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Showing posts from July, 2013

The Need for Ruralization

"India lives in its villages." Mahatma Gandhi
After nearly sixty years, Gandhiji’s statement still holds true.  From the social, economic, and even the political perspective, India is still very much rural.
Constituting roughly 70% of India’s population, there’s an uneven distribution of basic but essential resources in rural India.  Rural India still lacks proper infrastructure, connectivity, markets, and access to quality education, sanitation, and medical services.  Through my field visits in Gujarat, I’ve learned that while there has been progress made with respect to connectivity and infrastructure, the rural are disproportionally affected during times of drought and natural disasters. 
During the 2012 monsoon season, Gujarat endured one of the worst droughts in recent years.  Living in Ahmedabad, I felt largely unaffected.  I read the news about farmer suicides in Saurasthra (western Gujarat), drove past the dried out Sabarmati River, and heard the phone calls from our …

Using “Case Studies through Participatory Evaluation” as a complement to Quantitative Research

One of the premises on which research is based, is the quality of the data collected. That is, the assurance that researchers are eliciting correct information from their respondents. We can be confident that this is the case for information related to age, education level, occupation, and income. However for topics related to more sensitive issues such as domestic violence, sex preferences, food security, and indebtedness, ensuring honest answers is far trickier.

Aware of this challenge, researchers have put in considerable efforts in developing very detailed and accurate questionnaires as well as methods of administering these, so as to encourage true responses. Nevertheless, we should always be looking towards new innovative methods to improve our data collection.

A recent approach gaining influence in general evaluation and monitoring of projects is the use of participatory filming. With this method, individuals from a targeted community are personally involved in evaluating and …

Understanding the Long Term Objectives of Microfinance – A Study on Client Graduation

Impact Evaluation Culture

One thing I like about Impact Evaluation is the discipline it imposes on your thinking. It makes you think twice before jumping to conclusions, and it makes you open to learning -- both qualities I think the world could use more of. I've also been surprised by the scope of application of this kind of thinking. Impact Evaluation is useful not just for large-scale, massively-funded studies, but even for structuring the everyday decisions that come up in the course of work. It becomes part of the culture of how you do things.

Here's a good example. Right now I'm in Thanjavur on the KGFS Impact Evaluation, making preparations for our Endline survey. Unlike the previous two rounds of surveying, this one will be done electronically, opening up a range of new possibilities. Recently we've been working on modifying the tablet's predictive text feature to improve accuracy and speed in spelling respondent names. Incorrect spellings of names can cause a number of problems in…

Old and Poor

To continue the conversation from my earlier blogposts ( Link : 1 and 2 ) and the last CMF meet, this post will attempt to briefly summarize the micro-pensions market in India. This summary may be ambitious for a single post, the fact that it might just be accomplished says more about the market and less about my summarizing skills.

Historically, public pensions, in their modern form began in United Kingdom in 1908 a few decades after the Poor Laws. These were a set of liberal welfare reforms that targeted the poor (hitherto considered by society to be moral degenerates and only worthy of the workhouses).   This first pension scheme in the UK offered 5 shillings per week to every individual over 70 without the adequate means. While the majority of the worldwide pensions market is captured by the USA and the UK, countries like Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and Hong Kong are also notable for their pension plans. A remarkable feature of some of these schemes is that they are compul…