Government of Tamil Nadu Partners with J-PAL to Institutionalize Evidence in Policymaking

Government officials and J-PAL staff sit at meeting table
Memorandum of understanding is the result of a year of discussions between government officials and J-PAL leaders

November 19, 2014

On November 19, the Government of Tamil Nadu signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with J-PAL to institutionalize the use of evidence in policymaking by evaluating innovative programs, strengthening monitoring systems, and enhancing the officials’ capacity to generate and use data. J-PAL affiliates will participate in the formulation and evaluation of many of the state’s anti-poverty programs.

S. Krishnan (Principal Secretary for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives) and Shobhini Mukerji (Executive Director, J-PAL South Asia) signed the MoU in the presence of the Chief Minister of the Government of Tamil Nadu, his advisors, other senior government officials, J-PAL South Asia Scientific Directors Iqbal Dhaliwal and Esther Duflo, and IFMR President CV Krishnan. 

We are particularly impressed by the commitment of Tamil Nadu government to challenge its officials and others to find creative solutions to reduce poverty. This continues the strong tradition of Tamil Nadu being at the forefront of finding innovative solutions to tough challenges in development,” noted Duflo.

Over the previous year, officials from nine government departments, 15 J-PAL affiliates, and numerous J-PAL staff engaged in a comprehensive research-policy dialogue to review pressing local problems, existing programs, and evidence from other studies in order to develop a number of possible solutions to rigorously test, and, if successful, scale up throughout the state. Five such projects have already been approved, including collaborations with the School Education Department to study primary school education interventions; with the Labor and Employment Department to improve youth labor market outcomes; and with the Health and Family Welfare Department to promote healthy habits that reduce non-communicable diseases, encourage women to breastfeed, and reduce anemia levels among adolescent girls.

The government has also set up the Tamil Nadu Innovation Initiative, which will call for proposals on an ongoing basis, select the most promising ideas based on local needs and existing evidence, design pilot programs, and rigorously evaluate them to understand their impact. Additionally, J-PAL will help strengthen the internal evaluation department of the government and build the capacity of other departments to collect data and make it accessible to officials in a form that encourages its use in policymaking in real time. The MoU is a step towards realizing the Tamil Nadu Vision 2023 goal of fully eradicating poverty and becoming India’s most prosperous and progressive state.

For more information on this partnership, please read press coverage in the Hindu, the Times of India, and the official press release.

Learn more about J-PAL South Asia.

Read press coverage in the Hindu and the Times of India.

Read the official press release from the Government of Tamil Nadu.