Independent Research and Policy Advocacy


Informal Sector Policy Interventions and Research Engagements

Dvara Research runs a platform called the Informal Sector Policy Interventions and Research Engagements or InSPIRE. The mission of InSPIRE is to research and advocate for policy action to provide adequate levels of social and livelihoods protection for the informal sector in India. We began the InSPIRE journey in April 2020, when Dvara Research began to host a series of conference calls every Tuesday, as a means of staying in touch with all our partners in the financial inclusion and social protection arenas, and of informing ourselves about significant challenges that were beginning to arise for low-income households and the informal sector in the early weeks of Covid-19 lockdown. During the months of lockdown and beyond, the fortnightly Tuesday conference calls became a venue for very productive interchanges among a diverse group of researchers and practitioners, from across the spectrum, India and abroad.
The InSPIRE platform aims to accomplish its mission by hosting discussions among key stakeholders every fortnightly Tuesday, and using these discussions to learn about research and action-projects that are ongoing as well as to originate new ideas for research and action-projects that group members can individually or jointly pursue. All discussions will be off-the-record, and no press will be present. The spirit of engagement among group members will be collaborative and one of learning together so that the urgent challenges of social and livelihoods protection for the informal sector in India may be met with a sense of added urgency and joint purpose by the group. The following table provides information on the sessions we have had so far. We do record the sessions but because of their off-the-record nature, we are not making the recordings available online.

Sessions Hosted by Dvara Research


Gender-Based Discounts on Taxes related to Property: Role in Encouraging Female Ownership- a Case Study of Indian States and Cities

Date: June 11, 2024



Several states in India have put tax incentives and other preferential treatment measures in place, mainly to encourage female property ownership but also in an attempt to improve revenue collections due to improved compliance. The talk will summarises the findings of the paper ‘Gender-Based Discounts on Taxes related to Property: Role in Encouraging Female Ownership- a Case Study of Indian States and Cities’. This paper attempts to explore whether gender-based tax incentives in annual property tax and stamp duty and registration charges, two of the largest sources of tax revenues for Indian cities and states respectively, influence the pattern of property ownership and increase tax revenues.

Talk on the book - A political theory of money

Date: April 30, 2024



Understanding money’s nature as political, institutional, and material answers today’s big money questions. Money remains a foundational question of social theory. What is money? Why does something so insubstantial have value? How do money systems make promises function like valuable things? Why are money systems always hierarchical yet variable? The answer, the book argues, is politics. Money is institutionalised social power. Politics generates institutions that differentially lock into the future product of political and economic collectives. Money emerges from the institutionalisation of social antagonisms to encapsulate a collective’s productive potential in a flexible, tradable instrument. This takes a system. Money is built in hierarchical layers out of the inherently variable material of politics and at various economic scales. This book outlines these variable processes theoretically and through case studies.

The Promise and Harms of Digitizing Credit: What Does the Evidence Say?

Date: April 16, 2024



Finance’s rapid digitization has sparked debate on balancing the potential for transformative development with the risks of misconduct and consumer abuse. Mobile Instant Credit: Impacts, Challenges, and Lessons for Consumer Protection, produced by the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) in collaboration with Innovations for Poverty Action and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, synthesizes evidence from rigorous impact evaluations and descriptive studies on the impacts of digital credit, with a focus on Mobile Instant Credit (MIC): small, consumption-oriented digital loans. This talk will explore the evidence on the relationship between the digitization of credit and development, providing insights that may inform the development of new products. 

Balancing Acts: Safe Withdrawal Rates in the Indian Context

Date: April 02, 2024


Estimating a rate of withdrawal for a retirement portfolio that will not lead to its premature exhaustion is one of the key questions that besieges a retirement planner. This rate is commonly referred to as the Safe Withdrawal Rate (SWR). Following a landmark study by Bengen (1994), the most widely used SWR is 4 percent- however, this SWR pertains to the financial markets in the United States. There has been no systematic study on what the SWR is for India. In this talk, we would like to take you through our study which attempts to fill this important lacuna.
Estimating a suitable SWR for the Indian financial markets in challenging. Compared to the more developed financial markets, the Indian markets are young. This presents two problems. First, there is limited historical data to work with, and second, the data present is not stationary, i.e., it exhibits structural changes across different time periods. Accordingly, this study estimates the SWR for India using simulation on historical data.
The often cited 4 percent rule is not appropriate in India’s context; rather a range between 3.0% and 3.5% is more appropriate. Our analysis reveals that while portfolios with higher equity allocations can potentially increase safe withdrawal rates, they also significantly increase the risk of portfolio failure, particularly for withdrawal rates greater than 3.75%. Taxes on fixed deposit interest act as significant drags on the failure rates of `safe’ all deposit portfolios. In addition, we highlight the importance of gold as a diversifying asset, which can mitigate some market-related risks in traditional two-asset class portfolios.

Households using finance to manage consumption

Date: March 19, 2024


With an aim to increase healthcare access for poor households, many state and national governments, in India, have introduced free health insurance programs. At more than 50%, India has one of the world’s highest out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure rates.  It is then a puzzle that the utilization of many of these programs remains low. We study the role of informal risk-sharing networks in explaining insurance-adoption behavior in the context of the Arogyasri – a pioneering health insurance program introduced in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. Households are more likely to adopt if they belong to an informal network. We argue that households adopt the insurance only if they expect positive net benefits from adoption and informal networks facilitate by reducing individual heterogeneity and uncertainty in costs associated with adoption but not covered by the insurance. We then estimate whether access to the insurance changes the utilization of institutional healthcare, the intended goal of such programs. We find that people switch from public institutional healthcare to private healthcare although this has no overall impact on health outcomes.

Public Private Partnership in healthcare – who adopts and who can access?

Date: March 05, 2024


With an aim to increase healthcare access for poor households, many state and national governments, in India, have introduced free health insurance programs. At more than 50%, India has one of the world’s highest out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure rates.  It is then a puzzle that the utilization of many of these programs remains low. We study the role of informal risk-sharing networks in explaining insurance-adoption behavior in the context of the Arogyasri – a pioneering health insurance program introduced in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. Households are more likely to adopt if they belong to an informal network. We argue that households adopt the insurance only if they expect positive net benefits from adoption and informal networks facilitate by reducing individual heterogeneity and uncertainty in costs associated with adoption but not covered by the insurance. We then estimate whether access to the insurance changes the utilization of institutional healthcare, the intended goal of such programs. We find that people switch from public institutional healthcare to private healthcare although this has no overall impact on health outcomes.

Talk on the book ‘Money: A Zero-Sum Game’

Date: Feb 20, 2024


Money, an indispensable part of our lives, determines our economic well-being. In any economy, money is an asset to “we the people” who own it and is a liability for the institutions that owe it. While establishing that money, thus, is a zero-sum game- there are no winners in this game without losers – the book explains how the money game is played. Understanding this zero-sum game is crucial as each one of us is a participant in this game. 

Even Nobel economists – as recent as in 2022 have confined the primary role of banks to financial intermediation. In contrast, we posit banks primarily to be significant money creators in an economy, using a novel framework that we introduce in the form of a fundamental equation, the Vaidya Subbu equation.

Using this framework, the book not only dispels a widely perpetuated myth that only the central bank can create and control money but also establishes that it is, in fact, the banking sector that creates and controls money in most economies, including India. The book argues that the banking sector is more central to the macroeconomy than perhaps even the central bank, thus entrusting it to be a key contributor in catalysing economic growth.

60 Decibels’ 2023 Microfinance Index Report – Methodology, Metrics, and Findings

Date: Feb 6, 2024



The talk will cover 60 Decibels’ Microfinance Index. Our belief— validated by our partnership with most of the world’s leading microfinance investors, networks, and institutions—is that the best way to answer central questions is by listening, at scale, to microfinance clients. This presentation will broadly cover our overall methodology, metrics, and key findings through this annual initiative.

State of Working India 2023: Social Identities and Labour Market Outcomes

Date: Jan 23, 2024



Presentation of the main findings from the recently released State of Working India report. The full report as well as Executive Summary are available at

Digital Readiness of States for Direct Benefit Transfer of Fertiliser Subsidy

Date: Jan 09, 2024


Unlike other forms of subsidies, the fertiliser subsidy is provided directly to manufacturers and not to the farmers, allowing inefficient production units to thrive in the system. The Standing Committee on Chemicals and Fertilizers convened in 2020 called for a new framework for subsidy distribution. An index has been created to explore the digital readiness of states to transition to Direct Cash transfer to Farmers.


Are Frauds-Awareness Campaigns Effective? Some Experimental Results

Date: Dec 12, 2023



It is highly likely that many of us have received dubious text messages or calls offering the chance to earn a reward or warning us of an impending financial loss. The person on the other end often tries to persuade us to share personal information to either receive the reward or avoid the financial loss. Unfortunately, those who are convinced and divulge their sensitive information often end up being defrauded. Such instances are known as social engineering fraud. The primary payment system exploited by fraudsters in these scams is UPI (Unified Payments Interface). The features that make UPI popular among users also make it vulnerable to exploitation by fraudsters.

To mitigate social engineering fraud in UPI, policymakers have focused on awareness campaigns. As a result, we set out to study the effectiveness of these awareness campaigns in raising awareness about UPI fraud and reducing the incidence of fraud. The study unearthed the limitations of these campaigns in informing users about their behavioural dispositions that are often exploited by fraudsters. We also uncovered how the campaigns did not inform users about the post-fraud recourse mechanism available to them.

In our presentation, we will explore the results of our study, highlighting the shortcomings in current awareness campaigns targeting UPI fraud and suggesting improvements.

Climate Risk and Financial Inclusion: A regulatory perspective on risks and opportunities

Date: Nov 28, 2023


Climate change poses risks to the real economy. This may drive a retrenchment of the financial sector away from serving the least profitable and most climate-exposed clients, namely low-income, rural households, and micro, small, and medium enterprises. Moreover, new reporting and disclosure requirements for increased environmental due diligence, along with other necessary regulatory actions, can unintentionally exacerbate financial exclusion if they are not implemented with a risk-based approach. Inclusive green finance policies can enhance financial stability by creating a more resilient real economy and reducing the risks facing the financial sector.

Political incentives and the welfare state: the case of healthcare.

Date: Nov 14, 2023


The role of politics in health prioritisation and in balancing disease prevention, health promotion and treatment is recognised. What is less understood however are the political incentives that, amongst competing priorities, drive priority to health. Priority to healthcare has varied across countries and across India’s sub national political regimes, leading to diverse healthcare reforms and health status. Tracing the evolution of such reforms highlights the nature of political incentives motivating leaders to prioritise health.

An analysis of these incentives and how they may be shaped, surfaces three broad insights. One, political ideology can be a motivation driving attention to health, but in its absence, political leaders often seek political legitimacy through attention to healthcare. Two, incentives can be created by external actors – civil society, citizen movements, media – by shifting the source of political legitimacy and highlighting schisms in the social contract between political regimes and citizens around healthcare, creating incentives for the attention to health. Sensitizing politicians to electorally rewarding policies can motivate action. Three, state capacity is a key variable in the confidence to undertake health reforms and the choice of reforms.

FINANCIAL MATTERS & MOTIVES: Insights into the various lives of gig workers

Date: Oct 31, 2023



A study that provides insights into gig workers’ income patterns, financial needs and key motivations, and identifies how broader ecosystem actors can help address challenges faced by the segment.

Findings of the inquiry into psychological factors that influence redressal-seeking behaviour

Date: Oct 03, 2023


Funded by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), researchers at the Centre for Social and Behaviour Change (CSBC) at Ashoka University in India conducted qualitative interviews and surveys to evaluate the impact of intrinsic factors such as locus of control, self-efficacy, and fatalism on how women consumers manage redress issues with their digital financial services providers. The speakers shared the results of this qualitative and survey-based inquiry into the psychological factors that influence redressal-seeking behaviour. The research questions, hypotheses, survey design, predictors and outcomes, and correlational analysis has been discussed.

India’s Statistical System – Past, Present, Future

Date: Sep 05, 2023


Once the envy of the world, India’s statistical system has decayed over time, and is facing growing questions from within and outside the government today. This talk was based on a recent Carnegie Endowment working paper on this subject, and it tried to trace the factors that drove the rise and wane of this system. It drew lessons from the past to outline a path towards reforms.

Is gig work a boon, bane, or both a boon and a bane? Exploring the financial lives of gig workers in Bangalore

Date: Aug 22, 2023


Gig platforms have become ubiquitous in urban India in recent years. According to NITI Aayog, India currently has about 7.7 million gig (platform) workers, a number that it expects will reach 24 million by 2030. Even as gig economy blooms, there are growing protests by gig workers about their working conditions, low pay, and lack of basic social security, prompting academics from various disciplines to closely study the gig (platform) economy. However, one gap in this rapidly expanding fiveld Read of literature is regarding their financial lives. Our study aims to fill this gap by documentivng the nature of platform work and how it is shaping the (financial) lives of platform workers and their families. Through a mixed methods approach that included focus group discussions, personal interviews, baseline surveys, and financial diaries, we gather insights from about 35 platform workers working with more than eight platforms in Bangalore – and coming from different age groups, genders, domicile statuses, platform segments ­­– about their experience(s) working with platforms, their earnings, expenses, cashflows, savings, borrowings, pension, insurance, time-use, past work, future work, financial goals, etc. During this talk, we discussed upon these insights to describe the relationship between platforms and platform workers, the resultant financial lives that platform workers lead, explain their financial behaviours and money management strategies, discussed where they are doing well and where they are not, and where they stand among the larger informal workforce as well as the urban Indian populace.

