Attendees: Prashanth, Venky, Ashish
Prathap Kasina gave an excellent overview of the work being carried out by J-PAL. J-PAL stands for Abdul Lateef Jameel Poverty Action Lab. Basic idea is to have a rigorous evaluation of any program intended for the benefit of the masses. The underlying theory is to use randomised control experiments to evaluate a particular program. Two groups are randomly selected from the population to be evaluated - a control group and a test group. The test group is administered the program and the control group is not. At the end of the study the effect of the program is evaluated based on the results. The strength of the program lies in the rigorous evaluation and J-PAL boasts of high quality data collection and evaluation. Many important programs such as the deworm the world program by the Gates foundation http://www.dewormtheworld.org/ etc were initiated after J-PALs findings.
The entire process involves partnering with local NGOs, governmental agencies etc to carry out the evaluation. Prathap talked about the different challenges that one encounters during such an experiment and spoke about some of his experiences. He also spoke about the different employment opportunities at JPAL that are very much rewarding in all aspects!
More details can be found at
Topic: Five year Plans in India
Attendees: Prashanth, Ganesh, Krishna, Arka, Rishi, Debanjan, Aditya, Avinash, Venky
First meeting of the semester. Discussed on finalizing a topic for the semester. Most of the discussion was oriented towards Five Year Plans. Two other topics were suggested
a) Scams and corruption in India - how to deal with this in an organized manner
b) The UID program - Objectives of the program. how the data is collected? Will it help reduce corruption? Loopholes in the system etc.
- Overview of Five year Plans in India - objectives, review process (mid - term review etc)
- Plan drafted by the planning commission and submitted to the Parliament for approval.
- 12th five year plan - has a web interface where the public can comment/provide suggestions for the upcoming plan.
- 12 areas have been identified for the plan.
- Is there an enforcement agency for the plan?
Plan is not binding on the govt. However mid term and final reviews are carried out by the commission.
- How to verify the data in the reviews?
Data might be hard to get. Reviews are based on surveys done by external agencies which might not necessarily coincide with the time of the reviews.
- Suggestions for improvement of the 12th plan website?
Could be more focussed. With the topics being general it is hard to get useful feedback.
Proposed plan for the semester is to choose one or two topics from the five year plan and discuss it in depth based on the past plans and reviews.
The two other topics could also be discussed during the semester based on the interest and material availability as the semester progresses.
Attendees: Asavari, Candrayee, Achintya, Aditya, Devdutta, Venky
Asavari led the discussion on water supply issues and management.
A high level overview of the different aspects to be looked at to solve the water supply issues in India.
Points raised during the meeting
1) Potability of water: The municipal supply water at the entry level has a high quality but the issues come in the transfer lines.
2) Privatization of water supply: Current scenario in the rural villages. Related material on JUSCO
Relation to the privatization of energy markets and the way it works in the US.
3) Grey water management: http://www.ecosanres.org/pdf_files/ESR-factsheet-08.pdf
4) Regulatory issues for ground water management.
5) The question of is 24/7 water supply necessary?
EBMUD is the local berkeley water suppliers..
Attendees: Achintya, Aditya, Chandrayee, Meena (Prof Parikhs student), Rose George (Prof Parikhs student), Venky
Meena and Rose gave us a nice overview of the projects going on in Prof Parikhs group. They also talked about the Aawaz De project that they are currently working on addressing diverse issues like healthcare, education etc. More information about their projects can be found at http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~parikh/.
The talk was followed by a discussion on Indian diaspora here and their inclination towards contributing back to India. Everyone talked more about their personal experiences, motivation and BIRGs objectives.
Presenter - Selvam Velmurugan, founder of emoksha (http://emoksha.org/), worked as a software developer with Amazon.
Attendees: Aditya, Achintya, Chandrayee, Yasaswini, Rishikesh, Sreeram skyped in, Tanusree, Gireeja, some non members. (Notes by Chandrayee)
Goal of talk - to find folks who might want to develop “Kiirti” (http://www.kiirti.org/) for better voice access, regional language transcription, spread words through networks. Talk started with introduction to fixourcity (http:// www.fixourcity.org/), a website created for crowd sourcing in chennai, with a target to smoothen the tedious and cumbersome process of registering complaints with local municipalities, while there is no guarantee of remedy. It uses a web based platform from UK, configured for Chennai.
Chandrayee lead the discussion on
1) Whats the definition of urbanization? - based on agricultural output, population
2) Quality of electricity supply ? - Purity of the generated electricity. Not so good in India. Need stabilizers that improve the quality but loss of efficiency.
3) Regulatory boards in the state? - Eg: KERC - Karnataka Elec Regulatory Commission.
4) Irrigation - 30 to 40% of the generated electricity.
5) Captive power - power that can be locally generated. Electricity Act has rules that allow you to generate local elec without license and can also sell it?
6) Kerala pilot proj involving school students - to be looked at in depth.
7) Energy efficient buildings - glass shaded buildings are very inefficient for a warm country like india
List of possible topics that can be included in the school curriculum based on our discussions so far could be made and updated.
More info and resources
Attendees: Aditya, Arun, Rishikesh, Kiran(?), Chandrayee, Yashashwini, Saranya, Lubina (?), Prashanth, Venky
Venky lead the discussion on solar energy in india.
Reviewed the provisions of the National Solar Plan that was rolled out earlier this year by the Govt of India as part of the budget.
Looked at case studies of some companies/ngo's/campaigns in India that are trying to promote solar energy
Topic: Differently abled people in India
Attendees: Aditya, Achintya, Arun (dialed in), Prashanth and Venky
Aditya led the discussion on differently abled people in India - provisions in the PWD Act 2005, whats been implemented, what could be done.
Some of the interesting comments/questions raised were
Rural India seems to fare better in terms of treating people with disabilities at least as per the world bank report
Development of a unified model that benefits both the disabled as well as the general section of the population to make it more viable.
Which is better - enforcing laws or providing incentives? Needs to be decided on a case by case basis. Suggestion to compare with the model in the US.
More awareness need to generated amongst the disabled class about their rights and also the general public to reduce the social stigma concerning them. Need to be made as part of the curriculum
What social business models in India have taken off in this direction? For eg Mirakle couriers. What can we do from our side? One was is to survey the existing business models, showcase them, come up with newer models etc.
Agenda for the next meetings- need to focus on a particular topic and discuss in depth for the next semester so as to make a meaningful impact.