Policy Engagements and Blogs

CPR Dialogues 2020- Technology and Administrative Reform: Experience from India and the World

Yamini Aiyar

March 11, 2020


Watch the full video (above) of the panel discussion on ‘Technology and Administrative Reform: Experience from India and the World’ featuring Arun Sharma (Director, DBT Mission, Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India); Saurabh Garg (Principal Secretary, Department of Agriculture & Farmers Empowerment, Government of Odisha); Shrayana Bhattacharya (Senior Economist, Social Protection and Jobs, World Bank); Varad Pande (Investment Partner, Omidyar Network India) and moderated by Yamini Aiyar (President & Chief Executive, CPR).

Technology is often seen as a tool to strengthen the delivery of goods and services in India. For cash transfer programmes, the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) initiative and Socio-Economic Census (SEC) data are two large-scale digital building blocks for India’s future social protection system. While DBT creates an eco-system for digital and transparent payments, the SEC allows transparent targeting and identification of beneficiaries. Several states are also investing in their own delivery platforms for core cash and benefit transfer programs.

However, a growing body of experience in India highlights that the effective use of digital resources requires complementary human resources, particularly within the local bureaucracy. Far from ensuring that the pipelines for payments are automated and mechanised, the next generation of administrative reforms will need to contend with eligibility determination, cross-departmental coordination, deeper IT familiarity, claim management and last-mile accountability with deeper citizen engagement. This requires a motivated local administration with sophisticated skills and competencies. Leveraging technology tools require a deliberative and responsive local administration, where government agents have the time, talent and tools to enable reflection on information, solve problems in an iterative framework and feel confident in their authority to respond.

This panel took stock of Indian and global experiences in using technology to reform the welfare bureaucracy at the state and national levels.

The panel was organised as part of the second edition of CPR Dialogues, held on 2nd and 3rd March 2020 at the India Habitat Centre. Addressing the theme of Policy Perspectives for 21st-century India, CPR Dialogues 2020 provided a window to the India of the future. Experts from around the country and the world engaged with and debated these very significant development and policy challenges that India faces in the coming decade.

ThePrint India was the digital partner for the event.

Media coverage of the panel discussion can be found below:

Tech intervention in welfare schemes necessary, but requires social integration: Experts by ThePrint
Videos of other panel discussions organised as part of CPR Dialogues 2020 can be found below:

CPR Dialogues 2020- Inaugural Address by Hon’ble Subrahmanyam Jaishankar
CPR Dialogues 2020- At the Threshold of a New Decade: Navigating the Emerging Geopolitical Landscape
CPR Dialogues 2020- Rights in Times of AI: Emerging Technologies and the Public Law Framework
CPR Dialogues 2020- What Would Happen if We Were to Believe in Indian Agriculture?
CPR Dialogues 2020- Creating an Inclusive Economy in a Digital World
CPR Dialogues 2020- What Would it Take to Build a 21st-century State for India? Launch of CPR’s State Capacity Initiative
CPR Dialogues 2020- Tracking Government Spending: Challenges in Social Policy Financing
CPR Dialogues 2020- The Air Pollution Crisis: Making Political Salience Count
CPR Dialogues 2020- Article 21 and India’s Social and Economic Rights
CPR Dialogues 2020- Challenges in Public Education: Balancing State and Non-State Actors
CPR Dialogues 2020- Emerging Trends in Indian Politics
CPR Dialogues 2020- Are India’s Financial Institutions in Crisis? Understanding India’s Economic Slowdown
CPR Dialogues 2020- The Role of Ideas in Shaping Policy
CPR Dialogues 2020- Indo-US Relations
CPR Dialogues 2020- Land and the Constitution: Solving Land Conflict in India
CPR Dialogues 2020- Political Elites and Local Bureaucratic Capacity