Ongoing Research

My over-riding interest concerns how development change does or does not occur, how this is linked to the functioning of economic, political and socio-cultural systems, and how it is linked to inequalities of wealth, power and status.   Ongoing work involves a mix of new empirical work and periodic attempts at larger syntheses, and seeks to bridge the worlds of academic research and development practice.  A cross-cutting theme is the relationship between the state, society and corporate sector.  For the past two years I have increasingly worked with IMAGO Global Grassroots, with a focus on linking strategy to monitoring and research, and helping grassroots organizations develop their own data and research capacities.

Specific projects include the following.

Work with the Self-Employed Womens’ Association. This is a project of IMAGO (, we are working with SEWA, that is a union with 1.9 million members, to jointly diagnose the challenges they face as they seek to scale up and adapt to both to a changing context, and unfolding aspirations of their members, especially the young. How to deepen their data, monitoring and research capabilities is a major focus, with both approaches and issues evolving from the process of engagement.

Rural education in India [pdf ] A field experiment that evaluated the impact of a specific pedagogy under alternative delivery mechanisms within government education systems in Bihar and Uttarakhand. With Abhijit Banerjee, Rukmini Banerji and Esther Duflo.  Based in J-PAL South Asia with the main partner the remarkable Indian education NGO Pratham.  This has been finally written up in the form of a lessons from an interlinked set of RCTs of which this formed a part.  See the papers.

The political economy of India’s mega-cities [pdf].
This project concerns understanding how and why cites fail to deliver public goods, especially for the poor, based on overviews of Bangalore, Delhia and Mumbai. With Patrick Heller, Partha Mukhopadhay, Shahana Chattaraj and others; based in the Centre for Policy Research.  See the papers on Mumbai and on the three cities in papers.

Citizens and the state in urban India [pdf].
An in-depth study of four slums of the nature of citizenship and interactions with the state in Delhi and Noida, using mixed methods (ethnographic, household surveys, provider assessment). With Veena Das, Ranen Das, Jeff Hammer, Partha Mukhophadhay and Prerna Singh; based in the Centre for Policy Research and partnering with the Institute of Socio-Economic Research on Development and Democracy.

Living conditions and governance in Delhi’s slums. A field experiment on the impact of information about local politician performance, on both voter and politician behavior; plus extensive survey based work on household living conditions, attitudes etc.  With Abhijit Banerjee and Rohini Pande; based in J-PAL South Asia and partnering with the NGO Satark Nagrik Sangathan.

Business-state relations in India. Exploration of the state-business relationship in selected states and sectors in India, currently focused on building a data base on political and business family and mechanisms of interaction.  Now linked to a cross-country research project involving India, Egypt, South Africa and Turkey under the Effective States and Inclusive Development Project [pdf]  With  Pallavi Roy for India, and Izak Atiyas, Ishac Diwan, Brian Levy and others for the international work.