Friday, 15 January 2016

Interview - Anil Jain

Anil Kumar Jain
Adviser (Energy, Climate Change, and Overseas Engagements), NITI Aayog 

What is your understanding of policy impact?

Policy impact, in my view, is an observable change in certain pre-identified parameters in a particular sector of a country. Whether or not this change is observable depends on a variety of metrics: the nature of parameters, their definitions, the sample space, and the time-frame of a particular intervention.

Gauging the impact of a policy/intervention is an important step in the cycle that starts from policy formulation, goes on to policy appraisal, and finally culminates in the implementation of the same. Measuring the impact that an intervention is making is particularly useful in mid-course correction of any intervention, for which a large amount of public expenditure is mobilised. It is also important for formulating follow up strategies for tracking specific components of a problem that are found to not respond fully to the interventions being carried out.

 According to you what do you think could be the parameters?

The first and foremost metric to gauge policy impact is the construction of a baseline to monitor against progress.. The next is to define objectives in terms of set deliverables, to facilitate ease in monitoring. Focusing on an apt evaluation by constructing a sample size correctly, including techniques that take into account the multitude of factors - geographic, socio-economic, political, that influence the implementation and adopting interventions, are also factors that help understand the impact that a particular policy is making.

What are the innovative examples you have observed on institutions making policy impact?

I would like to cite an example from the energy efficiency space in India. Energy efficiency in India is a concept that is restricted by a lot of market barriers, the major one being information asymmetry.

An innovative example in the space of energy efficiency is a public, real time, national dashboard for monitoring the adoption and impact of the ‘Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme’ of the Government of India ( This new dashboard, accessible to anyone with an internet connection, aims to tackle the barrier of information asymmetry by making users aware of the impact that the adoption of efficient lighting systems are having on parameters like the energy saved per day, the cost saved per day, the peak demand that was avoided and the carbon dioxide reduction per day. Such an application, which measures policy impact in a transparent fashion, helps make the users aware of the benefits of the intervention, which increases adoption, and in turn maximises the impact of the intervention.

What are the latent opportunities you see on how institutions could make policy impact?

In my opinion, institutions could contribute towards making policy impact by utilising their strengths of being repositories of evidence based sector expertise.

I would like to illustrate this with an example of a project that we are carrying out at NITI Aayog. With the new developmental goals of the Government in the space of renewable energy, NITI Aayog, in collaboration with a leading Think Tank in India and an international research agency, is facilitating the development of a tool for geospatial analysis for Wind and Solar Energy. This analysis, which includes data across states, upto taluka levels, would help investors identify the different areas in India available for installation, and their inherent potential for generation.

This is an excellent example of an institution utilising its sector specific expertise to aid the Government by providing a tool that would help in the achievement of a country’s developmental goals and also maximising policy impact.

Do you have any thoughts on the nature of environment that makes it conducive for institutions/organisations to effect policy impact?

A strong environment of collaboration between the policy makers, and the institutions/organisations is important for positively affecting policy impact. Different institutions have expertise in different dimensions like sector specific research, advisory, and advocacy. Bringing in these institutions and their expertise into the policy formulation process, inculcates a strong evidence based backing to any new policy/ intervention.

For instance, we at NITI Aayog, developed one of the Government of India’s first, open source, interactive, dynamic, scenario building tools to encourage dialogue, and consensus building on energy policy. In this exercise, we roped in a multitude of Think Tanks, non-governmental organisations, international research organisations, industry bodies, and the academia. Each institution brought in its own expertise to the table, which enabled us to develop a comprehensive product for the nation. With an environment of collaboration and intellectual exchange, different institutions were able to contribute to the energy story of India and in turn play a part in the formulation and strengthen the energy policy in India.

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