseminating classroom teaching and conducting research on issues that blend the concerns of different disciplines, and that essentially go beyond the disciplinary boundary of a particular kind. However, some of the social sciences, such as political science, appear to be losing their relevance over the period.

This note attempts to gauge the contemporary relevance of political science in terms of its relationship with other social sciences. The note draws on my experience of teaching political science in a social science institute–the TISS, Guwahati. However, the issues and contexts discussed here are relevant for the wider community of students of political science and other social sciences.


Jagannath Ambagudia (2015), "On the Edge of Scarcity: Understanding Contemporary Community Conflicts in Odisha, India", Conflict Studies Quarterly, 10, pp. 41-55.

The contemporary state of Odisha, India, has been experiencing a series of ethnic, caste, religious, resource-based, and political conflicts. These conflicts are the product of different magnitudes of deprivation, marginalization, and exploitation, which have created unrest among different communities and dissatisfaction with the state authorities. These experiences simply high- light antagonism, aggression, and resistance in a context in which the policy making process and administration respond through violent means. It presents a complex picture of contemporary violent community conflicts in Odisha by considering conflicts of Kandhamal and Narayanpatna within the broader framework of competition to gain control over, or access to, natural resources. The competition to control or access natural resources leads to the emergence of community conflict between the Adivasis (indigenous people) and non-Adivasis in Odisha. The growing insecurity among the Adivasis due to the gradual alienation of their resources to the non-Adivasis compel them to engage in a conflictual relationship with the non-Adivasis, thereby threatening and creating insecurity for the latter.


Jagannath Ambagudia (2011), “Scheduled Tribes and the Politics of Inclusion in India”, Asian Social Work and Policy Review, 5(1),  pp. 33-43.

In a country like India, group identity plays a major role in the societal allocation of resources. Individuals may experience the consequences of social exclusion in terms of their personal identity, while groups and communities may experience these consequences in terms of collective identity. So, in the post-independence period, a major concern of the Indian state was to define the groups who are to be included and who are to be excluded from the category of group preference. Within this backdrop, this paper begins with a short discussion of the nature of tribal society in India and explores different issues that are associated with the process of integration and exclusion experienced by Scheduled Tribes (STs). The paper also briefly traces the practical dimension of the relationship between the state and tribal communities within the broader framework of inclusion and exclusion. 


Jagannath Ambagudia (2010), "Tribal Rights, Dispossession and the State in Orissa”, Economic and Political Weekly, 45(33), pp. 60-67.

Tribals in Orissa continue to suffer land deprivation and dispossessions of different kinds despite special enabling provisions in the Constitution, a legal framework for their implementation and several targeted public policy initiatives taken by the state government. The erosion of the tribal way of life and land ownership system, land alienation and imposition of the values and dominance of outsiders, in collaboration with the government, have ensured that the tribals in Orissa continue to be impoverished and dispossessed. Within this broader framework, the objective of the paper is to look at the relationship between land law and the state, with special reference to the scheduled tribes (STs) in Orissa. It explores the relationship between the land and tribes. The paper looks at the landholding pattern among the social groups by examining the available data. It traces the different dynamics of land alienation in tribal areas. It also examines the existing land legislation in Orissa within the framework of the state-tribal relationship. The paper, however, argues that despite the existence of legislative protection in Orissa, there is apparent visibility of the widespread process of land possession in different tribal tracts. The poor access to tribal land is not only the outcome of the tribal land alienation but also the outcome of land and forest policies followed by the state. 


Chapters in Edited Volume (Selected)

Jagannath Ambagudia (forthcoming), "Judiciary and Tribal Rights in India: Shifting Terrains of Judicial Pronouncements” in Vidhu Verma and Antje Linkenbach (eds.), State, Law and Adivasis: Shifting Terrains of Exclusion, New Delhi: Sage Publications.

The judiciary has been playing a significant role in redistributing resources among multiple claimants in contemporary India. While examining the legality of the claimants, the judiciary revisits the established laws aiming at promoting larger public goods- in the way of ensuring equality, fairness, justice, promoting and enlarging human rights, etc.- and laws primarily enacted to promote the sectarian interests of various marginalised communities, such as the tribes in India. As a consequence, a number of legislations protecting tribal rights over natural resources have become subject to judicial pronouncements. The closer analysis of the judicial interpretations hints that the laws aiming at larger public goods take precedence over the special protections of tribal communities. Within this backdrop, problematising the concerns of larger public goods, this chapter explores the changing relationship between the judiciary and the tribal communities in India. While doing so, it considers the judicial pronouncements concerning the four critical cases related to tribal rights over natural resources (land and forests) such as the Samata judgement, the Narmada Bachao Andolan, the Niyamgiri pronouncement and the February 2019 Order on forest rights. The chapter emphasises that the judiciary has maintained inconsistency in relation to the judicial pronouncements of tribal rights in India.


