Senior Program Officer at Tata Trusts, Poornima Dore talks to us about the various data roadblocks in the current decision-making tools and processes in India. She stresses the need to build scalable systems of measuring, monitoring and tracking development initiatives with the help of data and technology, and why Tata Trusts believes that data-driven governance holds the key to future of policy planning in India.
Watch the full interview in the video above or read through edited excerpts below:
“One reason why delivery of services on ground does not happen effectively, is due to lack of proper information around where the gaps in delivery are.”
Q1. What challenges does India face in becoming a data-driven nation?
Ans. India is a very diverse country. Each of our states — and within that, our districts — has so much variation that there is a sheer dearth of data in this country. One reason why delivery of services on ground does not happen effectively, is due to lack of proper information around where the gaps in delivery are, and who the stakeholders are to ensure these gaps are met.
We have aanganwadi workers collecting information in 15-18 registers practically every day. In the time taken for this data to get compiled, get collated on a common repository for the department, and for it to be made available to other departments and decision-makers as well, there are several steps in the chain, which have certain gaps. The fact that real-time data is not available is something that every policy-maker has made known to us whenever we have engaged with them.
“With this kind of an effort, it becomes possible to bring out the regional nuances, bring out village-level differences which our central data sets do not possess or aren’t able to throw up.”
Q2. How can we overcome these challenges and improve the current decision-making process?
Ans. Making sure information is available to the right people, at the right time and in the right form, is very important. We’ve tried to look at models which enable us to collect data at scale, identify what kind of data comes in, and ensure that the data collection, processing and visualization is meaningful.
Having budgeting, planning, and last-mile service delivery projects designed in a way that the purpose of collecting data meets the end goal of improved delivery of services… with this kind of an effort, it becomes possible to bring out the regional nuances, bring out village-level differences which our central data sets do not possess or aren’t able to throw up.
“We hope to build a case for greater technology within our government systems to harness these tools we have today for much wider impact.”
Q3. Why does India need data-driven governance?
Ans. The role of data and governance is primarily to assist the decision-makers to move forward, achieve their targets, and meet the aspirations and requirements of the people. The immediate stakeholder is able to get a view of what the performance is like across different indicators, as of date. There is a baseline at a very granular level for all of these villages with household-level data, which was earlier not available in that specific format.
For a country like ours, which is so diverse, this kind of initiative helps make programs much more targeted. It has learnings for several other developing countries as well. We see immense potential for something like this to be taken to scale, from the technology side, the government side, the administration side, and by philanthropies like Tata Trusts. We hope to build a case for greater technology within our government systems to harness these tools we have today for much wider impact.
We have partnered with the Tata Trusts to empower the Governments of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh and help them use our data intelligence platform to drive data-driven governance for the districts of Chandrapur and Vijayawada respectively. Read the case studies:
- Driving Microtargeted Development in 290 Villages in Chandrapur
- Transforming 264 Villages with Data in Vijayawada
Want to know how philanthropies like the Tata Trusts use data intelligence tools for targeted village microplanning and other development initiatives? Learn more about our platform here!