Reflections from the Field

Reflections from the Field

Each image is a storyteller and what better way than images from the field to catch a glimpse of the deeply impactful work that Krea Research Centres carry out on the field, every day. Presenting, a collection of photographs unpacking few episodes in a series of instrumental work done by some of our research centres interweaving high quality research with impactful solutions on the ground.

Krea University’s ecosystem is built on exchange of knowledge, ideas, insights and meaningful collaborations and Krea prides itself in its ever growing network of Research Centres synonymous with ‘research for impact’.  From solving complex development challenges to enhance socio-economic prosperity, nurturing a support ecosystem for tech innovations for underserved communities, developing and supporting digital innovations for social impact, ensuring economic justice, social opportunity and environmental protection, poverty reduction through policy development informed by scientific evidence, conducting advanced research across the humanities and social sciences to spearheading research and learning related to the human brain and mind, the Krea Research Centres create deep impact across diverse fields.

For this edition of The Krea Communique, here is a glimpse of the pivotal work the Centres carry out on the field through images contributed by some of our Research Centres.

A child receiving a vaccination at the control site of a project exploring ways to boost immunisation demand in Haryana. 2017.
Photo Credit: Shobhini Mukerji, J-PAL SA

Scaling up the Graduation Approach in Bihar, India. 2019.
Photo Credit: Gautam Patel, J-PAL SA

A female police officer with a complainant at a police station in Morena, Madhya Pradesh as a part of a study evaluating the impact of introducing women’s help desks across police stations on the registration of cases of violence against women. 2019.
Photo Credit: Suddhasatwa Bhattacharya, J-PAL SA

Women of Menad or Kunda Kotagiri village of the Kota Tribe. From Left to Right- Ponvelan, Seetha, Lalli, Baby, Anchana, Mathi, Malli, and Manjula. And the cat is “pees”.
Photo Credit: Dr Karthick Narayanan, Moturi Satyanarayana Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Kota name giving ceremony in the Thiruchikady village, Kotagiri. Shalini (holding the baby in her lap) and Prem Kumar’s baby is being named. On this occasion, Hari (feeding the child), one of the priests of the Kilkotagiri Village, blessed the baby.
Photo Credit: Dr Karthick Narayanan, Moturi Satyanarayana Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences

A herd of Bubalus bubalis, commonly known as Toda buffaloes, grazing in the meadows of Nilgiris. Among the Asian water Buffaloes, the Toda buffaloes are a genetically isolated breed of buffaloes endemic to the Nilgiri hills. These buffaloes are central to the culture and the livelihood of the Toda of Nilgiris.
Photo Credit: Dr Karthick Narayanan, Moturi Satyanarayana Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences

This is a photo from the Konniesht recital at the Morthkyodr clan’s sacred diary in Karikadu Mandu, Ithalar, Nilgiri. Konniesht is a form of dance recital in which only men participate. The photo shows that the men form a circle facing inward by locking their elbows. The circle then rotates in a counterclockwise direction, with each man taking a measured tread matching the chanting of the song that begins with ‘O hau hau’.
Photo Credit: Dr Karthick Narayanan, Moturi Satyanarayana Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Rubavathi holding the honey collected for the salt feeding ceremony to the buffaloes at Karikadu Mandu, Ithalar, Nilgiri. The men of the Morthkyodr clan collected this honey for the sacred occasion from a cavity blocked with stone in the sirfs: ancestral trees handed down from father to son. Plains cerana, a member of the Apis cerana bee family, establishes its colonies in the cavity of these trees. Todas collect their honey without damaging the brood. Their honey collection is well known for this unique practice as they do not use fire or smoke to drive the bees away. But instead, they gently blow into the cavity to move the bee away.
Photo Credit: Dr Karthick Narayanan, Moturi Satyanarayana Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Radha (left) and Rajakilli (right), members of the Toda women’s self-help group producing the famed Toda embroidery shawl and cushion cover. Toda embroidery produced by the Toda women is one of the main sources of income for many Toda families today.
Photo Credit: Dr Karthick Narayanan, Moturi Satyanarayana Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences

LEAD at Krea University’s team recently visited Mann Deshi Foundation’s head office in Mhasvad, Satara.
Photo Credit : LEAD at Krea University

