Introduction

With an extensive experience of policy observatory and policy repertory in the five main work themes, Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies (RGICS) has initiated the Policy Laboratory focusing on policy action research projects. This will primarily include offering Policy Advisory services to the state governments, industry associations and other civil society institutions.

The states in India face the challenge of inclusive growth to improve the incomes and quality of life of their people in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This has to be done while addressing the effects of climate change; increasing disparities and disaffection. The industry associations and other civil society institutions also face similar challenges in their work areas. The Policy Lab of the RGICS aims to assist the states functionaries and other bodies to address these challenges.

The Policy Lab is designed in such a way that it will function relatively independently to provide a platform for policy development debates and discussions; conduct research, analysis and training; and promote exchange of innovative ideas and best practices and build capacity to deliver. The lab’s holistic approach will facilitate effective state level ideation, analysis and action. It’s autonomous and local positioning enables it to play the role of an independent actor in analysis, action and advocacy.

The three main components of the Policy Lab are:

  • Analysis – based on observation, consultation and research
    A key strength of the Policy Lab is its ability to observe and deal with a wide range of stakeholders around any problem or opportunity. Multi-disciplinary staff of the Policy Lab would be able to provide a space to think collaboratively, differently and experiment. The Policy Lab will enable intensive data-based, technology-assisted research and analysis of various alternatives with human-centric creative thinking yet with participation of multiple stakeholders. This will enable a priori identification of potential obstacles and pathways around those.
  • Action – based on pilot testing, evaluation of results and capacity building before scaling up
    The Policy Lab can play a role in identifying and pilot testing of possible solutions for various challenges, and evaluation of results and capacity building before scaling up. The exponential pace at which new/ disruptive technologies and methodologies are developing is both a challenge and an opportunity, especially for the established delivery systems. For this to happen, it is important that trainings imparted thus far are re-designed in context of the anticipated changes in future. Policy Lab will also help build capacity among state government agencies to remain change responsive and “Future Ready”.
  • Advocacy – for scaling up solutions that work, through pentagonal partnerships
    Solutions that are seen to be positively impacting people with desired outcomes will be taken up for scaling up through pentagonal partnerships of (1) communities (2) civil society institutions, including NGOs, academia and the media (3) political leaders (4) business and industry and (5) government agencies. Advocacy will be for taking up new institutional mechanisms for implementing those solutions which improve the outcomes of welfare and development programs in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).