Research and Policy Advocacy

In 2009, when he was invited by the Prime Minister to join the Planning Commission, Dr. Shah became the youngest person ever to occupy this position. He handles Rural Development, Water Resources and Panchayati Raj at the Planning Commission.
Dr. Debashis Banerji is one of a handful of distinguished Indian scientists to have published original research in Nature. He is currently engaged in bioinformatic research on improvements in genetic engineering technology to make it relevant for poor farmers. His recent papers include “Bt Brinjal and GM Crops: Towards A Reasonable Policy Ahead” in Current Science, “Strategies for Gene Stacking and Gene Containment in Transgenic Crops – The Major Challenges in Engineering Plant Transformation” for the International Conference on Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, “Transplastomic Plants as Biosafe Bioreactors – Some Highlights” for the International Conference on Photosynthesis in the Global Perspective, and “Strategies for Gene Containment and Gene Stacking in Transplastomic Engineering” for the All-India Botanical Conference & International Symposium on Plant Biology and Environment.
Rangu Rao is a Member of the Central Employment Guarantee Council and was Chairperson of its Working Group on Planning and Execution, which has made major recommendations for MGNREGA reform. He is a Member of the Steering Committee on Rural Livelihoods and Rural Governance for the 12th Five Year Plan.
P.S. Vijay Shankar is a Member of the National Steering Committee of the Integrated Watershed Development Programme of the Government of India. He is a Member of the 12th PlanWorking Group on Sustainable Groundwater Management. He has conducted a wide-ranging study commissioned by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, Geneva on the history of education and health policy in independent India. In 2004, the Hydrogeology Journal (official journal of the International Association of Hydrogeologists) carried our paper “Groundwater Demand Management at Local Scale in Rural Areas of India: A Strategy to ensure Water Well Sustainability based on Aquifer Diffusivity and Community Participation”. A paper on “Rural Credit in 20th Century India” by Mihir Shah, Rangu Rao and P.S. Vijay Shankar published in the Economic and Political Weekly (April 14th 2007) has been included as part of the prescribed syllabus for the Development Theory paper for BA (Hons.) Economics final year students at Delhi University. Our recent work on MGNREGA reforms has attracted national attention (“Two Years of NREGA: The Road Ahead” by Pramathesh Ambasta, Mihir Shah and P.S. Vijay Shankar, Economic and Political Weekly, 23rd February, 2008). Jyotsna Jain is Adviser to the Commissioners appointed by the Supreme Court in the Right to Food Case. Her responsibilities include monitoring the functioning of all food-related schemes in Madhya Pradesh and suggesting reforms to make them work better. She co-authored a paper with Mihir Shah on the “Antyodaya Anna Yojana and Mid Meal Scheme in Madhya Pradesh” (Economic and Political Weekly, 26th November, 2005).
Nivedita Banerji is a Member of the 12th Plan Working Group on Minor Irrigation and Watershed Management. Pramathesh Ambasta is a Member of the Empowered Group of Officers of the Government of India to suggest measures for the accelerated development of Left Wing Extremism affected areas and is also a Member of the Executive Committee of CAPART.