The Tata Centre for Development (TCD) at the University of Chicago has taken up 27 research projects that aim to provide new evidence-based solutions to certain development and policy problems. Most of these projects are designed and implemented in collaboration with government partners in order to generate real time impact.
Explaining the need to have such tie-ups and projects, Bala Srinivasan, vice-president for strategy and innovation, deputy provost and chief international officer, University of Chicago, said, “The problems of the world are global in nature. The second thing is that the research work in the world no one does it all by themselves. You will end up working in teams of people, so we have global problems and we have global researches. The university tries to set up centers to find a way to facilitate its faculty participating in the two axes of global work.”
Besides the Tata Centre for Development, the university carries out collaborative projects through its Energy Policy Institute at Chicago (EPIC), the Becker Friedman Institute of Economics and Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies.
One of the major projects that the Tata Centre for Development at UChicago has taken up is the public disclosure of industrial air pollution through a five-star rating programme. Besides Maharashtra and Odisha, Jharkhand has become the third state to sign up with the university for the rating programme. On a scale of five, the most polluting industry is rated the lowest while the zero polluting one gets five. The state governments have made these ratings mandatory.
“The research work (for the ratings) has been done by the professors at EPIC and they brought that and adapted it to India and produced the star rating. It’s a progressive thing where more and more industries are enrolling for this programme. We keep the scientific rigor of the programme intact, yet customize it into the requirements of each state,” explained Srinivasan.
Besides the rating programme, TCD has also collaborated on real-time and in-situ river water quality monitoring through water-to-cloud project. This water quality mapping system can detect and predict water contamination and help in identifying effectiveness of sanitation interventions and their causes.
TCD invests resources and money in helping its faculty to research and come to India and see the new products with collaborators. “And once the project gets that ability to scale up to a place where it can grow to a project of size, some of our local supporters like the Tata Center for Development help us taking this project and build it to a larger scale. So there are many things in the pipeline at different levels of maturity,” added Srinivasan.