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Ashok Kotwal
On demonetisation
Posted on: 23 Dec 2016
On the evening of 8 November, the Prime Minister announced on national television that Rs. ... read on »
Introduction to e-Symposium: The GDP conundrum
Posted on: 16 Nov 2016
Ever since India’s Central Statistical Organisation came out with the new GDP series with ... read on »
Introduction to e-Symposium: The idea of a universal basic income in the Indian context
Posted on: 26 Sep 2016
The idea of an unconditional basic income given to all citizens by the State, has caught o ... read on »
Debate: The Aadhaar Bill
Posted on: 02 May 2016
In a debate on the Aadhaar Bill, commentators from academia and civil society will ... read on »

Tag: public service delivery

Three barriers that make it hard for policymakers to use the evidence that development researchers produce
Michael Callen , Adnan Khan , Asim Ijaz Khwaja , Asad Liaqat , Emily Myers
Posted on: 20 Sep 2017
Topics:   Political Economy


There has been a surge in policy research globally over the past two decades that is geared to promote evidence-based policymaking. But can policymakers put this evidence to use? Based on a survey of civil servants in India and Pakistan, this column finds that simply presenting evidence to policymakers doesn’t necessarily improve their decision-making.
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Women empowerment in nutrition: Role of common pool resources
Nirali Bakhla
Posted on: 15 Sep 2017

Absence of effective public service delivery and well-functioning markets makes the rural poor highly dependent on common pool resources such as forests and water resources for their livelihoods. In this note, Nirali Bakhla discusses the importance of these resources for poor women in particular.

This is the fifth post of a five-part series.

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Women empowerment in nutrition: Access to healthcare
Udayan Rathore
Posted on: 14 Sep 2017
Topics:   Gender , Health


Access to healthcare is constrained by three key factors – physical access to healthcare facilities, ability to pay, and quality of care. In this note, Udayan Rathore discusses how within poor households, women and children suffer disproportionately more on account of these constraints.

This is the third post of a five-part series.

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Gorakhpur’s Japanese Encephalitis malady
Smriti Sharma
Posted on: 24 Aug 2017
Topics:   Health


The recent controversy around multiple child deaths in a public hospital in Gorakhpur district in Uttar Pradesh has brought the focus back on Japanese Encephalitis – the child killer disease. In this article, Smriti Sharma contends that a holistic, intersectoral approach is required to tackle the issue.
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Governance and public service delivery in India
Farzana Afridi , Nalini Gulati
Posted on: 07 Aug 2017

The International Growth Centre recently produced a synthesis paper (Afridi 2017) bringing together insights from its research on governance and public service delivery in India, over the past seven years. At a workshop organised by the IGC in collaboration with Ideas for India and Indian Statistical Institute, Amarjeet Sinha (Ministry of Rural Development), Rajesh Mahapatra (Hindustan Times), and Sandip Sukhtankar (University of Virginia) discussed the findings on key governance challenges and what can be done to address them.
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Midday meals scheme: Are corruption claims exaggerated?
Monika Yadav
Posted on: 31 Jul 2017

Soon after Aadhaar was made compulsory for availing midday meals in schools, the government claimed that the move had helped expose several instances of schools siphoning off funds under the scheme by reporting inflated student enrolment. Comparing official data with that from the Indian Human Development Survey, this column shows that corruption in the scheme is less than what is being alleged - and not of the nature that Aadhaar can check.
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Health policy and economic growth in India
Nalini Gulati , Nidhiya Menon
Posted on: 27 Jul 2017

A new synthesis paper (Menon 2017) produced by the International Growth Centre brings together evidence from various health-related IGC studies on India undertaken over the past seven years, to draw implications for health policy. At a workshop organised by IGC in collaboration with Ideas for India and Indian Statistical Institute, Srinath Reddy (Public Health Foundation of India), Alok Kumar (NITI Aayog), and Karthik Muralidharan (University of California, San Diego) discussed key policy lessons emerging from research, and areas where further work is required.
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India’s slum leaders - II
Adam Auerbach , Tariq Thachil
Posted on: 21 Jul 2017

The second part of the two-part column on slum leaders discusses who these leaders are - their age, professions, and relationships with political parties - and how they build support within their communities.
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India’s slum leaders - I
Adam Auerbach , Tariq Thachil
Posted on: 20 Jul 2017

India’s demographic shift to cities has been accompanied by a number of pressing governance and developmental challenges, among the most serious of which is the rampant spread of slum settlements. Within these poor urban neighbourhoods, certain residents rise to prominent positions of local authority. Based on resident and leader surveys conducted during 2015-2016 in Jaipur and Bhopal, this two-part column provides insights on these informal slum leaders.

