J-PAL South Asia’s Indian Scholars Program

J-PAL South Asia is invested in creating opportunities for India-based researchers to drive and participate in the development research agenda in India through the use of randomized evaluations. As part of this effort, in 2021, J-PAL South Asia launched the Indian Scholars Program, a program that offers funding and capacity building opportunities for Indian researchers who have completed a PhD in Economics, Public Policy, Public Health or a related empirical discipline, and currently hold an academic or research position at an Indian university. 

About the Program

The Indian Scholars Program provides the following opportunities to India-based researchers:


India-based researchers can apply for research funding (for randomised evaluations and formative studies leading to RCTs) through competitive requests for proposals to access funding for their research projects. Researchers can apply for proposal development grants for formative research; pilot studies that are intended to lead to full randomized evaluations; and rapid randomized evaluations. The funding opportunities are available through 1) J-PAL initiatives, such as the Digital Agricultural Innovations Services Initiative (DAISI) and 2) dedicated rounds of funding for Indian researchers announced through the J-PAL South Asia office. 

Read more about our current funding opportunities below.

Application Support and Mentorship

During the application process, J-PAL South Asia staff are available to provide applicants with light-touch assistance on their proposals. Those researchers that receive funding will also be advised by an assigned “mentor” who will be a member of the J-PAL affiliate network. Through the mentorship, researchers will have the opportunity to exchange ideas and receive inputs on their work from J-PAL affiliated or invited researchers that they are matched with.

Capacity Building Opportunities

The Indian Scholars Program provides the following capacity building opportunities to India-based researchers:

  • Webinar Recordings: J-PAL South Asia conducted a series of webinars which provided interested researchers with information and deeper exposure to the technical and practical aspects of running randomized evaluations. Recordings of these sessions are available to any Indian researchers who would like to apply for funding upon request. 

Please reach out to [email protected] in case you are interested in viewing these webinars.

  • J-PAL/MITx MicroMasters course in Data, Economics, and Development Policy: This course equips learners with the practical skills and theoretical knowledge to tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing developing countries from a rigorous, data-driven perspective. Interested researchers can audit this course for free. In the past, the Indian Scholars Program has also provided scholarships to Indian researchers to complete this course for credit; similar funding opportunities might also be available in the future for researchers who successfully receive funding from any of the opportunities listed above. 

To receive updates on future funding and capacity building opportunities, please register for the South Asian scholars database here. 


Researchers are eligible to receive funding and support under the Indian Scholars Program if they meet the following criteria:

  • Hold a PhD in Economics, Public Policy, Public Health or related empirical discipline.
  • Are currently holding a research or teaching position at an Indian university. 

Funding Opportunities

Currently, two opportunities for funding are available for India-based researchers and each has a specific research scope:

Global Innovation Fund Grant on Climate Change and Health

Funded by the Global Innovation Fund (GIF), J-PAL South Asia has launched a new RFP under the Indian Scholars Program, for India-based researchers who are interested in (or may be interested in) working with state and central governments on randomised evaluations (or scoping studies and pilots designed to lead to a randomised evaluation), specifically by leveraging government administrative data in some capacity to develop randomized evaluations with the state or the central government, on topics related to the health or the climate change sector. The objective of this funding is to identify opportunities and/or gaps in program delivery across key health/climate interventions (for e.g. health insurance or climate adaptation measures), and demonstrate the value proposition for data use of administrative and survey data, and build state capacity to institutionalize effective data use for problem identification, solutioning and decision making. 

Applications for this round of funding are due by 15th September 2023. Please submit your application over email following instructions available in the proposal guidelines here, to [email protected].


Proposal Application Templates:

  1. Proposal Cover Sheet Template
  2. Proposal Narrative Template - Data Exploration
  3. Proposal Narrative Template - Pilots and Randomised Evaluations
  4. Sample Budget Template

Digital Agricultural Innovations and Services Initiative (DAISI)

Funding for India-based researchers is currently offered through J-PAL and CEGA’s Digital Agricultural Innovations and Services Initiative (DAISI) that funds research to rigorously evaluate programs that increase the availability, quality, and reach of bundled digital agricultural solutions and services for small-scale agricultural producers. 

CEGA and J-PAL have launched the DAISI Fall 2023 request for proposals. The deadline to submit a required Letter of Interest (LOI) is Tuesday, August 22 2023 (5 pm ET).

Interested and eligible India-based researchers can apply for funding in this topic area. For more information on regional scholars opportunities at DAISI, please click here.

For More Information

For more information about opportunities for India and South Asia-based researchers (including Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh), please register with the South Asian Scholars Database to mark your interest.

For further information on the Indian Scholars Program, reach out to [email protected].

Further Reading on Randomised Evaluations

Access all of J-PAL’s research resources here.

Evaluations Done by Indian Scholars

The first round of ISP, launched in 2021, extended support to 14 promising India-based researchers for formative studies and randomised evaluations on maternal and child health, and women’s economic empowerment. Details on the funded studies are provided below, grouped by the J-PAL initiative that provided funding.

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