The partnership between the University of Chicago and the Tata Center for Development (TCD) was established in April 2016. Since then, TCD has engaged many partners across the University campus on projects in India. Below are details of TCD’s ongoing work since 2016.


Public Health Insurance in Karnataka

Alessandra Voena, Anuj Shah, Cynthia Kinnan, Kosuke Imai, Gabriella Conti, and Anup Malani

The TCD has partnered with Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST), a special purpose vehicle set up to deliver the universal health coverage objectives of the Government of Karnataka. The TCD will help SAST tackle challenges of hospital insurance programs for the poor, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) and National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS), such as uptake into insurance, ensuring people utilize insurance, empaneling hospitals into the program, and limiting fraud. RSBY covers 150 million lives, making it one of the largest health insurance programs in the world.

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Mission Kakatiya

Aprajit MahajanAnup Malani, and Xavier Giné

Mission Kakatiya is a minor irrigation project under the Department of Irrigation and Command Area Development (I&CAD) in Telangana involving civil works to repair and restore water tanks for local agricultural water use and to improve food security and livelihoods of rural households across the state. The TCD will research the impact of tank rehabilitation on farmer output, the health of aquifers, crop choice, and farmer wellbeing.



Quality of Life in Slums: Water and Sanitation

Adam Chilton, Austin Wright, Luc AnselinAnita Deshmukh-Patil, and Vaijantha Anand

Slums present a persistent challenge to economic and social development in India’s urban centers. As urbanization intensifies—projections show India’s urban population will grow by 250 million between 2008 and 2030—it is increasingly important to understand governance and communal life in these informal areas in order to refine effective policy solutions to improve quality of life for India’s urban citizens. The Quality of Life in Indian Slums Project is an interdisciplinary research project that aims at understanding migration, regulation, governance, and housing in slums across India. Distinct project components examine economic and legal dynamics in slums as well as innovative methodologies for studying slums. Together, these research components will produce a multi-faceted understanding of social and economic development in slums.


The Energy Policy Institute of Chicago (EPIC) India

Working to expand access to reliable and affordable energy while identifying low-cost solutions to reduce pollution and improve human health and productivity. It does so by working hand-in-hand with government and industry partners to identify innovative ideas, pilot them on the ground, and rigorously measure outcomes. This approach ensures that the right questions are being answered and results can be scaled up for lasting policy changes. EPIC is a TCD partner.


Ongoing projects include:


Continuous Emissions Monitoring System (CEMS)

Michael Greenstone, Anant Sudarshan, Rohini Pande, and Nicholas Ryan

Industrial production in India accounts for a large amount of air pollution that affects both citizens and environment. TCD is working with the Gujarat Pollution Control Board, the state agency responsible for environmental protection and emission regulations, to better understand the effects of monitoring emissions as they relate to industry and regulatory behavior. Thus far, TCD EPIC researchers have conducted sampling of air pollution in around 350 industrial units in Surat, Gujarat.



Transparency and Environmental Regulation

Michael Greenstone, Anant Sudarshan, Rohini Pande, and Nicholas Ryan

TCD has partnered with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), the state agency responsible for environmental protection and emission regulations, to examine the effects of public information disclosure as a method of increasing the effectiveness of environmental regulation and decreasing industrial emissions. TCD EPIC researchers launched star rating of an initial tranche of 100 large Industries, a figure that will rise gradually to 450 in the coming months. A total of 900 units will ultimately be included



Decentralized Solar in Bihar

Michael Greenstone, Anant Sudarshan, Robin Burgess, and Nicholas Ryan

Electricity is a crucial and often lacking resource in rural India, and solar power is uniquely suited to address this problem. The TCD has partnered with Husk Power Systems, an India-based startup, to research two aspects of solar-rural relationship: 1) the demand and willingness-to-pay for solar power among citizens and 2) welfare benefits of this solar power for rural households that adopt it. Particular attention will be paid to educational and productivity-based outcomes. The study provides critical insights into determinants of consumer demands for micro-grids and the nature of competing options available to them. Over the course of implementation, households in 67 villages have obtained a micro-grid connection.


Lighting up Bihar

Michael Greenstone and Anant Sudarshan, Robin Burgess, and Nicholas Ryan

Bihar is facing huge challenges surrounding their lack of electricity. The state is seeking to implement reforms that will improve both electricity distribution and revenue collection. TCD will study how the innovative supply scheme known as the Revenue-Linked Supply Scheme (RLSS), which ties the amount of electricity supplied to consumers to the groups’ overall performance in making payments for the electricity, can address this challenge. With an aim at increasing the revenue of distribution utilities in Bihar, TCD-EPIC is conducting three different randomized controlled trials and positively impacting close to 84 million people of the state.


Energy Partnership with NITI Aayog

Michael Greenstone, Anant Sudarshan, and researchers at NITI Aayog

Improving efficiencies in electricity distribution is essential to build on India’s energy infrastructure. TCD-EPIC is working with NITI Aayog, a government think tank that provides innovative policy ideas for improving India, identifies research gaps and inefficiencies in state distribution systems and works on improving them.



