India needs evidence-based policies to fight poverty: experts

May 28th, 2008 - 2:21 pm ICT by admin  

By Aroonim Bhuyan
Dubai, May 28 (IANS) Good grassroot research was needed to formulate “evidence-based policies” to help in reduction of poverty, according to top experts who gathered here for an international workshop on research and policy. “The central theme of India’s policy priorities is poverty reduction and, in that context, how to improve inclusion in India’s growth story,” P.K. Mohanty, mission director of India’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), told IANS.

He said to reach that goal it was imperative that Indian policies were based on good research.

“We are continuously in search of good researchers as we formulate policies to fight poverty. We need to put together good evidence-based policies, which can only come through good research,” Mohanty, who was here to attend a workshop on ‘Bridging Policy and Research’, said.

The workshop was organised by the Global Development Network (GDN), a worldwide network of research and policy institutes, and the Dubai School of Government (DSG).

Stating that poverty eradication continued to be the top priority of Indian policy-makers, the head of the $12.5-billion JNNURM said that the country’s efforts to reach double digit growth from the current rate of about nine percent are aimed at poverty reduction.

“India would like to go to double digit growth directly targeted. That is why greater inclusion (of people) in India’s growth story is a key feature of the 11th Five Year Plan,” he said.

Mohanty said the main aspects of inclusion include employment, education, health, insurance schemes and old age pension schemes.

In this context, he listed out key Indian missions like National Rural Health Mission, Sarvasiksha Abhiyan, National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, National Skill Development Mission and Bharat Nirman, apart from JNNURM.

“Agriculture growth is another top aspect of inclusion and efforts are to take farm sector growth to four percent,” he said.

He said that, to achieve all these, it was important that India grew as a knowledge economy.

“We need more Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs),” said Mohanty, who had also served as director general of the Centre for Good Governance.

Coming to the work of JNNURM, he said that it was focussing mainly on urban water management and sanitation and providing basic services to the poor.

“We also want to start a social housing scheme,” he said.

He added that JNNURM was having its own share of problems.

“We have problems with the capacity of local bodies in implementing policies and there is difficulty in getting good contractors. Reforms are also very hard to implement with state governments and municipalities having their own sets of problems,” Mohanty said.

GDN president Gobind Nankani concurred that poverty eradication remained the top priority of Indian policy-makers above issues like infrastructure development and climate change.

“Our job at GDN is to listen to policy-makers and researchers. And in India we can see that poverty reduction tops the list of priorities,” Nankani, a Ghanian of Indian origin, told IANS.

Asked what kind of policies were needed for infrastructure development, he said: “Such policies should aim at better calibrating the supply of infrastructure.”

As for climate change, he said Indian policies fall within the global ambit.

The two-day workshop, which was attended by over 40 influential policymakers and researchers from various parts of the world, concluded Tuesday evening.

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