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Whose Land is it Anyway?

Livelihood
Pratik Dixit, Dr Rahela Khorakiwala, Arjun Krishnan, Prashant Narang, and Astha Pandey |
March 29, 2022
In the past decade, land laws in Maharashtra have undergone rapid changes in response to the growing demands of urbanisation and industrialisation. Land is a state subject under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution. The approach of most states, including Maharashtra, for land governance, has shifted from distributive justice to efficient reallocation. Land is an important factor of production not only for agriculture and allied industries, but also for developing the secondary and tertiary economy. In this regard, effective utilisation and capitalisation of land, both agricultural as well as non-agricultural, assumes importance for unlocking the potential of economic development by efficient allocation of land resources.
 
Agricultural land markets in Maharashtra are highly regularised, to the extent of excluding the rural farmers from accessing agricultural land markets. Agricultural land is generally transacted for three purposes: mortgage, sale, and lease. However, the transferability of land is influenced and often determined by factors such as change of land use, tenancy, ceiling, and ownership patterns. 
 
This brief looks at the existing situation and conditions of agricultural land market operations in Maharashtra and the legal and institutional framework of land governance for the same. It analyses the structural changes brought about by the state government in domains such as change of land use and transfer of agricultural land to non-agriculturists. It also briefly discusses the powers and functions of the state revenue officers. Other aspects of land governance such as maintenance of record of rights, restrictions on transfer of tribal lands, conclusive titling, and recent land leasing reforms are also discussed. Through this discussion, this note sheds light on the problems hindering the efficient reallocation of agricultural lands in Maharashtra and suggests a few solutions to resolve them

 

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Freeing the Good Earth

Livelihood
Arjun Krishnan |
March 22, 2022
Since Independence, the average landholding size of agricultural households across India has steadily declined. In 1970, an average agrarian household owned over 2 hectares of land; this fell to 1.4 hectares by the 1990s. In 2019, this was 0.876 hectares. Simultaneously, agriculture's contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell to 16.6% in 2019 from 41% in 1970. Despite this regression, 42% of India’s workforce is employed in agriculture. What is keeping Indian farmers locked in this perpetual cycle of poverty? The reasons for low income in the sector are multifold. Regulations limit farmer freedom and distort every aspect of the production and sale process.
 

Restrictions on how farmers can use their key, often only, capital asset—land—is a major force at play. At the time of independence, India’s agrarian economy was dominated by zamindars or landlords. These landlords owned a vast majority of the land, and cultivators had little rights. These restrictions have trapped farmers in agriculture, shackled them to their land, and prevented upward mobility. 


Different states regulate these aspects in different ways. This research paper studies laws across 20 Indian states, assesses the impact these restrictions have, and suggests potential changes that states could adopt to empower farmers to decide how they use their land. Every aspect of the agricultural land market is highly regulated. These regulations were created to protect farmers, but instead, they hurt the very farmers it sought to protect. The paper looks at four distinct types of encumbrances on landowners:

Policy brief: Rethinking Research Funding for India’s Higher Education Institutions

Science & Technology
Bhavya Mehta and Ishita Puri |
March 2, 2022

India has a complex university-research funding ecosystem with multifarious stakeholders. This policy brief supplements our recently published research report on government research funding in STEM higher education institutions (HEIs). As the country continues to work towards its ambition to increase its percentage of gross expenditure on Research and Development (R&D), the introduction of a national research foundation (NRF) could mark a shift in how it positions itself on the global R&D stage.

Against this backdrop, this policy brief attempts to assist the ideation process of the respective ministries as they also amend their systems amidst growing calls for increased public expenditure on R&D. As India looks to bolster the R&D competitiveness within HEIs, it is important to incorporate provisions that make the entire process of disbursement and grant management more efficient.>

We focus on three crucial issues that can enhance the functioning of the country’s research funding system from two perspectives—the government authority and the individual researchers.

