The Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) will soon announce the results of the research award proposals it had invited to study the impact of various schemes and public policy initiatives of the Union government. About 500 researchers will get funding for the studies based on field work focused on a specific geographical region. The ICSSR also plans to develop “Indianised research methodology tools” to study the country’s social and economic changes.
The schemes and policy initiatives for empirical research include the PM Ujjwala Yojana, PM Awas Yojana, Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana, PM Krishi Sinchai Yojana, PM Fasal Bima Yojana, PM Kisan Samman Nidhi, Year of Millet 2023, Ayushman Bharat, Jan Aushadhi Yojana, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Make-in-India, PM Gati Shakti, New Education Policy 2020, Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, and the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 among others.
ICSSR Member Secretary and Professor of English in Jawaharlal Nehru University Dhananjay Singh told The Hindu that the ICSSR has a mandate to carry out primary data-driven empirical research on the social and economic impact of the policies of the government. “We announced in June that projects will be awarded to study 31 schemes and initiatives of the Centre. July 15 was the last date to apply. We will announce the results very soon,” he said adding that the ICSSR received close to 4,000 proposals. “Under the scheme, we want two types of studies. Collaborative studies with institutions [₹30 lakh for six months] and individual studies [₹6 lakh for six months] by encouraging researchers from peripheral areas and underprivileged institutions. About 500 proposals will be selected by an expert committee,” Prof. Singh added.
The ICSSR expects a specific outcome from these researches. Prof. Singh said when the country moves ahead towards the goal of becoming a developed country in 2047, social science has a crucial role to play. “It is in that context that we decided to study public policy initiatives. We have to have an equitable and sustainable development of the people. The specific research outcome is to recommend the government about the direction in which these schemes are moving and to inform the people about these policies,” he said adding that 24 research institutes and six regional centres will help in this process.
The ICSSR, he said, is largely leaving the methodology to the researchers. But a pool of senior social scientists will develop a basic framework on how a study may be carried out. “This will be a very general guideline and the researcher can build on it. We do not want to limit a researcher’s scope,” he said but added that there is a need to decolonise the methodology of social sciences in the country, especially when it comes to studying the tribal communities and different castes.
Prof. Singh said Indianising social science methodology in the country is very important. To study the socio-economic realities of specific communities of the country, he said, the paradigms so far used primarily originated from the U.S. or Europe. “Same yardsticks cannot be applied to study communities of various regions. We have our intellectual and philosophical traditions which have social concepts and analytical frameworks in them. We will see if these tools can be used to study the social realities of the people,” he said.
The second way is to use empirical tools to study and compare various societies in the country, Prof. Singh maintained, citing the trend in Africa, where according to him there was a greater awareness among social scientists that the tools to study the society must be African, and not the one used by colonial rulers. “There should be confidence in social scientists in India to develop our own methodological tools. We will see in the proposals if the researcher is offering our own methodologies. We are going ahead in that direction,” he added.