Social Documentary Photography Grant 2020

MurthyNAYAK Foundation & SACAC

In a world plagued with political and religious conflict, environmental tragedies and grave socio-economic disparity, the genre of social documentary photography is more relevant than ever before. Each country is facing its own set of challenges and issues that need to be chronicled. Rather than simply accepting problems, stepping over them, or averting our eyes, solutions can be discussed and strategies formulated when they are acknowledged. It is paramount for all of us as world citizens to spur into action and create work that reflects our concerns. With this objective in mind, The MurthyNAYAK Foundation (MNF), in association with Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts and Communications (SACAC), has initiated two grants of INR 2,00,000  and INR 1,00,000 to be given to two photographers under the age of 35 years working on a socially relevant theme.

Some of the possible concerns for submissions to this grant could be environmental/ecological disasters, political and religious conflict, socio-economic disparity, agrarian distress, gender & LGBTQ issues, displacement, migration etc. The grant will be given to further ongoing projects. Ideally, the grant should be utilized to add more layers/chapters to the existing project while attempting to diversify, investigate further, and present new reasoning, evidence or arguments.


  • The award is open to photographers under the age of 35 years from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • The awards are for ongoing projects and not completed bodies of work.
  • Applicants must not hold any other fellowship/grant for the proposed project when applying.
  • The grant money has to be utilized in creating new work. It cannot be utilized for the production of a photo book or to purchase photographic equipment.


  • October 15, 2020 – Deadline for Submission of the project proposal.
  • October 30/31, 2020 – The Jury reviews the proposals.
  • November 2, 2020 – The awardee is announced and given a 12-month period to produce work.
  • April 2021 – Mid-term review to see progress made in the work by the awardee.
  • November 2021 – The awardee submits the final set of 20 – 25 photographs.


The application has to be emailed to the following address:
[email protected]

The application should include Project Proposal & Biography, and a Photographic Portfolio

1. Project Proposal & Biography

  • The Project Proposal (pdf) should not exceed 500 words. In this, the applicant should articulate their intentions and define the scope and reach of the project.
  • The proposal should be well-researched and explain why the project is important, why the addition of new chapters to the project is needed, and what does the photographer intend to achieve with the completed project.
  • The applicant should clearly mention the stage their project has reached and why it needs financial support to conclude it.
  • The applicant must mention the exposure, if at all, this project has received across social media platforms and online magazines.
  • Please submit a biography (pdf) of 150-200 words in a separate document (include nationality, country of residence and address)

2. Photographic Portfolio

  • Applicants must demonstrate evidence of their photographic ability by submitting a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 20 photographs.
  • These photographs should consist of representative images from the project being proposed.
  • Each photograph should be JPGs, and 1500px on the long edge at 72 dpi.
  • The photographs need to be labelled with first name_ and last name_ of the photographer, followed by the sequence number. For example, the first photograph in the portfolio of Dev Khan would be labelled as Dev_Khan_01.jpg, the second one as Dev_Khan_02.jpg, and so on.
  • A separate document (pdf) needs to be submitted that provides caption information for each photograph in the portfolio.


Upon being informed that she/he has been selected to receive the grant, the grant recipient must confirm in writing that the proposed photography project is an ongoing project, and that it has not received any other grants/awards in the past.
It is the responsibility of the recipient to determine her or his income tax liability as it relates to the grant award and to file appropriate tax forms. For photographers based in countries other than India, the grant body will get in touch with the recipient and determine the modalities for disbursing the grant.
The grant recipient must agree to complete the project within 12 months of receiving the first instalment of the grant. The grant will be provided in instalments, based on the submission of a budget.
A few screen-resolution files will be required to be displayed as an online portfolio, giving the grant & the artist, exposure.
The grant recipient will also give permission to SACAC and MNF to reproduce the images from the portfolio for publicity – online and in their catalogue. Credit will be given to the artist and the copyright remains with the artist.


JURY 2020


Asim Rafiqui is an independent photojournalist whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Time, Harper's, Stern, National Geographic (France) and many other publications. Asim has reported from Haiti, Japan, India, Pakistan, USA, Afghanistan, Israel, Palestine, Sweden and Ukraine among other places.

Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, he moved to New York in 1984 to study engineering at Columbia University and has since lived, at various times, in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Lahore, London, Munich, Bangkok, Stockholm and most recently, Kigali, Rwanda.

He has been a recipient of an Open Society Fellowship and has since 2012 been using a variety of media to present a more nuanced and personal perspective on the issue of access to justice in Pakistan. By focusing on the plight of some of Pakistan’s most marginalized communities, he highlights the structural roots of the pervasive injustice that afflicts their lives and the failure of the current legal apparatus to resolve them. His work was supported by the Magnum Foundation Fellowship.

