Apurva Bamezai


Ph.D. Student in Comparative Politics


I am a PhD candidate in Comparative Politics at University of Pennsylvania's Department of Political Science. I am also affiliated to the Center for Advanced Study of India and the Penn Development Research Initiative (PDRI) - DevLab@Penn.

My main research interests include political selection, bureaucracy and public goods provision, with a regional focus on India.  My current research agenda is centered on political entry in rural local government in India. My dissertation project looks at public sector employment as a pathway to local electoral politics. I am also collaborating with researchers on projects to (i) establish who becomes a politician using census data on citizens and the universe of candidates in village-council elections, (ii) evaluate the impact of peer networks for local politicians, and (iii) examine the effectiveness of gender quotas in terms of women exercising de facto political leadership. My projects are all based in the state of Bihar (where I have conducted research consistently since 2011). In my research projects, I employ both quantitative and qualitative methods.

My research projects have been funded by the Weiss Fund for Research in Development EconomicsJ-PAL's Governance Initiative, the International Growth Centre (IGC)Sobti Family Fellowship (CASI)Penn Development Research Initiative (PDRI) - DevLab@PennCenter for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and ImmigrationChristopher H. Browne Center for International Politics, Judith Rodin Fellowship and the SAS Dissertation Research Award.

Prior to entering the PhD program, I worked in development research and the public policy space for over eight years, 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. Right before arriving at Penn, I worked as a Senior Researcher on a CASI research project related to urbanization and female labor force participation in northern India. I have 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.

I was awarded a full scholarship by the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust to pursue an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge. Before this, I received an MA in Development Studies from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, and a BA (Honours) in Economics from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University.