The Economic Impact of Social Organization: Empirical Evidence from India’s Self Help Groups

Date: Aug 08, 2023


A large number of financial policies embed economic exchange in Microfinance and Self Help groups that comprise a small number of members from very similar socio-economic backgrounds. Consumption growth may, however, require more expansive networks that promote “vertical” ties across households that differ in socio-economic status. Using data from India’s National Rural Livelihoods Mission, a program that supports federations of SHGs, we provide empirical support for this hypothesis.

Unpacking user-centricity of the MFIN Customer Redress Mechanism (MFIN-CGRM)

Date: Jul 25, 2023


Gig platforms have become ubiquitous in urban India in recent years. According to NITI Aayog, India currently has about 7.7 million gig (platform) workers, a number that it expects will reach 24 million by 2030. Even as gig economy blooms, there are growing protests by gig workers about their working conditions, low pay, and lack of basic social security, prompting academics from various disciplines to closely study the gig (platform) economy. However, one gap in this rapidly expanding fiveld Read of literature is regarding their financial lives. Our study aims to fill this gap by documentivng the nature of platform work and how it is shaping the (financial) lives of platform workers and their families. Through a mixed methods approach that included focus group discussions, personal interviews, baseline surveys, and financial diaries, we gather insights from about 35 platform workers working with more than eight platforms in Bangalore – and coming from different age groups, genders, domicile statuses, platform segments ­­– about their experience(s) working with platforms, their earnings, expenses, cashflows, savings, borrowings, pension, insurance, time-use, past work, future work, financial goals, etc. During this talk, we discussed upon these insights to describe the relationship between platforms and platform workers, the resultant financial lives that platform workers lead, explain their financial behaviours and money management strategies, discussed where they are doing well and where they are not, and where they stand among the larger informal workforce as well as the urban Indian populace.

How Do Borrowers Respond to a Debt Moratorium? Experimental Evidence from Consumer Loans in India

Date: June 27, 2023



Debt moratoria that allow borrowers to postpone loan payments are a frequently used tool intended to soften the impact of economic crises. We conduct a nationwide experiment with a large consumer lender in India to study how debt forbearance offers affect loan repayment and banking relationships. In the experiment, borrowers receive forbearance offers that are presented either as an initiative of their lender or the result of government regulation. We find that delinquent borrowers who are offered a debt moratorium by their lender are 4 percentage points (7 percent) less likely to default on their loan, while forbearance has no effect on repayment if it is granted by the regulator. Borrowers who are offered forbearance by their lender also have higher demand for future interactions with the lender: in a follow-up experiment conducted several months after the main intervention, demand for a non-credit product offered by the lender is 10 percentage points (27 percent) higher among customers who were offered repayment flexibility by the lender than among customers who received a moratorium offer presented as an initiative of the regulator. Overall, our results suggest that, rather than generating moral hazard, debt forbearance can improve loan repayment and support the creation of longer-term banking relationships not only for liquidity but also for relational contracting reasons. This provides a rationale for offering repayment flexibility even in settings where lenders are not required to provide forbearance.

Insuring India: Reflections on the PM-JAY story so far

Date: June 13, 2023



India’s PM-JAY program, a flagship initiative that aims to provide cashless hospital coverage to 500 million people, is approaching its fifth anniversary. This presentation reflected on key design features and scheme performance so far, including global experience with Universal Health Coverage (UHC) reforms. Focus topics included beneficiary identification, benefit design, managing finances, and accountability. Special attention was paid to the challenge of scheme implementation in a heterogeneous federal context. Some thoughts on possible future directions for system strengthening have been discussed.

Examining how new-to-UPI users use UPI apps: Behaviours, challenges, and solutions.

Date: May 30, 2023



The session presented insights from our study that examines how new-to-UPI users use UPI apps. It focused on the most dominant use cases, the frequency of usage, biggest apprehensions and grievance seeking behaviour across three groups- women users, migrant workers, and gig workers. The study builds on the quantitative data gathered from 262 respondents in Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, further substantiated by 25 in-depth interviews and usability tests. Our findings provide insights for thinking about UPI apps as a vehicle for digital financial inclusion.

Rethinking “Untapped” Value: Trust and Extraction in Commercial Microfinance

Date: May 16, 2023


Microfinances (MFIs) have accomplished the historic task of gaining the trust of a huge swath of the Indian citizenry in order to provide formal financial services. Yet today, these firms center the strategic interests of shareholders, while extracting maximum value from working class women borrowers who can ill afford the terms and costs. This talk explored the gendered financial structure of MFIs and suggest just pathways forward, building on MFI accomplishments and also brought focus on gender and livelihoods back to the center.

Billion Users: Interpreting insights for solutions

Date: May 02, 2023



Series of depth focused research on billion users can lead to product frameworks bringing multiple stakeholders to work towards a shared goal of product development impact. The talk covered the story of how women from rural and semi-urban regions in India build their digital proficiency with the intent of earning income as a case study in product framework. This framework summarises how actionable insights are not just converted to solutions but also contributes to larger product frameworks that teams can leverage for faster decision making. Then we had an enriching and interactive discussion on how to leverage/ apply research insights for solutions and a consulting approach to contextualise actionable insights for tech companies and startups.

Risk Barometer in Digital Lending – Towards Better Customer Protection

Date: Apr 19, 2023


India’s fintech lending industry has grown rapidly since 2014, with the evolution of new models and approaches to lending. This rapid growth offers the potential for many upsides in the form of easier access to much needed credit and including hitherto excluded consumer segments who may not have the ability to prove their ‘creditworthiness’. In India, as in other parts of the world, the growth in digital lending has been accompanied by a variety of risks. Some of these risks – such as over-indebtedness, data privacy, poor market practices of aggressive marketing and collection, and pricing – have long been associated with lenders and need to be addressed as a market conduct issue. To better understand the multitude of risks the Indian fintech lending industry faces, the Fintech Association for Consumer Empowerment (FACE) and CFI partnered to conduct a risk barometer study. The resulting fintech lending barometer report is the first attempt at identifying how risks are perceived by various stakeholders associated with the fintech lending industry in India and is a crucial first step to documenting how risks evolve.

Two Studies on Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) Products

Date: Feb 21, 2023


This talk combined two recent papers looking at Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL). First, Benedict presented his paper “Buy now, pay later (BNPL)… on your credit card“ and discussed BNPL more broadly. The paper uses transaction data to document the growth of BNPL in the UK. It shows that consumers charge their BNPL to their credit card: especially younger consumers and those in more deprived areas. Next, Paul presented his recent experimentlooking at interventions to improve consumer comprehension of BNPL terms and conditions during online purchases. The paper shows how relatively small changes to the consumer journey can help improve customer understanding of BNPL, and to some extent, reduce BNPL use.

Putting Citizens First: Designing Tech Systems for Social Protection, Three Case Studies

Date: Feb 07, 2023


States across the country are rapidly adopting open digital ecosystems for social protection (SP-ODEs) to deliver social protection benefits to citizens. This session provided a snapshot of the findings from Dvara Research’s two-year-long project on SP-ODEs. Through this session, the presenters unpacked the concept of SP-ODEs and delve into the reasons for building them. Further, building on Dvara’s existing knowledge of exclusion in digital social protection and digital finance, the presenters described the risks associated with deploying SP-ODEs and presented a citizen-centric framework that helps in surfacing risks in live SP-ODEs and providing guidance on mitigating them. As a proof of concept, the presenters shared findings from applying this framework to three actual SP-ODEs

Bank Sakhis – women agents empowering rural communities

Date: Jan 24, 2023


The talk was about the role of cash-in cash-out (CICO) women agents in empowering their communities to avail financial services. The presentation covered the global context of agent networks and their role in distributing financial services, the Self-Help Group ecosystem in India and Bank Sakhis who are drawn from self-help groups, as a growing presence of rural business correspondent agents, and a few findings from an in-depth research carried out in Bihar, India in 2022.

Digital Financial Inclusion and Women Entrepreneurship

Date: Jan 10, 2023



The talk described how digital financial literacy and digital business tools could prove to be transformational for women and women-owned micro and small enterprises in India. The audience learned about the World Bank program on digital financial literacy in India and the pilot that the team is doing with a local Trade Union (one of the biggest in India), teaching women entrepreneurs about digital bookkeeping.


Can information disclosures influence life insurance purchase decisions?

Date: Dec 13, 2022



Life insurance is an important financial tool that allows households to manage financial risks arising from the death of an earning member. Yet, in 2019, life insurance penetration (percentage of insurance premiums to GDP) was only 2.82%. While 38.3% of Indian households reported having a life insurance product as on September 2021, life insurance covered only 1.2% of the mortality protection needs of the country. Among those who do own a life insurance policy, traditional life insurance plans such as endowment plans (bundle of insurance plus investment) are much more prevalent than term life insurance plans (pure risk protection product). However, endowment plans are unsuitable due to poor returns, low life cover, and high penalty charges. We study the role of effective information disclosures in steering households towards buying term life insurance over endowment plans. We focus on information disclosure as a solution as we believe that it is the first of many steps required to ensure suitable product sales for customers. Through a lab-in-the-field experiment, we test three types of information disclosures and their impact in influencing customer’s willingness to purchase an endowment plan. We find that mere accurate disclosures that inform customers about realistic returns are not enough to change people’s habits. A change in habit requires offering multiple options based on accurate and complete disclosures, so that customers can benchmark returns and other features and make an informed choice that is more suitable to their needs.

Measuring customer outcomes in financial consumer protection: Lessons from pilots in South Africa and Uganda

Date: Nov 29, 2022


According to CGAP, a “customer outcomes-based approach” to consumer protection focuses on the experiences and results of a customer’s access to and use of financial services, which are consequences of a financial service provider’s products, delivery, conduct, and practices. This presentation briefly goes over the main components of such an approach, and then summarizes the implementation steps of a pilot exercise that focused on measuring and monitoring intermediate customer outcomes from a supervisory perspective, as well as the lessons from the experiences by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority and five providers in South Africa that participated in the pilot. The presentation also shares key lessons from the application of the measurement framework to a savings product offered by a Ugandan provider, considering Bank of Uganda’s financial inclusion goals.

Diagnosing Gendered Social Norms Can Unlock Pathways For Achieving Women’s Financial Health Outcomes

Date: Nov 01, 2022



Gendered social norms have critical bearings on women’s access to resources, whether it be skills, business knowledge or access to capital; and their financial behaviours – how they plan, save, spend, or borrow. Understanding these gendered norms can provide critical data and contextual cues for designing women-centric financial systems. With this premise, UNCDF’s financial health programme partnered with CGAP and FinEquity’s peer learning program “Social Norms Diagnostic Co-Lab” to integrate social norms diagnostics into our learning framework that examines how social norms affect women’s financial health in specific contexts. In this talk we will explore the need to diagnose gendered social norms in research and design of financial solutions, and identify ways of unboxing women’s potential to inspire design.

Financial Inclusion of Bharat: Research on Who, What and How

Date: Oct 18, 2022


Between 2018-2022, CIIE.CO undertook over 24 studies under the theme of financial inclusion in India. These studies were diverse in their research questions, focus areas and approach. The recently published book “Financial Inclusion of Bharat: Insights into People, Markets and Startups” consolidates the key insights from these studies. In this talk, Dr. Sharma will primarily touch upon three themes: (a) how CIIE nudged the founder’s empathy for the target customer through the stories of the People of Bharat, (b) on-ground research that leads to product building – here the talk will highlight some data-backed insights into specific user segments such as rural household and gig workers, and (c) what it takes to build and scale a startup that serves low and middle income customers.

Family Accord, Kin Taxes and Borrowing: The Financial Choices of Filipina Domestic Workers in Hong Kong

Date: Sep 20, 2022


As economic migrants, Filipina domestic workers in Hong Kong often articulate the goals of their migration in financial terms. However evidence suggests considerable heterogeneity in whether they succeed in achieving these. We study their reported and actual financial behaviours, and how they interact with pressure to share cash with family members. Consistent with prior research in other contexts, we find strong evidence that outstanding loan repayment obligations help to resist financial demands from family members. Possibly for this reason, indebted migrants are generally willing to reveal an unexpected cash in-flow to their family members. Instead, those who mainly rely on saving to build investments are more likely to use strategic sharing of information as a tool: they report in surveys that they would conceal an unexpected in-flow but would reveal a loan. Both groups have larger savings than their counterparts who are either non-strategic in how they share information, or conceal all information. The findings shed light on the channels through which a migrant’s relationships with family members can influence their migration success.