The first part focusses on the range of activities slum leaders perform for residents, and the ways in which leaders emerge from within their communities.

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Aadhaar: It’s not black and white
Outline India
Posted on: 31 May 2017
Topics:   Infrastructure


Amidst the emerging privacy concerns surrounding the success of Aadhaar and its integration in our day-to-day lives, Outline India conducted a survey in Delhi to understand people's reception of Aadhaar card, its perceived impact on their lives, and their thoughts on making the scheme mandatory to access government services and schemes.
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The state of the economy and mass perception
Ashwini Kulkarni
Posted on: 19 May 2017

In this article, Ashwini Kulkarni of NGO Pragati Abhiyan contends that the media should tap into the knowledge of practitioners that are familiar with the ground realities of social sector schemes – rather than those outside the sector - with regard to budget-related and other discussions on the sector. This will help provide the masses with a real picture of the developmental problems plaguing the economy.
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Rural development programmes: Implementation challenges and solutions
Pushkar Pahwa
Posted on: 17 Mar 2017
Topics:   Political Economy


With a majority of the population living in rural areas in India, rural development is key to the development of the country. Based on his experience of working closely with the district administration in Purulia district in West Bengal, Pushkar Pahwa discusses the issues in the implementation of rural development programmes on the ground, and makes suggestions to improve their effectiveness.
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Can the female sarpanch deliver? Evidence from Maharashtra
Mithila Biniwale , Stephan Klasen , Jan Priebe , Dhanmanjiri Sathe
Posted on: 23 Oct 2016

One-third of all seats in village councils are reserved for women. The government has proposed an increase in quota to 50%, and in the period of reservation from five to 10 years. Based on a survey conducted in Maharashtra, this column finds that availability of basic public services for women is better in female-headed villages - when the female head has been in the job for 3-3.5 years.
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Moving towards better definitions of ‘urban’ in India
Komal Hiranandani , Mudit Kapoor , Vaidehi Tandel
Posted on: 15 Sep 2016
Topics:   Urbanisation


According to the 2011 Census, 31% of the country is ‘urban’. Using definitions of urbanisation that are different from those used by the government, this column demonstrates that this figure may be an underestimate. It is important to recognise and fix the flaws in the current method of defining urban areas as it forms the basis for important policies such as eligibility for government schemes.
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Panel Discussion: Two years of Modi government
Pranab Bardhan , Parikshit Ghosh , Pratap Bhanu Mehta , Mihir Sharma
Posted on: 29 Aug 2016
Topics:   Political Economy


In  a panel discussion organised to mark the 4th anniversary of Ideas for India, I4I Editor Parikshit Ghosh (Delhi School of Economics) moderates a discussion on ‘Two years of Modi government’ among Pranab Bardhan (University of California, Berkeley), Mihir Sharma (Bloomberg View) and Pratap Bhanu Mehta (Centre for Policy Research), encompassing issues related to policy and governance; corruption; manufacturing; social sector; and social and cultural issues.
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Rethinking clientelism: Politics of service delivery in rural India
Aditya Dasgupta
Posted on: 19 Apr 2016
Topics:   Political Economy


Clientelism is often blamed for public service delivery failures in developing countries. While the top-down drivers of political support in exchange for service delivery for specific constituents is well-documented, local grassroots influence and the effect of democratic mobilisation by local communities are less well-understood. This column looks at the value of combining top-down influence with bottom-up community mobilisation to exert stronger pressures on improving anti-poverty programme outcomes.
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Four key administrative reforms to strengthen MNREGA
Ashwini Kulkarni
Posted on: 17 Mar 2016

In this article, Ashwini Kulkarni of NGO Pragati Abhiyan, discusses four key administrative reforms that can strengthen the implementation of MNREGA, and enable the programme to fulfill its objectives more effectively.

