research and policy advocacy for health & wellbeing in India.

Sanitation

Exploring the causes and consequences of widespread open defecation in India

Read More
Sanitation

Social Inequality

Understanding how social discrimination impacts child and maternal health in rural India

Read More
Social Inequality

Maternal Health

Exploring challenges and policy responses to adequate nutrition in motherhood to improve child health

Read More
Maternal Health

Environment

Understanding the health consequences of climate change and air pollution, and exploring policy responses.

Read More
Environment

Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation Secretary empties a latrine pit!

The Times of India reported yesterday that the Secretary of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Param Iyer, emptied a latrine pit in Warangal district yesterday.

It’s now well known that the history and continuing practice of untouchability play an important role in explaining open defecation in India. Several studies have found that many rural Indians associate emptying a latrine pit by hand with manual scavenging, work that Dalits have traditionally been compelled to do. Thankfully, the exploitation and exclusion of Dalits is being challenged in India, and many have abandoned the degrading work associated with their oppression. In light of this situation, though, rural Indians do not want to use the kinds of latrines that require periodic manual pit emptying, like those promoted by the Indian government.

It is therefore laudable that Secretary Iyer, the highest-ranking bureaucrat working on sanitation, set an example for representatives of each state by emptying a latrine pit himself.

But many rural Indians probably do not know who Secretary Iyer is and may not come across the articles covering this event, so it will be essential for others to pass on the message. I only hope that this is the beginning of many such demonstrations across the country.

...Read More..

Accountability Initiative releases its 2017 budget brief on Swacch Bharat Mission-Gramin

Accountability Initiative has released its 2017 budget brief report on SBM-Gramin.  According to the report, GOI allocation of SBM-G have increased over threefold since 2014-15. In FY 2016-17, 98 percent of the total expenditure incurred between April and January 10 was for the construction of individual household latrines.  Like the previous years, money spent on IEC was meagre. SBM-G guidelines require 8 percent of allocations to be utilized for IEC activities. However, in FY 2016-17, till 10 January 2017, only 1 percent of total expenditure had been on IEC activities. Access the full Budget Brief here.

Yamini Aiyer, senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research and director of the Accountability Initiative, writes about the constraints in achieving the country’s goal of achieving a Swachh Bharat in Live Mint. Apart from the government data, the article has used r.i.c.e.’s SARI data to show the lack of on-the-ground engagement in promoting toilet use. The SARI survey revealed that only 2.6% of respondents in rural Uttar Pradesh and 5.4% in Delhi were aware that the SBM promotes toilet use. Find this interesting article here.

...Read More..

Two r.i.c.e. articles in this week’s EPW!

Our article on pollution, latrine pits, and untouchability has been published in this week’s EPW! This article discusses the findings of the Switching Study, which we started several years ago. So it’s great to finally see this in print!

India has far higher open defecation rates than other developing regions where people are poorer, literacy rates are lower, and water is relatively more scarce. In practice, government programmes in rural India have paid little attention in understanding why so many rural Indians defecate in the open rather than use affordable pit latrines. Drawing on new data, the article finds that widespread open defecation in rural India is on account of beliefs, values, and norms about purity, pollution, caste, and untouchability that cause people to reject affordable latrines. Future rural sanitation programmes must address villagers’ ideas about pollution, pit-emptying, and untouchability, and should do so in ways that accelerate progress towards social equality for Dalits rather than delay it.

Access the article from EPW’s website here, or download it from our research page.

And congratulations to Avinash, one of our board members, and his colleagues, who also have an article published in this week’s EPW on policy options for making pulses more affordable!

...Read More..

Four-part series on SARI in The Hindu!

The Hindu just ran a four-part series covering the Social Attitudes Research for India (SARI) Survey. SARI uses a sampling frame based on mobile phone subscriptions, random digit dialing, within-household sample selection, and statistical weights to build representative samples of adults 18-65 years old. So far, we’ve interviewed 1,270 adults in Delhi and 1,470 adults in Uttar Pradesh. Through this study, we are trying to learn about people’s perceptions and attitudes towards socially excluded groups, and experiences of discrimination faced by Dalits and Muslims.

In the first op-ed, Diane and Amit discuss perceptions of inter-caste marriage. About 40% of respondents in Delhi and more than 60% in rural Uttar Pradesh said that there should be laws to stop marriages between upper castes and lower castes.

In the second, they discuss how common it is for people to report that their household practices untouchability. Among non-Dalit Hindus in Delhi, a third said that someone in their household practices untouchability. In Uttar Pradesh, half of adults said that someone practices it.

In the third op-ed, Amit discusses the opposition of caste-based reservations, and the reasons people give for their opposition.

In the final op-ed,

...Read More..

December 12: Join Sangita in a webinar addressing gender-related challenges in remote mobile data collection

r.i.c.e. has recently launched the Social Attitudes Research in India (SARI) phone survey to track social attitudes over time and experiences of discrimination on the basis of gender, caste, and religion in India.  We study discrimination and social exclusion because they play an important role in determining human development outcomes.  The Social Attitudes Research in India survey (SARI) is a tool that we hope will both raise awareness and influence policy.

The World Food Program is hosting a webinar addressing questions such as how to engage women when conducting surveys via mobile phone, biases that emerge from low female participation in surveys, and using mobile data collection methods to collect information on women’s experiences.   Join Sangita as she speaks about r.i.c.e.’s experiences in collecting data from women through mobile phones in India.

On Monday, December 12 at 9am EST/7:30pm IST, you can join the webinar here

...Read More..

Mike at Penn

Mike Geruso, member of rice’s board, was the presenter yesterday at Penn’s Business Economics and Public Policy seminar series. He presented his research on “Upcoding: Evidence from Medicare on Squishy Risk Adjustment”, co-authored with Timothy Layton. I have read Mike’s papers, but never heard him speak. The talk was a reminder for me of the extreme relevance Mike’s research, and how clear he is in his writing, presentation, figures and tables. Do check out his working paper here. I am posting the abstract below.

Upcoding — manipulation of patient diagnoses in order to game payment systems — has gained significant attention following the introduction of risk adjustment into US insurance markets. We provide new evidence that enrollees in private Medicare plans generate 6% to 16% higher diagnosis-based risk scores than they would generate under fee-for-service Medicare, where diagnoses do not affect payments. Our estimates imply upcoding generates billions of dollars in excess public spending annually and significant consumer choice distortions. We show that coding intensity increases with vertical integration, reflecting a principal-agent problem faced by insurers, who desire more intense coding from the physicians with whom they contract....Read More..