Learnings on grievance redress systems from international experience

Date: Aug 23, 2022


Grievance redress mechanism (GRM) is an essential component of the consumer protection framework in the financial sector which allows a consumer to seek remedy against the wrongs of the Financial Service Providers. While there could be various forms of GRM (both judicial and non-judicial), in this report, we study the design of a non-judicial redress agency. The report studies the critical organisational decisions faced in the design of a redress agency, namely — manner of establishment, governance, funding, dispute resolution processes, and performance evaluation. We build on the principles-level and practical guidance literature along with case studies from four international redress agencies. The report attempts to add value by assimilating all the varied resources to map principles, options, and case-studies to provide an accessible yet comprehensive introduction to designing a GRM for a varied readership

The promise of NLP and social media to monitor consumer complaints

Date: July 26, 2022


The digital lending app market has grown substantially in the past several years and, especially over COVID, so have concerns about consumer risk for those who use these apps. Digital finance apps have certain challenges in terms of market monitoring, but also significant advantages, particularly in the frequency and amount of complaint data that is generated online, such as through Google Play Reviews and Twitter. The challenge has been to develop the techniques to use all this rich data to make sense of the nature and patterns of the complaints over time. Natural Language Processing is a key tool to help us do that. In this talk from Decodis, a tech-led research firm specializing in NLP and sociolinguistics, shared experiences in developing NLP tools to understand the digital lending app market over the past two years.

Reforms to make finance inclusive for women

Date: July 12, 2022



The talk focused on certain legal and policy reforms that may be made in some of the existing and proposed Indian laws, to make finance more inclusive for women enterprises, and for women in general. The reforms relate to women enterprises and creating more avenues for credit flow to them, expanding the reach of banking services to women and suggestions to add a gender lens to the financial services being offered by various financial service providers.

Last Among Equals: Making Panchayats Responsive to Citizens

Date: Jun 28, 2022


This talk, drawing from Dr. Sharan’s book Last Among Equals: Power, Caste and Politics in Bihar’s Villages, dealt with how power concentrated in entrenched elites in village societies can be distributed better to those on the margins. He also argued that change — ephemeral, incremental or transformational — is possible, through government policy and collective action.

Social Health Protection in India: Challenges and Possibilities

Date: Jun 14, 2022



India has witnessed rapid increase in the legal social health protection (SHP) coverage of its population over the last decade. Two of the largest public institutions responsible for this are the ESIC and the PM-JAY. Together, these two institutions cover more than 50 percent of India’s population. While historically distinct in their organization and approach, they face common challenges – of scaling up service delivery, sustaining federal cooperation, influencing health-seeking behaviour among the insured population, aggregating existing demand and cumulatively, demonstrating contribution to India’s Universal Health Coverage agenda. The speaker will discuss some of the challenges and possibilities of this SHP landscape, based on his recent work.

Lessons from a 30-month immersive financial capacity building initiative for women in Rajasthan

Date: May 31, 2022



The case for targeted initiatives to bridge financial inclusion gap for women has been made out quite copiously in the literature. However, limited number of such initiatives exist in practice. From July 2017 to December 2019, CUTS International implemented immersive financial capacity building initiatives targeting women in Bhilwara and Chittorgarh districts of Rajasthan. The initiative covered all the 673 village councils and consequently 23 blocks of these districts. Over a period of 30 months, 140 cluster trainings, and 572 periodical meetings were organised, with the help from 180 primarily-women community based facilitators, resulting in 9,395 direct beneficiaries. A lot of lessons emerged from approach, experience, challenges, and findings of the initiative, have been discussed in the presentation.

Building Gender Responsive Digital Information Systems – A case study of digitizing SHGs

Date: May 17, 2022


Starting December 2020, IT for Change has been working on a project that digitizes the records of SHGs (self-help-groups) which serve as both, financial intermediaries for micro credit access and social support structures. The project involved making a series of recommendations highlighting the different ways in which information systems could be made more gender-responsive. The recommendations spanned the entire data lifecycle, focusing on potential risks in techno-design and institutional choices and ways in which the system may be leveraged to further women’s empowerment. This presentation provided a summary of this study, highlighting the importance of thinking “gender by design”.

Covid-19 and Bengaluru’s Urban Poor- Key Findings from the Azim Premji University Bengaluru Covid Impact Survey

Date: Apr 19, 2022



Azim Premji University, in collaboration with nine Civil Society Organizations, conducted a survey of 3,000 households in 92 low-income settlements across 33 wards of Bengaluru. The survey was done to estimate the continuing impact of Covid-19 induced lockdowns and economic disruptions on employment and livelihoods. The survey also captured information on access to government support as well as coping mechanisms. The findings show that livelihood impacts of the pandemic have persisted far beyond the lockdowns. The long period of depressed earnings, lower food intake and debt/sale of assets will hamper the ability of households to recover from the pandemic unless more support is provided. Relief measures have had a mixed record of reaching the urban poor.

Insights from CGAP’s Market Monitoring Toolkit to advance Financial Consumer Protection

Date: Apr 05, 2022


Digital financial services are not only expanding financial inclusion to underserved and low-income consumers, but also exposing them to new and heightened risks. Market monitoring can help financial and consumer protection authorities identify, understand, and track consumer risks, behaviors, and outcomes, and act promptly. This talk presented CGAP’s market monitoring toolkit, which aims to provide authorities with practical guidance for selecting and implementing individual market monitoring tools, illustrative country cases methods to start incorporating market monitoring as part of regular supervisory activities. We summarized the main components of the toolkit, and highlight how supervisors and other stakeholders can contribute to the implementation of effective market monitoring, in the context of a customer-centric and outcomes-based approach to consumer protection.

Do Indian financial firms have a robust Grievance Redress Framework in place?

Date: Mar 22, 2022



A rapid expansion in the Indian financial sector has necessitated a growing focus on improving customer service which also includes the delivery of a robust Grievance Redressal Mechanism (GRM). A GRM is a formal system through which complaints are resolved in a time-bound manner, thus improving public service delivery in the financial system. This paper assesses the GRM policy content that is available on the website of 21 financial service providers in India. The firms include the top three firms by market share in each sector – banking, insurance, pensions, payments, mutual funds, and brokerages. Financial firms differ in their performance across different metrics, highlighting areas for improvement with grievance redress processes with financial services providers (FSP).

Market & regulatory monitoring of overindebtedness

Date: Mar 08, 2022



Preventing overindebtedness is one of the most difficult aspects of client protection. The reasons are many: preventing it often requires saying no to a client – whether no to the loan amount she’s requesting or no to any loan at all; it means going against the logic of volume – no loan officer or branch manager will ever receive a bonus for lending less; it means going against the intrinsic forces of competition, ceding a client to a more aggressive or less scrupulous competitor; it means going against the often prevailing impulse of borrowers to emphasize the needs of the present and discount the risks of the future; but most importantly, it means setting rules and monitoring for something that is inherently undefined and practically impossible to measure. And where doing this is hard enough at the level of an institution, preventing overindebtedness at the level of an entire market may seem a bridge altogether too far. Yet it can be achieved, and perhaps with less difficulty than one might presume. Building on the work of the MIMOSA project and the market-wide efforts to prevent overindebtedness in Cambodia and elsewhere, this talk explored what financial inclusion actors, including regulators, can do to minimize the risks of overindebtedness and ensure long-term sustainability of low-income credit markets.

The Evolving Nature and Scale of Consumer Risks in Digital Finance: Findings from CGAP’s Global Research

Date: Feb 22, 2022


Digital financial services (DFS) have been a critical driver of financial inclusion in emerging and developing countries. But in recent years, the emergence of innovative DFS solutions has introduced risks and, in some cases, exacerbated pre-existent risks for vulnerable DFS users, which if not addressed may reverse the progress made in advancing financial inclusion. This talk presented CGAP’s findings on the evolution of the nature and scale of DFS consumer risks. CGAP’s global research reviewed literature and gathered insights from over 70 experts. Based on the assessment of DFS consumer risks in recent years, CGAP has developed a consumer risk typology to simplify the analysis of consumer risks in digital finance. This talk summarized the global research findings and help stakeholders understand the extent of consumer risks in digital finance. It also briefly highlighted CGAP’s solutions, such as the market monitoring toolkit, elevating the collective consumer voice, and the customer outcomes approach to consumer protection that can help to mitigate the risks.

The Experiences of the MFI Sector: How microfinance institutions from India and the world have negotiated the COVID-19 challenge.

Date: Feb 08, 2022


The microfinance sector has never faced a challenge like the COVID-19 pandemic. In many cases, customer repayment rates touched zero, while providers had to service their own obligations. The period was marked by an acceleration towards digitization, rationalizing human resources, product innovations, and regulatory and fiscal uncertainties. To understand the challenges faced by MFI leaders, and the choices they evaluated and the decisions they made, we conducted long-term “case-style” periodic interviews with CEOs of MFIs, as a part of the Sentinel Project, housed at the Financial Access Initiative. In this presentation, we discussed the findings from India, and a few other select jurisdictions.

What to Think about Financial Health: Findings from the UNSGSA Financial Health Working Group

Date: Jan 25, 2022


The effort to become financially healthy occupies a central place in the life struggles of millions of families. But the concept of financial health is only now beginning to penetrate the thinking of participants in the global financial inclusion sector. This talk will present the findings of the UNSGSA Financial Health Working Group, convened in 2021 by H.M Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, in her capacity as the U.N. Secretary General’s Special Advocate on Financial Inclusion for Development. The group of experts from business, government and non-profits assessed the level of interest in and knowledge about financial health across the sector and proposed an agenda for making financial health more central to the decision making of policy makers and financial service providers. This talk summarized the group’s findings on the implications of financial health for policy and the private sector, with a special attention to measuring financial health.

Insights from All-India Debt and Investment Survey, 2019

Date: Jan 11, 2022


The All-India Debt and Investment Survey (AIDIS) conducted by the National Statistical Office is a nationally representative survey of Indian households that collects information about the assets and liabilities of households. The survey is unique in that in provides detailed information about the volume and value of financial and physical assets households own as well as the incidence and source of indebtedness among households. Such an information is useful as it allows us to construct the balance sheet of households, thereby helping us understand the level of interaction households have with the formal financial system. Studying household’s financial behaviour is crucial in assessing the state of access to and use of formal financial services and the progress Indian households have made in their financial inclusion journey. In this talk, we presented key insights from AIDIS, 2019, and paint a picture of the current landscape of Indian household finance.


The Fit Factor: Matching Loans & Savings to Cash Flows

Date: Dec 07, 2021


Typically, when we set out to measure the impact of a loan on someone’s life, we tend to look at what happens after they take the loan— for instance, whether their income increases, whether they are able to spend more on education, or whether they acquire more assets. However, there are a couple of limitations to this approach:

Outcomes data taken following a loan tends to be a snapshot of a certain point in time, and is usually collected at a time pre-determined by the service provider, rather than at a time that makes sense for the borrower in terms of when they expect to see results from the loan
Changes in income and increased spending on education can be influenced by many different factors in a person’s life, not just their access to finance. For instance, we see in financial diary research that unexpected events happen more often than we might think, such as accidents, sudden medical needs, new opportunities, and other events which may disrupt the original plans a borrower had for their loan

While outcomes data is useful, it cannot give us the full picture of the utility provided by a loan or other financial service. What if, in addition to outcomes data, we considered the impact of a financial service from a cash flow perspective? In other words, what if we could see how loans or savings fit with clients’ real cash flows and affect their day-to-day money management? Using data from Stuart Rutherford’s Hrishipara Daily Diaries project, we would like to introduce a new impact measure which looks at how financial services either reduce or add to the volatility of a person’s cash flows. Our working assumption is that services which increase cash flow volatility generally make money harder to manage, and vice versa. We call this measure of impact on volatility the Fit Factor. Link to paper

The KarmaLife Journey: Building New Paradigms in Small Ticket Finance for Non Salaried Workers

Date: Nov 23, 2021


85% of India’s workforce is non salaried with roughly 100M linked to non-farm organised sectors. These primarily comprise steady, hand-to-mouth earners and spenders, annually churning ~$300B in transaction value. The younger gig segments are also digital early adopters that use digital apps for content, commerce and payments. Yet these workers have little access to financial services simply because traditional financial institutions are unable to assess the real time risk and deliver viable finance in required formats. A combination of workflow digitisation trends, increased smartphone penetration, and public digital infrastructure creates the perfect storm for more appropriate, cash-flow based finance. The talk shared highlights from proprietary research conducted on financial needs & habits of select gig worker segments. It also discussed KarmaLife’s data-driven, credit-first approach to solving this problem, along with some early user and product level insights along the journey. More information on KarmaLife’s solution is available on its website and via these B2B and B2C explainer videos.

Digital Doorstep Banking: Female Banking Agents Lead Digital Financial Inclusion Through the Pandemic and Beyond

Date: Nov 09, 2021


The business correspondent (BC)–agent banking model in India has proven to be a low-cost, innovative solution to address financial inclusion in rural India. We use a gender and technology lens to explore the role of female banking agents in facilitating access to social security transfers using fingerprint-based biometric authentication solutions during the nationwide pandemic related lockdown in India between March 2020 and July 2020. During the lockdown period, banking agents supported access to government pandemic related cash transfers with dramatic increases in the number of transactions made during this period. Using data from multiple small samples of banking agents, we highlight the on-the-ground challenges observed in the provision of basic banking services to access cash transfers during the pandemic. In the talk, we discussed the case for strengthening the agent banking ecosystem, improving the delivery architecture for direct benefit transfers (DBTs), encouraging competition between banking service providers, and providing demand-based financial products and services to expand gender-focused financial inclusion further.