LEAD is collaborating with Mann Deshi Foundation on a community health needs assessment and the field visit helped contextualise findings from LEAD’s survey.
Photo Credit : LEAD at Krea University

“It made me realise the power of different voices. Until then, I had an understanding that the quantitative field survey was the culmination of our efforts in obtaining data. However, after witnessing the flow of ideas under the framework that the survey provided, I learned that it was the starting point to a much deeper conversation filled with opportunities for further work.” added Sumiran Ardhapure, Research Associate, LEAD at Krea University.
Photo Credit : LEAD at Krea University

ANM providing vaccination services during our field visit for Time and Motion study of ANMs.
Photo Credit: CDFI

Women SHG members responding during an FGD conducted for impact of SHG program on livelihood.
Photo Credit: CDFI

Training session for the team of enumerators for data collection in Khasi Hills of Meghalaya.
Photo Credit: CDFI

Conducting an FGD with the SHG to gather insights on the impact of Covid 19.
Photo Credit: CDFI

Universities and Research in the Indian Context

Universities and Research in the Indian Context

By Prof Ramachandra Guha

In an edition anchored on the theme of  research and its critical role In the world of academics and the very act of learning itself,  it only felt right to invite one of the most renowned historians in India and the globe to share his insights on the ‘history of research’ in the context of Indian universities. In an exclusive piece for The Krea Communique, Prof Ramachandra Guha navigates us through the history of research across natural sciences and the social sciences in one-hundred-and-sixty-five years since the first modern universities in India were founded. Prof Guha sheds light on how Indian universities have failed to perform as creditably as might have been expected but not everything is lost as the recent decades witnessed corrective steps taken by the public university system; and how a whole new generation of private universities will further and deepen this process. Prof Guha emphasises, “In the Indian context, the university must be conceived of as a theatre of intellectual innovation as well as of social emancipation”.

In the year 1857, the universities of Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras were founded. In subsequent decades, these were followed by the founding of the universities  of  Aligarh, Allahabad, Banaras, Osmania, Mysore, Punjab and Delhi. Although established by a colonial regime, these universities helped serve as a crucible of modernity in India. As the sociologist André Béteille has written, these founding universities ‘opened new horizons both intellectually and institutionally in a society that had stood still in a conservative and hierarchical mould for centuries’. Indeed, these universities, says Béteille, were ‘among the first open and secular institutions in a society that was governed largely by the rules of kinship, caste and religion’.  Men and women, upper caste and lower caste, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Parsi, all met and mingled together as colleagues and peers, in a manner previously inconceivable in a segmented and stratified society.

These colonial-era universities were focused on teaching and the awarding of degrees, rather than on research. Nonetheless, some of the first great Indian scientists taught and did their pioneering research in these universities. They included the physicists C. V. Raman, Satyen Bose, K. S. Krishnan and Meghnad Saha, and the chemists T. R. Seshadri and K. Venkataraman. In colonial times, there were also some world-class humanities scholars working in Indian universities, such as the historians Radhakumud Mookerjee and Jadunath Sarkar, the economists Radhakamal Mukherjee and V. K. R. V. Rao, and the sociologists Radhakamal Mukherjee, G. S. Ghurye and Irawati Karve.

After Independence, however, the Government of India chose not to build on this legacy of university-based research. Rather, the state established a chain of laboratories under the rubric of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which operated entirely outside the university system. In subsequent decades, some (but by no means all, and perhaps not even a majority) of these CSIR labs did good work in their designated fields. However, in retrospect perhaps the country would have been better served if scientific research had been more firmly located within the university system, as was the case for example in the United States. In the American system, research was strongly interwoven with teaching, while scholars in a particular scientific discipline always had the opportunity to interact with those in another scientific discipline. Working in the same university structure also encouraged scientists and humanists to understand one another and their work.

Through the 1950s and 1960s, Indian universities continued to produce first-rate scholarship in disciplines such as economics, sociology, and history. However, so far as the natural sciences were concerned, Indian universities were largely concerned with teaching alone. In later decades, some belated, and modest, attempts, were made to atone for these missteps. Thus Hyderabad University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, both founded in the 1970s, encouraged original research in the sciences as well as the social sciences. However, both these universities were funded by the Union Government; meanwhile, the overwhelming majority of Indian universities, run by State Governments, had little or no interest in scientific research.

