Book Launch and Panel Discussion

NCAER’s National Data Innovation Center hosted the book release ceremony of “India’s Social and Economic Transformation in the 21st Century,” a collected volume of papers using data from the Indian Human Development Survey, curated by the editors, Pallavi Choudhuri, Sonalde Desai, and Amaresh Dubey, and published by Routledge.

The event commenced with an insightful panel discussion themed “Data for Development: Assessing Human Development in a Rapidly Changing Society,” where the editors and distinguished speakers embarked on a deep exploration of the challenges and opportunities stemming from India’s rapid transformations.

The 21st century has witnessed remarkable global advancements in educational expansion and economic growth. However, alongside these achievements, persistent social inequalities persist, demanding urgent attention. Furthermore, external factors such as the pandemic, global financial issues, and climate change emphasize the necessity to reevaluate social safety nets to ensure resilience in the face of unforeseen challenges.

Chaired by Sonalde Desai of NCAER, the panel comprised esteemed speakers:

– Dean Joliffe, Lead Economist, DECDG, World Bank

– Pronab Sen, India’s First Chief Statistician

– Rukmini Banerji, Chief Executive Officer, Pratham

– Ashwini Deshpande, Professor of Economics, Ashoka University

– A. K. Shiva Kumar, Development Economist

The panel deliberated on identifying priority areas and formulating effective data collection strategies to drive an evidence-driven approach to policymaking. Their discourse provided actionable strategies to navigate the complexities of our evolving society, emphasizing the imperative for evidence-driven policymaking to address persistent social inequalities.

The ceremony culminated with the release of the book by our esteemed Guest of Honour, Shri Suman Bery, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, alongside the panelists and authors.

DataTalk: A Conversation about Defining and Measuring Internal Migration in India

Long lines of migrant families walking across State borders to their hometowns during the pandemic-induced lockdown has brought to the forefront the importance of migration for the Indian economy, development, and society. However, it has also highlighted a lack of awareness of the magnitude of migration in India and the tenuous ties of many migrants to their destinations. This disconnect was largely due to the unavailability of adequate data on internal migration, resulting in a weak policy response when the pandemic struck. Internal migration is likely to gain more significance as India experiences heterogeneous demographic transformation, with the growing economies of the southern States increasingly relying on migrants from North India to augment their aging workforce. The absence of data and inconsistent definitions of migration hamper policymaking in diverse arenas, including social protection, education, and health.

NCAER’s National Data Innovation Centre is hosting a web-based panel discussion with eminent researchers and experts to discuss the dynamics of internal migration in India, and the challenges involved in measurement and data collection, especially streams of migration that are poorly captured by existing data systems. Following are some of the questions that will be addressed by the panellists: Can we begin to define different types of internal migration? What would it take to improve the existing data collection mechanisms to better capture migration flows? What would new data systems look like? How would measurement differ for migrant men and women?

The discussion will be held among an interdisciplinary panel of researchers, policymakers, and journalists, who have studied migration extensively. Following are details of the moderators and panellists in the webinar:


Sonalde Desai is a Professor at NCAER with a joint appointment as Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Maryland. She directs the NCAER-National Data Innovation Centre (NDIC). She is an internationally known demographer whose work deals primarily with human development in developing countries with a particular focus on gender and class inequalities. She leads the India Human Development Survey (IHDS), India’s only nationally representative panel study spanning two decades.

Reshma Roshania is an Associate Fellow at NCAER. Her research interests include nutrition, food policy, migration, and gender. She completed her PhD in Nutrition and Health Sciences in 2021 from Emory University, where she studied food environments and nutrition status among circular migrant families in Bihar. She has worked in global health and development for close to ten years, specialising in evaluation and research with various organisations including PATH, International Center for Research on Women, Save the Children, and International Medical Corps.


Chinmay Tumbe is passionate about migration, cities and history, and is currently a faculty member in the Economics Area at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA). An alumnus of the London School of Economics and Political Science; the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore; Ruia College, Mumbai; and Rishi Valley School, Madanapalle; he has been a faculty member at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad. He was a 2013 Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute, Florence, and the 2018 Alfred D. Chandler Jr. International Visiting Scholar in Business History at Harvard Business School, Boston. His first book, India Moving: A History of Migration, was published in 2018 and second book The Age of Pandemics, 1817-1920: How They Shaped India and the World, was published in 2020. He is a member of The Lancet COVID-19 India Taskforce and was a member of the Working Group on Migration of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation in 2016-17. He has published widely in leading journals and newspapers and helped set up the IIMA Archives.

