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Has demonetisation fostered a ‘shift to digital’ for the banked poor?

Preethi Rao, Suraj Nair, and Shruti Korada write on the impact of demonetisation on the banked poor.



Two years ago, the government of India made a significant move by withdrawing from circulation India’s most frequently used bank notes. The ultimate aim of this move was to create a corruption-free and cashless society. Early evidence indicates that digital payments skyrocketed after the Rs. 500 (about $8) and Rs. 1,000 ($16) notes were withdrawn from the economy (incidentally, these notes represented 86 percent of the value of currency in circulation at that point). Before demonetisation (between April and October 2016), the volume of retail electronic payments was growing at an average rate of 37 percent per month. When demonetisation took effect in November, that figure increased substantially to almost 70 percent and reached 123 percent in December. This led to the impression that digital payments were on the rise and that most people -  even fruit and vegetable vendors operating ou…
Recent posts

Skilling India – Towards a Robust Qualification Framework for Training Programs

Skill development has emerged as a key policy priority for India. In this article, Pratibha Joshi examines existing options for understanding skill components of training courses, their shortcomings, and proposes some alternatives.


While there has been a massive push for skilling and increased allocation of resources towards it, there is need for a better understanding of how skilling programs generate impact. In this article, Pratibha Joshi examines existing options for understanding skill components of training courses, their shortcomings, and proposes some alternatives. 
The Government of India has sharpened its focus on ensuring today’s youth acquire necessary skills to participate in the labour force. As of June 2017, skills training programs under the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) have trained 1.17 crore candidates under the Skill India initiative (MSDE). However, beyond skilling, candidates also face a challenge in finding jobs where they can put their…

Promoting Energy Efficiency in India: A closer look at the Policy and Regulatory Framework

The building sector accounts for a significant share of energy consumption in India. Thus, policies that encourage energy efficiency in building construction have an important role to play in energy conservation. In this article, authors Sivaramakrishnan Balasubramanian and Gayathri Sivakumar review the policy and institutional framework for promoting energy efficiency in India's building sector. Sivaramakrishnan is a Senior Associate with the Environment and Climate Change vertical at IFMR LEAD. Gayathri was a former Research Associate with IFMR LEAD. 


The Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for retail and commercial buildings in India, as on 2010 was estimated to expand at a rate of 9%, spurred by the intensive demand in the services sector. The rate at which building stocks are expected to escalate is around 70%, a situation that is not prevalent in developed countries (Satish Kumar, 2010). Further, it is estimated that by 2030 floor space in India is likely to see an increase …

How a Human Touch Agent Can Make a Difference in Promoting Digital Financial Services

What does effective human touch look like in the digital age? Authors Shreya Chatterjee and Misha Sharma share preliminary insights from an ongoing study. This post first appeared on the CFI Blog here. Shreya is a Senior Research Associate, and Misha is a Project Manager with IFMR LEAD. 



It was almost three in the afternoon when we arrived at Padma’s house in the sleepy village of Katpadi in Tamil Nadu. In a state where 55 percent of women in rural areas don’t participate in the labor force, Padma is the only business correspondent (BC) in her village, working for the sole bank in the area. In 2006, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) passed guidelines that allowed banks to employ third party agents, using decentralized technology to provide banking services in rural and remote areas. Padma works 12 hours a day, providing localized basic banking services to her immediate community. As a business correspondent, she helps customers open bank accounts, deposit and withdraw cash often linked to…

Shifting Gears: On RCTs and Beyond

The use of Randomized Control Trials to evaluate development policies has garnered significant attention in the last decade. In this article, authors Mridulya Narasimhan and Advitha Arun take a closer look at the strengths and pitfalls of RCTs, and the potential to integrate these with approaches such as rapid fire testing. Mridulya and Advitha are researchers with the MSME and Entrepreneurship vertical at IFMR LEAD. 
In addition to clinical biologists (and probably their assistants), every development-research enthusiast nowadays is fairly familiar with the term ‘Randomized Control Trials’ or RCTs, as they are fondly known. Since their inception in the early 2000s, RCTs have influenced research  in development economics, and consequently, careers of several aspiring economists or ‘randomistas’ (Ravallion, 2009).  Fast forward 17 years and today we ask ourselves the question ‘are RCTs the only way to measure and evaluate impact?’ or ‘are RCTs subject to availability bias?’. Although s…