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Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy
The Centre for Social Impact and Philanthrophy (CSIP) has partnered with GiveIndia, a non-profit online donation platform, to support their India COVID Response Fund. The fund will focus on preventing the spread of COVID-19, providing humanitarian aid, supporting health workers, and enabling the COVID-hit families to rebuild their livelihoods. CSIP’s Director Ingrid Srinath serves on the fund’s advisory committee, helping oversee governance and disbursement structures. The crowdfunding effort has raised ₹ 100 cr so far. The fund is supported by the Gates Foundation, ATE Chandra Foundation, Google, Omidyar Network, Uber, and UBS.
 
The Centre also hosted two tracks at the May 14-16 #charcha2020 convening, an opportunity for India's development sector to come together and engage on our most pressing human development challenges during this time of COVID-19. Speakers included CSIP Director Ingrid Srinath, Senior Visiting Fellow Priyadarshini Singh, and Deputy Director Bindi Dharia. CSIP's focus areas were "Philanthropy and Fundraising" and "Regulatory Landscape for Nonprofits." Kicking off the first discussion, CSIP shared video testimonials from eight Indian philanthropy leaders on "How COVID-19 Is Shaping India's Philanthropic Responses and Strategies."  The full conference recordings can be found here.  
 
Ingrid Srinath also co-wrote an article with Lopamudra Sanyal and Ravi Sreedharan, India School of Development Management on the civil society’s response to COVID-19. 
 
The Centre also is India’s first academic centre focused on enabling strategic and robust philanthropy for greater social impact. They published a report which highlights the role played by non-profit organisations in mitigating the effects of COVID-19 despite facing financial and other constraints. It has come out with a rigorous researched report on the NPOs based on interviews with 50 non-profit leaders on the operational and financial implications of COVID-19. The interviews were conducted through April and May this year to assess NPOs’ engagement in relief work, operational and financial status and coping strategies during the pandemic. 
 
The report has some revealing results. Three-fourths of the NPOs continue to be actively engaged in ongoing relief work, using their embeddedness in communities as a particular strength. This work rnages from last mile delivery of relief material such as dry ration and sanitation kits, community awareness and sanitisation, setting up health camps and isolation facilities, rescuing stranded labours, provision of direct cash transfers, to offering rehabilitation of the distressed communities, says Ingrid Srinath. You can read more, here. 
 
In partnership with Harvard Business School faculty, CSIP also organised for a new certificate programme for India's NGO leaders on Resilience Strategies for Non-profits (RSN) on July 27-29, 2020. RSN is an opportunity for senior leaders and managers to reflect on their organisation’s Covid-19 response, assess its resilience needs, and reimagine its post-pandemic future. More information can be found here. The news was also published in Businessworld, India Education Diary, News18, and United News of India on July 13, 2020. Speaking about the new programme, Ingrid Srinath said, “Nonprofits in India face a perfect storm. A looming funding crunch even as demand for services skyrockets. Navigating the perils and opportunities this presents will take more than passion and commitment. Resilience Strategies for Nonprofits (RSN) will provide concrete advice and tools from sector leaders and world-class faculty to guide critical decision making and planning at this critical time.”
Centre for Social and Behaviour Change
The Centre for Social and Behaviour Change (CSBC) in collaboration with Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and Project Sanchar hosted the webinar “Behaviour Change Post Lockdown: Staying ahead of the COVID-19 curve” on 21 May 2020 to an extremely positive response by the community. Behaviourally Speaking is CSBC's webinar series to analyse the behavioural impact of the pandemic. 
 
