Governance and service delivery in India –using national and global evidence for better lives

A half-day conference jointly organised by 3ie, the Campbell Collaboration and the Global Development Network

Date: 9 February 2017
Time: 9:30 am to 2:30 pm
Venue: Tamarind Hall, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
            (Entry from gate 1)

Venue location

3ie, the Campbell Collaboration and the Global Development Network (GDN) organised a half-day conference that brought together national and international economic growth and development specialists to discuss how to leverage national and global research-based evidence on governance and service delivery in India.

In the first sessions, experts discussed what evidence exists and what is needed in key areas such as governance and use of evidence in decision-making at different levels in the Government of India. In the second session experts discussed the interest of government agencies and Indian and global research organisations in collaborating to address evidence gaps and research and evaluation priorities. The specific role of global research, evaluation and evidence synthesis organisations in supporting evidence-informed government decision-making in India, including collaborative capacity building were also discussed during the half-day event.

Keynote address

Dr Santosh Mathew, secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India gave the keynote address on the topic The value of evidence on governance to improve service delivery: the experience of the Government of India. In his address, Dr Mathew stressed the need to promote use of evidence in policymaking and the need for a network of champions that helps the government to spot opportunities and using evidence strategically. Underlining the need for capacity building among policymakers and institutions, he said “People in government should understand the need to commission and generate evidence in their own capacity”.  In his keynote, Mathew also addressed the audience about electoral accountability in India and how having the right kind of data can help achieve that.  “Under electoral accountability, there is very little use of data. It is our duty to provide politicians with data they can use. For example, administrative data used for programme implementation is collected in abundance but not aggregated. The lack of having unique identity codes for our geographical locations is also a critical issue to be addressed”.


Session 1 – Evidence on Governance for Service Delivery: Reviewing the scope and use of recent studies on India 

Panelists: Pierre Jacquet, president, Global Development Network, Nisha Agrawal, chief executive officer, Oxfam; Geeta Gouri, former member, Competition Commission of India, Howard White, chief executive officer, Campbell Collaboration, Emmanuel Jimenez, executive director, International Initiative for Impact Evaluation and Partha Ray, professor of economics, IIM Calcutta, former adviser to executive director (India), IMF, and former director of department of Economic & Policy Research, RBI.  

GDN’s president Pierre Jacquet opened the first session of the half-day event with introductions. 3ie’s Emmanual Jimenez stated how hard evidence leads to sustainable policy reform. Partha Ray provided the micro economist’s perspective on how there is an increasing demand for rigorous evidence. Both Geeta Gauri and Nisha Agarwal spoke at length about the importance of equity at the same time pushing for evidence-informed policymaking. The panelists agreed on the need for better evidence demand generation and its importance to aid development in the long run.  

Watch the video from session 1

Session 2- Evidence on governance for service delivery: Identifying gaps and avenues for collaboration

The second session of the half-day event was titled Evidence on governance for service delivery: Identifying gaps and avenues for collaboration. This panel discussion focused on convergence in research and evaluation agendas amongst key knowledge and policy actors working on governance and service delivery nationally, with a view to identifying crosscutting research priorities, critical gaps, and avenues for collaboration. 

The panellists included Indrani Gupta, professor and head of Health Policy Research, Institute of Economic Growth and Rohini Somanathan, professor of economics, Delhi School of Economics. The session was chaired by Howard White, chief executive officer, Campbell Collaboration.  

Indrani Gupta noted that the health sector is different from other sectors in the context of using evidence. “Policymaking is often a challenge if there are a series of stakeholders who have different interests and policies are easy to implement if there is rigorous evidence”; she said. Pointing out that there needs to be an increased demand from the government to rely on researchers to produce rigorous evidence for policymaking, she suggested that the best way forward is to strengthen partnerships with autonomous research institutes to bridge the gap between government and research.  Government has ample data which makes it ideal for many stakeholders such as researchers and NGOs to partner with. Often the challenge is about the inability of government to act on this huge pile of data and asking the right questions based on it.

Speaking on the need for more evidence, Rohini Swaminathan talked about the need for creating synergies between academics and government. Academics are often guided by their discipline, trends and threshold of statistical technique to be published. All these factors won’t always work for in policymaking, the solution lies in strengthening research capacity and increasing synergy between academics and policymakers by better engagements.  The urgent need is for spaces where the government can work with stakeholders effectively to strategically use information.

Watch the video from session 2

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