What then of higher education in the private sector? This has thus far been dominated by engineering and medical colleges, run on commercial lines, and with no interest in research at all. Only in the last decade or so have we witnessed the founding of private universities offering a broader range of courses and disciplines, and with larger intellectual ambitions. I have in mind here institutions such as Ahmedabad University, Ashoka University, Azim Premji University, Jindal Global University, Krea University, and Shiv Nadar University. These universities all conceive of themselves as much more than teaching shops. They all hope to become centres of research as well.

It is now one-hundred-and-sixty-five years since the first modern universities in India were founded. As I have argued, they have opened up spaces where people previously segregated by caste, class, gender, language and religion could meet with one another as independent human beings. However, on the intellectual and especially research front the Indian university has not performed as creditably as might have been expected. This was partly the result of conscious government policy, which took scientific research out of the university system into self-enclosed laboratories shut off from society. Some corrective steps have been taken in recent decades in the public university system; and we may hope that the new generation of private universities shall further and deepen this process. In the Indian context, the university must be conceived of as a theatre of intellectual innovation as well as of social emancipation. 

Padma Bhushan awardee Prof Ramachandra Guha Is a renowned historian, biographer and journalist. He Is also a Distinguished University Professor at Krea University.

Marketing approach during the pandemic crisis

Marketing approach during the pandemic crisis

It is surprising to see the recent whir regarding the uncertainties in the industrial arena amid the pandemic crisis and many pondering over ideas to tackle it through innovative marketing techniques. There is a golden line in marketing, “Do not rest on your laurels” and this says it all. 

Whether there is a pandemic or global economic crisis the change is inevitable in marketing.  Adaptability is the rule number one to travel smoothly on the inclining line of market leadership. Having said that, the anxiety towards the changing market or the change in approach towards the customer, is trivial. 

Technology in marketing has changed the complete game plan. It would have appeared as a far fetched idea if somebody had mentioned it two decades ago.  Here, change in technology doesn’t pertain to the evolution of product. Evolution is something inexorable, irrespective of the market conditions. Black & White TV evolved as Colour TV twenty years ago, which in turn evolved as LEDs and LCDs, a decade ago. That is technology in product making. But in the past six to eight years the overall theme of marketing itself has changed and it is due to three salient developments namely connectivity, hands-on equipment and video streaming facility. 

Data suggests, 51% of the people above the age of 15, all over the world, are connected to the internet in the modern era. If the data is accurate, these numbers are huge. Reaching every single customer through their hands-on equipment gathers efficiency in marketing, with the support of video streaming platforms. 

Today, the companies have the luxury of understanding the search behaviour, decision making process and purchasing pattern of every single customer. By integrating all the platforms, the companies can strategize showcasing the right communication to the right customer on the right handle. If you are astute and effective on playing with ‘real time bidding’, you can put a relevant product or a service advert on the customer’s Instagram or Facebook timeline, something the consumer was searching for a few hours ago on Flipkart or Amazon. Thanks  to the technological evolution in marketing, the efficiency of reaching the target customer has gone up very high. Gone are those days where you put a hoarding on a busy road and wait for the busy riders to have a look at it. 

In line to the technological revamps, the life cycle of any product has come down drastically. It has become very small and nanoscopic. By the time the product developer, of a company, wakes up from a good night’s sleep, the product’s life cycle is dead. Globalization, regulatory policies across the globe and purchase facilitations like bank loan availabilities have added fuel to the fire in shrinking the life cycle of a product. Being a successful survivor in this intense global race has become very challenging. Competitor staying a click away or a microsecond away is an all-time threat for any company. The companies are expected to be the survival of the fittest at any point of time in the current era irrespective of their brand legacy or pedigree. 

Since these healthy challenges are inevitable in marketing, there is no reason to be anxious about the pandemic crisis and the cascading market changing effect. If it wasn’t the Covid effect it would’ve been something else. Ultimately, change is something the marketers should be expecting. If there is no change in their approach they are knocking the wrong door. 