CSBC, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), has developed a cross-department message dashboard on COVID-19 for the NITI Aayog. The dashboard is designed with the objective of providing a longlist of COVID-19 messaging, informed by medical and behavioural sciences. These messages are around the thematic areas of signs & symptoms of coronavirus, social distancing, prevention (general, hand and respiratory hygiene; self-isolation and mask wearing), combating stigma, social benefits, and lockdown. It would also ensure consistency in messaging and reinforcement of messages to the population. Sharing specific messaging with service providers under these Ministries also helps to ensure their safety and well-being. The CSBC team is working to develop similar products for the NITI Aayog for the post-lockdown period. The dashboard can be accessed here. The message dashboard has been widely shared and utilised by various district administrations in the days since its release. It is also a part of a larger repository of communication materials on COVID-19 developed by BMGF called www.indiafightscovid.com. This platform is available to administrations and CSOs for their COVID-19 response work.
 
The Centre in collaboration with BMGF, McCann Worldgroup, Project Concern International (PCI), and other development partners in Bihar, is designing public safety messages on COVID-19. To understand what types of messages can motivate people to make desirable changes to their day-to-day behaviours, we conducted two rounds of testing using the JEEViKA network in Bihar. 
 
Pilot 1: How effective are fear-based vs. prosocial messages in reducing non-essential visits from the household?
Pilot 2: Which pathway between devaluing myths and increasing knowledge on symptoms works better in increasing risk perception and influencing protective behaviours? 
 
Whether the behavioral principle of speed-bumping is effective in influencing protective behaviours?
 
The findings can be accessed here
 
NITI Aayog launched the behaviour change campaignNavigating the New Normal’ on June 25, 2020. Centre for Social and Behaviour Change (CSBC), Ashoka University in partnership with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), India and McCann Worldgroup India, is proud to have developed the campaign that advocates for COVID-safe behaviour norms during the unlock phase. The campaign was launched in the presence of NITI Aayog Member Dr VK Paul, CEO Amitabh Kant, Principal Scientific Adviser Prof K Vijayraghavan, NITI Aayog Adviser Alok Kumar, BMGF Country Director Hari Menon, noted lyricist and CEO and CCO of McCann Worldgroup India Prasoon Joshi. Senior officials of NITI Aayog, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and BMGF were also present. As many as 92,000 NGOs and civil society organisations (CSOs) working with NITI Aayog too participated in the virtual launch. 
 
The campaign consists of two parts. The first is a web portal, containing resources informed by behavioural science. The website is developed by CSBC with BMGF India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) and contains easy compliance strategies and collaterals to make public spaces safe, as we unlock and resume regular activities amidst the virus. The second part is a nationwide, transmedia campaign focused on mask wearing. It places children in the centre as enforcers of the New Normal ways with a catchy jingle ‘Mask nahi toh tokenge, Corona ko rokenge’. 
 
Published articles – 
 
Apart from this, Aditya Laumas and Saksham Singh, researchers at CSBC had 2 of their articles published in notable online publications. The first article titled 'As restrictions ease, behaviour science can help shopkeepers fight COVID-19' is a behavioural guide to help small shopkeepers from becoming COVID-19 hotspots. It is published in Etv Bharat and can be accessed here. The second article, 'A behavioral cheatsheet to India’s COVID-19 response' is published in CNBC TV 18 and can be accessed here. In this article, Saksham and Aditya have applied the behavioural lens to various government initiatives and public behaviour at large to analyse India's response to the pandemic. The CSBC team has been producing thought-provoking articles for the press regularly. 
 
They have also assessed behavioural science to retune public health. The article can be found here
 
Pooja Haldea, Senior Adviser, CSBC informs us about the health crisis we are sitting on which is not just COVID-19 and shares behavioural insights to mitigate the impact on demand for other healthcare services during the pandemic, in this article. Her co-author is Vrishali Shekhar, Consultant at The World Bank
 
Responsibility to practice protective behaviours shifts from the government to individual as lockdown opens. CSBC Director, Pavan Mamidi and Senior Adviser, Pooja Haldea share how people can be encouraged to practice these behaviours and create new #socialnorms, even at personal cost.
 
