Varad Pande | Ideas for India

Varad Pande
Dalberg Global Development Advisors

Varad is an Associate Partner at Dalberg Global Development Advisors. Varad has held diverse roles across government, strategy consulting and multilateral institutions. Prior to this, he was Special Advisor to India’s Minister for Rural Development and Environment and Forests, where he drove the agenda on sustainable livelihoods, water and sanitation, financial inclusion, environment, and climate change.

Varad was a member of the Government of India’s Low Carbon Expert Group. He was Principal Advisor to Abhijit Banerjee on the UN-SG’s Panel on the Post-2015 Agenda and was a Sherpa on the UN-SG’s Global Sustainability Panel. He also sits on the Policy Advisory Group of the Global Financial Inclusion Initiative (GFII) at Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), Yale University. 

Previously, Varad was a Team Leader at the Monitor Group where he helped set up an economic development agency in an African country and led a project in India to scale-up market-based business models that create social impact. He has also worked at the World Bank on governance decentralisation and primary education. 

Varad has an M.P.A. in International Development from the Harvard Kennedy School, an M.A. in Economics from University of Cambridge and a B.A. Honours in Economics from St. Stephens College, Delhi.

Articles By Varad Pande
A five-minute loan to unlock micro-entrepreneurship in India
Posted On: 11 Jan 2017

Topics:   Finance

Micro-entrepreneurs are grossly underserved by traditional lenders, as they typically do not have collateral or credit histories to make them creditworthy. In this article, Pande, Memon and Goyal of Dalberg Global Development Advisors, describe how digital infrastructure created by ‘India Stack’ can help provide paperless, presence-less, and cashless credit to micro-entrepreneurs, in a way that is sustainable for lenders.
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Swachh Bharat Mission: The long walk from rhetoric to implementation
Posted On: 01 Oct 2014

Topics:   Health

Swachh Bharat Mission – the flagship sanitation programme of the Indian government – aims to realise the dream of a ‘clean India’ by 2 October 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. In this article, Varad Pande contends that while the renewed rhetoric on sanitation is welcome, the devil will be in the detail. We must learn from past experience and global and Indian best practice, and not repeat the same mistakes.
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Creating the climate for India’s low-carbon growth story
Posted On: 28 Jul 2014

Topics:   Environment

The ‘Expert Group on Low Carbon Strategies for Inclusive Growth’ recently laid out a detailed roadmap for India to take on climate change mitigation proactively. In this note, Varad Pande – a member of the Expert Group – outlines the key strengths of the roadmap, and contends that India must now create the political and administrative climate to implement it.
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Direct Benefits Transfer: An idea whose time has come
Posted On: 14 Mar 2014

About a year ago, the Government of India launched a Direct Benefits Transfer programme that involves transferring government benefits and subsidies directly to residents through a biometric identification system. In this Note from the Field, Varad Pande, a government official who has been closely associated with the roll-out of the programme, reviews its promise and potential.
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Connecting India’s youth with development in red bastions
Posted On: 13 Nov 2013

The Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship is an initiative of the Ministry of Rural Development that recruits young professionals to work with local governments for grassroots development in left-wing extremism affected areas. In this article, Varad Pande talks about the objectives, challenges and successes of the programme.
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A second debate on the Land Acquisition Act
Posted On: 21 Oct 2013

Topics:   Land

Of all the recently enacted parliamentary legislations, none is more important for industrial investment and growth than the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act. We have already had a debate on this Bill before it became an Act. The series of three articles we are featuring this week, though not presented in the form of a debate as previously done, present arguments on different sides of the same issue. In effect, it is a debate – our second debate on the Act. The first article below by Varad Pande (Ministry of Rural Development) lays out the motivation for the Act and defends its provisions as a balanced trade-off. The two articles that follow: one by Parikshit Ghosh (Delhi School of Economics) and Maitreesh Ghatak (London School of Economics) and another by Ram Singh (Delhi School of Economics), raise some questions about its provisions. We are hoping that the series will lead to further exchange clarifying the arguments on both sides.
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Getting to a greener picture of India’s growth story
Posted On: 08 May 2013

The Expert Group on Green National Accounting calls for including natural as well as human capital in our national accounts, and defining economic growth in terms of ‘wealth per capita’ instead of ‘GDP per capita’. In this Note from the Field, Varad Pande argues that this is a step in the right direction, discusses implementation issues and calls for a new robust cost-benefit rubric for new projects.
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India’s five-year plan – what’s the big deal?
Posted On: 17 Dec 2012

Topics:   Economic Growth

‘Faster, inclusive, and more sustainable growth’ is the defining motto of India’s latest economic plan. But how will it work? This column outlines the five big ideas in India’s Five-Year Plan.
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The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act: is it working?
Posted On: 29 Nov 2012

MNREGA is one of the government´s largest flagship schemes, and is the largest job creation programme of its kind in the world. Supporters believe that it is necessary to help rural workers smooth income in times of distress and increase labour market access for marginalised groups, whereas critics argue that it is taking labour from the troubled agricultural sector and doing more harm than good. What does the evidence really tell us - is MNREGA working or would resources be better spent elsewhere?
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Himayat – A silent skills revolution in the making
Posted On: 31 Oct 2012

Topics:   Jobs

In this Note from the Field, Varad Pande of the Ministry of Rural Development discusses the Himayat programme in Jammu and Kashmir which offers skills-training and a job to unemployed young people in the state. This column argues that the scheme provides a ray of hope to thousands of young people and should be a template for how the government can turn the idea of providing training and jobs to the youth into a workable reality.
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The fight against left-wing extremism
Posted On: 23 Oct 2012

Tags:   naxalism

In this Note From the Field, Varad Pande of the Ministry of Rural Development argues that left-wing extremism and violence is a major challenge for India. He says that while this is definitely a security issue, it is as much a political and a development issue. We will not end this war by bullets alone; we will win it only if we win over hearts and minds.
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