The Institute of Social Sciences was registered under the Societies Registration Act of India 1860 on 28 August 1985. D.T. Lakdawala, renowned economist and former Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Government of India was the first Chairman and Dr. George Mathew was the Founder Director of the Institute. The first governing body of the Institute met on 1 September 1985 under the chairmanship of D.T. Lakdawala and the Institute started functioning at B-7/81, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi and continued till April 1999. From May 1, 1999, it moved to its own premises at 8 Nelson Mandela Road, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi- 110070, near Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The Institute of Social Sciences was motivated and driven by the urgency of intertwining participatory democracy with development. It is a think tank and a resource centre on local democracy, democratic decentralization, human rights and women’s political empowerment at grassroots level. Its numerous researches, advocacy through conferences, seminars and workshops, monitoring of government policies through public interest litigations and other direct forms of interventions have received considerable acclaim nationally and internationally.


The vision of the Institute is to develop itself as a premier institution of excellence in research, training and outreach programmes on participatory democracy and local governance; gender equity; human rights; and issues related to poverty, unemployment, socio-cultural deprivations and the like.


The mission of the Institute is to create informed public opinion, recommend policy, and contribute to the discourses on participatory democracy, local governance, human rights and expansion of opportunities for the socially and economically deprived people. While India’s plural and multi-ethnic society remains the primary concern, the Institute is networking with international organizations and think tanks through exchange programmes and sharing best practices in order to respond effectively to the imperatives of the emerging global society with all its challenges and opportunities.

Aims of the Institute

  • Multi-disciplinary social science advanced research.
  • Developing an informed and action-oriented public opinion.
  • Ushering in a society in which power to the people is a reality.


• To study contemporary social, political and economic issues from an inter-disciplinary perspective.

• To make its findings and recommendations available to government bodies, civil society organizations, policy makers, social scientists and all concerned citizens, so as to make their decisions based on sound evidence and widen their options for action.

The Institute has already completed more than two decade of its existence with a strategy of “Integrating Research with Action”.