Swarna Rajagopalan works as a writer, political analyst and consultant in Chennai, India. She is the founding trustee of The Prajnya Trust , which is a non-profit centre for policy research, advocacy and networking in the areas of peace, justice and security. Her consultancy, Chaitanya, has undertaken educational programming, research conferences, commissioned research, research direction and reviews as well as project evaluations and reviews. She is also a founding member of the Women's Regional Network and served on the Board from 2017-19. She is active as a scholar on traditional and non-traditional security topics and also writes for both print and electronic media.
Dr. Rajagopalan is presently a Visiting Professor of Politics at Krea University. She has previously taught at James Madison College, Michigan State University; Yale University; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; National Management School and Sophia College, Mumbai.
Dr. Rajagopalan received her Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1998); an M.A. in International Relations from Syracuse University (1985) and a B.A. in Political Science from Elphinstone College , University of Bombay (1984). Her Ph.D. dissertation was published as State and Nation in South Asia (Lynne Rienner 2001/ Viva 2006 ). She is the author of several articles and chapters, and is the editor or co-editor of books on security, gender and politics (listed below).
Swarna Rajagopalan has been present at the start of several path-breaking initiatives in South Asia. She volunteered at the Bombay (Mumbai) rallies protesting a rape judgment in 1980 that are considered a landmark in the history of the Indian women’s movement. In May 1993, she attended the first Security, Technology and Arms Control Workshop in Bhurban, Pakistan. Also in May 1993, Swarna was a rapporteur at the inaugural session of the Regional Centre for Security Studies (RCSS). She assisted at and participated in the first Winter Workshop on Ethnicity, Migration and Environment held by the RCSS in 1997. She remains a part of these and other regional networks. Swarna has also served as an election observer in the 2000 Parliamentary elections in Sri Lanka.
Founder and Managing Trustee of The Prajnya Trust, 2006 till date, Dr. Rajagopalan's honorary position involves providing
vision; leadership and mentoring; research and writing; communications and public relations, including
fundraising; conceptualization and execution of projects and programmes; and administration. Prajnya
works in three areas: women’s history and women in politics; gender violence awareness and peace
education. She engages with all three, in addition to leading the organization.
Swarna Rajagopalan’s consultancy portfolio has been diverse, both in terms of clients and the nature of the projects she has undertaken. She has undertaken assignments for Indian nonprofits like Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace and Swayam Shikshan Prayog; the MacArthur Foundation; agencies like the World Bank, UN Women, USAID and GIZ, and Michigan State University. Chaitanya, her consultancy firm, used to maintain a weekly digest of security news from the southern part of the South Asian subcontinent, first on its website and then at subcontinentsouth.blogspot.com. The website also hosted several online learning guides on security and governance related topics. She was the creator of most of these resources.
Since 2020, Dr. Rajagopalan has been a co-investigator on the project, Surviving Violence: Everyday Resilience and Gender Justice in Rural-Urban India, funded by the British Academy under their Heritage, Dignity and Violence programme.
Dr. Rajagopalan blogs at The Standpoint on politics, international relations and security. Her older blog holds a mix of political, professional and personal writing. In 2009-11, she was an expert blogger for the MacArthur Foundation's Asia Security Initiative blog ( posts archived here). She writes for the Prajnya Trust's many blogs as well. She has written articles related to security for National Review, The New Indian Express and InfochangeIndia.org, and on gender issues for The Mint. She has written regularly for InfochangeIndia.org, the DNA website and The Citizen.