The Centre also has designed a COVID1-9 Communication Handbook. The Handbook is designed for policymakers, communication practitioners, and development and humanitarian agencies to think through how risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) can be conducted effectively using behavioural insights during the current pandemic.
 
The discussion highlighted the role of behavioural strategies to support adherence to necessary protective behaviours against COVID-19 – especially at a time when lockdowns are ending across the world and the responsibility for disease prevention shifts from the state to individuals. Our panelists applied the lenses of their own experience and research to discuss strategies from perspectives of public health, psychology and behavioural science. Dr. K. Viswanath, Lee Kum Kee Professor of Health Communication at the Harvard T H CHAN School of Public Health was the keynote speaker. The other panelists were: Dr. Pavan Mamidi, Director, CSBC, Dr. Sanna Balsari-Palsule, a behavioural scientist, Ms. Elizabeth Serlemitsos, Project Director, Breakthrough ACTION, The Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs. The session was moderated by Ms. Pooja Haldea, Senior Advisor, CSBC. 
 
The webinar summary and recording are available here.
Centre for Economic Data and Analysis
The Centre for Economic Data and Analysis (CEDA), led by Ashwini Deshpande, Professor of Economics, has been contributing tremendously towards studying the impact of COVID-19 on a wide range of aspects. They published a two-part series The Coronavirus Pandemic: Are We Ready for the Long Haul? It helps provide concrete, action-oriented suggestions for policymakers. There is a lot that is unknown about SARS-COV-2, but the world’s leading epidemiologists believe that its spread will be a long-drawn process. It will take at least 18 months for a vaccine to become available, and even after that, scaling up vaccine production to cover the entire world population will take a long time. Ashwini and her team propose a comprehensive approach that argues for a combination of cash support and in-kind transfers to be made to all households with ration cards during any lockdown that takes place over the next 24 months. The complete policy brief can be found here
 
Apart from this, Ashwini Deshpande, with a team of co-authors (Lore Vandewalle and Kritika Saxena, The  Graduate Institute, Geneva; Vijayendra Rao, World Bank, and Joshua Merfeld, KDI, South Korea), was awarded a research grant by International Growth Centre (IGC) India as a part of their call for proposals on “Covid-19 in India: Impacts and Responses”. The project will be on “The Short-Term Effects of the Covid-19 Lockdown on rural communities and SHG members in particular”. 
 
Published articles: 
Pulapre Balakrishnan’s (Professor of Economic) article on How to pay for the stimulus is published in The Hindu on August 06, 2020.
 
Ashwini Deshpande, Professor of Economics, with Rajesh Ramachandran published an article on Differential impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown in The Hindu and Hindustan Times. They have written a paper titled Is COVID-19 "The Great Leveler"? The Critical Role of Social Identity in Lockdown- induced Job Losses
 
Another paper of hers on Caste inequalities in post-lockdown unemployment was covered by NewsClick. See the coverage here
 
Her paper on the Gendered impact of Covid-19 lockdown covered extensively in the media. See the coverage here.  
 
Her paper on Did Indian Men Do More Housework During Lockdown? It Depends was published Huffington Post on July 29, 2020. 
 
Her articles on  What Does Work-From-Home Mean for Women? was published in Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) Engage on May 23, 2020. She also wrote an article for Quartz India on how women domestic violence amidst the pandemic - In locked down India, women fight coronavirus and domestic violence
 
She wrote another article for Quartz India about Protecting women is missing from pandemic management measures in India on March 28, 2020. Ashwini's article on Teaching in the Time of Isolation was published in The Wire on March 24, 2020. She has written an article on An Expert Explained: The gender gap in job losses caused by the lockdown which was published in The Indian Express on June 06, 2020. 
 