Jagannath Ambagudia (forthcoming), “Paradoxes of Political Inclusion: Political Reservation for Scheduled Tribes in India” in Sudha Pai and Sukhdeo Thorat (eds.), Politics of Representation: Historically Disadvantaged Groups in India’s Democracy, Palgrave Macmillan.

The practice of political reservation in India raises numerous pertinent questions within the public policy framework. Some of the are: has the quota system benefitted the intended beneficiaries? Does political reservation have any visible impact on tribal communities or has it improved the socio-economic conditions of tribal communities in India? Has the quota practice tilted public policies favouring the tribal communities? Within this backdrop, the chapter begins with the visualisation and conceptualisation of political representation for STs in the Constituent Assembly, then moves to the constitutional provisions and political reservation. It also deals with the impact of political reservation on tribal communities in the post-colonial period. The chapter argues that the Indian state has made concerted and organised efforts to include the tribal communities with the mainstream society politically. However, the outcome of such efforts is often debatable.


Jagannath Ambagudia (2021), "Tribes and Electoral Politics in Odisha" in Jagannath Ambagudia and Virginius Xaxa (eds.), Handbook of Tribal Politics in India, New Delhi: Sage, pp. 457-488.

This chapter focuses on various dynamics of tribal politics in the context of Odisha. It deals with the demographic picture of the reserved constituencies and its implications over determining the number of tribal reserved constituencies. It analyses the election data in relation to the Scheduled Tribe (ST) reserved parliamentary and assembly constituencies of Odisha. The chapter explains why a particular trend is taking place in the context of tribal politics in Odisha. It also discusses various issues that are directly or indirectly affecting the different aspects of tribal politics in Odisha.


Jagannath Ambagudia and Virginius Xaxa (2021), "Introduction: Situating Tribal Politics in India" in Jagannath  Ambagudia and Virginius Xaxa (eds.), Handbook of Tribal Politics in India, New Delhi: Sage, pp. 1-26.

The ‘Introduction’ begins with a brief discussion on the rationale for group representation of tribal communities in India. It then moves to focus on tribal situation in India, followed by an overview of tribal politics2 in India. It looks at tribal engagement with mainstream democratic politics and explores the patterns, conditions and challenges of participation of tribal communities in electoral politics and policy framing and functioning in India. It also provides an overview of the chapters. 


Jagannath Ambagudia (2020), "Tribes and Quality Education: Issues, Concerns and Prospects" in Surojit Sen Gupta (ed.), Tribal Education in Search of Quality, Agartala: Tribal Research and Cultural Institute, Government of Tripura, pp. 17-30.

The relationship between education and communities occupies a significant position in the contemporary period due to the uneven educational attainment of different social groups. Such uneven educational advancement of different social groups are affected by various factors, sometimes related to their respective social fabrics and more often associated with a systemic arrangement that did not provide even opportunities in educational fronts. Against this backdrop, this chapter opens up the window for debating various issues and concerns related to the quality of education, especially in the context of tribal society in India.


Jagannath Ambagudia (2017), "Regime of Marginalisation and Sites of Protest: Understanding Adivasi Movement in Odisha, India" in John Synott, Heather Devere and Kelli TeMaiharoa (eds.), Peacebuilding and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Experiences and Strategies for the 21st Century,  Springer International, pp. 155-165.

The era of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation has been experienced differently by the various parties concerned. This brings hope for the state and corporate sector and despair for the Indigenous people of India commonly referred to as Adivasis and formally identified as “Scheduled Tribes” by the Indian government. The state of Odisha signed 42 memoranda of understandings with multinational companies between 2002 and 2005, allowing the latter to exploit the natural resources of the Adivasis regions in that state. This has not only challenged an important means of their livelihood but is also leading to the erosion of the Adivasi culture, values and traditions in Odisha. The intrusion has created resentment and disenchantment among the vulnerable Adivasis communities. As a consequence, the Adivasis of the scheduled areas in Odisha have launched forms of resistance in their struggle to retain their ancestral rights over jal, jungle and jamin (land, water and forests). Within this backdrop, this chapter explores the Adivasis movement in scheduled areas of Odisha.


Jagannath Ambagudia (2010), “Combating Social Exclusion in Education: Re-Examining the ‘Inclusive’ Framework” in Yagati China Rao and Sudhakar Karakati (eds.), Exclusion and Discrimination: Concepts, Perspectives and Challenges, New Delhi: Kanishka Publishers and Distributors, pp. 272-292.


Jagannath Ambagudia (2010), “Development or Destitution: Rethinking Tribal-State Relationship in Orissa” in Debal K. SinghRoy (ed.), Interrogating Social Development: Global Perspectives and Local Initiatives, New Delhi: Manohar Publishers and Distributors, pp. 239-267.