Energy and Environment Partnership with Government of OdishA

Michael Greenstone,  Anant Sudarshan, and Santosh Harish

TCD has partnered with the Government of Odisha to create a “knowledge hub” to co-generate policy evidence and develop ideas for solving challenging environmental issues. Tentative areas of research include improvement of energy efficiency through alternative electricity expenditure allocations, as well as the role of electricity distribution companies in improving revenue collection.


The International Innovation Corps (IIC)

It is a social impact fellowship based at the University of Chicago that provides opportunities for young professionals to spend at least one year working on projects addressing critical development challenges in India. IIC is a TCD partner.


Past and ongoing projects include:

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Social Alpha

Led by the Tata Trusts’ Senior Advisor Manoj Kumar, Social Alpha is focused on catalyzing innovation, enterprise incubation and growth hacking, in order to address the challenges of scale and sustainability in providing access to affordable education, healthcare, nutrition, livelihoods, sanitation, water, clean energy, credit, insurance etc. to the underserved communities. A TCD-IIC implementation team is providing Social Alpha with implementation and operational support on several projects.

Rural Electrification Corporation (REC)

Despite recent efforts to increase rural electrification across India, the sheer size of India’s rural population means that large swaths of rural India remain without reliable electricity. TCD-IIC is partnering with the Rural Electrification Corporation (REC), an infrastructure finance company, to build state electrification profiles to identify existing gaps that can inform future investment decisions and assist REC in monitoring the Uday Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) program, which enables the financial and operational turnaround of distressed state power utilities. 


Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST) Health Insurance Project

The IIC is collaborating with SAST to improve the service delivery of health insurance and assurance schemes in the state of Karnataka. The IIC’s scope of the work included streamlining operational processes, capacity building of SAST staff, improving public awareness about government initiatives, reducing fraud, and identifying funding opportunities. The IIC team wrote policy proposals, compiled reports and action plans highlighting discrepancies in the healthcare services system, analyzed data, proposed interventions and ran pilots, and developed champions in the organization to ensure sustainability. The primary goal of the project was to establish a comprehensive operational chain for SAST to ensure efficient and hassle-free healthcare delivery to beneficiaries while minimizing the potential for fraud and misuse.


Maharashtra: De-Silting

IIC has partnered with Water Conservation Department of Government of Maharashtra to desilt 31,459 minor dams across the state. An IIC team is currently working as a Program Management Unit for this dam desilting scheme called Galmukt Dharan Galyukt Shivaar that aims to create water security and enhance farmer’s income. The policy was recently launched in the month of May 2017 for which the IIC team is now providing overall program implementation support with a focus on creating context-appropriate program design, implementing awareness campaign, developing guidelines, and designing the necessary infrastructure for monitoring and evaluation. The project is continuously guided by collaborative efforts between NGOs, CSRs/philanthropists, experts and government, and apart from the government.


Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA)

The IIC is partnering with the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) - a trade union and development nonprofit that works to empower women in India’s informal sector - to undertake a number of initiatives to improve efficiency, sustainability, and impact of a range of SEWA’s programs. The scope of work includes designing and implementing monitoring and evaluation methods to increase the effectiveness of SEWA’s development programming; streamlining program designs and implementation practices to increase the sustainability and scale of SEWA’s most successful programs, with emphasis on financial inclusion, energy, and skilling programs; and improving internal reporting and feedback mechanisms to strengthen program management.


Mission Kakatiya

An IIC team worked with the Irrigation and Command Area Development Department (I&CAD) of Telangana. The team worked on developing a policy strategy to improve long-term sustainability and maintenance of minor irrigation tanks restored under Mission Kakatiya, the department’s flagship project to rehabilitate 46,500 tanks across the state. The IIC designed mechanisms to transition from a top-down government-led scheme to a bottom- up community-based tank restoration and maintenance program. The new scheme would improve the longevity of tanks by increasing the sense of ownership and responsibility communities had for their water tanks. The IIC also provided recommendations to improve groundwater management and aided agriculture marketing in the state through market data dissemination and waste management.


Delhi Pollution Project (DPOL)

A team of four IIC Project Associates worked with Delhi Government on an waterbody restoration project based on the directives of National Green Tribunal. The project aimed at recharging groundwater and controlling water pollution, as about 40 per cent of water bodies around Delhi have gone dry. It covered 100 water bodies, which are about 10 per cent of the total water bodies around the city. The conservation activities were grouped into cleaning of waterbodies, waste management, and waterbody conservation effort. The project associates first identified the types of waste present and how to clean them. It then applied methods to sustainably manage accumulated waste after cleaning the water bodies. The last phase of their work included interventions to prevent degradation of waterbodies after restoration.


Data and Governance Project: NITI Aayog National Data & Analytics

The IIC worked with NITI Aayog to leverage data and technology for state governments and improve accessibility of government data to general public. The project included development of Digital Transformation Index (DTI) and National Data and Analytics Platform (NDAP). DTI was developed as a reference point for states to measure their relative progress in promoting digital transformation. On the other hand, NDAP served as a unilateral platform to view and analyze government data. Optimal utilization of NDAP should enable states to advance digital transformation rapidly, hence improving their DTI.