Previously, Asim was a Fulbright Fellow to India, where he worked on a project that looked at India’s heritage of cultural and religious pluralism and syncretism. For this project he was also a recipient of an Aftermath Grant. Asim also received a Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting grant to document the impact of the Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip on its residents. He authors the photography blog The Spinning Head.

He is currently pursuing a PhD at the Center for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths College, University of London.


Gauri Gill (b. 1970, Chandigarh, India) earned a BFA (Applied Art) from the College of Art, New Delhi; BFA (Photography) from Parsons School of Design/The New School , New York; and MFA (Art) from Stanford University, California. She has exhibited within India and internationally, including the Venice Biennale 2019; MoMA PS1, New York; Documenta 14, Athens and Kassel; Kochi Biennale; 7th Moscow Biennale; Wiener Library, London; and Whitechapel Gallery, London. Her work is in the collections of prominent institutions worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Museum, London; the Smithsonian Institution, Washington and Fotomuseum, Winterthur. In 2011 she was awarded the Grange Prize, Canada’s foremost award for photography.

Gill’s practice is complex because it contains several lines of pursuit. These include an almost two decade long engagement with marginalised communities in rural Rajasthan called Notes from the Desert (since 1999)—this ongoing archive contains sub-series such as The Mark on the Wall, Traces, Birth Series, Jannat, Balika Mela, and Ruined Rainbow. She has explored human displacement and the migrant experience in The Americans and What Remains. Projects such as the 1984 notebooks highlight her sustained belief in collaboration and ‘active listening’, and in using photography as a memory practice. Beginning in early 2013, Fields of Sight is an equal collaboration with the renowned Adivasi artist, Rajesh Vangad, combining the contemporary language of photography with the ancient one of Warli drawing to co-create new narratives. In her recent body of work, Acts of Appearance, (2015—), the artist has worked closely with the papier-mâché artists of the Kokna tribe in Maharashtra, using unique masks to tell fictional stories improvised together of contemporary life in the village. Working in both black and white and colour, Gill’s work addresses the twinned Indian identity markers of class and community as determinants of mobility and social behaviour; in it there is empathy, surprise, and a human concern over issues of survival.


Prashant Panjiar is a self-taught photographer. He has worked as a photojournalist and editor in mainstream media at Patriot newspaper (1984-1986), India Today (1986-1995) and the Outlook Group of Publications (1995-2001). Since 2001, Panjiar has been working independently as a photographer specialising in reportage, editorial and documentary photography, a photo editor and curator.

Panjiar has led the curatorial team of all 3 editions of the Delhi Photo Festival of which he is the co-founder and co-Creative Director. He is also responsible for the publication of the Nazar Photography Monographs series for Nazar Foundation of which he is the co-founder and Managing Trustee.

In 2014 as Creative Director he curated, and helped conceive the first edition of Sensorium a festival of Arts, Literature & Ideas for Sunaparanta, Goa Centre for the Arts. In 2015 he curated a permanent collection of contemporary photography for the new corporate building of Star TV India in Mumbai. He was the photography curator for the first two editions of the Serendipity Arts Festival, Goa, in 2016 and 2017. He was the project curator for Kanu’s Gandhi, the third title in the Nazar Photography Monographs series, and of the resulting exhibition that has been on tour since 2015.

Panjiar has served on the jury of the World Press Photo Awards, the China International Press Photo Competition, Indian Express Press Photo Awards and the National Foundation of India’s annual photography fellowship.

The MurthyNAYAK Foundation is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation, established by Sheela Murthy and Vasant Nayak, to locate and help with a range of projects in India and the United States.


Sri Aurobindo Centre For Arts And Communication is delighted to announce Subhrajit Sen as the recipient of the Social Documentary Photography Grant 2018 being awarded by the MurthyNAYAK Foundation and SACAC for his project titled 'Death Valley'.

The award will enable him to pursue his rigorous work on the condition of children, women and people living in Jadugoda town in Purbi (East) Singhbhum district of Jharkhand. Contamination from uranium mining, which has been on in the region for half a century, has led to cancer, tuberculosis, birth miscarriages and more.

Subhrajit Sen is from Chandannagar, a small town near Kolkata and is currently studying documentary photography at 'Counter Foto' in Dhaka, Bangladesh.


Sri Aurobindo Centre For Arts And Communication is delighted to announce Santanu Dey as the recipient of the Social Documentary Photography Grant 2019 being awarded by the MurthyNAYAK Foundation and SACAC for his project titled "The Lost Legacy".
Santanu Dey is from Kolkata.