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Sanjay Kaul’s book, An Alternative Development Agenda for India provides a revamped, transformative, and fiscally sustainable developmental roadmap for India to radically improve the well-being and livelihoods of its citizens. Grounded on a “people first” approach, the alternate agenda focuses on seven vital development and inter-connected areas that matter most to citizens. These include health, education, food and nutrition, child development, gender, livelihood and jobs, and urbanisation.
The starting point in each of these areas is a dispassionate diagnostic of the systemic issues plaguing these sectors, followed by pragmatic and implementable solutions to address them. The solutions offered in the book are based on two underlying analytical principles – first, an appreciation of what is feasible and can work in government systems and structures, and second, a deep understanding of poverty and the poor.
Constructive in its approach, the book suggests cost-effective interventions and strategies that focus on the poor and which can have the most likelihood of success. These recommendations are based on the author’s own extensive field-level experience in the IAS and the corporate sector, success stories, and are backed by extensive research and literature in these areas. The resources needed for the suggested interventions have been quantified and are fiscally sustainable.
To discuss the book and the issues that it deals with, we have a panel comprising Author & Policy Analyst, Sanjay Kaul, Director of the Centre for Public Policy, IIM, M S Sriram, Director of Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences, G Gurucharan and, Director of the Centre for Budget and Policy Studies, Jyotsna Jha, moderated by Additional Chief Secretary, Uma Mahadevan.
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A development policy analyst, corporate leader, and former IAS officer, Sanjay Kaul has over four decades of rich and professional experience in both the government and the private sectors. During his long tenure as a civil servant, Kaul worked at leadership positions across several development sectors. Kaul is presently chairperson of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Task Force set up by the Government of India. A post-graduate in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics, Kaul began his career as a college lecturer in Economics at Delhi University and has retained his interest in academics and writing. His book, An Alternative Development Agenda for India, has recently been published by Routledge.
Vandita Sharma is a Karnataka cadre, 1986 batch IAS officer. She holds a Masters Degree in English Literature from Punjab University, Chandigarh, and has also obtained a Masters Degree in Development Management from the Asian Institute of Management, Manila, Philippines. In her 36 years of administrative experience, she has served in various departments in the state of Karnataka such as Women & Child Development, Primary Education, Agriculture, Infrastructure Development, etc. She also was on deputation to the Government of India and served in the Ministry of Civil Aviation and in the Department of Space in different capacities. Presently, she is holding the position of Chief Secretary to Government of Karnataka from 1st June 2022.
M S Sriram
M S Sriram is currently Professor and also Chairperson of the Centre for Public Policy at IIM Bangalore. Prior to this he was the ICICI Bank Lalita D Gupte Chair professor in Microfinance at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He is a graduate from Institute of Rural Management Anand and completed his doctoral studies at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. He is currently on the boards of AU Small Finance Bank, Indian Dairy Machinery Company, NDDB Dairy Services, National Institute of Bank Management, Centre for Budget and Policy Studies and a Trustee of RangaShankara (Bangalore) Dastkar Andhra and Pratham Books. He is the author of multiple books largely on financial inclusion and agricultural credit.
Gurucharan Gollerkeri is currently the Director of the School of Social Sciences at the MS Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences (MSRUAS), Bangalore. He is also the Head of the Ramaiah Public Policy Centre. In his capacity as the Director of these two institutions he oversees academic and research activities for undergraduate and graduate students across disciplines including economics, data science, sociology, psychology, and public policy. Gurucharan is a former civil servant having served in the IAS and retired as Secretary, to the Government of India, in December 2016. His publications include: Migration Matters: Mobility in a Globalizing World, A Migration Praxis Framework for India and Fiscal Responsibility and the States.
Jyotsna Jha has been heading the Centre for Budget and Policy Studies – CBPS, Bangalore for more than a decade. She has led a number of research initiatives and has a few co-authored books, several chapters and papers to her credit. She has engaged with the issue of development and written extensively on the issue of equity in education, gender, health, gender and child budgeting, and public finance. Trained as an economist, Jyotsna has significant experience of working on development related issues. She has served as a member of the Global Advisory Committee for UN Girls Education Initiative – UNGEI for four years. She has also been a member of several committees and Task Forces in India.
Uma Mahadevan is a civil servant currently posted as Additional Chief Secretary, Panchayat Raj in the Government of Karnataka. She has worked in diverse sectors including women and child development. She has recently served as a member of the Taskforce on Early Childhood Care and Education. She was a member of the working group that produced Karnataka’s first Human Development Report. She has written extensively on culture and development issues.