Tweet using #MNREGA10yrs

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A conversation on development – II
Kaushik Basu , Parikshit Ghosh
Posted on: 03 Feb 2016

Parikshit Ghosh (Associate Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics) speaks with Kaushik Basu (Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, World Bank and former Chief Economic Adviser, Government of India) on issues ranging from the use of economic knowledge in policy decisions, role of values in public service delivery, to the need for pluralism and tolerance for economic growth, and the importance of communicating good ideas effectively to policymakers and the general public.

This part of the interview focuses on India-specific issues. This is the fourth in the series of I4I Conversations.

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Child development: How are Indian states faring?
Jean Drèze , Reetika Khera
Posted on: 10 Dec 2015
Topics:   Education , Health


The recent release of the ‘Rapid Survey On Children’ report presents an opportunity to take a fresh look at the state of Indian children. Based on a simple Child Development Index constructed for 2005-06 and 2013-14, this column finds that Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh are at the top. Other states – even Bihar – can catch up, but only if they learn the right lessons from the leading states.
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Education reform and frontline administrators: A case study from Bihar – II
Yamini Aiyar , Vincy Davis , Ambrish Dongre
Posted on: 16 Oct 2015

The frontline administration in India is infamous for corruption and patronage, indifference towards citizens, low effort and high absenteeism. This column reports findings from a year-long qualitative study on frontline education administrators in Bihar. Part 1 captured perspectives of frontline administrators on their role in the education hierarchy and how organisational design and culture shapes everyday behaviour. This part offers insights into how the frontline responds to reform efforts, and how this impacts institutionalisation and scaling up of reforms.

This is the second of a two-part series.

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Education reform and frontline administrators: A case study from Bihar - I
Yamini Aiyar , Vincy Davis , Ambrish Dongre
Posted on: 15 Oct 2015

The frontline administration in India is infamous for corruption and patronage, indifference towards citizens, low effort and high absenteeism. This column reports findings from a year-long qualitative study on frontline education administrators in Bihar. It captures perspectives of frontline administrators on their role in the education hierarchy and how organisational design and culture shape everyday behaviour.

This is the first of a two-part series.

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Tackling India’s dengue problem
Chandrakant Lahariya
Posted on: 01 Oct 2015
Topics:   Health


The dengue virus has infected 25,000 people in India this year, with about 6,000 in Delhi alone. In this article, Chandrakant Lahariya, a public health policy expert, contends that the dengue situation represents a failure of local public health administration, and calls for a holistic approach to address the root causes and ensure long-term solutions.
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What do we know about corruption in India?
Sandip Sukhtankar , Milan Vaishnav
Posted on: 16 Sep 2015
Topics:   Corruption


Despite ample media coverage of corruption, there remains a gap between headline-making scandals, policy options under discussion, and the actual evidence base drawn from empirical research on corruption. Based on an extensive review of the literature on corruption in India, this column highlights the underlying factors driving corruption, establishes a classification of corrupt activities, and distills five general principles that should guide future reform efforts.
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How effective are gram sabhas?
Sabyasachi Das
Posted on: 06 May 2015
Topics:   Political Economy


Village panchayats across India are mandated to organise local public meetings called gram sabhas several times a year, wherein villagers discuss issues such as local public good provision. This column finds that gram sabhas are indeed effective in altering the composition of local public goods provided. Promoting the institution of gram sabha can make policymaking more sensitive to the preferences of discriminated groups such as women.
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14th Finance Commission: A trust-based approach towards local governments
Meera Mehta , Dinesh Mehta
Posted on: 27 Apr 2015

The 14th Finance Commission has been hailed as ‘path-breaking’ for recommending larger fund allocations to state governments and giving them more autonomy in spending these funds. In this article, Meera Mehta and Dinesh Mehta highlight that the Commission has also recognised the need to trust and respect local government bodies, and has allocated much larger funds to them. Will this approach work and will state governments cooperate?
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Getting centre-state relations right for health in India
Amanda Glassman , Anit Mukherjee
Posted on: 01 Apr 2015

The 14th Finance Commission has recommended devolving a greater share of revenues to states in order to give them more control over spending. In this article, Amanda Glassman and Anit Mukherjee examine the current centre-state relationships in the context of the health sector in India. They recommend that centre-to-state transfers should be performance-related, and should seek to, at least partly, level the playing field across states.
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Building state capacity for better programme implementation: Lessons from the Andhra Pradesh Smartcard Programme
Karthik Muralidharan , Paul Niehaus , Sandip Sukhtankar
Posted on: 03 Dec 2014