  1. Transparency on all material facts and active communication channels between the researchers and the funding bodies are vital to ensure the absence of ambiguities and clarity on objectives and demands from the research project
  2. Formulating a sophisticated framework for indirect costs rate(s) determination is essential for the former to ensure that funds get optimally disbursed 
  3. A meticulously designed framework for recording comprehensive and relevant data & information on R&D expenditures and its management is critical to enhance the efficiency of the ecosystem

Observations, learnings and data from existing measures and practices used by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Ministry of Education (MoE) and other bodies to collect funding-centric information must be considered carefully for deliberations and ideation on the NRF’s structure.

 

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Assessing Scientific Research & Innovation: An Analysis of Research Productivity Metrics and Usage Guidelines

Science & Technology
Pratyaksha Jha |
March 2, 2022

Research productivity refers to the efficacy of research processes with respect to the quantity and quality of its contributions. In the process of building our three-part series on ‘assessing scientific research and innovation’, we learned that research productivity assessments are a tool used for many processes in the STI (Science, Technology, and Innovation) ecosystem. These processes include research funding allocation, and evaluating the efficacy of scientific R&I (Research & Innovation) in academic institutions. This report reviews contemporary approaches to assessments of scientific research productivity, and highlights where interventions can be made to make them more holistic and accurate.

 

Scientific research productivity is a concern that affects diverse stakeholders such as government agencies, industrial bodies, and academic groups. As a result, existing scholarship in this area is vast, but fairly disparate. We aim to build a resource that brings together concepts used in its assessment and examines their application. In the first chapter, we outline the usage and limitations of four prominent research productivity assessment tools— bibliometrics, open access metrics, peer review metrics, and economic productivity-oriented metrics. The second chapter examines international frameworks that set out guidelines for assessment exercises, and concludes with a comment on their efficacy. Our final chapter analyses two key areas where future interventions can be made: (a) problems of standardisation and yielding comparative research productivity data, and (b) the need to make research productivity metrics more relevant to the economic and social contexts of developing countries. 

 

We conclude by offering insights on how gaps in these two areas can be addressed. Our focus here is on how greater standardisation can be achieved without compromising on the imminent need to build more context-sensitive assessment tools. Our inferences include:

 

  • The creation of more international guidelines on standardisation would help produce more comparative research productivity data.
  • Establishing normative standards around how to use different metrics would help make their usage more accountable as well as accessible.
  • There is also an imminent need to create frameworks specific to developing countries, detailing research productivity measures that further shared goals based on economic development.
  • Measures such as journal impact rankings and citation impact should be made more accommodating of researchers who lack resource privilege.
  • Resource constraints that prevent developing countries from accessing particular forms of research productivity success need to be acknowledged and addressed.
 

Assessing Scientific Research and Innovation: The South Asian Case

Science & Technology
Pratyaksha Jha |
March 2, 2022

As one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, India is often considered the country that leads scientific research and innovation (‘R&I’) in the South Asia region. However, it still faces significant challenges in areas like investment in scientific research, systems for allocating research funding, and quantity and quality of research output. Despite varying levels of economic development, the other countries in the region (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) fare worse on most of these parameters. UNESCO’s Science Report (2021) highlights the lack of industrial expenditure on scientific research and development (‘R&D’) in these seven countries. Nepal and Bangladesh have the highest research expenditure in the South Asian region (excluding India (0.7%)), at a staggeringly low 0.30% of their GDPs. Comprising low to middle-income countries, South Asia represents a vast landscape of opportunity to utilise scientific research for economic and social progress. 

Measuring R&I is critical to understanding and improving its functions. It interfaces with processes ranging from academic hiring to creating effective Science, Technology and Innovation (‘STI’) policies for entire countries and regions. Over the last two decades, several international efforts have been made to define and standardise metrics, methods, and norms used for measuring scientific R&I. These include the annual Global Innovation Index devised by WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation), the Leiden Manifesto, and the San Francisco-initiated DORA (Declaration on Research Assessment). However, instances of such regional collaborations over R&I assessment remain absent in South Asia. Our previous report on analysing research productivity metrics and practices notes how the aforementioned international frameworks tend to focus on economically advanced countries in the developed world (CCS 2022b). Building standards for R&I assessment at the South Asia level contributes to addressing this gap, and shifts focus onto the region-specific needs of smaller economies.

