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Showing posts from September, 2013

The Risks Posed to our Surveyors

During a survey operation, we conduct various surveys with our study participants, such as Household surveys, Vendor surveys, Market surveys and so on. Something we don’t think about however is that while surveying, the field staff, especially the surveyors take various risks to collect primary data. 
For example, we’re working in various villages on a study related to farming and the surveyors have to administer modules primarily related to land and farming. We also need to calculate a farmer’s land holding using a GPS device. Though this method is easy and approachable, it also has unforeseen risks. 

To calculate the land area, the surveyor needs to move around the boundary of the land and mark GPS records. The farming land and its surroundings are always covered with marshes, bushes and wild grasses or plants. Even walking through the land is really difficult due to it being covered with growing crops or grasses. During the harvest time – around September for our project, snakes and …

Who are the poor? An experience with a community based approach

We feature a guest post from an intern on our livelihoods project, Jamie Toulze


Identification of the poor has always been more easily said than done. Many people consider the poverty line to be 1.25 USD per day, but can such an amount universally differentiate the poor from the rest of the population? And what about those that are just 10 cents above the poverty line? It’s increasingly common for global philanthropic institutions to proclaim decreasing poverty by x percent as their primary goal. However, is thinking of poverty as a level of income enough to determine who is poor and living in misery?
The instinctive reaction is to look at income; however income alone misses many of the dimensions that make life ‘miserable’ as Harry Truman so adequately put it in his inaugural address which introduced the concept of underdevelopment. It was over 60 years ago that he declared people had the “knowledge and skill to relieve the suffering” of the poor. Yet, today we’re still having difficul…

Access is Not Enough

There has been a lot in the news lately about financial inclusion and extending banking services to the poor. With the expansion of the Aadhaar registration and new initiatives like the Financial Access at Birth (FAB), it seems that a lot more people will be brought under the umbrella of formal banking in the near future. The RBI governor, Raghuram Rajan has included it as part of his agenda in his inaugural speech as well. This is great news. However, what is conspicuous by its absence in this discussion is talk of financial literacy.

Taking the example of the ongoing study in Maharashtra on pensions, our sample of around 3000 respondents all have access to formal banking. They are all either current or recent account holders of some sort of financial product (short-term savings, recurring deposits or loans). While the level of ability in elementary math is fairly good, the level of financial ability is not. Respondents were asked to answer questions on simple addition, subtraction a…

India Place Finder – A cutting edge GIS tool

A cutting edge geographic information system tool to track the Indian diaspora has been developed by Dr. Tsukasa Mizushima, a professor at Tokyo University. Dr. Mizushima and his colleagues have developed the "India Place Finder", a web-based application that allows researchers to find geographic information about any place (known as toponym) in India. All places listed in the 2001 Census of India can be found via this tool.
Why is the tool useful to researchers? Researchers can query a place by either sorting through the list, or narrowing the results by the State, District, or Sub-District. This might sound a lot like Google maps – but it offers more. The tool provides comprehensive topological context to a place, reaching back to 18th century India until 2001.
For example, if you search for “Chennai”, the tool shows all matches for Chennai within India, both on a grid (with State, District, Sub-District, Census Code, Latitude, and Longitude) and a map. In addition, all n…

Great Expectations for the Financial Inclusion Agenda