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Showing posts from September, 2015

What is Open Data and why is it important for development?

According to the Open Data Handbook Open data is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone - subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike. One particular category of Open Data is called Open Government Data (OGD). It refers to “data and information produced or commissioned by government or government controlled entities, which can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone”.   

In 2005, India also enacted the Right of Information (RTI) Act which “mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information”. In 2012 GoI went one step further towards active dissemination of government data by adopting The National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP). Following NDSAP's inauguration, the OGD data portal “” was launched later that same year. Today the official OGD platform gathers 15,121 datasets in 3,593 catalogues by 88 public departments.

Economically speaking, more and more reports insist on the…

Basic field research pitfalls that sabotage our research

Isn't research exciting? We can help identity problems that are perhaps not apparent on the surface and yet exist, or are likely to arise in the future; at the same time, we also help practitioners arrive at solutions. It is quite a fulfilling job. Nonetheless, have you ever wondered about the consequences of a perfectly well planned but ill-designed  research?
Recently, a practitioner wondered why their agricultural innovation initiative failed to take off. We researched and found that more than 50% of the initiative’s target population were landless laborers, and they did not care about sophisticated agricultural innovation when they did not have any land. “We had conducted a baseline survey, and were aware that they were landless laborers, but we thought they would be ready if provided with an opportunity,” expressed the practitioner.  
This is a perfect example of a million-dollar social development program gone wrong due to the most elementary mistake- not identifying …

Soil Economics - The "Science" in the economics

We feature a collaborative blogpost by our Research Associates,  Nikita Taniparti and Suraj Nair.

The Earth is covered with soil: soil on farmlands, soil on the sea floor, soil on our shoes as we walk into an apartment. But past its omnipresence, soil is a microcosm of biodiversity in and of itself. Laden with a whole host of microorganisms, nitrates and potassium, and trace amounts of elements like selenium and zinc, soil is replete with life and energy. In an effort to give soil more attention, there is a growing trend in the field of development economics to look more closely at the “economic value” of soil. This value refers to how we can and do use soil as a resource. Specifically, past just the financial value of land, how do famers and agricultural experts calculate a value for soil that is used for farming?

We can cite various possibilities, like asking farmers how much money they would sell their land for, or calculating the annualized value of crop yields, or even measuring ho…

Amma in your face

We feature a collaborative blogpost by our Research Associates,  Nikita Taniparti and Sneha Mani.

Backpacks are a serious business. The color, the size, the functionality, and perhaps most importantly, the brand. While we often underestimate these sleek yet understated accessories, one has only to look at one of our surveyors in the field to discover the latest trend.
Here, in the middle of Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, there is no escaping the ubiquitous ‘Amma backpack’. It hits you almost immediately: whether you’re wandering around New Bus Stand looking for a stationary store, or haggling for fresh coconut water at Old Bus Stand, Amma has seemingly pervaded every material aspect of everyday life here

This is not your run-of-the-mill populism phenomenon. Amma, or more formally known as Jayalalitha, is currently the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. What are her political assertions, and her claim to fame? It doesn’t really matter, because the two participating political parties – the DMK (founded…