J-PAL South Asia launches Indian Scholars Program to strengthen ties with India-based researchers

Posted on:
A group of people participating in an impact evaluation training discuss lessons while sitting at a table.
Participants discuss case studies at a J-PAL South Asia impact evaluation training.
Photo: J-PAL

J-PAL South Asia’s new Indian Scholars Program (ISP) will provide research funding, training, and networking opportunities for researchers and academics in India to further expand its network of researchers leading rigorous, policy-relevant randomized evaluations in the country.

The program has been conceived to advance J-PAL South Asia's mission of creating a culture of evidence-based policy making in India. At the same time, it is an incredible opportunity for us to work with local researchers even more closely than before to tackle some of the biggest problems the country is facing today. 

In conversations with young academics in Indian universities, it became clear that lack of adequate funds is a key barrier to conducting high-quality evidence-based research in India. To address this barrier, ISP will provide funding opportunities up to US $75,000 dollars for researchers undertaking scoping work and randomized controlled trials on policy-relevant thematic areas. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has delivered a devastating blow to India’s poor, especially children and women. Unfortunately, this means ISP is more urgent now than ever.

We are currently inviting proposals on studies that examine ways to improve health outcomes for women and children as part of our Cash Transfers for Child Health Initiative, and to increase women’s participation in the labor force under our Gender and Economic Agency Initiative

Candidates who have completed a PhD in economics, public policy, public health or other related empirical disciplines are eligible to apply, as well as those teaching at an Indian university or working at an Indian university as a researcher. 

Selected candidates will work closely with researchers in J-PAL’s network to develop their research ideas. We will also hold webinars to provide high-quality training on best practices for running randomized evaluations. These webinars will be conducted exclusively for the selected candidates, in addition to the training programs on impact evaluations we have been running for researchers, development practitioners, and policymakers in India for over a decade.

Scholars will also receive scholarships to enroll in the J-PAL/MITx MicroMasters in Data, Economics and Development Policy. The series of courses, many of which are taught by J-PAL affiliated professors, is geared toward those looking to develop the skills required to test the efficacy of social programs through data-driven methods. 

For some time now, J-PAL South Asia has been exploring new ways to partner with researchers and academics in India to include impact evaluations as part of their research to drive the Indian development agenda. Our Research for Impact fellowship program is also motivated by the same goal. We hope these programs will ultimately help create a strong community of local researchers who share our enthusiasm for evidence-based policy.

ISP is simply the continuation of the work J-PAL South Asia has been doing in India for the last fifteen years with NGOs, social enterprises, and state governments, rooted in our belief that free exchange of ideas is vital for rigorous, empirically-validated research to thrive. 

We will continue to seek opportunities to collaborate with current and future partners in India to help shape our plans and strategies in the coming years.