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Kota Neelima is an author and researcher, and writes on farmer suicides, gender and rural poor. She has a Ph.D in Political Science from the University of Delhi and a Master’s degree in International Relations from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. Neelima was Senior Research Fellow at The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University, Washington, DC. She is the founder and director of the Institute of Perception Studies (IPS) and her recent initiative, Rate The Debate/Reform TV News, is an extension of her doctoral research on the role of perception in electoral democracies. 
Neelima’s latest book, Widows of Vidarbha, Making of Shadows, (2018, Oxford University Press) is the study of Farmer Suicide Households and presents the life of the widows left behind by farmer suicides due to agricultural distress. The book, based on longitudinal case studies of farm widows, reveals the six invisibilities imposed on rural women, which makes them invisible to the state, the community, and even to their own families, and examines their surrender to the rules of patriarchy.
Her research identifies gaps in welfare and suggests structured interventions through Rural Distress Reports and Urban Distress Reports, among Farmer Suicide Households (FSH) and High Rural Distress Households (HRDH) through the 10-point Distress Indicator. Besides design, these parameters also help in assessment, evaluation and monitoring of measures taken to reach goals of gender empowerment and emancipation.


  • Hindustan Times - Farmer suicides: The fate of the women left behind
  • Economic & Political Weekly - Widows of Farmer Suicide Victims in Vidarbha
  • The Wire - Why Women Farmers in Telangana Are Taking Their Own Lives
  • Kochi Post – The Invisible Rural Millennials
  • Firstpost – ‘Widows of Vidarbha’ highlights the lessor-known perseverance of the wives of farmers who commit suicides
  • Huffingtonpost -Karni Sena Threatens Author Kota Neelima
  • The Indian Express – Vetrimaaran to adopt ‘Shoes of the Dead’ into film
  • Economic & Political Weekly – 'Right to Recall' reform experience in Madhya Pradesh