Neetha N. is Professor at the Centre for Women’s Development Studies (CWDS), New Delhi. Prior to joining CWDS in 2006, she was Associate Fellow and Coordinator, Centre for Gender and Labour at the V.V. Giri National Labour Institute, NOIDA. Her research focuses on women’s employment, women workers in the informal sector, domestic workers, unpaid domestic and care work, female labour migration, and gender statistics. She has published extensively in national and international books and journals. Her recent edited books are ‘Working at Others Homes: The Specifies and Challenges of Paid Domestic Work (Tulika Books, 2018) and Migration, Gender and Care Economy, (with Irudaya Rajan, Routledge, 2019). She was the Co-Chairperson of the Working Group on Women’s Employment set up for the formulation of the current (14th) Five Year Plan of the State Planning Board, Kerala.

Rajni Palriwala retired from the University of Delhi, Delhi School of Economics, as Professor of Sociology, where she also served as Head of the Department and Dean, Social Sciences. She has taught at the University of Delhi; University of Leiden, Netherlands; and SciencesPo, Paris. Her research falls within the broad area of gender relations, covering care and emotion, citizenship and the welfare state, kinship and marriage, dowry, women and work, migration, women’s movements and feminist politics, cross-cultural and comparative studies, and research methodology, though her teaching went beyond these issues. In addition to numerous journal articles and book chapters, she has authored Changing kinship, family, and gender relations in South Asia: Processes, trends and issues (1994) and jointly authored Care, culture and citizenship: Revisiting the politics of welfare in the Netherlands (2005) and Planning families, planning gender: The adverse child sex ratio in selected districts (2008). She has jointly edited Marrying in South Asia: Shifting concepts, changing practices in a globalised world (2013), Marriage, migration, and gender (2008), Shifting circles of support: Contextualising kinship and gender relations in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa (1996), and Structures and strategies: Women, work and family in Asia (1990).

Chandrasekhar S., an alumnus of Delhi School of Economics and Pennsylvania State University, is Professor at Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai. He was awarded the Mahalanobis Memorial Medal 2016 by The Indian Econometric Society, for outstanding contributions to the field of quantitative economics. He has worked extensively on the issues of urbanisation, labour markets, and internal migration in India. He coordinated the research initiative, “Strengthen and Harmonize Research and Action on Migration in the Indian Context”, which was supported by a grant from Tata Trusts. The project also coincided with the Government of India constituting the Working Group to Study the Impact of Migration on Housing, Infrastructure, and Livelihood, of which Chandrasekhar was a member. He serves on a variety of government advisory panels connected with key statistics, including the Standing Committee on Statistics, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implemention, Working Group of Select Surveys, and the All India Financial Inclusion Survey by NABARD.

Mittali Sethi is an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the 2017 batch, Maharashtra cadre. She has served as the Sub-divisional Magistrate at Melghat in the Amravati district and as CEO, Zilla Parishad (rural local body) in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra. She is currently serving as the Director of VANAMATI, an agricultural research and extension institute. Her areas of interest and work include forest rights and tribal issues, public health, waste, and climate change as it applies to people’s lives, and participatory education-with-love for both children and adults.

Udit Misra is a journalist, and has reported on India’s economy and policy issues for the past two decades. Since 2019, he has been with The Indian Express, for which he writes a weekly explanatory column titled ExplainSpeaking. In 2021, he moderated a series of webinars on India’s internal migrants for the newspaper. He holds a Master’s degree in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics, and is a Chevening South Asia Journalism Fellow from the University of Westminster.

Please register here to attend

What is Women’s Work? Challenges of Measurement for Policy Design

The NCAER Gender Hub and FESDIG (Feminist Economics Saturday Discussion Group) jointly organised a hybrid discussion on “What is Women’s Work? Challenges of Measurement for Policy Design” on 12 June 2023, at NCAER.

Despite the strong policy interest in women’s low and declining work participation in India, data and research on this subject continues to show contrasting and puzzling results. This discussion explored these puzzles and examined how far the definition of women’s work and its measurement are consistent with policy needs.

The discussion was held in two parts. During the first hour, participants from different backgrounds briefly offered their perspectives on definitions and measurement of women’s work, including work in the digital economy, the informal sector, and data biases in collection. The second hour was devoted to an open discussion on the topic.

The discussion was hosted by Sonalde Desai, Professor, NCAER; Pallavi Choudhuri, Senior Fellow, NCAER; and Bina Agarwal, Founder, FESDIG.

The other eminent participants in the discussion included Renana Jhabvala, SEWA Bharat; Poonam Muttreja, Population Foundation of India; Nayantara Sarma, World Bank; Deepita Chakravarty, Ambedkar University, Delhi; Shiva Kumar, Harvard Kennedy School;  Paromita Sen, SEWA Bharat; Bornali Bhandari, NCAER; Aiman Haque, SEWA Bharat; Saba Ahmed, SEWA Bharat; Nandini Dey, SEWA Bharat; Rosa Abraham, Azim Premji University; Ellina Samantroy, V.V. Giri National Labour Institute; Aasha Kapur Mehta, Institute for Human Development; Jeemol Unni, Ahmedabad University; Amaresh Dubey, NCAER and Jawaharlal Nehru University; Kieran Walsh, ILO; Ratna Sudarshan, former Institute of Social Studies Trust; and Sona Mitra, IWWAGE, Krea University.