Today, Ola doing a parcel service, Swiggy transporting groceries and boutiques doing door deliveries clearly signifies that the approach to handle the pandemic is rising to the occasion and sculpting the marketing efforts, slightly out of box. Looking at the situation as a boon for efficiency and making use of the new normal as a learning opportunity, is an ingenious new way to triumph. 

Coronavirus and its Impact on the Economy: exploring threats and opportunities

Coronavirus and its Impact on the Economy: exploring threats and opportunities

Coronavirus and its Impact on the Economy: exploring threats and opportunities

Madhuri Saripalle, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Business, IFMR, Sricity.

The world economy is facing one of its worst crises since a century. Economies across the globe are seeing a sharp contraction in growth caused by the economic lockdown to control the spread of the virus. This has led to a supply shock, reduction in output, employment and consequently, demand. The Indian economy was already facing serious structural issues and facing a downturn, which probably have receded to the background with the more serious threat of the pandemic at hand. Two important questions are: a) when will the economy restart and what will be the sectoral response; b) what policy measures can speed up the recovery process? It is also a time to reset the economy by creating skills and improving productivity through innovation.

To address the first question, as economies restart, there will be varied response across various sectors. For example, industries such as essential goods and services such as drugs and pharmaceuticals, essential health and financial services such as insurance, production of essential foods such as pulses, etc, will see rapid growth, while industries and services which are based on discretionary spend like restaurants, entertainment, tourism will be hard hit. More detailed analysis can be read here and here. The impact of economic slowdown is widespread because almost every sector is dependent on trade and global supply chains. The pandemic is a double whammy on an already existing slowdown in the economy, which is a an area of much more serious concern.

In this article I will analyse the structural imbalances in our trade sector which have got further amplified with the pandemic and explore how these can be addressed.

Lack of diversity in Trade basket-opportunity or threat?

In our trade basket, if we exclude textiles, the exports and imports are concentrated in just a few products. The top 5 commodities constitute 60-70 percent of total exports and imports in India (table 1). It is time to create comparative advantage in labour intensive sectors such as leather, sports goods, automotive ancillaries to increase employment. The pandemic has given us an opportunity wherein supply chains will be re-routed from the manufacturing engine of the world-China to India so that we can prepare ourselves to skill our young workforce and increase productivity in export-oriented sectors.

Table 1: Diversity in Trade basket in India Share in Exports% Share in Imports
1Mineral Fuels, Oils and Products1432
2Gems and Jewelry1212
4Electrical Machinery and Equipment511
5Nuclear Reactors, Boilers and parts79
6Organic Chemicals64
7Vehicles other than railway or tramway51.1
8Pharmaceutical Products50.5
 Source: EXIM database. Ministry of commerce, GOI

Decline in trade from November 2019: when will green shoots emerge?

The decline in exports and imports started from November 2019 onwards when sectors such as jewellery, textiles, ores and minerals registered fall in exports. Important sectors such as oil, coal, iron and steel, transport equipment and electronic goods declined as well reflecting decreased economic activity. During January-March 2020, with the exception of ore exports and transport equipment imports (mostly railway and locomotives, boats and floating structures), there has been a widespread decline in trade due to supply chain disruptions. As countries emerge from lockdown, there will be revival in economic activity and there should be enough policy measures both on the supply as well as demand side simultaneously for a balanced pick-up in economic activity.

The Call to Adventure

The Call to Adventure

Call to adventure

The blog is written by Sameer Abraham Thomas. The Author is a Faculty Associate, Centre for Writing & Pedagogy at Krea University.

21 July 2020: I got up earlier than usual today. The sound of rain woke me up at half past six in the morning – or perhaps it was the cessation of the sound; my father told me it had started raining earlier and had abated a little by 6:30.

Waking up in the dark, some pale light shining through the one window in my room, I listened to the soft drumming of raindrops on some roof somewhere, possibly ours, as if it were an alarm, rousing me from my slumber and calling me to adventure.

It seems to me as I write this that every morning is a call to adventure in some ways. What is it that gets us out of our beds? An alarm, perhaps – some sudden sound; or perhaps the cessation or change of some white noise that had lulled us to sleep at night, or that had slipped seamlessly into our ears at some point after we had nodded off and only just now felt the impetus to leave.

