Ideas to Action:

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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

To Scale or Not to Scale? Lessons from India’s Off-Grid Solar Technology Sector

Businesses working at the intersection of development and increasing shared value constantly find themselves navigating the question of whether or not they are having an impact. Impact, in this scenario, is defined by scale in number of customers (or beneficiaries) reached. Though the language may be fuzzy and the impact hard to measure, the question for any business working with those at the bottom of (or near the bottom of) the pyramid remains: to scale or not to scale?

India Prime Minister Enacts Bold Policy to Cut Down on “Black Money”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announced a bold measure on Wednesday to reduce the role of unaccounted for cash or “black money” in the country’s economy by “de-monetizing” higher-denomination currency notes. The new policy bans the use of 500 rupee and 1,000 rupee currency notes. While this measure may have the positive (though potentially temporary) effect of forcing illicit activity out of the regulated economy, the process could be disorderly, with the poorest members of society bearing the brunt of the disruption.

A Win for India is a Win for the World: Why the United States Needs to Help India Clean up Its Coal

The Obama Administration has left an indelible impact on domestic energy policy and global climate policy. Policies driving technological innovation—in what critics have dubbed the “war on coal”—are helping the United States transition its energy system to one that is cleaner and more efficient. While the administration touts the growth of clean energy deployment in the United States at international fora, it should not limit its engagement with foreign countries on fossil energy—especially when the climate gains could be large. 

Opportunities for Pro-Poor Growth in South Asia

As China’s growth slowed in recent years, India surpassed it to become one of the world’s fastest growing economies. But can India sustain the pace, and will the rest of the region follow? Here's how South Asia can exploit today’s globalization opportunities more effectively.

Aadhaar-Based Cash Transfers: Promising Reform, but More Data Needed

India’s shift towards direct benefit transfers (DBTs) is on the fast track. According to official statements, in the 2015-16 fiscal year the central government deposited nearly $5 billion of subsidy and welfare payments directly into the bank accounts of 300 million beneficiaries. It has also set an ambitious target to transfer all payments to the Aadhaar-based biometric DBT platform by the end of 2017. This will surely be the greatest subsidy reform in the world, but we need more data to accurately evaluate its impact.

New Initiative in India Is Mobilizing Communities to Improve Children’s Learning, but Will It Work?

Every year, hundreds of thousands of volunteers in South Asia and East Africa walk many miles crossing rivers, mountains, deserts and farmlands to do something amazing: reach remote rural communities to assess whether children can read or do simple maths. Collectively known as Citizen-led Assessments (CLA), every year they show that most children are going to school but less than half of them can read or write at grade level. However, in spite of these universally damning reports, policy change to improve children’s learning has been painfully slow. So the NGO Pratham that started this movement is turning its army of volunteer data collectors into change agents to mobilize entire communities and raise awareness about the learning crisis across India.