DataTalk: An Online Conversation between Data Journalists and Data Producers

Register to participate*

NCAER’s National Data Innovation Centre (NCAER-NDIC) is hosting a webinar entitled, “DataTalk: An Online Conversation between Data Journalists and Data Producers”, on Thursday, 15 June 2023.

In recent years, the field of data and statistical journalism in India has grown in sophistication and depth. However, this also puts substantial demands on data systems. At the same time, data systems have faced tremendous challenges, particularly with the absence of face-to-face data collection during the pandemic. As we recover from the pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to build a more robust data infrastructure and empirically grounded public discourse. This will also enable us to return to some of our traditional data collection activities while utilising innovations and tools developed during the pandemic. However, this is only feasible if we can create a common ground between data producers and journalists.

The panel discussion hosted by NCAER-NDIC with eminent data journalists and leading data producers will focus on the challenges and opportunities faced by both sides. Some of the questions of interest will include: How do journalists cope with deadlines when deciding which data to report and how? How can data producers work with data journalists to place information in the public domain without fearing being misquoted? What skill sets do both sides need to make this a fruitful collaboration? What are the constraints under which each side operates?

The panellists in this discussion include some of India’s leading statistical journalists and data producers.

*After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with details about joining the webinar. Invitations are tied to your email ID. During the webinar, please submit your questions using the Q&A box on your screen.


Sonalde Desai is a Professor at NCAER with a joint appointment as Distinguished University Professor in Department of Sociology at the University of Maryland. She directs the NCAER-National Data Innovation Centre (NDIC). She is an internationally known demographer whose work deals primarily with human development in developing countries with a particular focus on gender and class inequalities. At present, she is leading the India Human Development Survey (IHDS), India’s only nationally representative panel study spanning two decades.


Rukmini S. is an independent data communicator based in Chennai, India. Her work focuses on inequality, gender, caste, and politics. She was earlier National Data Editor of The Hindu and HuffPost India, and has written for a range of Indian and international publications. She won the Likho Awards for Excellence in Media in 2019. In 2020, she received an Honourable Mention for the Chameli Devi Jain Awards for an Outstanding Woman Journalist. Her pandemic podcast, The Moving Curve, won an Emergent Ventures COVID-19 India Prize in 2020. Rukmini’s work on estimating COVID deaths in India won a 2022 Sigma Award, the global data journalism awards, and a Jury’s Special Mention (Investigative Reporting) at the Asian College of Journalism Awards 2022. Her first book, Whole Numbers & Half Truths: What Data Can and Cannot Tell Us About Modern India, was published by Westland in December 2021. It won the Tata Literature Live! First Book Award (Non-Fiction) 2022. Her second book will be published by Westland in 2023.

Pramit Bhattacharya is a columnist who writes on statistics and economics. His Truth, Lies, and Statistics column appears in Mint, and the Simply Economics column in Hindustan Times. He was earlier the data editor at Mint, where he helped set up one of the country’s first data journalism units, Plain Facts in 2014He won the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award 2015 in the ‘Commentary and Interpretative Journalism’ category.

Mahesh Vyas is Managing Director and CEO of Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy Pvt Ltd. (CMIE). He has been an observer of the Indian economy over the past four decades. He is the chief architect of CMIE’s databases including, Prowess, CapEx and Consumer Pyramids Household Survey. Prowess is India’s largest database on the performance of Indian companies, CapEx is India’s largest database on the implementation of investment projects to create new capacities in India, and the Consumer Pyramids Household Survey is India’s largest panel household survey. Mahesh writes regularly on the Indian economy for CMIE’s Economic Outlook service. His writings focus on labour markets, consumer sentiments, performance of enterprises, and capex investments. 

Abhishek Singh is a Professor in the Department of Public Health and Mortality Studies at the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai, India. He has published more than 100 research papers in peer-reviewed national/international journals. His areas of interest are mortality analysis (including maternal mortality), maternal and child health, gender issues, designing, implementing, and analysing large-scale surveys, among other things. He was instrumental in designing and implementing NFHS-4 (2015-16). He was visiting faculty as a Gates Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and during the 2011-2012 academic year, was a recipient of the prestigious Leverhulme Fellowship to collaborate on research with faculty and students of the School of Health Sciences and Social Care University of Portsmouth UK. He is currently heading the Centre of Demography of Gender at IIPS and leading the Gender Equity and Demography Research (GENDER) project. He is also a co-Principal Investigator of NFHS-6.