Financial Inclusion and Economic Growth in India Amid Demonetization

Date: Oct 12, 2021


Does financial inclusion through opening of bank accounts catalyze economic activity? We use the case study of a large-scale financial inclusion programme in India called Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) to investigate this question. Firstly, we establish that financial inclusion and economic activity share a long-term link. The variables move together and are in a long-run equilibrium relationship. Secondly, we find that the relationship between financial inclusion and economic activity experiences structural breaks clustered around the month in which demonetization of Indian currency was announced. Further, our analysis of causality directions shows that in the period before demonetization, an increase in economic activity causes an increase in the use of banking. Post-demonetization, the direction of the causal relationship between economic activity and banking reverses. An increase in banking transactions now causes a positive impact on economic growth. We discussed the likely channels through which causality operates and the possible reasons for reversal in the causality direction.

Tamil Nadu Agriculture Budget 2021 – Will it Solve Farm Woes?
Tamil Nadu Agriculture Budget 2021-2022 – Perspectives from the ground

Date: Sep 28, 2021


Tamil Nadu has been known as one of the best states in the agricultural sector since the beginning of the Green Revolution, but its farmers are facing a variety of problems starting from low income to high level of indebtedness in recent times. For the first time in the history of Tamil Nadu, the newly elected DMK government has recently presented an exclusive budget 2021-22 for the agricultural sector, which is a welcome step towards achieving better growth in the farm sector in the future. However, there is a need to look at whether the budget has addressed the core issues of the farm sector. Specifically, we need to see whether the programmes announced in the budget in any way help to reduce the fallow land and increase the cropped area, which are serious issues facing Tamil Nadu’s agricultural sector today. Are the long-term visions mentioned in the budget achievable? Can agri-budget be presented without including the irrigation sector? Will the increase in MSP for paddy solve the long-time woes of paddy farmers? Can the income of farmers be increased through the programmes announced in the budget? What should be done to stimulate the growth of agriculture? I will be covering all these issues in my presentation.

Talk title 2:
Tamil Nadu Agriculture Budget 2021-2022 – Perspectives from the ground Dr. Tannirkulam presented a qualitative discussion on some thrust areas of the budget based on my interaction with farmers, village level agriculture-service providers and traders. There is a push for increased collectivization of farmers and an increase in the share of organic farming in the State. He shared some concerns and opportunities around this highlighted by a dry-land farmers’ group.

Innovations in Health Financing: Dvara’s Health Savings Account (HSA) approach

Date: Sep 14, 2021


Health financing in India devolves heavily to out-of-pocket expenditures with commercial insurance accounting for less than 10% population coverage. This combined with fragmentation & poor quality on the provider side have contributed to poor health outcomes at a population level and increasing financial vulnerability. Dvara’s new initiative, Health Savings Account, aims to address some key gaps in health financing among the low and middle income sections of the Indian population. We are seeking to build innovative bundles that combine savings, insurance and primary health care. Successful efforts here have the potential to increase financial risk protection and positively impact health outcomes. In the talk, we reviewed the landscape for health financing in India, examine key gaps and share the hypotheses motivating the HSA experimentation.

Delivering services to low income migrant households: Learnings from Chalo Network (and the wider “migration ecosystem”)

Date: Aug 31,2021



Since the 2020 migrant crisis, effectively delivering public goods and essential services to low income migrant households has been a key concern of governments and civil society across India. However, due to the largely informal, often deliberately clandestine, dynamic and multi-locational nature of migrant lives, little progress has been made on this front. The slow progress in the face of an unprecedented health and labour market crisis, betrays the institutional inexperience and the political economic barriers in engaging with migrant households in India. Addressing this is the centerpiece of the work at India Migration Now and its implementation arm, the Chalo Network, where through a combination of primary and policy design research, strategic partnerships and implementation pilots we have derived metrics for tracking migration along with design principles and approaches for delivering services to migrant households. In this talk, India Migration now has shared some of their key findings from their work delivering financial, identity and welfare services in major migration corridors and locate them in the wider ecosystem push for mainstreaming migration in India.

Financial inclusion through payment transactions – securing the unsecured

Date: Aug 17,2021



The talk drew attention to the country’s financial inclusion initiative through the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) and looks into aspects related to fairness and effectiveness of the use of Basic Savings Bank Deposit Accounts (BSBDAs) opened under the Yojana. We see how on the one hand the country envisages a less-cash society while on the other hand the BSBDA holders had been disincentivised in their digital transactions for day-to-day payments. On a focused note, we showcase the gaps that exists in the regulatory and supervisory responsibility of RBI for the BSBDA users. While having embraced digital means for transacting, the BSBDA customers remained an unprotected lot since few banks exploited this marginalised section of the society through imposition of usurious service charges or creating other impediments like setting unreasonable limits for digital transactions in a month. Towards corrective measures, we give our recommendations. The talk is based on a recent report “Regulating Basic Savings Bank Deposit Accounts— Do we need to care for these marginalized depositors?”

Digital payments for remittances: sharing results from an impact evaluation in India

Date: Aug 3, 2021


Good Business Lab and the IDinsight financial inclusion team in 2019 conducted an RCT joint project aimed at promoting digital payment tools among female migrant workers in the garment industry in India. We studied the impacts of a workplace program providing training on digital payment applications on the use of such technology for remittances among migrant workers. We find that classroom training increases the use of digital payment applications by about 5 percentage points, and (more expensive) individualized training by 11 percentage points. However, when it comes to using digital payments for remittances, we find the statistically significant impact only for the individualized training with an increase of 7-8 percentage points. In this session, we presented the context, the intervention, and the results of the study, as well as highlighted the main technological and regulatory barriers to adoption.

COVID-19, Cyclones and Crises: Taking Stock of Social Protection Architecture in India

Date: July 20, 2021


The talk drew on CMIE survey data and experiences from the World Bank’s ongoing partnerships with eight state governments and national government agencies to strengthen cash transfers, social-care and social protection responses to crises. The focus will be on comparing India’s social protection system with experiences from other relevant middle-income countries and identifying a few key areas for immediate emergency response in the context of the second wave of the pandemic in India and potential long-term reforms.

Understanding and Evaluating the CoWIN Platform

Date: July 06, 2021


Utilising a digital platform such as CoWIN to administer a large-scale vaccination exercise garnered significant attention from naysayers and optimists alike. It is one of the latest example of providing essential public services to citizens via a digital platform. The platform has been designed as a “cloud-based IT solution for planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating Covid-19 vaccines”. It has multiple interfaces accessible by various users depending on their requirements. For example, while citizens may access the platform to book vaccination slots, administrators use an administrator-interface to monitor vaccination progress at the back end. Each interface or module performs a specific function in the vaccine delivery chain. Unlike other digital platform, CoWIN was deployed at a large-scale and hence gave us an opportunity to assess it as an ODE designed for digital welfare delivery. During the session, we examined the mechanics of the CoWIN platform and assess it based on the attributes we have developed for a good SP-ODE.

Adoption of banking products by bottom of pyramid consumers: An empirical investigation

Date: Jun 22, 2021


Vaccine hesitancy, according to the WHO, refers to a delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccine services. With vaccines being a strong part of the arsenal in the global fight against COVID-19, it is the need of the hour to combat any form of hesitancy and encourage vaccine acceptance. Given the growing vaccine hesitancy worldwide, we, at ideas42, are applying behavioral science insights to support and optimize COVID-19 vaccine acceptance, follow-through, and service delivery. While this is an ongoing work and we are at the initial stages ourselves, given the wide interest and relevance of the subject, we would be sharing our research findings and early learnings. During this session, the speakers presented behavioral interventions that ideas42 has designed for implementation in the US and make a case for applying a behavioral approach to overcome the vaccine hesitancy challenge in India.


Using behavioral science to combat COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy – sharing learnings from the ongoing work in the United States and research in India

Date: May 25, 2021


Vaccine hesitancy, according to the WHO, refers to a delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccine services. With vaccines being a strong part of the arsenal in the global fight against COVID-19, it is the need of the hour to combat any form of hesitancy and encourage vaccine acceptance. Given the growing vaccine hesitancy worldwide, we, at ideas42, are applying behavioral science insights to support and optimize COVID-19 vaccine acceptance, follow-through, and service delivery. While this is an ongoing work and we are at the initial stages ourselves, given the wide interest and relevance of the subject, we would be sharing our research findings and early learnings. During this session, the speakers presented behavioral interventions that ideas42 has designed for implementation in the US and make a case for applying a behavioral approach to overcome the vaccine hesitancy challenge in India.

Analyzing social security schemes – their role and reach during the COVID-19 pandemic

Date: May 11, 2021


The talk presented and discussed the findings from three rounds of data collected by a collective of 60+ NGOs, called the Rapid Rural Community Response (RCRC). The data has been collected from 11 states. The three rounds were conducted in May-June’20, June-July’20 and Dec’20-Jan’21. To complement the data collected, we conducted consultation sessions with NGOs in some states to understand district level differences and find explanations for trends observed in the data. The objective of the study is to examine the reach and effectiveness of social security schemes, to inform better reach, simpler processes and responsive designing of government schemes. The effort brings together practitioners and researchers to inform policy-making.

Dull Disasters? How planning ahead will make a difference, and other research from the Centre for Disaster Protection

Date: Apr 27, 2021


The world was not ready for Covid-19. But we could have been. We could have been prepared for the many climate-related disasters, famines, conflicts and global health threats of the past decade. We have the science and expertise to monitor and forecast risks, yet we still treat disasters as surprises. We have the financial know-how to have money in place when disaster strikes, yet households, communities, and even countries still end up passing around a begging bowl. This work harnesses lessons from finance, political science, economics, psychology, and the natural sciences to show how countries and their partners can be far better prepared to deal with disasters. The insights can lead to practical ways in which governments, civil society, private firms, and international organizations can work together to reduce the risks to people and economies when a disaster looms. Responses to disasters then become less emotional, less political, less headline-grabbing, and more business as usual and effective. The presentation will explore a range of solutions that have been implemented around the world to respond to disasters. It will give an overview of the evidence on what works and what doesn’t and it will examines the crucial issue of disaster risk financing and insurance. Building on the latest evidence from around the world, it will present a set of lessons and principles to guide future practice in this area with a particular focus on implications for India.

Government of India’s response to COVID-19 pandemic – A demand-side perspective

Date: Apr 13, 2021


The talk featured the results from the first two rounds of a demand-side study that MicroSave Consulting (MSC) is conducting. The first round was conducted in May 2020, the second in September 2020, and a third-round is planned for May 2021. The objective of this study is to gauge the demand-side effectiveness of state government interventions during COVID-19, and thereby to help central and state governments improve the implementation of COVID-specific measures to secure the poor and vulnerable from economic shocks. The demand-side study complements the work that MSC undertook in 2020 with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India, wherein the response and readiness of state governments to address COVID-19 was systematically tracked and periodic reports submitted to the MHA with a relative ranking of states and good practices for states to learn from each other. In all, four reports were submitted between April 2020 and July 2020, and widely circulated within the central and state governments.

Financial access of unbanked villages in India from 1951 to 2019: A Spatial Approach

Date: Mar 30, 2021


How has bank branch expansion changed in pace and coverage with different policies of RBI? We develop a novel measure of financial access at the village level by finding the Euclidean distance of unbanked villages to the nearest village or town with bank branch for each year from 1951-2019. We use this measure of financial access to study different bank branch expansion policies over last seven decades. Particularly, we observe how proximity to banks changes in four different regimes of bank branch expansion—pre-Social Banking Phase (1950-1969), Social Banking Phase (1969-1990), Liberalization Period 1 (1990-2005) and Liberalization Period 2 (2005 onwards). We find that social banking policy led to a rapid decline in distance and, thereby, increased financial access. These gains became restricted from 1990 to 2005 as the policy of mandatory quotas on bank branch opening was withdrawn. However, financial access improved again from 2005 onwards when RBI withdrew service area approach rules on lending in rural markets and introduced incentive-led policies for bank branch expansion. The results suggest that sound, predictable and incentive driven methods can provide both efficiency and equity of public service provision. The possibility to replicate our measure of financial access in other areas of policy is discussed in conclusion.

Online needs offline: Architectures for digital inclusivity Study: Last Mile Access to Urban Governance Study: Restoring Agency: Modified Choice Approach

Date: Mar 16, 2021


The Last Mile Access research is a year-long empirical, mixed-methods study conducted by Aapti Institute in partnership with Omidyar Network India and eGovernments Foundation. The study explores existing pathways to government services for marginalised citizens in the context of digital platforms. The key takeaway of this study is the role of offline architectures including human intermediaries, processes, and mechanisms that sit alongside tech to amplify reach and access for last-mile citizens.

Delivery of Social Entitlements in India – Unpacking Exclusion, Grievance Redressal, and Role of Civil Society Organisations

Date: Mar 02, 2021


As a follow-up to our previous work on exclusion in welfare schemes, Dvara Research, in collaboration with Gram Vaani (GV), undertook a study encompassing an analysis of complaints from citizens unable to access welfare benefits and the resolution pathways that were used by GV volunteers to assist such citizens. We covered welfare beneficiaries across seven DBT schemes, MGNREGA, PDS, and Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. The study highlights how a citizen/volunteer navigates the welfare labyrinth across the various administrative tiers of scheme implementation and underscores the need to revisit the design of grievance redress mechanisms in welfare delivery.