This report proposes two reasons as to why R&I is a compelling area for collaboration between South Asian countries, both in terms of opportunity and need. First, as noted at the outset, research and innovation outcomes in South Asia are less than desirable, compared to more economically advanced parts of the world. Even India, which invests approximately 0.7% of its GDP in scientific research, lags far behind the OECD average of 2.37% (OECD 2019). A common set of goals and parameters for assessing R&I would help countries advance more effectively in this area of shared priority. Second, cross-border collaboration through open sharing of scientific data and research has rapidly gained prominence in recent years, in part due to growing digitalisation. The imminent need for such collaboration is especially apparent as the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, and scientific research linked to healthcare seems more evidently relevant than perhaps ever before. 

The objective of this report is to identify and pinpoint considerations that are relevant to the creation of South Asia-wide assessment parameters. It also seeks to offer recommendations on the shape these regional standards could take. The first chapter examines data and scholarship on R&I assessments in South Asia, highlighting areas in which it falls short of providing effective insights and outlining opportunities for regional collaboration within them. The second chapter evaluates how R&I can be utilised for economic growth, based on the overlapping economic needs and priorities of South Asian countries. Both chapters conclude with a set of recommendations on tackling the concerns  raised in it through South Asian collaboration over parameters for scientific R&I assessment.

This report is the last in our three-part study titled Assessing Scientific Research and Innovation. In our first report, Study of frameworks and parameters for evaluating institutional research, we analysed indices used to measure scientific innovation in Indian higher education institutions. The second report, An analysis of research productivity metrics and usage guidelines, examined global norms around measuring research productivity, highlighting limitations and providing recommendations to overcome them. Our final report carries forth relevant thematic areas from both these reports and situates them within the context of South Asia.

 

National Education Policy Compliance Profile: Jharkhand

Education
Mitali Gurdatta and Prashant Narang |
February 7, 2022

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 highlights that 

The goal of the school education regulatory system must be to continually improve educational outcomes; it must not overly restrict schools, prevent innovation, or demoralise teachers, principals, and students. All in all, regulation must aim to empower schools and teachers with trust, enabling them to strive for excellence and perform at their very best, while ensuring the integrity of the system through the enforcement of complete transparency and full public disclosure of all finances, procedures, and educational outcomes.” 

At present, State Departments of Education handle all significant functions of governance and regulation of the school education system—provision of public education, regulation of education institutions, and policymaking.  To avoid conflict of interests and create a level playing field, we need to set up a State School Standards Authority (SSSA) as recommended in NEP 2020. 

To understand how the SSSA can take shape to address exact problems in the state, we took a deep dive into the learning progress of Jharkhand and studied the structure of the education administration, its quality of laws, and regulatory pain-points for private schools.  

Some of our key findings include :

  1. 15% of all schools in Jharkhand are unrecognised—the highest in the country. 

  2. 30% of all government schools in Jharkhand have less than 50 students enrolled.

  3. Jharkhand has the highest teacher vacancy at the Secondary (81%) and Higher Secondary (84%) levels in India.

  4. 70% of Primary teachers and 58% of Upper Primary teachers in government schools are underqualified.

  5. Learning outcomes are abysmally low in government schools: only 11% of students in Grade III and 29%  in Grade V can read a Grade II text. 

  6. Jharkhand has the third-largest percentage (58%) of children taking tuition while enrolled in government schools in rural India.

  7. There is no grievance redressal, and dispute resolution mechanism available for staff and parents of children enrolled in government schools.

  8. While all primary schools, government and private, in Jharkhand have to be recognised under the RTE Act, the Directorate of Primary Education is responsible for granting recognition to all schools. This creates a conflict of interest given the Directorate also operates its own schools.

