Delhi conference focuses on innovations in public sector management

January 25, 2016
Arvind Subramanian, India’s Chief Economic Adviser

On January 7-8, close to a hundred participants attended J-PAL’s conference “Innovations in Public Sector Management: Evidence on Social Protection Programs” in Delhi, India. In his keynote address, Arvind Subramanian, India’s Chief Economic Adviser, said, “Implementation is fragile: if at every key point, you can say these hundred thousand people are benefitting, that is when good economics is good politics.”

The first day featured open-door sessions on emerging lessons from randomized evaluations for the design and implementation of social protection programs. Panelists included Rajeev Kapoor of Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, S. Krishnan of the Government of Tamil Nadu, and Reddy Subrahmanyam, of India’s Department of Higher Education.

J-PAL’s co-Chair for the Political Economy & Governance sector Rohini Pande (Harvard) discussed the challenges of creating effective and politically viable social protection programs. She also presented with J-PAL affiliate Karthik Muralidharan (UC San Diego) on collaborations with the Indian government to test changes to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), which serves over 100 million beneficiaries. Santhosh Mathew, Joint Secretary at the Indian Ministry of Rural Development, remarked that such collaboration is only possible when governments and researchers “work as partners not after the research is done, but during the planning and design.”

The second day of the event focused on partnership development. Senior representatives from the governments of Bangladesh, the state of Jharkhand in India, and Nepal; from NGOs like Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement (GRAAM) and the Sehgal Foundation, and social enterprises like Haqdarshak and Qbila, met with economists and political scientists to partner on new evaluations.

The conference is part of the Governance Initiative’s policy work and was organized with the support of Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

For more information on this event, email J-PAL South Asia Policy Manager Vishnu Padmanabhan and connect with J-PAL South Asia on Twitter.