The economic and social impact of COVID-19 could be devastating in the long term if the recovery from it is not well managed. In a report by Arthur D. Little, they offer an assessment of the impact and a 10-point programme to manage the recovery and lessen the pain, particularly for India’s most vulnerable groups, and put the economy back on a growth path. A counterpoint to the report is offered by CEDA, by Ashwini Deshpande, Anisha Sharma (Assistant Professor of Economics) and Aparajita Dasgupta (Assistant Professor of Economics) titled - Putting humanity at the Forefront of India’s Economic Response. The report can be found here.
 
Bhaskar Dutta’s (Professor of Economics) article on Fighting the coronavirus: How to get vaccines speedily to people who need them, once one has been found is published in The Times of India on August 20, 2020.
 
Bharat Ramaswami, Dean, Academic Affairs, and Professor of Economics, with Maitreesh Ghatak and Ashok Kotwal, published an article on What Would Make India’s Growth Sustainable? in The India Forum on August 15, 2020. 
 
Talks:
Pulapre Balakrishnan also gave a talk on AtmaNirbhar Bharat, at TEDxNITKSurathkal (Video), August 1, 2020
 
Ashwini Deshpande gave a talk on Interpreting Gendered Impacts of Recent Economic Shocks, at Samvaad, Centre for New Economic Studies, O.P. Jindal Global University on August 22, 2020. 
 
She also appeared on June 24, 2020, on the "Bloomberg Equality" edition where she looks at the impact the lockdown in the country amid the pandemic is having on the gender gap in the country's workforce. The interview can be accessed here
 
Ashwini Deshpande also gave a talk at a virtual conference organised by the Institute for Human Development (IHD), International Labour Organization (ILO), and the Indian Society of Labour Economics (ISLE). The conference can be viewed here
 
She gave a talk on the impacts of COVID-19 on women and girls at a Women’s Empowerment in Development (WED) Lab Special COVID-19 Seminar Series. The webinar opened discussions for current issues around COVID-19 and the labour market for women in the Global South. It can be accessed here. She also appeared in a programme of the BBC World News on Life after Lockdown: Gender equality. Ashwini gave a talk on Developing Nations and COVID 19 at a webinar organised by the International Economic Association & Royal Economic Society on April 23, 2020. 
 
The list of working papers of the Centre can be found here
Ashoka Centre for Well Being
Mental Health has been one aspect that has been severely affected due to the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown and the uncertainty of the situation. To ensure the well-being of students, faculty, and staff, Ashoka Centre for Well Being (ACWB) has been conducting online counselling sessions online. They have also extended their support through a helpline which any student, faculty, or staff can contact and get their due help. 
 
Regarding this, Dr. Arvinder Singh, Director, ACWEB said, “Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. At a time such as the present, it is imperative that we focus on strategies for enhancing individual and collective Wellbeing. To deal with all the overwhelming emotions, cultivate the practice of gratitude which will make you less anxious and more empowered. Refrain from using catastrophic words, reframe your negative thoughts by focusing on the positive in the present e.g. I am safe at home with my family instead of I am stuck or claustrophobic. Focus on your resilient self, stay calm through yoga, meditation, or progressive relaxation, and focus on actions directed towards helping others for the larger good.”
Science Policy Initiative
1. Prof. L.S.Shashidhara (Professor and Dean, Research) and Dr. Anjali Taneja ( Associate Director, Science Policy Initiative) emphasize the need for consortia-driven supply chain networks of essential goods and services in India, in times of a pandemic like COVID-19. This will not only help address the immediate needs of our emerging economy but also reduce its import dependency, enhance India's export potential of value added goods and services and enable its greater integration in global value chains. The entire article can be accessed here
 
2. Dr. Anjali Taneja from Science Policy Initiative together with Dr. Aarti Srivastava from NIEPA, assess the need of combating healthcare threats through advanced research and better education for youth in India. A comprehensive healthcare policy which ensures qualitative research in predictions and analysis of healthcare disasters, improved education facilities and equitable access to cure and nutrition will ensure India's preparedness to deal with unforeseen crises. The entire article can be accessed here