P.C. Mohanan was a member of the Indian Statistical Service till 2015. He has worked in various capacities in the Central Statistical Office and the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO). In the NSSO, he was involved in surveys on employment and unemployment, migration, literacy, and housing, among others. He also worked extensively for making government data open to research access. He was also a member of several Government Committees like the Post-Sachar Evaluation Committee, Expert Committee on Agricultural Statistics, Technical Group for Estimating Housing Shortage, and Committee on the Slum Index. He has published papers on various topics, including employment, migration, and housing conditions. He also contributes to newspapers on statistical issues. After retirement, he worked as a short-term consultant for international agencies like FAO, UNDP, and ILO. He was appointed as a member of the National Statistical Commission in 2018. Currently, he is the Chairman of the Kerala State Statistical Commission.

Jayant Banthia is former Registrar General and Census Commissioner who retired as Chief Secretary, Maharashtra. He has extensive experience with housing and population censuses, in both India and a range of developing countries such as Nigeria, Myanmar, and Lebanon. As a member of the Indian Administrative Service, in addition to being a demographer trained at the London School of Economics, he brings both an academic and a policy perspective to this discussion.

Long-term Impact of the Pandemic on People’s Lives and Lessons for Developing an Inclusive Social Protection Programme

A webinar discussion on the Long-term impact of the pandemic on people’s lives and lessons for developing an inclusive social protection programme, moderated by Dr Sonalde Desai, Professor, NCAER, was held on March 23, 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic could have a long-term impact for the people of the country due to the unexpected deaths of family members, loss of livelihoods, decline in household income, school closures and inability to access alternative methods of remote learning for students, and lack of access to routine healthcare services. The NCAER National Data Innovation Centre in collaboration with the Chronic Poverty Advisory Network (CPAN) recently published the India COVID-19 Poverty Monitor Bulletin assessing the consequences of the pandemic for the vulnerable populations and the risks of impoverishment faced by them. CPAN’s COVID-19 Poverty Monitoring Initiative is supported by the Covid Collective, a rapid social science research response to inform decision-making on COVID-19 related development challenges.

As a follow-up to the launch of the bulletin, we are organising a webinar to analyse the potential long-term impact of the pandemic on people’s lives and lessons to be learnt for developing an inclusive social protection programme. The panellists at this discussion comprise researchers, policy makers, and bureaucrats with extensive on-ground experience, as well as an overall understanding of the impact of the pandemic and social protection programmes that could help mitigate this impact.


Tanuka Endow is a Professor at the Institute for Human Development (IHD) and the co-ordinator for the Centre for Gender Studies at IHD. Her work is mainly in the area of education, including on the issues of out-of-school children and low-cost private schools. She has worked on Human Development reports and vision documents for various States, including Delhi and Uttarakhand. She has recently contributed to a Human Development Report for the Scheduled Tribes. Dr Endow has engaged in a collaborative study with UNICEF on the post-COVID situation for vulnerable populations in India.

Paromita Sen set up and now runs the Research and Data Vertical at SEWA Bharat, where she and her team conduct research on entrepreneurship, empowerment, labour, disaster resilience, and leadership amongst others—all through the lens of gender and the informal economy. Under the aegis of the SEWA leadership, she has represented SEWA and has been involved in work with NITI Aayog, the Delhi Government, National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), International Labour Organization (ILO), and the Lok Sabha, amongst others.

Manjistha Banerji is a Fellow at National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER). Her primary areas of research are education, family demography, social change and gender, migration, and survey methods. At the NCAER National Data Innovation Centre (NDIC), she is involved with experimentations on different data collection techniques, telephonic surveys to assess the impact of the COVID pandemic in Delhi NCR, qualitative data collection to understand the risk of impoverishment in the context of COVID-19, and in questionnaire design for the upcoming round of the India Human Development Survey (IHDS).

S.M. Vijayanand is Former Chief Secretary to the Government of Kerala. He has earlier also served in various capacities in the Government of India, including as the Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj; and Additional Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, among other positions. He spearheaded the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission, Ministry of Sanitation, Government of India (1992-1996). He has also conceptualised and operationalised ‘Kudumbashree’, a women’s Self-Help Group movement in the State of Kerala.

Sonalde Desai is a Professor at NCAER with a joint appointment as Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Maryland. She directs the NCAER-National Data Innovation Centre (NDIC). She is an internationally known demographer whose work deals primarily with human development in developing countries with a particular focus on gender and class inequalities. At present, she is leading the India Human Development Survey (IHDS), India’s only nationally representative panel study conducted in two rounds in 2004–05 and 2011–12. Preparations are currently on for the next round of IHDS.