EPoD India at IFMR

 

charityAbhishek Kumar Sinha
Charity Troyer MooreAbhishek Kumar Sinha Arti LuniyaEshita Gupta
Research Director, India

Senior Programme
Manager

Advisor

  Fellow

    
Neeraj TrivediNeeraj TrivediAnuradha Bhatta
Neeraj TrivediSitaram MukherjeeAnuradha BhattaArti Dhar
Senior Research and
Training Manager
Project Manager

Program Associate

Research Associate
    
Kartikeya BatraPrateek MittalNeeraj Trivedi
Kartikeya BatraPrateek MittalSayantan MitraSujoy Bhattacharyya
Research AssociateResearch Associate

Research Associate

Research Fellow
    
Tamara Mathai
Tamara MathaiPrachi JadhavRamita TanejaShikha Nehra
Policy OfficerConsultant

Consultant

Consultant
    
   
Spreeha Aggarwal   
Consultant 

 

 

 

After decades of strong economic growth, the Indian state now has the resources, technology, and potential to improve the lives of its citizenry – which includes over a quarter of the world’s population living in extreme poverty. But governance challenges remain. Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) works with India’s key policy influencers – in both the public and private sectors – to strengthen information systems and align the goals of policy actors with the choices of the public. By collaborating in an iterative process of Smart Policy Design and Implementation we help create policies that can harness India’s growth to deliver effective and efficient public services, a healthier environment, and equitable opportunities for all citizens.

EPoD India at IFMR is a joint initiative by Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) at Harvard Kennedy School and the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR). Building on nearly a decade of collaborative work by the two institutions, EPoD India at IFMR is housed at IFMR and was established in 2013.  It now has a team in India of approximately 20 managers, research associates, and administrative personnel working across 12 states and territories in India, with additional projects in other South Asian countries. We operate with a variety of state and central governments building capacity and conducting projects to improve governance, environmental protection, and gender equality. We collaborate with India’s evidence-based media and data journalism outlets to provide the public with easily comprehensible analysis of difficult policy issues, and we mentor and provide research opportunities to students from Harvard and local institutions.

Location:
EPoD India at IFMR:
T-95 A, CL House, Third Floor
Gautam Nagar,
Near Green Park Metro Station
New Delhi, India 110049

Ministry of Rural Development: Open data & data analytics for improved services to the poor

We worked with the Ministry or Rural Development (MoRD) to improve user-friendliness of one of the world’s largest development databases to facilitate improved monitoring and evaluation by program implementers, researchers and the public. The results – the MGNREGA Public Data Portal and Reports Dashboard – have served as springboards for further collaboration. We are in the process of rolling out and testing PayDash, a web and mobile app that aims to decrease delays in wage payments to program recipients by leveraging big data to increase transparency and accountability in the payment process. In a separate collaboration, we have provided extensive data analytics to help MoRD better target its skills-training program, DDU-GKY, and advised the Ministry on structuring the database that tracks private training providers, to enable better insights on their outcomes.
 
Further reading:

“Impersonal Government is Good” The Indian Express, 30 December 2015

Case study: Data transparency in India's flagship social protection programme

Case study: Optimizing skills training programmes in South Asia 

 

Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB): Data systems & policy innovations for cleaner air

Our collaboration with the GPCB has its roots in a large-scale experiment conducted with research partners from J-PAL, Yale, and the University of Chicago and published in 2013. The intervention severed the ties between environmental auditors and the firms they monitored, and showed that this not only led to more truthful reports by the auditors, but reduced emissions by the factories. The GPCB incorporated several components of the scheme into their practice and invited us to train regulators in data analysis and the use of research evidence. Since then, we have worked closely with the GPCB developing and testing a device installed directly in factory stacks that allows emissions readings to be fed directly to regulators in real time via a digital interface. The project not only promises to deliver a leap in the quality of information that regulators can access, it is being watched closely by India’s Central Pollution Control Board, who know that future market-based mechanisms to control air pollution will depend on quality, real-time data.

Further reading:

Case study: Improving industrial monitoring to cut air pollution in India

“Paying Auditors for Honest Appraisals” Wall Street Journal, 17 July 2013

 

Comptroller and Auditor General’s Office (CAG): Better auditing for better governance

We provided technical assistance and training India’s watchdog agency, which is responsible for auditing any government program or ministry. For an audit of a state-level social security program, we provided insights on survey techniques and sampling methods, and in an audit of a major national program, we guided auditors in using existing research evidence and administrative data to set audit objectives. Our input led the CAG to access data from a range of sources that they wouldn’t usually consider. Two formalized Practice Notes containing the methods of data analysis and sampling we recommended are becoming part of the handbook all CAG officials use when evaluating the performance of programs. Furthermore, the collaboration helped galvanize a movement toward rigor in the CAG that culminated in the 2016 inauguration of the Centre for Data Management and Analytics (CDMA).

Further reading:

Case study: Insights on methodology for India’s governmental auditors

 

 

Government of Madhya Pradesh: Technology to facilitate women’s financial autonomy

Until recently, wages women earned in MGNREGA, the rural workfare programme, were generally paid into the bank account of the head-of-household, usually male. In collaboration with the Government of Madhya Pradesh, we tested the effect of several combinations of interventions: providing them with their own bank account, having their payments directly transferred there, and giving them basic financial literacy training so they know how to use the account. We found a range of financial benefits from the different interventions, but women who received all three showed the biggest changes: they were more likely to have worked more, both under and outside MNREGA; they reported 25% higher earnings and 60% higher bank balances, and were more likely to make household purchases with their own money.
 
Further reading:
“Getting India´s women into the workforce: Time for a smart approach” Ideas for India, 10 March 2017
 

LBSNAA: Training a generation India’s civil servants in the use of data and evidence

Since 2013, EPoD has worked in collaboration with Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) to enhance the abilities of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officials to access, analyze, and appraise data and research evidence. We have trained over 350 officers at different phases of their service period. We have also conducted “training of trainers” where we prepare officials to implement our blended-learning platform sustainably among future cohorts. Given that national and state ministries and departments across the country are typically led by IAS officials, this ongoing partnership provides us a unique perspective on how to best foster evidence-informed policymaking in India. Moreover, the trainings have helped our team identify potential “evidence champions” who can encourage evidence-informed policymaking and implementation, both through their future participation in high-potential engagements with researchers and through their advocacy for evidence among other policymakers.

Our work in Nepal: Advancing evidence-based policy at a critical juncture

Since 2015, EPoD India at IFMR has served as a base for EPoD’s growing presence in Nepal, a country at a point of great possibility as it determines how the state will function under its new constitution. We are training civil servants in data analysis and evidence use in collaboration with the Nepal Administrative Staff College. Also, we are aiding the Nepal Reconstruction Authority in using surveys and designing housing lotteries so that citizens at risk of earthquakes and landslides have a greater say in how their communities are relocated. As we explore further opportunities for collaboration, we are finding a willingness to innovate and a demand for evidence where its wide application would impact some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Further reading:
“Transparent policy-making makes people less cynical of their government” myRepública, 25 March 2017