Sometimes, we wake up because someone is calling us, and the reason they want us awake and not asleep is our call to adventure. Sometimes we ignore the call and stay in bed. Adventure calls to minds that are not ready to hearken to that call. They are not yet ready. But one day…

I remember long periods of time when my mind wasn’t ready. It was either too busy making itself anxious or curling up in a defensive ball, paralyzing me to protect me from the dangers posed by any and every adventure, no matter how small. Those were not happy days, but maybe they were necessary at the time. Shields do protect us, but they wear down over time, unless withdrawn to make way for a sudden spear. And a worn-out shield can protect you no more than can a mind, tired of defending itself against itself.

The shield falls and then there is nothing left to insulate ourselves from the call, but now we are too exhausted from the battering of our shields to be able to respond. We lie in bed and listen to the call resound like some song at a festival we know we might love but which we are terrified of losing ourselves in. It takes time and courage to realize that perhaps joy lies in letting ourselves get lost; the challenge of facing the unknown, the challenge of choosing the right path, the challenge of fighting the world and not ourselves, and then the challenge of finding our way home – perhaps it was this that our minds were preparing themselves for all along. It took time, but finally they were ready, and then they fell before us, the clang of the fallen shield beginning yet another call to adventure as the spear finally finds itself in our hands. The call to adventure – we didn’t recognize it then. But, if we persist… today, we might.

Current Trends in Banking and Finance

Current Trends in Banking and Finance

Current Trends in Banking and Finance

The blog is written by C. Krishnan. The Author is  Director, Financial Assistance & Senior Advisor, IFMR Graduate School of Business, Krea University.

I joined the banking industry in the pre-computerized era and have seen the many changes over the last three decades. However, the changes that I have witnessed in the last 10 years have probably been significantly more than what I had witnessed in the previous 25 years. The banking and financial services industry has been turning its focus toward innovation to prepare for a future that will be increasingly driven by technology.

Customers and prospective customers are no longer dependent upon banks as they used to be many years ago. Competition from shadow banking and Fintech/TechFin companies is growing. Lakshmi, Pepper, Nao, Ira and, Xiao Long may not be familiar names for the common person; however, they are quite familiar to the banking fraternity. What are they? They are humanoid robots and chatbots that are creating a revolution in the Banking and Financial Services Industry.

Some of the key trends that are re-shaping the BFS industry are:

A. Digital Transformation:

The industry is witnessing a continued and aggressive focus on digitization and the adoption of new and emerging technologies to bring in operational efficiencies, enhance speed-to-market and deliver superior customer experiences. Banks are cutting down expenses on branches to invest in self-service digital channels as mobile and online banking become more popular among customers. Digital wearable devices, which pack the power of smartphones, are making it increasingly feasible for banks to offer targeted services to customers.

B. FinTech Companies:

Many banks are seeking to exploit the opportunities presented by digital, either by leveraging the technologies in-house or by partnering with FinTech companies. Initially, these companies were seen as competitors taking advantage of the void that was created by the BFS industry’s inability to keep up with technological breakthroughs. However, today, Bank-FinTech partnerships are increasingly the norm, with the latter providing marketing, administration, loan servicing or other services enabling banks to offer tech-enabled banking products.

C. Building a Cognitive Side to the Business:

As new regulatory requirements and data protection laws put additional strains on already-stretched resources, emerging technologies such as AI and Robotic Process Automation are helping banks address these constraints efficiently.

D. Risk: Leveraging technology to elevate risk management:

Regulatory divergence, geopolitical instability, and the possibility of a downturn have created a host of impending risks, requiring financial institutions to rethink traditional approaches to risk management. Additionally, nonfinancial risks remain top of mind for regulators and banks alike and many have begun to sharpen their focus on this emerging subset of risks.

E. Transformation – Key to the Industry’s Future:

To be most effective, banks and financial institutions should re-define themselves as agile technology companies in the financial services industry, not the other way around. This implies that BFS companies should shed their non-core operations, retaining only those businesses that provide true differentiation for customers.

To summarize, as banks continue to cope with the developments that have already made an impact, their ability to transform themselves with speed and agility, and their future strategies to survive the next revolution, will determine the winners and losers in this increasingly digital world.