Employment Dynamics in Microenterprises during COVID 19

Date: Feb 16, 2021



The COVID-19 crisis has really tested the entrepreneurial ecosystem. In this session, Sharon Buteau discussed interesting insights gathered through a rapid periodic assessment of Indian microenterprises from June 2020 to October 2020 (GAME/LEAD collaboration), to shine a light on how they have navigated challenging circumstances posed by the crisis across multiple business dimensions and employment.


Underground Remittance Networks and Migrant Financial Ecosystems

Date: Feb 02, 2021


Ecuador has a long history of migrant and refugee reception, where historical trend has grown in the last 5 years with large numbers of Venezuelans choosing to remain and reside in Ecuador. As of September 2020, Ecuador estimates 400 thousand Venezuelan economic refugees living in the country. One of their stories is that of “Nia” a young Venezuelan who participated in the underground financial remittance system made possible by Ecuador’s dollarized economy. In this session, Natalia Espinosa Tokuhama discussed the mechanics of the remittances scheme, as well as contrasted the financial health with that of internal Ecuadorian migrants to the city.

Length of the Last Mile – Delays & Hurdles in NREGA Wage Payments

Date: Jan 19, 2021


Building on LibTech India’s collective experience of working on NREGA and the three state (Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan) survey, LibTech India released a report titled ‘Length of the Last Mile: Delays & Hurdles in NREGA Wage Payments’ in November, 2020. The report is an attempt to document the perspective of the workers in accessing their own wages. In this session, Sakina and Rajendran presented some key observations from the report.

Namita Aggarwal

 Namita Aggarwal Co-Heads Janaagraha’s Municipal Finance program as Head, Municipal Revenues, overseeing work on municipal borrowings and municipal own source revenues. In her role, Namita works closely with senior leadership in the union government, constitutional bodies and market regulators, multilateral institutions and several state governments to drive systemic reforms to municipal borrowings and municipal own source revenues. She also runs, India’s national municipal finance portal. Namita has actively contributed to driving property tax revenue growth in the country through her policy design and implementation support to the union and state governments. She authored the ‘Property Tax Toolkit’, published by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in 2020, that serves as a template for property tax reforms for several states and cities across the country. She co-authored a paper for the World Bank Group on “Gender-based Discounts on Taxes Related to Property”. 

Prior to Janaagraha, Namita served as an area sales manager in Hindustan Unilever covering the Homecare portfolio in the Coastal Odisha markets. Namita holds a graduate degree in Mathematics from Miranda House, Delhi and a post graduate diploma in business management from IIM Kozhikode.

Anush Kapadia

Anush Kapadia works at IIT Bombay in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. He is affiliated with the Centre for Policy Studies and the Centre for Liberal Education at IIT Bombay and leads the New Political Economy Initiative.

Dan Cassara

 Dan supports Financial Inclusion programs at CEGA, which aim to build the evidence base about how better tools for managing money can help low-income households save, invest, and spend in ways that improve their livelihoods. Prior to joining CEGA, Dan spent five years with Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA), one of the largest investment management firms in the US. While there, he worked on their Financial Institutions Group, deepening key partnerships with some of the world’s largest and most complex financial services firms. Dan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Chicago. 

Rajan Raju

Raju Raju is the Principal of a Single-Family Office which invests globally across asset classes; published SSRN author with works exploring investment strategies and market analysis in the Indian context; seasoned board member, advisor, and visiting faculty; and former career banker with a rich history of strategic roles in prestigious global institutions.

Ravi Saraogi

Ravi Saraogi, CFA, is the co-founder of Samasthiti Advisors and a SEBI Registered Investment Adviser. He previously headed the fund raising and product design verticals at Northern Arc Investments (formerly known as IFMR Investments). Prior to Northern Arc, he worked at the institutional equities research desk at IIFL Capital and JP Morgan. Ravi was recognized as one of the “40 under 40” outstanding professionals in the Indian Alternative Investment industry by the Indian Association of Alternative Investment Funds (IAAIF). He is a member of the Professional Learning (PL) committee at the CFA Society India. He is a master’s in economics from Madras School of Economics and CFA charterholder from the CFA Institute, US.

Dr. Susan Thomas, Senior Research Fellow And Co-founder, XKDR Forum

Susan Thomas studied civil engineering at IIT Bombay and economics at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. She was faculty at IGIDR Bombay. She is now a Senior Research Fellow and Co-Founder at XKDR Forum. She does quantitative and policy-oriented research in the fields of finance, government contracting and courts, approaching these questions in an inter-disciplinary fashion. She participated in the policy process in the equity market reforms in the 1990s and 2000s, and the bankruptcy reforms of the 2010s. Her current work can be accessed at

Email address:

Geetika Palta

Geetika Palta studied Economics at the University of Delhi and then, at the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics. She is now a Research Associate at XKDR Forum. Her research interest lies in the intersection of households and finance aimed at measuring financial inclusion of Indian households. She also works on measuring performance of the legal system in India. Her work can be accessed at

Email Adress:

Tanika Chakraborty

Tanika Chakraborty is an Associate Professor of Economics at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. Formerly, she worked at DIW, Berlin, and at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, after completing her PhD in Economics from Washington University, St Louis. She is a Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) Bonn, CESifo Munich and the Global Labor Organization. Tanika works in Development Economics. Most recently she has been working on the health insurance market in India. Her research has featured in some of the leading field journals including the Journal of Development Economics, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Demography, World Development, Journal of Comparative Economics, among others. Tanika has undertaken large and long-duration research projects in Germany and in India funded by IZA-DFID, ICSSR-India, IDRC Canada, UNICEF. She partnered extensively with various bodies of the government of India on consultancy projects and served as an expert in the minimum wage committee of the Government of India. 

Prof. Krishnamurthy Vaidyanathan

Prof Vaidyanathan is faculty in the finance and economics group at the Indian School of Business (ISB). He has been Associate Dean at ISB. Before joining ISB, he was a faculty at the University of Connecticut, where he won the Most Outstanding Faculty Award. In his previous avatar, he was an investment banker with JPMorgan in Hong Kong, New York, and Singapore and later became a dismal scientist – doing his Ph.D. and Postdoctoral Fellowship and joining academia. While he cut his teeth studying electrical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, he found his true calling in finance and economics while pursuing his MBA at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad. While being a dismal scientist, he continues to engage with the real world, for example, by being on the board of directors of financial institutions and on the advisory committees of regulatory institutions such as SEBI. 

Varsha Vadlamani

 Varsha is a Senior Associate on the Services team at 60 Decibels, based in India. She is currently working as a Services Team Lead in the 2024 Microfinance Index, coordinating the completion of 100+ projects. She was a key member in the analysis and report writing of the 2023 MFI Index as well. Since joining the team in 2021, she’s worked on numerous projects in Agriculture, Energy, and Education.

Amit Basole

Amit Basole is Professor of Economics and Head, Centre for Sustainable Employment at Azim Premji University. He has taught at Bucknell University and the University of Massachusetts prior to coming to APU. His research has been published in various edited volumes and in journals such as Economic and Political Weekly, World Development, Development and Change, Rethinking Marxism, International Journal of Hindu Studies, and International Review of Applied Economics. He has recently edited a book called Lokavidya Perspectives: A Philosophy of Political Imagination for the Knowledge Age.

Aishwarya Sivaramakrishnan

Aishwarya is a committed professional specializing in Monitoring, Learning, and Evaluation (MLE), with experience in process evaluations, formative research and impact evaluation studies. Her expertise lies in conducting mixed-method studies. She has actively contributed to projects of national and international philanthropic organizations and State governments.

During her academic journey, Aishwarya interned with MicroSave, where she assessed the digital readiness of states for the Direct Benefit Transfer of fertilizer subsidy. In addition to her dissertation, she has published a noteworthy book-chapter titled “The digital delivery of welfare services in India: Achievements, Anomalies, and Lessons learnt,” addressing challenges encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic in digital service delivery.

Aishwarya is curious to explore new dimensions within the development sector with her latest interest being learning the impact of climate change on rural livelihoods.

Aakash Mehrotra

Aakash Mehrotra is a senior manager in Microsave. He has been working in the research domain for over ten years with experience in designing formative research, impact evaluation studies, designing feasibility studies and undertaking long-term research studies. He has worked on projects with governments, think-tanks, funding agencies, development banks, commercial banks, and other financial service providers across Asia and Africa. He is also a published author, and widely published travel blogger, and has written extensively on social and environmental issues on leading media portals, and has also led dialogues on ‘diversity and inclusion’.

Lakshay Narang

Lakshay is a Research Associate at the Future of Finance Initiative within Dvara Research. His expertise lies in understanding the intricate dynamics between public policy initiatives such as digital government, data governance, and digital public infrastructure in India. One of Lakshay’s notable contributions is co-authoring the report titled “State of Open Digital Ecosystems for Social Protection in India”.

Additionally, Lakshay has conducted in-depth research on the increasing incidents of fraud within India’s Unified Payments Interface digital payments system. He has co-authored a policy brief titled “Are Fraud-awareness Campaigns Effective?” in which he assessed the effectiveness of awareness campaigns designed to raise awareness for and reduce the incidence of fraud in UPI. Since then, he has been working towards designing the broad contours of a fraud reporting and management system that w devised both system-level and citizen-level recommendations to address and minimize these fraudulent activities.

Lakshay holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the National Law School of India University in Bangalore. Prior to that, he completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication from Xavier Institute of Communication, St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Economics with Honours from Kirori Mal College, University of Delhi.

Majorie Chalwe-Mulenga

Majorie Chalwe-Mulenga currently works with the incentivizing inclusive investments team and leads work on climate-related financial sector policies, which focuses on risks, opportunities and solutions that climate policies present for financial inclusion. Previously, she worked with the financial consumer protection team and led CGAP’s global research on the evolution of the nature and scale of digital finance consumer risks.

Before joining CGAP, Majorie worked for the Central Bank of Zambia’s financial sector development unit and with the supervision team in the non-bank financial institutions supervision department. She also worked in the private financial sector – in microfinance and commercial banking – leading projects, including branchless banking and KYC re-engineering.

A Financial Risk Manager certified by the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) and a certified expert in ESG and impact investing, Majorie also holds a Master of Philosophy Degree in Development Finance from the University of Stellenbosch Business School, a BSc in Banking and Finance and a GARP Sustainability and Climate Risk Certificate. 

Sandhya Venkateswaran

Spanning a career over three decades, Sandhya has engaged with a wide range of issues in the social sector spanning health, nutrition, gender, natural resources, urban development, and others.  Over the last 15 years she has focused on policy issues, developing, and leading the policy and advocacy portfolio in organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition and CARE.  She has worked with multiple grassroots campaigns and civil society organisations, as well as with government and international organisations. She has authored books, multiple articles, and other publications on varied social sector issues. She is currently a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Social and Economic Progress and a member of the Lancet Citizens Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System.

Badal Malick

Badal is a Co-Founder & Chief Business Officer at KarmaLife, a financial solution tailored for gig & blue-collar workers. He has over 15 years of experience in financial services & fintech. Previously, he was the Founding CEO of Catalyst, a USAID-sponsored program focused on the digital financial inclusion of micro & nano businesses. He has held leadership roles at SnapDeal, Intuit, McKinsey & Co., and the World Bank. Badal has an MBA from the Yale School of Management, a Master of Science in Economics from the University of Wisconsin, and a BA in Physics & Economics from Brandeis University. He is a 2019 Chevening Financial Services Fellow recognized by the UK Government.

Aayush Agarwal

Aayush Agarwal is a Senior Associate with the Experiments and Evaluation team and the Lab Manager of CSBC’s behavioural economics lab at Ashoka University. He specialises in conceptualising, designing, and administering experiments to test the efficacy of behavioural interventions in improving policy outcomes. His current research includes investigating the role of risk exposure in the formation of social norms of cooperation and the role of beliefs in fatalism in complaint behaviour. He supports CSBC principal investigators and faculty affiliates in investigating the determinants of team behaviour in firms, voting behaviour, and support for climate change mitigation measures. Before joining CSBC, Aayush worked with the Centre for Experimental Social Sciences (CESS), Nuffield College (Oxford University) and FLAME University’s joint experimental lab. He has experience with survey evaluations, lab, and lab-in-the-field experiment.

Dr. Sharon Barnhardt

Dr. Sharon Barnhardt is the Director – Research at the Centre for Social and Behaviour Change at Ashoka University. She is an applied development economist and behavioural scientist who uses experiments to study policy-relevant topics in India. Her behavioural research focuses on sanitation and malnutrition. Sharon is also active in Executive Education for the policy sector, having taught Behavioural Economics at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration and program evaluation with J-PAL South Asia and CLEAR. She is a Faculty Affiliate at the Jameel Abdul Latif Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA, Bonn). Her experience includes positions at the Centre for Experimental Social Sciences (Nuffield College’s lab in India), the Indian Institute of Management – Ahmedabad, IFMR Business School (at Krea University), the World Bank, and J.P. Morgan. Sharon’s academic record comprises a PhD from Harvard University, an M.P.A. from Princeton University, and a bachelor’s from NYU.   

