|Since the beginning of the millennium, interest in social protection and the role it can play in reducing poverty and promoting economic growth have grown rapidly. Within the broader framework of social protection, emerging economies are increasingly relying on cash transfers to fight extreme poverty. In the Indian context, the Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) scheme proposes to channel several central and state government benefits directly into beneficiary accounts. Towards that end, there is a growing focus on financial inclusion initiatives, like the recently announced Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana. While there is great potential for using information and communication technologies (ICTs) for delivering social protection, effectively leveraging these technologies involves a careful analysis of the risks and opportunities. My current work involves singling out the stages in the implementation of a cash transfer programme where technology can be instrumental in helping the scheme meet its objectives. Towards that end, I will be reviewing large-scale and acclaimed cash transfer schemes (like Bolsa Família, Oportunidades, Chile Solidario, Janani Suraksha Yojana and others) and then triangulate my conclusions by talking to some of the stakeholders involved in designing and implementing such programmes in India. While the separate but potentially complimentary agendas of social protection and financial inclusion have not yet converged, effectively leveraging ICTs in social protection programming can pave the road towards that goal and cut down government spending, while ensuring greater efficiency, transparency, and accountability. In such a context, technology can assume the role of an essential enabler in helping people break structural poverty traps by serving social protection objectives and in fostering economic equality by promoting financial inclusion.
|Courses opted for during Masters|
SE 297C — Usability Engineering
ITS 220 — Economic and Social Impacts of Information Technology