Friday
May 20
2011

Scott Anderson

Friday Roundup ? 5-20-11: ’Leakage’ in India Gov.’s Poverty Programs

The World Bank on Wednesday issued a clarion call to India’s government: reform your public distribution system (PDS) and get the private sector involved.

India spends 2 percent of its GDP on poverty alleviation programs, more than any other Asian country according to the World Bank. Still, “India is not getting the ’bang for its rupee’ … and the needs of important population groups remain only partly addressed,” wrote John D. Blomquist, lead economist at the World Bank, as reported by the New York Times.

The “leakage” of grain within the PDS stemming from corruption and/or mismanagement is rampant, the report says. One of the World Bank’s prescriptions for India is offering households the choice of grain or the cash equivalent of the grain subsidy. This would differ from the current system, which provides food coupons that include “lump sum entitlements that can be exchanged at a PDS store,” according to Livemint. To reduce the leakage issues, the report further advocates a public-private program for grain procurement, presumably to enforce more accountability and efficiency.

The Indian Planning Commission solicited the study, which determined only 40 percent of the poorest people were actually benefiting from these massive investments – no where near a passing grade. Now that the problem has been assessed, what remains to be seen is whether the Indian government will heed the World Bank’s advice.

Opportunities

Next week, Ayllu and the Santa Clara Center for Science, Technology and Society (CSTS) will release the Energy Map, an interactive online tool for navigating market solutions to energy poverty. The principles at Ayllu, regular contributors to NextBillion, and CTSS will host two launch events: one at 5 p.m. Monday, May 23 at Santa Clara University and the second at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 25 at the Hub SoMa. The events will feature a guided tour on how to use the map while outlining critical trends and challenges in the energy sector. The Energy Map includes multiple company profiles and business model analysis, based on aggregate information from 42 entrepreneurs who participated in the Global Social Benefit Incubator and Tech Awards.

The Cherokee Challenge takes a bit of a different spin on the tradition business competition. The environmental/socially focused private equity fund is looking to fund up to three environmental start-up ventures doing work that aligns with Cherokee’s existing business focus areas, which range from high-density urban farming to brownfield management in China. The challenge is a fast-paced, two-month competition (June 3-Aug. 6). Organizers are also open to entrepreneurs submitting their own ideas, as long as those ideas are creative, viable and pair with Cherokee’s focus. Up to three teams will be selected to compete and team members will be paid $300 per week during the two-month competition. When the challenge wraps up in August, each team is eligible to win a bonus of up to $20,000, depending upon their performance during the summer and the viability of their model. Applications are due by 7 p.m. Friday, May 27.

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