Pramit Bhattacharya

Pramit Bhattacharya is a recipient of the New India Foundation Fellowship, and is currently researching a book on the evolution of national accounting in India. He writes the Truth, Lies, and Statistics column for Mint and the Simply Economics column for Hindustan Times, two of India’s leading dailies. Pramit was earlier the data editor at Mint, where he helped set up one of the country’s first data journalism units, Plain Facts, in 2014. He won the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award 2015 in the “commentary and interpretative journalism” category.

Rakshith Ponnathpur

Rakshith is a Research Associate with the Household Finance Research Initiative. He has completed his Master’s degree in Public Policy from the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. For his dissertation, he worked on proposing a new framework for intra-state fiscal devolutions for the redressal of regional imbalance in Karnataka. Previously, he has worked as a Trainee Decision Scientist at the big-data business analytics firm, Mu Sigma Business Solutions. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science Engineering from R V College of Engineering, Bengaluru. While his interest areas in the policy space include Economics and Public Finance, he is passionate about working at the intersection of data analytics and policy, and most of his internships during grad school and current research work lie here.

Risha Ramachandran

Risha is a qualitative researcher who is passionate to work in the areas of gender, work and mental health. She has a Master’s degree in Social work (Mental Health) from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. After her Masters, she worked in a community based mental health project in Mehsana, Gujarat and later on developed a curriculum on psycho-social aspects of entrepreneurship for rural women, with TISS and UNDP. Prior to joining Dvara Research, she was working as a Research Associate with the Institute of Social Studies Trust, Delhi, exploring different research methodologies with a focus on state policies and frameworks vis-à-vis informal and gig economy, through an intersectional lens.

Dr. Anjini Kochar

Dr. Kochar is a Senior Research Scholar at 3ie (International Initiative for Impact Evaluation). She was formerly the Director of the India Program at Stanford University, Stanford King center for Global Develoment, from 2000 to 2019, and an assistant professor in Stanford University’s Economics Department from 1990-2000.  She completed her graduate training (Ph.D. in economics) from the University of Chicago. Her research interests are in the micro-economics of development, covering education, health, poverty programmes, credit constraints and labour markets. She is currently engaged in a long-term programme to evaluate India’s National Rural Livelihoods Mission. 

Beni Chugh

Beni Chugh heads the Future of Finance Initiative. Her work focuses on identifying systemic stability and consumer protection concerns in digital finance. She also contributes to the Social Protection Open Digital Ecosystem workstream at Dvara Research, where her work focuses on designing and implementing citizen centric, digital social protection delivery platforms.

Anubhutie Singh

Anubhutie Singh is a policy analyst with the Future of Finance Initiative. She completed her Bachelors of science in Economics, Mathematics and Statistics and has completed her Masters in Public Policy from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. With the Future of Finance Initiative, her research focuses on issues of customer protection with respect to increasing digitisation of finance in India

Martin Kanz

Martin Kanz is a Senior Economist in the Development Research Group at the World Bank. His research focuses on banking, behavioral economics, and the political economy of the credit market. Martin served as Deputy Director of the World Development Report “Finance for an Equitable Recovery” and has led numerous impact evaluations on financial sector topics, primarily in India and Southeast Asia. His research has appeared in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, Journal of Political Economy, Journal of Finance, and other leading academic publications. Martin received his A.B. in Economics from Harvard University, his M.Sc. in Development Economics from Oxford, and his Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Owen Smith

Owen Smith is a Lead Economist with the World Bank’s Health, Nutrition & Population Global Practice.  He was based in New Delhi from 2016 to 2022 and Colombo from 2013 to 2016.  Since joining the World Bank in 2005, he has focused on health financing and health policy issues in the Europe & Central Asia and South Asia regions.  He is the co-author, among other publications, of “Going Universal: How 24 countries are implementing UHC reforms from the bottom up”.  He has degrees in economics and international development from Queen’s University (Canada) and Harvard’s Kennedy School.

Srikara Prasad

Srikara Prasad is a Research Associate with the Future of Finance Initiative. He completed his under-graduation in the Law and Arts with honours (B.A.LL.B) course from Symbiosis Law School, Pune. His work in the past three years has focussed on helping create safer, more accessible, and more trustworthy digital financial services in India.

Dr. Smitha Radhakrishnan

Dr. Smitha Radhakrishnan is an award-winning sociologist focusing on gender, development, finance, and globalization. She is author of Making Women Pay: Microfinance in Urban India (Duke University Press, 2022), Sociology of South Asia (with Gowri Vijayakumar, Palgrave 2022) in addition to  numerous journal articles. She received her PhD from UC Berkeley.

Achyutha Sharma

Achyutha has over 17 years’ experience in the fields of research, strategy and design. He has led large teams in UR/ UXR and closely collaborated with leadership to drive business impact. He has built depth in research and strategy through his work in the social sector especially among the billion users demographic across sectors such as livelihoods, education, water & sanitation, B2C product and health. Meanwhile, his commercial sector experience has given him invaluable insights on Indian consumers and B2B markets. Achyutha was a nominee for the British Council’s Young Creative Entrepreneur Award, an Acumen India fellow 2014 and ex-steering committee member & fellow of the Australia-India Youth Dialogue.

Sugandh Saxena

Sugandh is CEO of Fintech Association for Consumer Empowerment (FACE), which is a non-profit industry association representing the fintech/digital lending industry. FACE convenes companies directly involved in fintech lending and other stakeholders to collectively advance fair and responsible digital lending practices through self-regulation and customer protection. Sugandh has worked for over two decades across sectors like microfinance, social-economic development, and technology. Sugandh has diverse, well-rounded, hands-on experience leading sector-building works through the industry bodies and the SRO. As the Head of Self-Regulation and Compliance at MFIN, an SRO for the microfinance sector, she played a pivotal role in shaping the microfinance industry by leading conversations with regulators and industry players to formulate and enforce ethical guidelines for the industry. Sugandh is an electronics engineering graduate from MNNIT, Allahabad and a postgraduate in Social Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). She received the UK Government Commonwealth Scholarship and was a fellow at the Fletcher School Leadership Program for Financial Inclusion at Tufts University. At FACE, Sugandh aims to drive the Association’s efforts to actively dialogue with the policymakers, regulators, digital lenders and other market participants to build an ethical, safe consumer lending ecosystem.

Jayshree Venkatesan

Jayshree leads research on fintechs, platforms, and other DFS providers to understand their incentives, practices, and how/if they serve low-income consumers and contribute to advocacy on consumer protection and other policy priorities for inclusive finance and co-leads the development of influence strategies and campaigns with the communications team. Jayshree joined CFI after working for eight years as an independent global consultant to several partners including CGAP, World Bank, JICA, and ITAD. As a consultant, Jayshree worked on customer-centric business models and challenges faced by customers in accessing and using financial services. From 2009 to 2013, she was part of the founding team at IFMR Trust (now Dvara Trust), where she led a mezzanine fund that invested in microfinance institutions in India. Jayshree is a senior policy fellow at the Leir Institute housed within the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy where she works on challenges faced by vulnerable segments such as migrants/refugees in accessing financial services. In 2014, Jayshree was awarded the Chevening fellowship for leadership by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK. Jayshree earned an MA in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, an MBA from MDI Gurgaon (India), and an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Mumbai University.

Benedict Guttman-Kenney

Benedict Guttman-Kenney will be speaking on buy now, pay later (BNPL) having published the first economics or finance academic research in the world on this topic and discussed this topic in the media including the Financial Times. His academic research combines big data with tools from economics and psychology to understand consumer behavior. He mainly studies consumer debt such as payday loans, credit cards and credit information. His academic research has been published in leading finance, marketing, and economics journals and has also informed policymaking in the UK and US. Before moving to Chicago he spent six years conducting economic research informing financial regulation at the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Bank of England, and Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Graduate of the University of Warwick & University College London in the UK.

Paul Adams

Paul Adams directs IPA’s Consumer Protection Research Initiative. The Initiative collaborates with policymakers, providers, and civil society to develop new approaches that enhance consumer protection. Prior to joining IPA, Paul spent over a decade using rigorous research methods to support financial regulation and improve consumer financial decision making. Paul co-founded the Behavioural Economics and Data Science Unit at the UK Financial Conduct Authority (working with Ben), before helping the Dutch Authority for Financial Markets develop a Research Strategy. Paul was briefly an independent consultant (for Dvara, among others). Paul is a Visiting Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics Department for Psychology and Behavioural Science. He has a BSc in Economics and an MSc in Development Economics, both from Manchester University.

Aishwarya Narayan

Aishwarya is passionate about building welfare systems which are equitably accessible by all. She is presently a Research Associate at the Social Protection Initiative at Dvara Research. Her recent work has involved expiring public private partnerships in public private partnerships in welfare delivery. She has also been looking into the intersection of social protection and digital systems. Aishwarya holds a Master of Applied Economics from the National University of Singapore. Her Master’s coursework involved extensive study of South-East Asian models of growth and development, and program evaluation methods. Previously she has worked as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Asia Competitiveness Institute at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore.

Amit Arora

Amit is a Development Finance Specialist working with the World Bank Group as a senior advisor since 2016. Having started his career with ICICI Bank in 1996, Amit has worked with multiple commercial banks across different roles before moving to development finance sector in 2008. He has worked extensively in the agent banking business in India with different organizations and is currently works on Agri & Micro Enterprise Financing components of different WBG projects with focus on ‘gender finance’.

Emilio Hernandez-Hernandez

Emilio Hernandez-Hernandez, Senior Financial Sector Specialist, CGAP, explores digital financial solutions for last-mile clients. He leads work on inclusive digital distribution networks and the impact financial inclusion has on poor people’s lives. He provides technical guidance to better understand the financial behavior and needs of underserved client groups, like smallholder families, and to experiment with providers on innovative strategies and products that meet those needs. Before joining CGAP, Emilio led technical cooperation programs focused on inclusive rural and agricultural finance at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations overseeing field interventions in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. He also oversaw business operations for a large international agricultural technology company throughout Central America. He has a Doctorate degree in Agricultural Economics and Development Finance from The Ohio State University.

Anand Raman

Anand Raman, Senior Financial Sector Specialist, CGAP, works in CGAP’s Digital Rails team. The team works to build knowledge, practice, and evidence to inform policy on market-level infrastructure that allows providers to serve financially excluded populations at scale. Anand has over 29 years of experience in information technology, telecommunications, media, and financial services. Before joining CGAP, he led banking relationships, policy, product design, and marketing at Eko India, a pioneering financial services provider for low-income people. He devised the agent banking strategy for Jana Small Finance Bank. He was instrumental in the design and roll-out of electronic airtime recharge at Idea Cellular, a foundational precursor to mobile money systems. Previously, he worked in building information technology for telecommunication systems. Anand has a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee and a Master’s in International Public Policy from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Washington D.C. He is based in Mumbai, India.

Tushar Arora

Tushar Arora joined the World Bank in 2019, as a Senior Financial Sector Specialist, based in New Delhi. Part of the Finance, Competitiveness, and Innovation Global Practice (FCI), he has worked on a range of financial sector development programs, spanning the areas of digital financial inclusion, small and medium enterprise development (SME), bond market development, and infrastructure finance. Prior to joining the WBG, Tushar worked in the private banking sector as an economist. He held roles covering Asian markets at HSBC, Yes Bank, and HDFC Bank. In 2016, he was ranked among the top FX forecasters in India by Bloomberg and in 2019, he was counted among the best individual researchers (highly recommended category) for India by the Asset Magazine. 

Tushar holds a Master’s in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University and a Bachelor’s in Economics from Kirori Mal College (Delhi University). For Tushar’s written work, please visit:

Misha Sharma

Misha leads the Household Finance Practice at Dvara Research. In this role she focuses on identifying key research gaps in the field of Household Finance and building evidence to inform market practices and design of financial sector policy.  Misha specialises in policy research and advocacy in the domain of financial inclusion. She has several years of experience working with the financial inclusion vertical at IFMR LEAD where she managed two large scale trials on the impact of access to formal financial services on low-income households in rural Tamil Nadu. While with IFMR LEAD, she was awarded the CFI Accion Fellowship to research on the role of agent network in transitioning low-income households to digital financial platforms. Prior to Dvara Research, she worked as a Senior Research Manager with the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy at Ashoka University, studying the state of the Indian philanthropy sector. Misha has written several research papers and columns, commenting on the state of inclusive finance in India. Misha holds a Masters Degree in Economics from the University of Edinburgh and a Bachelors Degree in Economics from Stella Maris College, Chennai.

Juan Carlos Izaguirre

Juan Carlos Izaguirre is a Senior Financial Sector Specialist at the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) –an independent think tank on financial inclusion housed at the World Bank. He leads supervisory work in digital finance and financial consumer protection focused on customer outcomes. Mr. Izaguirre has over 20 years of financial sector regulatory and supervisory experience, with focus on digital financial inclusion, consumer protection, and deposit insurance. In the past 9 years he has worked with financial sector authorities and standard setters to develop and adopt responsible financial inclusion policies, regulation and supervisory practices. Prior to joining CGAP, Mr. Izaguirre was a founder of the World Bank’s Global Program on Financial Consumer Protection, where he led technical assistance in over 20 countries. Previously, he was a prudential and conduct supervisor at the Superintendence of Banking, Insurance and Private Pensions of Peru. He has trained supervisors with Toronto Centre, Digital Frontiers Institute, Financial Stability Institute, and Boulder Institute of Microfinance. Mr. Izaguirre holds a master’s degree in International Relations and Public Administration from Syracuse University, and a master’s in Finance from Universidad del Pacífico of Peru.

