Tata Centre for Development to tackle India’s complex development challenges with innovative solutions

In partnership with Tata Trusts, the University of Chicago will launch a new center to address some of India’s most pressing economic and social development challenges.

The Tata Centre for Development at UChicago, led by the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy in the United States and the University of Chicago Trust, a charitable trust in India, will integrate evidence-based policy research, an innovative implementation platform and proven leadership in education programs to tackle practical development issues across India.

Working closely with policymakers, practitioners, academics and students, the center will focus its work initially in three main areas: health, water and sanitation, and energy and the environment. One pilot program among several is a partnership with the State of Karnataka to improve access to and usage of health insurance across the state, including a training program to disseminate best practices based on the outcomes of their work. This will be the largest and most comprehensive study of health insurance in India to date.

“The University of Chicago's focus on evidence-based research for having direct impact on major societal concerns can be very productive in dealing with the issues of growth and development facing India,” said UChicago President Robert J. Zimmer. “We are very grateful for the partnership and support provided by Tata Trusts in establishing the new center where this important work can be done.”

Tata Trusts have been longstanding champions of innovation, and value the large-scale impact that it brings in its wake. The Tata Centre for Development’s integrated approach to solving some of India’s developmental issues harnesses the Trusts’ history as being pioneer partners for unconventional but sustainable interventions across the varied themes of health, water and sanitation, as well as energy solutions.

“Now, more than ever before, there is an urgent need to address social and economic development challenges in India,” said Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Trusts. “We have long believed in the importance of challenging traditional methods of intervention. I am keen to see the Tata Centre for Development at UChicago implement its new model for integrating research and achieving high-impact outcomes.”

The Tata Centre for Development, which will be located at the UChicago Center in Delhi, will help build capacity for government, corporate and nonprofit groups across India. It will also engage experts from the University and across diverse organizations in India to study and implement solutions to major policy challenges.

“The University of Chicago and the Harris School of Public Policy have long championed rigorous, evidence-based solutions to complex policy issues, from urban studies to early childhood development, and from energy to global health,” said Daniel Diermeier, dean of Chicago Harris.

The center’s work to foster collaborations across researchers and policy groups will be essential, said Professor Anup Malani, faculty director of the Tata Centre for Development at UChicago and the Lee and Brena Freeman Professor at the University of Chicago Law School.

“Just as no single organization can ensure social impact, neither can research, implementation nor education alone ensure sustainable and effective solutions to problems,” said Malani, the Lee and Brena Freeman Professor of Law. “It is only together that they can have real, lasting results. Through our work, we can close the gap between policy recommendations and on-the-ground impact and help to drive more effective, practical policies.”

“We look forward to working with Tata Trusts and the research and policy communities in India to find solutions to complex societal challenges,” said Provost Eric D. Isaacs. “We believe that this work in India will yield new methods that will be applicable in other countries in the future.”