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ICSSR’s new vision: make research relevant to policy

In an attempt at making research projects awarded by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) move from “pure ideological research” to one that is in sync with policy imperatives, the apex social science research body has formulated a blue print of key areas for future research.

It has sent a vision document called IMPRESS (Impactful Policy Research in Social Sciences) to the government, sources say.

This apart, it has also made a tentative list of themes on which it would like to support research.

“We believe that social science research should focus on areas that can link research to pressing policy needs of the time. Social science is close to society and research in it should contribute to solving the problems we face,” a well-placed source said on condition of anonymity. The ICHR awards doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships. It also awards minor and major projects. In future, proposals that are related to the thrust areas are more likely to pass muster, though other proposals also can.

The document shared with the government identifies many thrust areas. These include research proposals on public private partnerships, food security, Make In India (a key policy initiative of the present government), federalism, regionalism and its implications, etc.

Significantly, one of the thrust areas mentioned in the document is the idea of simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and State legislative assemblies, another idea supported by the present government.

Fake news, paid news and media ownership also figure among the thrust areas for research, the official said.

The ICSSR has also internally formulated some key themes for research, apart from the document shared with the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

These include agrarian issues, farmers’ distress, agricultural growth, poverty alleviation, revitalisation of manufacturing, trade and investment policy, liberalisation and lost opportunities, etc.

One thrust area is the idea of simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and State legislative assemblies