Biometric payment systems are posited to reduce leakages in public welfare programmes but there is limited evidence on their effectiveness. This column presents evidence on the impact of the Andhra Pradesh Smartcard Programme on MNREGS and Social Security Pension beneficiaries, based on a large-scale randomised controlled trial. It finds substantial economic benefits, and concludes that using biometric payment infrastructure to deliver welfare payments can be a game changer for governance in India.
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Slow and steady: Lessons from MNREGA
Anindita Adhikari , Inayat Sabhikhi
Posted on: 10 Nov 2014
Topics:   Political Economy


As the new government in India is considering changes to MNREGA, it is timely to reflect on its implementation trajectory so far. In this note, Adhikari and Sabhikhi discuss five aspects of programme delivery under MNREGA pertaining to management information systems, financial inclusion, fund management, state capacity and participatory planning. In their view, the programme has made massive strides in strengthening public service delivery.
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Direct Benefits Transfer: An idea whose time has come
Varad Pande
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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Has community monitoring helped reduce corruption in public programme delivery?
Farzana Afridi , Vegard Iversen
Posted on: 12 Mar 2014
Topics:   Corruption


MNREGA mandates social audits of public work projects undertaken under the Act in order to empower beneficiaries to scrutinise programme expenditures, and monitor programme delivery. Has community monitoring helped reduce corruption and improve programme delivery? This column presents results from the first study that rigorously assesses the impact of India’s only large-scale community monitoring initiative - in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
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Connecting India’s youth with development in red bastions
Varad Pande
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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Turn Right or Left? Or is there a middle way?
Dilip Mookherjee
Posted on: 25 Jul 2013
Topics:   Economic Growth


Dilip Mookherjee shares his perspective on the recent Bhagwati versus Sen debate. While Sen represents the pro-state-led assistance stand and Bhagwati is seen as pro-market, what India requires is the right combination of prescriptions from both camps to effectively combat poverty.
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Bihar’s malnutrition crisis and potential solutions
Ronald Abraham , Andrew Fraker
Posted on: 24 May 2013
Topics:   Corruption , Health


The prevalence of underweight children in Bihar is higher than in any country in the world, and the provision of public services to address malnutrition is poor. Based on an assessment of the government’s nutritional support to mothers and children, this column sheds light on the grim public service delivery, likely causes, and ideas to address the problem.
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The role of informal caste networks in public service delivery
Sriniketh Nagavarapu , Sheetal Sekhri
Posted on: 06 May 2013
Topics:   Corruption , Caste


Large public programmes designed at the national level are often undermined by corruption at the local level. This column proposes local level monitoring and enforcement through informal networks as a potential low-cost solution. It shows how caste networks can facilitate monitoring and enforcement in the Targeted Public Distribution System, and infers implications of these findings for the food security bill.
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IAP improving lives in Maoist-affected areas
Animesh Ghosh
Posted on: 05 Apr 2013
Topics:   Conflict


In this Note from the Field, a PMRDF working in the Left Wing Extremism affected Purulia district in West Bengal, narrates how the Maoist movement disrupted livelihoods, revenue generation and public service delivery, and how the Integrated Action Plan has helped restore normalcy in the district.
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Is the District Innovation Fund being utilised?
Ajit Kumar Nayak
Posted on: 08 Feb 2013

The 13th Finance Commission has recommended the creation of a District Innovation Fund in each district. The objective of the fund is to increase the efficiency of existing capital assets by filling vital gaps in public infrastructure projects that are near completion. Is the Fund being utilised in the way intended? In this Note from the Field, a PMRDF working with the district administration of Kalahandi in Odisha provides a perspective.
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Use of technology to improve public service delivery
Chandrasekhar Bhuyan , Animesh Ghosh , Kshovan Guha , Dipti Paridhi Kindo , Priyanka Kumari , Ankush Singh , Sushma Taywade , Sweta Trayambak
Posted on: 06 Feb 2013

How is technology being used to improve public service delivery at the grass root level? In this Note from the Field, the Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellows that are working with district administrations across the country, share their experiences.
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