Policy Matrix | Time for universities to follow development initiatives on the ground and act as think tanks


Politics is embedded in Indian society. Whether it is caste, language or gender, every group aspires to political representation and participation in political power. Political Matrix will focus on these groups and their aspirations in each state of India and will decipher their electoral choices.

Universities in developing countries have multiple roles – teaching, learning, research and community engagement, as identified by education policy experts.

However, another important role can be added to it: to help the nation meet the challenges of development.

One of the ways to achieve this is to produce relevant and impactful knowledge on ongoing development projects and social interventions. To play this role, universities, Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and colleges across the country will need to work as a third eye to examine and understand the development action initiated and implemented. implemented by States and their impact. on various segments of society.


Universities and other institutions of higher education can also be seen as think tanks for development action in the country. These think tanks could help the state through research, documentation, policy input and advice to reset the tone and duration of development actions, produce invaluable contextualized knowledge around them and also submit locally relevant recommendations for policy formulation and implementation, as suggested by education policy makers.

Higher education institutions can also document ongoing development and policy implementations in their own areas, archive them, and in doing so, create a primary database centered on the social impact of various public policies and programs. governments in India.

Many of the world’s leading universities such as the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford and those located in post-colonial Africa are already meeting this very nation-building requirement.

In a vast country like India, where many development programs are run by central and state governments, the dynamism of development action cannot be documented without the contribution of universities and colleges.

It is true that some higher education institutions are engaged in such research activities, but others need to move in this direction.


In post-90s India, a new notion of development has emerged. The introduction of the liberal economy radically changed our society, but we have no living documentation of these changes in the field of knowledge.

After 2014, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an ambitious new India is taking shape, but we have yet to begin to systematically document the creation of the “New India”, as explained by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA ) led by the Bharatiya Janata Party) government.

In just a few years, the government has spearheaded thousands of development projects, including infrastructure projects, Garib Kalyan projects, Ujjwala, distribution of free rations, pensions, various capacity building, projects around culture and tourism, creating a profound social impact by affecting a huge group of beneficiaries.

During elections, we see their electoral impact, discuss them in media debates and news broadcasts, but we lack substantial data, research, documentation and publications on the ongoing processes.

Universities and colleges can go a long way in bridging this gap. They can work as agencies in this nation-building journey, researching, evaluating, monitoring and documenting the long-awaited development story.

To achieve this, universities and other higher education institutions must reinvent themselves, give new meaning to their existential identity and connect with social communities.

Recently, Prime Minister Modi showed a similar concern when giving an overview of the implementation of the new education policy in India.

A report by Indian Express said that the Ministry of Education, under the leadership of Dharmendra Pradhan, will develop a knowledge mission to produce intellectual heritage around development initiatives and their implementation in India. This mission can guide public or private Indian universities to evolve as think tanks on ongoing development initiatives in India.

Hopefully, this developmental knowledge can yield new resources, insights, and insights for campus research.

You can read all articles from the Political Matrix series here

Badri Narayan is Professor and Director at GB Pant Social Science Institute, Prayagraj, and author of “Republic of Hindutva”. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the position of this publication.

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