New initiative aims for data-driven solutions to India’s development

Oct. 19, 2018, 2:10 a.m.

Stanford India Analytics (SIA), a new student-faculty joint initiative, was launched on Oct. 11, bringing together Stanford undergraduates and graduates alike to conduct data-driven policy research on the development of the Indian economy.

As an initiative of the Stanford Center on Global Poverty and Development, SIA is intended to not only build a community for scholars to exchange ideas on India’s economic development, but also to provide research opportunities for Stanford students.

SIA was launched by Anjini Kochar – a Senior Research Scholar at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy and Research (SIEPR) and director of the India Program at the Stanford Center for Global Poverty and Development – and Aayan Das ’21.

According to Kochar, the idea came to her after organizing PUBPOL 129: “Conversations on the Indian Economy” last winter, when she began to envision an organization where students and faculty work towards solutions on development together. Kochar notes, “The idea is to make this something that is not restrictive, where students have the opportunity to self-organize. While we are still working on the regulatory framework, the intent is that all students will play a role in shaping the group, and that it will also hopefully have considerable faculty involvement in the form of mentorship of the groups.”

When asked why he came on board the project, Das said, “There wasn’t any group on campus that specifically focuses on engaging with India through academic research.” Das also added, “I believe SIA can be a platform open to anyone in any school trying to do research related to the development of India.”

SIA hopes to use quantitative methods to create targeted and data-driven solutions. During the launch event, Kochar shared that there is a wealth of publicly available data in India that are not properly used to direct effective policy-making.

The initiative aims to engage in a variety of issues on India’s development, including education, political expenditure and effective governance. Kochar mentioned The Kakatiya Sandbox, an India-based project that encourages entrepreneurship, innovation and sustainability in non-governmental organizations, as an example where students can get involved in field work and seek solutions to these issues.

“I think the premise of Stanford India Analytics is an important one,” said Anjali Katta ’19, a student who attended the launch event. “We could focus our efforts on aiding existing research, reformatting it, and thinking of new ways to get that information to the people who need it most.”

“I think that SIA is a novel initiative to promote research on India – something we haven’t seen before.” said Devansh Sharma ’22, who participated in the launch event. “This group has the potential to act as the umbrella organization for various entities researching India on campus, thereby giving the research a concerted direction.”

The initiative also aims to have a dedicated panel discussion at Stanford’s annual conference on Indian economic policy and bring guest speakers to address challenges and opportunities in the South Asian country’s development.

“SIA is intended to generate broad interest in India’s economic development, but also in education, the financial industry, governance and more,” Kochar said. “Ultimately, we want students to use their research to provide suggestions for policy-makers in the Indian government and make real impacts in people’s lives.”


Contact Daniel Yang at danieljy ‘at’

Daniel Yang is a staff writer interested in studying History. Contact him at danieljy 'at'

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