Governance and Public Service Delivery

The poor and disadvantaged live in contexts characterized by ineffective governance and weak institutions (World Development Report 2017). How can governance, accountability and transparency be improved?

Public Distribution System

India spends almost 1 percent of its GDP on providing food subsidy, making it the country’s largest welfare programme both in terms of the budgetary outlay and the number of people covered under it. As the Government mulls over whether to replace the current PDS with a cash transfer programme, it’s important to take stock of the current status. This project (joint work with Chinmaya Kumar and Pankaj Verma) aims to document the supply side reforms in Bihar’s PDS and explain why or why not these changes have been effective. Broadly, we wish to answer the following questions: (1) What is the level of leakage in PDS after implementation of the National Food Security Act? (2) Is there any variation in the way the supply side reforms have been implemented and whether the areas with better implementation are associated with lower leakages? (3) Is there any effect of an information campaign via automated voice calls on foodgrain leakages?

Facilitating Electoral Participation

What is the impact of messaging on political participation of (international) migrants? The Get Out The Vote (GOTV) literature has focused on testing rational choice and social psychological theories and finds that social pressure, pride, and shaming messages have large effects. However, much of this work is US- and Europe-centric. On the other hand, there’s an active literature that has studied the motivations for turnout in the Indian context but these haven’t been experimentally evaluated. We wish to empirically examine the causal impact of priming that not only emphasizes the messages noted in the GOTV and South Asian politics literature but to also test for the effect of patriotism (by invoking the image of the national flag) on participation.