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Prof. Pulak Ghosh offers Researcher’s Perspective on ‘Making Policy Research Impactful’ at CPP Conference on Public Policy & Management

The Practitioner’s Perspective was provided by Amarjeet Sinha, Former Rural Development Secretary, Govt. of India

23 August, 2023, Bengaluru: Prof. Pulak Ghosh, faculty of the Decision Sciences area of IIM Bangalore, offered a Researcher’s Perspective on ‘Making Policy Research Impactful’, during the evening session of Day Two of the XVIII International Conference on Public Policy & Management, that is being hosted from 22nd to 24th August 2023 by the Centre for Public Policy (CPP) at IIM Bangalore. Amarjeet Sinha, Former Rural Development Secretary, Government of India, provided the Practitioner’s Perspective on the same subject. Prof. Gopal Naik, Chairperson, Centre for Public Policy, IIMB, moderated the sessions.

During his talk, Prof. Pulak Ghosh shared his own experiences including his first policy-related work, which was in 2012 for the United Nations, when it was building its Big Data group. “After this experience I delved deep into the implication of Data in economic and public policy, since I aimed to do much more in those areas. Today I will share my ‘realizations’ based on my experiences.”

“Research is actually interdisciplinary, and one cannot choose which research will make impact.” He explained that for an academician, there were two options in policy research – either to be part of policy when it is being devised or be part of policy once it has been made and has come up for evaluation and correction. “You can actually make an impact in either of the two. For an academician, there are few challenges. It is important that you are able to gauge if the research will result in top quality publications.”

Listing the best ways to make research impactful, he said, “If you want to become a policy maker, you need to communicate what you find effectively. Also important is institutional knowledge, and all these take up ample time. It is essential that you choose the right topic, based on your expertise and demand from the policy maker who has to be excited about your contribution. So, engage a lot and do your homework well. Remember, policy is about every Government, do not be biased and make things work better.” 

“Do keep in mind that all this may also lead to failure, you may feel dejected at times, but as an academician at least you gain knowledge in the process.”

Prof. Ghosh also provided an insight on how policy research methods need to be. “Data needs to be granular and there should be triangulation in research to increase the credibility and validity of findings. There has to be multiple measures to come to a conclusion.”

He also gave examples of some of his work and how that added value. “Some of my work which resulted in effective policies include those on taxation, use of Big Data, etc. Being part of the Karnataka Knowledge Commission, I pushed for use of Blockchain for land registration. Regarding job data, we created an algorithm and pushed the Government to publish EPFO data in a granular manner regularly. I was also associated with designing of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, which is the first of its kind Universal Basic Income scheme being rolled out anywhere in the world, and that too, on such a huge scale."

Summing up, Prof. Ghosh said, “If you are an academician, try to influence, play by your skills, and be aware of the pitfalls.”

Amarjeet Sinha provided the practitioner’s perspective to policy research. Naming his talk, ‘The Last Mile – Turning Public Policy Upside Down’, he spoke about innovation, practices and future of Public Policy in India. He gave examples of few areas where research has been impactful, such as, primary education, health, nutrition, housing, urban infrastructure, clean water, poverty reduction, etc. 

He quoted data from several surveys, explaining how data and research are used by the Government. “Any study that helps the states take the right call in terms of governance would create maximum impact. Hence data should be available state-wise. We are a complex country, and every region has its own uniqueness in terms of developing expertise in different sectors.” He pointed out that urban poor is one area on which more extensive research needs to be carried out.

“What you offer to a policy planner needs to be sharp, provide insight, build on knowledge and contribute to areas not widely known. Offer research that is contemporary, insightful and can create impact. Governments make use of knowledge of academicians in designing policy. Help policy makers make better decisions and ask questions of Government, as key indicators of community monitoring come from research. Remember, human development and economic growth are interlinked. Another important factor is to know that in all this, technology is not an end…it is just a means.” 

He pointed out that good policy is inconceivable without good research. “Good and consistent policy needs support of academia to take it forward. The finest research is what combines both qualitative and quantitative methods. Institutions like CPP have the potential to take proactive measures based on data available and make the difference that the country needs.”

Prof. Trilochan Sastry, faculty of the Decision Sciences area of IIM Bangalore, delivered a talk on: ‘Association of Democratic Reforms’ efforts and achievements in strengthening Indian electoral process’, during the evening session of Day One of the conference. The morning session on the first day included an address by Dr. Arvind Virmani, Member, NITI Aayog, during which he spoke on India’s goals for growth by year 2050, external threats and opportunities, domestic weaknesses and strengths, key new drivers of growth and expected outcomes, relative to the rest of the world. 

This year’s event had kicked off with the pre-conference Prof. M. R. Krishnamurthy Memorial Lecture on, ‘Making Bangalore an Ecologically Smart City’, by Prof. Harini Nagendra, Director of the Azim Premji University Research Center, on 21st August 2023. 

The conference includes academic sessions, topical policy debates, workshops, panel discussions and practitioner-oriented discussions on contemporary topics on public policy and management. The third and concluding day will feature the valedictory address by Prof. Rishikesha T Krishnan, Director, IIM Bangalore.

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For the detailed schedule of the conference, please click here.