  9. Schools in Jharkhand cannot raise fees beyond 10% without approval from the District Fee Committee. In case of non-compliance, they can receive a fine of fifty thousand rupees, or worse, de-recognised.

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Assessing Scientific Research & Innovation: Study of frameworks and parameters for evaluating institutional research

Science & Technology
Pratyaksha Jha and Tarini Sudhakar |
January 17, 2022

Across the world, innovation is understood as a key driver of economic progress. Fuelled by both public and private sources of investment, scientific research sits at the heart of countries’ ability to achieve innovation success. India’s budgetary allocations towards scientific research and development (R&D) have stood at 0.7% of the country’s GDP through 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 (Department of Science and Technology 2019). This puts the country’s spending in this area significantly behind OECD countries’ average R&D expenditure of 2.37% as of 2017 (OECD 2019). While this in itself is an indicator that allows one to benchmark India’s innovation systems against other countries, there is a need to examine how scientific research in the country is taking place, and what kind of outcomes it is yielding, to understand its contributions to innovation. Indicators designed to measure innovation aim to evaluate research inputs, outputs, and other parameters as contributors to scientific development and innovation.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation, in collaboration with INSEAD, releases the Global Innovation Index every year, using 81 such parameters to map innovation success for 132 countries. Four innovation indices used in India employ similar mechanisms across multiple parameters to measure the research contributions of higher education institutions (HEIs) and other scientific research organisations. The Evaluation of Science Indicators of Public Funded R&D Institutions and the Ease of Doing Research framework by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research examine the success of institutions in the space of publicly funded and agricultural research respectively. At the same time, the National Institution Ranking Framework and the Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements rank HEIs on the basis of how they contribute to innovation in the country.

This study aims to illustrate the present state of scientific research evaluation in India, and examine the role played by existing indices in shaping India’s innovation ecosystem. Reviewing how these indices define and measure research helps illuminate the role of factors such as management of researchers, research practices and norms, quantity and quality of research output, and the socio-economic impact of research, in creating effective environments within which scientific innovation can take place.

 
 
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Possibilities for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Reforms in India

Science & Technology
Bhavya Mehta, B. Chagun Basha and Nitesh Anand |
January 13, 2022

India's aspiration to transit into a knowledge-based economy is highly dependent on strengthening its Science, Technology, and Innovations ecosystem. Underinvestment in research and development (R&D), debatable quality of the research output, and lack of innovations present significant hurdles in realising the ambition. In the age of rapidly emerging new technology solutions and S&T-based innovations, it becomes critical to proactively (re)shape public policies for the best socio-economic development outputs.

Through this landscaping study, we wish to develop deeper insights and understanding of various perspectives of India's STI ecosystem and identify possible policy action areas that require liberal reforms.

A qualitative scientific methodology was applied to identify indicative perspectives and generated evidence through in-depth interviews with various stakeholders. Discourse analysis, qualitative content analysis, policy prioritization analysis and feasibility analysis were done to arrive at the findings. We engaged with ecosystem stakeholders, independent thought leaders and industry leaders to professors and ecosystem innovators from within the country and abroad. Through this detailed analysis, we identified the following nine specific outcome-focused and action-oriented policy priorities for the STI ecosystem of India:

I) Improving R&D Investment Portfolio
II) Strengthening critical base of scientific workforce
IIII) Increasing access to frontier knowledge, research data, and infrastructure
IV) Promoting Meaningful & Impactful research assessment and evaluation
V) Facilitating efficient Research Management practices
VI) Stimulating utility of Research outcomes
VII) Improving integration of research with higher education institutions
VIII) Re-inventing India's STI Internationalisation strategies
IX) Building robust evidence framework for S&T policy planning

The comparative feasibility analysis developed deeper details around the scope of research, possible data or information sources, potential stakeholders to engage, possible impact and outcomes.

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