The concern of the paper is to look at the cohesion, conflicts and contradictions within the Orissan state with reference to vulnerable tribal communities. By looking at the tribal situation in Orissa, the theme of the paper is how tribes define themselves in terms of their relationship with the state and what would be the impact of such a relationship in shaping and reshaping tribal structure. Within this backdrop, it examines the interrelationship of tribes and the state at different times and in different parts of the state. It examines the continuous interaction of tribes and state, changes in the interaction over the spans of time, the similarities and differences those changes produced across the state. It proceeded to argue that the role of the Orissan state is coercive or predatory in nature that leads to the destitution of tribal communities of Orissa.


Book Reviews

  1. Jagannath Ambagudia (2015), "Whose Movement?", a review of Crispin Bates and Alpa Shah (2014) (eds.), Savage Attack: Tribal Insurgency in India, New Delhi: Social Science Press, 2014, The Book Review, 39(3), pp. 21-22.
  2. Jagannath Ambagudia (2015), a review of Rudolf C. Heredia (2012), Taking Sides: Reservation Quotas and Minority Rights in India, New Delhi: Penguin, History and Sociology of South Asia, 9(1), pp. 102-105.
  3. Jagannath Ambagudia (2014), “Whose Development?”, a review of Arun Kumar Ghosh and Ram Dayal Munda (2012) (eds.), The Other Side of Development: The Tribal Story, New Delhi: Konark Publishers Pvt. Ltd., Economic and Political Weekly, 49(12), pp. 27-30.
  4. Jagannath Ambagudia (2013), “Vagrant Community Life”, a review of Daniel Buckles, Rajeev Cheddar, Bansi Ghevde and Dnyaneshwar Patil (2013), Fighting Eviction: Tribal Land Rights and Research-in-Action, New Delhi: Foundation Books, The Book Review, Vol. 37(5), pp. 13-14.
  5. Jagannath Ambagudia (2011), “Adivasi-Colonial Interface”, a review of Biswamoy Pati (2011) (ed.), Adivasis in Colonial India: Survival, Resistance and Negotiation, New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, The Book Review, 35(12), pp. 17-18.
  6. Jagannath Ambagudia (2011), “Religious Assertion and Conflict”, a review of Peggy Froerer (2010), Religious Division and Social Conflict: The Emergence of Hindu Nationalism in Rural India, New Delhi: Social Science Press, The Book Review, 35(5), pp. 16-17.



1. Scheduled Tribes and Democracy: Role of Tribals MPs in Indian Parliament, sponsored by Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi (2018- 2021, Major Research Project). 

The Project explores the nature of participation in parliamentary debates by the tribal MPs belonging to various political parties and independent MPs, especially in the context of bills related Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, Forest Rights Act and Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act. Further, it explores the role of tribal MPs in various parliamentary committees set up to address tribal issues. It analyses the nature of participation by the tribal and non-tribal MPs in parliamentary debates on tribal issues.


2. Past and Present of Governance of Rural Resources: Comparative Institutional Analysis of Japan and India (2017-2019)

This was an India-Japan International Collaboration Project, sponsored by the Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi, and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo (Indian Team: T. Vijay Kumar (Lead Collaborator, Sikkim University), Bhangya Bhukya (University of Hyderabad) and Jagannath Ambagudia (TISS, Guwahati Campus); Japanese Team: Takashi Sakurai (Lead Collaborator, University of Tokyo), Nanami Toishi (University of Tokyo), Michihiro Ogawa (Kanazawa University) and Kazuyo Nagahama (University of Tokyo).


  • PaCS01: Studying Conflict (M.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies)
  • PaCS12: Conflict Resolution-I (M.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies)
  • CD5: Contemporary Politics in India (M.A. in Social Work with Specialisation in Community Organisation and Development Practice)
  • LSSP22: Corporate Governance, Corporate Social Responsibility and Labour (M.A. in Labour Studies and Social Protection)


  • BC02: Social Theory and Research (Compulsory Course, M. Phil. in Social Sciences)
  • TC01: Democracy, Rights and Tribes in India (Thematic/Optional Course, M. Phil. in Social Sciences)
  • LSSP16: Public Policies and Labour (M.A. in Labour Studies and Social Protection)
  • Nationalism, State and Human Security (M.A. in Social Work with Specialisation in Community Organisation and Development Practice)
  • IC3: Development (B.A. in Social Sciences)



Email: jagannath.ambagudia[at]tiss[dot]edu

Dr. Jagannath Ambagudia

Associate Professor

Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies

School of Social Sciences and Humanities

Tata Institute of Social Sciences

Guwahati Campus

Tetelia Road



Assam, India