Aveesha Singh

Aveesha Singh is an independent customer strategist and analyst with 25 years’ experience working for retail banks, insurers and asset managers. She has specialized in customer segmentation and profiling, data-synthesis, analysis and application of strategic intelligence aimed at customer-centricity and advocacy. Her clients include financial institutions in need to assistance with the design, testing, development and positioning of customer value propositions, customer experience (CX) and digital interfaces (UXD).  She has a background in financial inclusion and digital transformation in retail banking and insurance. She assisted the CGAP in the co-development and testing of the customer outcomes indicator framework in South Africa. More recently, she conducted the second test of the framework and indicators in Uganda.

Ankita Singh

Ankita is a research and learning practitioner at UNCDF with a focus on building narratives driven by evidence and storytelling. Through context-led research, she unboxes opportunities to design solutions that work for low-income populations in developing countries. Over the last 11 years, she has engaged extensively in exploratory and evaluative research on financial health, livelihoods, natural resource management, and gendered social norms with women, adolescents and smallholder farmers.

Dr. Supriya Sharma

Dr. Supriya Sharma leads the research function at CIIE.CO. She oversees research that surfaces insights on emerging sectoral opportunities, produces toolkits and learning resources for founders and the overall startup ecosystem, and dives into pressing questions about innovation and entrepreneurship. In her heart, Supriya is an academy-industry translator. She continues to publish research in leading journals, teach courses on entrepreneurship, and closely engage with founders and product creators to inform their decision-making with research-backed insights. Supriya is a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and an alumna of the Internal Visitor Leadership Program, USA.

Dr. Sujata Visaria

Dr. Visaria has a Ph.D. in Economics from Columbia University. Her research has studied how the enforcement of credit contracts affects micro-level outcomes in developing countries, the problems that small farmers face in marketing agricultural produce, and alternative ways to select microcredit beneficiaries so as to target productive borrowers. She is an affiliate of the Bureau for the Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD). She has served on the board of directors of the Asian Migrants Credit Union, the first and only savings and credit cooperative serving migrant workers in Hong Kong. For a full list of publications, please see here.

Sudipto Banerjee

Sudipto has experience in research and consulting in the public policy domain focusing on regulatory governance, building state capacity, regulation of audit profession, disinvestment of PSUs, corporate social responsibility, consumer protection in the financial sector and telecommunication. He has been associated with institutions like National Institute of Public Finance and Policy and National Council of Applied Economic Research. Sudipto has a Masters in law from the Indian Law Institute, Delhi. He is also a member of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India.

Aditi Dimri

Aditi is an economist working as an consultant with the World Bank and other organisations. Her research focuses on using data to measure performance of systems and policies, especially in household finance, health, and social inequality. She completed her PhD at the Paris School of Economics and Bachelors in St. Stephens College, Delhi.

Dr. Daryl Collins

Dr. Daryl Collins is the CEO and Founder of Decodis, a social research firm that creates tech-led, customized data capture and analysis to elevate the voices of vulnerable populations. She is the author of the acclaimed Portfolios of the Poor and a pioneer working at the intersection of finance and human vulnerability. In the past two decades, Dr. Collins has built a broad portfolio of work with financial service providers, foundations, bilateral donors and governments. Her work is grounded in a deep understanding of the financial lives of individuals through the execution of Financial Diaries studies in over 10 countries. Dr. Collins spent the last decade as Managing Director and CEO of BFA Globoal, a niche financial inclusion consulting practice. She holds a B.Sc. and an M.Sc. in economics from the London School of Economics and a Ph.D. from New York University.

Shreya Garg

Shreya Garg leads the Law, Finance and Development team at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, New Delhi. She currently works on law and policy issues on the intersection of finance and inclusion. At Vidhi, she has worked on several legal reform projects with government ministries in the areas of insolvency, banking and finance, corporate laws. She completed her LLM from Queen Mary University of London, on a Chevening scholarship, and her LLB from National Law University, Jodhpur.

Dr. Mamidipudi Ramakrishna Sharan

Dr. Mamidipudi Ramakrishna Sharan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Maryland, College Park. His research centres around questions in development economics and political economy. He has worked as a researcher and policy economist, with research organizations, state governments and the central government in India. He received his PhD from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in May 2020. Subsequently, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center For Global Development. His research focuses on inequality in socially diverse settings and how institutional and technological innovations could empower marginalized groups. Dr. Sharan’s research has been funded by grants from JPAL’s Governance Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation and the Weiss Foundation, among others. In addition to research in economics, he writes more broadly. His first narrative non-fiction book on village politics in Bihar titled Last Among Equals (reviews: The Hindu, The Business Standard, The India Forum) released in December 2021 in India. His novel Blue (review: The Mint) was published by HarperCollins in 2014.

Vaibhav Raaj

Vaibhav is a Programme Officer at the ILO, and in this role, he coordinates ILO’s India work in the fields of social security and social dialogue, among other things. In his prior role, he managed ILO’s ongoing work with the ESIC, to identify solution pathways to challenges identified by the ESI beneficiaries. As part of that work, he co-authored a report (Social security: Accessing medical benefits under ESI Scheme: A demand-side perspective ( on ESI beneficiaries’ experiences, while engaging with several stakeholders and experts actively studying and transforming India’s SHP landscape.

Amol Kulkarni

Amol is a Research Director at CUTS International. He leads research and advocacy initiatives in sectors like finance, mobility, data, among others. His research focuses at the intersection of competition, regulation, and consumer protection frameworks across sectors. He regularly contributes op-eds for leading publications and has represented CUTS at various national and global platforms. Previously, he has worked with Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy and Amarchand Mangaldas Suresh A. Shroff & Co. He holds bachelor degrees in law and business administration from National Law University, Jodhpur, and certification on Regulatory Impact Assessment from Jacobs, Cordova, and Associates, United States.

Anuradha Ganapathy

Anuradha Ganapathy is a Research Associate at IT for Change.Her work interest lie in the areas of the digital gender divide, technology adoption at the margins, digital and economic justice, and platforms for development.

Gaurav Gupta

An alumnus of University of Warwick (MSc), MDI Gurgaon (PGPM) and University of Delhi (BA), Gaurav worked as a banker for most of his professional life of nineteen years prior to joining the university in February 2021. Prior to joining the university, he was consulting with LabourNet- a private sector firm focussed on skilling, employment, and livelihoods for blue-collared workers in rural and urban India and has also worked as Director Operations at Aarusha Homes- a private sector firm providing low-cost rental housing to students and entry-level white-collared workers new to metros. He is a CFA charterholder from the CFA Institute, USA. Gaurav is currently teaching a course on Money, Banking and Financial Markets at Azim Premji University and has previously taught at other institutions as a visiting faculty in Managerial Economics, Indian Financial System and Public Economics. He has published in The Indian Journal of Labour Economics, Decision and The Asian Journal of Law and Economics. His recent research work has focussed on India’s IT-BPM Industry, MGNREGA, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, India’s Asset Reconstruction Market, and role of policy measures in exacerbating rather than limiting the Global Financial Crisis of 2007/08. 

Mithila A. Sarah

Mithila is a Research Associate at XKDR Forum and has previously worked with the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, Centre for Budget and Policy Studies and CRISIL. She holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Economics from National University of Singapore and a Bachelor’s degree from Mumbai University. Her research interests include household finance, gender studies and social policy. Her current work centres around measuring financial inclusion and wellbeing.

Daniel Rozas

Daniel Rozas is a Senior Microfinance Expert at e-MFP and a consultant and researcher on a broad range of topics. Daniel is also co-founder of the MIMOSA project, which provides a methodological assessment of market saturation and risk of overindebtedness for leading microfinance markets. Prior to his microfinance career, Daniel worked for the US mortgage investment company Fannie Mae during 2001-08, where he had first-hand experience with the extraordinary boom-and-bust cycle that took place in the US mortgage market during this period. Daniel resides in Brussels, Belgium, and holds an MBA from the University of Maryland and an undergraduate degree in music from the Peabody Conservatory.

Dwijaraj Bhattacharya

Dwijaraj is Research Manager at the Financial Systems Design Initiative and oversees all of its work. His research focuses on households’ access to credit and impediments therein. His research interests include the legislative and regulatory frameworks governing providers, regulators and other entities in the financial sector. His work also focuses on personal insolvency and bankruptcy. Dwijaraj has written a book chapter and several research papers and columns on these subjects. Dwijaraj holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore and a Bachelor’s degree from Delhi University. He has previously worked in various capacities across several corporate entities, international non-profits, and NGOs, and has advised several government bodies in those roles.

Elisabeth Rhyne

Elisabeth Rhyne is an independent consultant working on financial inclusion and financial health. She facilitated the UNSGSA Financial Health Working Group. She is the founder and former managing director of the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion, a research center dedicated to expanding access to financial services to low income people. She co-founded the Smart Campaign, a global client protection campaign. Elisabeth was a senior vice president at Accion, opening Accion’s presence in both Asia and Africa. She led the Office of Microenterprise Development at USAID. She has published numerous books and articles on microfinance and financial inclusion. Ms. Rhyne holds a master’s and Ph.D. in public policy from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.

Nancy Widjaja

Nancy Widjaja is a Policy Advisor at the Office of UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands. Nancy leads the Office’s work on private sector engagements, with a focus on the topics of financial health and access to finance for micro and small businesses. Prior to joining the UNSGSA team, Nancy led strategic projects and advocacy initiatives at Accion Venture Lab, the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and the Better Than Cash Alliance (BTCA). Nancy began her career as a strategy consultant with The Boston Consulting Group, serving private and public sector clients across South and Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Nancy is an Indonesian national and holds a BA in Economics from University of Indonesia and an MPA in Development Practice from Columbia University.

Yoshinari Noguchi

Yoshi joined Gojo and currently is leading the company’s analytics projects. Having graduated from Tokyo University and worked for Dai-ichi Life Insurance for 2 years, he spent 10 years as a quantitative analyst at Goldman Sachs Asset Management where he used to work for Global Alpha, a hedge fund of the investment bank. At Goldman Sachs, Yoshi managed quantitative global tactical asset allocation of the fund and developed various quantitative investment management products and tools. After leaving Goldman Sachs, he founded his own company and used to run a music studio business while providing consulting services for financial institutions. 

Rohit Rathi

Rohit Rathi (CEO): 3X founder. Built NotionInk, Smartron and now KarmaLife; IIT Kharagpur Alumni; Technology evangelist; Designed country’s first tablet PC: NotionInk-adam & tronX AI platform; 13+ Years.

Alreena Renita Pinto

Alreena is a Rural Development Specialist with the World Bank’s Agriculture and Food Global Practice. She specializes in integrating data, research and evidence into meaningful and impact-oriented policy advice and decision-making. At the World Bank, she leads several analytical activities and provides data-driven inputs to on-going policy dialogues. She also supports the team on improving last-mile digital transformation through community data collection systems, technology solutions, and the streamlining of monitoring and information systems.

Vinay Kumar Singh

Vinay is a management consultant and a researcher with interest in policies related to financial inclusion and their impact. He has multi-business experience in retail banking, consumer lending and insurance. As a part of his advocacy efforts, he frequently contributes to OpEds in leading financial dailies on these topics. Vinay studied chemical engineering at IIT Kanpur, honed his management skills at IIM Calcutta and has recently finished his doctorate in Economics from MDI Gurgaon.

Dr. A. Narayanamoorthy

Dr. A. Narayanamoorthy [former Full-Time Member (Official), Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India, New Delhi] is currently working as Senior Professor and Head, Department of Economics and Rural Development, Alagappa University, Tamil Nadu, India.  Earlier, he worked with the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune, India for about 14 years [1994-2008] and with the Madras Institute of Development Studies, Madras for about one and a half years [1993-1994].  He has been working in the area of agricultural and rural economics over the last 30 years;   specialised in the area of irrigation including micro-irrigation and farm economics. Dr. Narayanamoorthy has published 11 books (including books from, Oxford University Press, Routledge and Springer), three mimeographs and over 200 research papers in international and national journals.  He has been writing regularly in India’s leading dailies.  Dr. Narayanamoorthy has completed several research projects sponsored by the national and international agencies such as the Ministry of Agriculture (Government of India), Planning Commission (Government of India), the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD, India), Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR, New Delhi), International Water Management Institute (Colombo, Sri Lanka) and International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).  He has been acting as a referee for various international and national journals, research reports of different Institutes and examiner for Ph.D., Thesis of different Universities. He has also been teaching post-graduate level courses in Economics since 1994.

