Rajesh Tandon is an internationally acclaimed leader and practitioner of participatory research and development. He founded Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), a voluntary organisation providing support to grassroots initiatives in South Asia and continues to be in Chief Functionary since 1982.
He was appointed as UNESCO Co-Chair on Community-Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education for two terms (2012-2016 and 2016-2020).
After completing electronics engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, Dr. Tandon obtained a gold medal in management from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta. He later pursued his PhD in organisational science at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, a marked departure from physical science subjects.
A pioneer of participatory research, he has given new meaning to academic research by redefining the relationship between the researcher and the researched. He has championed the cause of building organisations and capacities of the marginalised through their knowledge, learning and empowerment. He has contributed to the emergence of several local, national and international groups and initiatives to promote authentic and participatory development of societies.
Dr. Tandon has authored more than 100 articles, a dozen books and numerous training manuals on themes such as democratic governance, civic engagement, civil society, governance and management of NGOs, participatory research and people-centred development. Recent publications include Knowledge and Engagement: Towards a Socially Responsible University: Balancing the Global with the Local, 6th GUNi Report (2017), Training the Next Generation of Community Based Researchers, University of Victoria (2016), Training the Next Generation of Community Based Researchers: A Guide for Trainers (2016), Institutionalizing Community-University Research Partnerships: A User’s Manual (2015), Community University Research Partnerships: A Global Perspective (2015), Global Governance, Civil Society and Participatory Democracy: A View from Below (2014).
For his distinguished work on gender issues, the Government of India honoured him with the prestigious Award in Social Justice in March 2007. The University of Victoria, Canada, awarded Dr Tandon the degree of Doctor of Law (Honoris Causa) in June 2008. He is the first Indian to be inducted to the International Adult and Continuing Education (IACE) Hall of Fame (class of 2011). The Indian Adult Education Association (IAEA) awarded Dr Tandon the Nehru Literacy Award - 2015.