About us

The Observatory’s charter, which defines the general objective of the Observatory and how it operates, can be downloaded here.

What do we do?

Housed in the Social Sciences Department of the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP), the Observatory of Rural Dynamics and Inequalities in South India (ODRIIS) aims at:

  • Observing, measuring and understanding inequalities to contribute to the theoretical renewal of the concepts of agriculture and ecology; labour and knowledge; money, debt and finance.
  • Analysing how structural changes in India are reshaping the organisation of work, migration, social hierarchies and household livelihoods.

How do we do?

To achieve these objectives, the Observatory:

  • through a series of projects and methods, collects longitudinal data in rural and peri-urban areas of South India, following strict ethical rules and using a multidisciplinary approach;
  • shares quantitative data and survey tools and stimulates other possible forms of qualitative knowledge sharing;
  • feeds academic debates and policy making through publications of regular scientific reports and wider audience publications;
  • trains social sciences students in research through research.


Where do we do?

Observatory activities take place in rural and peri-urban South India.

Contemporary South India is characterised by contrasting dynamics: rapid economic growth, a boom in the consumer credit market, strong demands from Dalit movements, persistence and even reinforcement of gender inequalities.

These contrasting dynamics makes it a privileged place for analysing socio-economic and political change and its contrasting consequences in terms of inequalities.


A brief history

The Observatory is born from the crossroads of two interdependent social sciences programmes:

  1. Labour, finances and social dynamics, coordinated by Isabelle Guerin since 2003, focusing on financial practices and debt bondage in South India.
  2. Labour, Skills, Social networks and Mobility in India (LAKSMI), coordinated by Christophe Jalil Nordman since 2016 analysing the link between labour, skills, social and migration dynamics as well as social networks formation in India.

These two programmes were both supported by the French National Research Center for Sustainable Development, and were interrelated through, first, share data collection tools in South India (like NEEMSIS – Network, Employment, dEbt, Mobility and Skills in South India Survey) and, second, a combination of qualitative and quantitative socio-economic methods of analysis.


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