Dr. Narayanamoorthy is a recipient of the prestigious Professor Ramesh Chandra Agrawal Award of excellence for the outstanding contribution in the field of agricultural economics for the year 2009 from the Indian Society of Agricultural Economics, Mumbai. NABARD has conferred to him the coveted NABARD Chair Professor position (2011-16), which is one among the five Chairs awarded at the National level.  The Alagappa University, Tamil Nadu has given him the Professor of Excellence Award during 2018.  Recently, he received ISAE Fellow 2019 award which is instituted by the Indian Society of Agricultural Economics, Mumbai.

Dr. Narayanamoorthy earned vast administrative experience while working in key positions (Member of the Syndicate, Member of the Planning Board, Member of the Finance Committee and Dean, Faculty of Arts) in Alagappa University, Tamil Nadu and in Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune (Member, Board of Management).

Dr. Narayanamoorthy has also worked as Member of different policy level Committees constituted by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India, New Delhi; the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, New Delhi and the Government of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad.  Dr. Narayanamoorthy’s current h-index is 26 which is a rare distinction in economics and social sciences. Recently, he has also successfully completed the Leadership for Academicians Programme (LEAP) sponsored by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, at the Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, UK. 

Dr. Ajay Kumar Tannirkulam

Ajay Kumar Tannirkulam did his PhD in Astronomy & Astrophysics from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He returned to India in 2008 and joined the Analytics unit at the Center for Microfinance – Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR) as head. He was also the Interim Executive Director of the center between 2011 and 2013. His deep interest in agriculture and livelihoods of small and marginal farmers made him spend time in the field to understand issues faced by farmers. Along with Jayaram, Ajay co-founded the Magasool in 2012 and has been working full time on developing quality programs for small and marginal farmers.

Bindu Ananth

Bindu is the co-founder and Chair of Dvara Holdings. She was Board Chair of Northern Arc Capital from 2009 – 2018. She is currently leading the Dvara Health Savings Account (HSA) initiative. Bindu has co-edited “Financial Engineering for Low-Income Households”, a book published by SAGE. She was a member of three RBI Committees: financial inclusion, SME finance and housing securitisation. She currently serves on TN’s MSME Advisory Committee and is a Fellow of the Lancet Commission on Re-imagining India’s Health System. She has Masters Degrees from the Institute of Rural Management (IRMA) and Harvard University’s John. F. Kennedy School of Government.

Bhuvana Balaji

Bhuvana leads user experience and research at Dvara HSA. She has worked in the space of gender, sexual and reproductive health, and environmental justice, and has a Master’s in Development from Azim Premji University, Bangalore.

Pramiti Lonkar

Pramiti is engaged with the research for the Health Savings Account (HSA) initiative, designing tools for focus group discussions and interviews. She is pursuing her Masters in Public Policy at National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. Prior to this, she completed her Masters in Convergent Journalism from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. She has worked as a policy reporter, covering SMEs and the infrastructure sector. Her key areas of interest include public finance, credit and insurance.

Varun Aggrawal

Varun is the  Founder and Lead at India Migration Now (IMN). Along with strategy and fundraising, his core research and operational focus at IMN  is on migration data,  designing service delivery mechanisms and the political economy of migration. Previously he has worked on projects around digital financial inclusion, informational privacy, nutrition, industrial and competition policy. Varun has a BA in Maths from the University of Washington in Seattle and a MSc in Economics from Maastricht University.

Dr. Ashish Das

Dr. Ashish Das is a Professor of Statistics at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. Other than his research and teaching roles in the field of theoretical statistics internationally, his interest is in banking and payment systems in India. He has brought out several reports that led to regulatory interventions in banking and payment systems. He has facilitated in taking forward projects of DFS and NPCI. Currently, he is in the board of Airtel Payments Bank.

Raphaelle Aulagnon

Raphaelle was the research associate at Good Business Lab responsible for the digital payments for remittances RCT project conducted in 2019 in Bangalore. She later worked on social mobility and inequality measurement projects in Europe. She graduated with an MA in Development Economics at Yale University (US) and is currently a first-year PhD candidate at Bocconi University (Italy).

Smit Gade

Smit Gade is Senior Manager, Data and Research at Good Business Lab (GBL). He currently works on research projects related to female labour force participation, skilling, financial inclusion and labour productivity. Prior to GBL, he worked at JPAL and holds an M.Phil. Economics from Oxford University.

Shrayana Bhattacharya

Ms. Shrayana Bhattacharya is a Senior Economist in the World Bank’s Social Protection and Jobs Practice for South Asia. In her present role, she leads the Bank’s development policy dialogue and projects with Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India and three state governments (Odisha, West Bengal and Kerala) on social protection measures following COVID-19. She also leads a series of state level engagements to strengthen crisis-responsive safety nets, Direct Benefit Transfers and social protection delivery through multiple projects, and leads a World Bank team tracking social protection impacts of the pandemic with CMIE. She completed her post-graduation in public administration and economics from Harvard University.

Preeti Anand

Preeti leads the South Asia projects of ideas42 and over the last four and a half years here, she has worked on a wide range of projects in Financial Inclusion, Health, Governance, WASH, Education and Livelihoods across South Asia and Africa. She comes from a management consulting background and before ideas42, she was a part of Grameen Foundation India’s project team.

Lee-Sien Kao

Lee-Sien Kao is a Senior Associate at ideas42, where she uses behavioral science to advance public health in the United States. In particular, she leads the US health team’s vaccine portfolio, which includes work on routine vaccines as well as the COVID-19 vaccine. Before joining the health team, she worked with the city of Chicago on behavioral science initiatives within city government agencies.

Susanti Vijaykumar

Susanti is a Projects Analyst based in India, where she works on applying the behavioral design approach across ideas42’s projects in governance, agriculture and financial inclusion across South Asia. Prior to joining ideas42, Susanti trained as a Materials Science Engineer before pursuing Liberal Arts and switching to the world of policy and behavioral science.

Advaita R

Advaita Rajendra is a Ph.D. student at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad in the Public Systems Group. She is currently working on policy issues in waste, waste-work and secondary education. Her research interests lie at the intersection of social hierarchies, environment and livelihoods.

Karan Singhal

Karan Singhal is currently working as a researcher at Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad on topics in urban governance, education and early childhood, as part of an IIMA and UNICEF partnership.

Ankur Sarin

Ankur Sarin is a faculty in the Public Systems Group at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. His works include investigations of the effects of social and economic inequality on welfare outcomes of children and understanding the influence of technology on the social and economic life of the marginalised.

Dr. Daniel Clarke

Daniel leads the Centre for Disaster Protection’s work with national governments and international organisations to improve how the world prepares and pays for disasters. He joined the Centre in 2017 as Chief Economist and became Director in 2019. His work has had a major influence on policy and practice at a global, country and organisational level, and his book, Dull Disasters? How Planning Ahead Will Make A Difference, published in 2016, is a seminal work on disaster risk financing. He was also a lead author of the Centre report, The Future of Crisis Financing: A Call to Action, which sets out a new vision and agenda for reform of the international crisis financing system. He has worked with more than 40 developing country governments, in close collaboration with bilateral and multilateral development institutions and the private sector, to develop improved risk finance schemes, including a public-private partnership to ensure that more than 400,000 farmers in Kenya now have secure and predictable insurance to protect their livelihoods. He has been an actuary at the Government Actuary’s Department, where he advised the UK government on fiscal risk management. Before this he was a Senior Financial Sector Specialist at the World Bank and a Lecturer in Actuarial Science at the University of Oxford. He has a D.Phil. in Economics from the University of Oxford.

Ritesh Rautela

Ritesh Rautela is a Senior Manager in MSC’s Government and Social Impact (GSI) Practice Group under the Digital Financial Services domain. He has over 11 years of experience in the field of management consulting, G2P programs and payment systems, banking, branchless banking, digital financial services, social protection, agriculture, financial inclusion, and financial literacy.

Kritika Shukla

Kritika Shukla is a Manager in MSC’s Government and Social Impact (GSI) Practice Group under Digital Financial Services domain. She is a development sector consultant with more than five years’ experience of working with multi-lateral and bi-lateral donor agencies, financial institutions in G2P programs and payment systems, financial inclusion, digital financial services, social protection, and agriculture.

Samarth Gupta

Samarth Gupta is an Associate Fellow, NCAER. In this role, he has contributed in several key economic policy research studies. These include taxation policies for alcohol in India for WHO, business expectations survey, and investment prioritization framework for FCDO, Government of UK etc. He obtained his PhD in Economics from Boston University in 2018. His research interest include development economics and industrial organization. Particularly, he has explored how redistributive demands in developing economies affect firm performance.

Sandhya Garg

Sandhya Garg is Sir Ratan Tata Fellow at Institute of Economic Growth, New Delhi. Prior to joining IEG, she was an Associate Fellow, NCAER where she undertook research in evaluation of Direct Benefit Transfer in key central and central sponsored schemes. She obtained her PhD in Economics from IGIDR in 2018. She is interested in public finance and development economics. In her work, she has explored the distribution of public goods in Indian villages.

Sarayu Natarajan

Sarayu has a background in management consulting (McKinsey and Company), venture investing (Elevar Equity), program development and management (Gray Matters Capital), and academic research. She has a PhD in Political Science from King’s College London, a Master’s in Public Policy from the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University, and a arts and law degree from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore (NLSIU).

Lakshmee Sharma

Lakshmee Sharma has worked in the Indian development practice and policy space with a focus on climate change and agrarian livelihoods, labour migration, and land and urban informal housing. She has previously worked with the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and Tata Centre for Development at UChicago. She served as an AIF Clinton Fellow (2016-17) with Gene Campaign, Uttarakhand. She holds a BA (Triple Major) in Psychology, Sociology, and English from Christ University and an MSc in Social Anthropology from the University of Oxford

Aarushi Gupta

Aarushi is a Research Associate with the Social Protection Initiative at Dvara Research. Her focus area is last-mile delivery of social protection and is currently studying exclusion and grievance redressal in welfare through various field projects. She is currently leading the team’s work on exclusion and is conducting state-wide surveys in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, and Chhattisgarh, involving multiple stakeholders from regional governments. Previously, she has worked as an Associate Consultant at Ernst & Young in their Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services team. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from National Law School of India University, Bangalore and a Bachelor’s (H) degree in Economics from Christ University, Bangalore.

Sharon Buteau

Sharon is passionate about finding effective solutions to promote enterprise growth and development, and realising the untapped potential of micro and small businesses. As Executive Director of LEAD, Sharon’s devotes her time to understand how co-creation, collaborative processes, as well using the power of data from the ground up can improve socio-economic outcomes for individuals, households and enterprises Sharon has in-depth knowledge in “right fit research methods” and significant experience in the domain of financial capabilities and well-being, and small business and entrepreneurship development. Prior to joining LEAD, Sharon was an economist with Analysis Group in Montreal Canada. She holds an Msc in Economics from the Universite du Quebec a Montreal, as well as an M.A. in Social Research Methods from the London School of Economics.

Natalia Espinosa Tokuhama

Natalia Espinosa Tokuhama works as an online education liaison and researcher for Tufts University. This includes her earlier work for the Journey’s Project of Henry J. Leir Institute as the local member of the research process in Quito, Ecuador. Prior to receiving her Master’s degree in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts, she worked in a local city government in Quito, Ecuador where she managed projects in productive development, population and city resiliency, and the integration of informal economies. Natalia completed her undergraduate studies at New York University as a Scholar of Excellency – Becaria de Excelencia – sponsored by Ecuador’s National Secretariat of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, leading her to her work for Quito’s public sector where she developed her passion for liaison and relationship building. She seeks to foment dialogue and information sharing between cities, international organizations, the private sector, universities and local governments and to do so in various disciplines of public service. As an interlocutor, Natalia continues to seek to bridge communication and information sharing between experts in the fields of economics, public policy, advocacy and law in order to produce holistic and successful development policies.

Kim Wilson

Kim Wilson is Senior Lecturer and Senior Fellow at the Fletcher School of Tufts University. Prior to joining Fletcher, she worked in finance and then spent 15 years working in Financial Inclusion for organizations like Catholic Relief Services, the United Nations Development program and the World Bank. She spent from 2001-2005 working in India, based in Kolkata. She had the opportunity to visit 19 Indian states and learn and support the self-help groups formed by NGOs and NABARD. She returned to the US to study and teach about financial inclusion. Since 2016 she has led a series of studies on the financial journeys of transcontinental migrants and refugees. A collection of reports, essays and financial biographies are available on the Journeys Project portal ( The Journeys Project findings will appear in a appear in a chapter for the book, Global Human Smuggling (Johns Hopkins Press, 2022) and in The Handbook on Migration (Elgar Press). Her teaching now focuses on qualitative research methods.

Rajendran Narayanan

Rajendran is an Assistant Professor in the School of Arts and Sciences at Azim Premji University. After completing his Ph.D in statistics from Cornell University, he has held academic positions at the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, Cornell University, Ithaca and Ashoka University, Sonepat. In his doctoral work, he explored theoretical questions pertaining to eigenvalues of random matrices and shrinkage estimation in constrained regression problems. Since then he has been more interested in research for action in social sciences and public policies. He is a founding member of an organisation called LibTech India that primarily works on transparency & accountability of government programmes like NREGA, NFSA and Pensions. He is associated with various national campaigns such as the Right to Food, Right to Work campaigns and is interested in understanding the implications of technocracy on people’s rights and participatory democracy