Evidence is an important part of everyday lives. From choosing fuel for our vehicles, why CNG is environment friendly, to something as big as a court case, everything has its basis in evidence. Owing to the enactment of Indian Evidence Act in 1872, the outcome of many criminal law cases depends upon the strength and admissibility of evidence including physical proof, scientific evidence, and witness testimony. Access to accurate and reliable information is central to the idea of a democratic society like India. The enactment of Right to Information Act 2005 is a historic event in the annals of evidence-based democracy in India.
So how is evidence used for policy decisions in India? India, as a growing international leader, already values the importance of informed policy decisions. As per the estimates of Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) report on “Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: The Role of Financial Inclusion 2016”, the recent government effort to open banks in rural areas helped cut rural poverty by 14 to 17 percentage points.
Similarly digitization of India will allow digital payment services to collect money from far-away friends and relatives when faced with economic pressure including demonetization. The Indian National e-Governance Plan (NEGP) envisages Citizen Service Centers as providing a primary mode of service delivery channel for rural areas. These reforms are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)-ending extreme poverty which explicitly mentions the importance of financial services. International and national research organizations need to focus on what different countries can learn from each other. The future of security, stability, and prosperity of all countries depend on it.
The importance of National Statistical Agencies is well-established owing to undertaking evaluation studies and large-scale population-based surveys. Data collected over long periods are available in the public domain, which is subsequently used by policy makers for policy development, program planning, monitoring and evaluation. Policy-decisions are also supported through technical advisory groups and expert committees within Government framework for example National technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI). Experts from various background present their expertise on subject matter and own research that guides policy decisions.
Apart from this, many individual research organizations in India undertake individual studies that add to data resource. Policy level reforms are needed to strengthen the emphasis on generating policy-relevant information, translation of research into policy decisions, and implementation of policy through service delivery. For research to be tailor-made to policy questions, it is imperative to create platform for information flow between National and International researchers, institutions and policy makers.
What approach produce seamless interaction? How best can this be achieved?
The twelfth five-year plan (2013-17) for higher education addresses three overarching challenges: excellence, equity and expansion in India advocating increased international research collaboration.
What we need is to identify actionable ways to move the evidence agenda forward by linking priority research questions with on-going and future research activities.