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Lana Whittaker BA (Hons), MPhil

Lana Whittaker BA (Hons), MPhil

Research Assistant

Lana's research explores the right to food and food security in India and specifically focuses on the Midday Meal Scheme in Rajasthan, India.



  • PhD. Realising the right to food in India: What can we learn from the Midday Meal scheme in Rajasthan? Geography, University of Cambridge (2013-present)
  • MPhil (Distinction) in Geographical Research, University of Cambridge (2013)
  • BA Geography, University of Cambridge (2008-2011)


  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) 1+ 3 studentship (2012- 2016)
  • Royal Geographical Society Slawson Award (2015)
  • Phillip Lake Fund Travel Award, Geography Department, University of Cambridge (2013, 2014)
  • Smuts Memorial Fund (2014)
  • Suzy Paine Fund Award, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge (2013, 2014)
  • AJ Pressland Fund, Cambridge Language Centre (2014)
  • Mary Euphrasia Mosley, Sir Bartle Frere & Worts Travel Funds (2014)
  • Robinson College Scholarship and Prize, University of Cambridge (2010 and 2011)


I am interested in the political economy of development, especially in South Asia, I have a particular interest in public policy and inequalities in access to food. My PhD research focused on India's school lunch programme, known as the Midday Meal Scheme. Despite decades of rapid economic growth in India, extremely high levels of hunger and malnutrition persist. In response, in 2001 the Supreme Court of India made existing government food schemes legally enforceable under the right to food and in 2013 the Government of India passed the National Food Security Act in September 2013, which aims to realise food security through existing government-led food distribution schemes. However, little research has been conducted on the capacity of such schemes to realise the multiple dimensions of food security and the right to food, and how this might vary for different people, at different times and according to the institutional and delivery mechanisms in place. To address this, my PhD research focused on the lived experiences of this scheme in the state of Rajasthan. I examined who the rights-holders in the scheme are and the extent to which they receive their entitlements, who the duty-bearers in the scheme are and the extent to which they fulfill their duties and the existence and use of accountability mechanisms to hold duty-bearers to account.

I am currently a research assistant working with Dr Bhaskar Vira on an ESPA-funded project to write a book chapter on the relationships between forests and water in the context of ecosystem services and poverty alleviation.


  • Supervisor, Geographical Tripos Part 1A: Society, Environment and Sustainable Development
  • Supervisor, Geographical Tripos Part 1A: Unequal Geographies
  • Supervisor, Geographical Tripos Part 1A: Contemporary Urban Geographies
  • Supervisor, Undergraduate Study Skills

External activities

  • Member, British Association of South Asian Studies (2015-present)
  • Postgraduate Fellow, Royal Geographical Society (2014-present)
  • Representative on the Graduate Student Committee, Department of Geography (2013-2014)
  • Co-convenor, Conservation Student Group, University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute (2013-present)
  • Member, Philosophical Society, University of Cambridge (2013-present)
  • Member, Political Ecology Group, Department of Geography (2012- present)