India Speak: The CPR Podcast

CPR Perspectives Episode 3: Rohan Venkat in conversation with Avani Kapur

Episode Summary

This month on CPR Perspectives – our flagship interview series commemorating the Centre for Policy Research’s 50th anniversary – we bring you a conversation with Avani Kapur, a senior fellow at CPR, where she also leads the Accountability Initiative. The Accountability Initiative focuses on conducting cutting-edge research on India’s public service delivery systems and leveraging this information by ensuring it reaches government officials, academics and citizens with the aim of promoting administrative reforms at the frontlines of service delivery. Kapur has been at CPR since 2008, beginning as a Research Associate at the Accountability Initiative and working her way up to leading the research group today. Along the way, she has led process- and fund-tracking surveys on vital social sector schemes as well as anchored an annual budget brief series analysing the performance of the Indian government’s major welfare programmes – including, this year, a major lookback at the past 15 years of welfare spending and outcomes to mark AI’s 15th anniversary. In addition to leading AI, Kapur also set up the PULSE for Development platform in 2020, which brings together more than 90 organisations within the development community dedicated to citizen-centric policies and implementation. Kapur is a Tech4Good Fellow and part of the WICCI Council of Ethic, and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Development Policy and Practice. In the first part of our conversation, I spoke to Kapur about starting at CPR just as the Accountability Initiative was taking shape, the stunning examples of inefficiency she discovered while looking for bottlenecks in public spending in the field and getting positive feedback from the state – including how one government official described AI’s work as being that of ‘physician’ tracking the flow of blood through the body, searching for blockages. In the second part of the conversation, which you will receive later this month, we spoke about why the initiative has moved from talking about accountability to ‘Responsive Governance’, how AI does much more grassroots capacity building work beyond its flagship PAISA public expenditure tracking, and what advice she has for young scholars entering this field. If you prefer audio, this conversation is also available as a podcast here. And if you missed our previous interviews, read our conversations with Partha Mukhopadhyay (Part 1 & 2) and with Navroz Dubash (Part 1 & 2).