Academic Themes

Notes on my research, book reviews and discussions on social sciences
This section contains articles on some of my main areas of academic interest including economics, development studies, collective action, social policy, governance and the right to food. A few articles look software and utilities that would be of interest to researchers. If you are interested in any of these in particular, please click on the subtopic on the menu to your right.

Data Portal India: The open data portal of India. The last I checked in 2013, it had very little information, and some of the data it linked to were not available in an ‘open format’. But it is in the Beta mode, and it is a start.

Transparency Advisory Group: TAG is a group of professionals, activists, and academics with an interest in transparency and the right to information, and with the common objective of promoting transparency in governance by advising and lobbying governments and other stakeholders, especially in the South Asian region. It also conducts research and organises meetings and consultations on transparency related issues. TAG has, as members, retired and serving senior officials, information commissioners, activists and academics from South Asian countries, and from Mexico, Canada, UK, Australia, South Africa, Singapore and the USA.

A just order – The Hindu: Discusses the Supreme Court order on evergreening the patent for Gilvec and makes the argument for opening up corporate accounts when it comes to protecting patents.

The Overview Project: “Overview is an open-source tool to help journalists find stories in large amounts of data, by cleaning, visualizing and interactively exploring large document and data sets. Whether from government transparency initiatives, leaks or Freedom of Information requests, journalists are drowning in more documents than they can ever hope to read. There are good tools for searching within large document sets for names and keywords, but that doesn

Accountability Lab: “The agency places a particular emphasis on working with creative individuals and organizations to re-imagine accountability and engage citizens in processes of governance”. Check out their interesting new initiatives in South Asia and Africa.

Making open data real: A public consultation: Outlines some of the challenges in making making public sector information available in the ‘open data spirit’. It discusses the current set of laws in the UK and EU that govern open data related issues, and outlines some of the challenges for future discussion. It is “a ten year citizen-centered initiative, focusing on large-scale change in East Africa. Twaweza believes that lasting change requires bottom-up action. We seek to foster conditions and expand opportunities through which millions of people can get information and make change happen in their own communities directly and by holding government to account”.

Mamdawrinch: A Moroccan website that crowd sources incidents of corruption.

Lessons from Michigan: David Eaves writes about the government of Michigan initiative to create an innovation fund to create software useful to the government through collaborative projects that involve public, private and not-for profit organizations.  He laments at the same time that the executive order does not require the software to be made open source, even though the government is paying for the creation of the software. Incidentally, I had a conversation with a former Principal Secretary for Municipalities in the undivided Andhra Pradesh (this was in early 2014).  He mentioned that they had given a contract to a firm to develop a software for monitoring the collection […]

David Eaves on technology, government and other topics: Prolific writer on the use of technology in government covering issues such as innovation, transparency, open data, etc.

Articles on fighting corruption: An extensive list of published articles on corruption and on fighting corruption.

Omidyar Network: A philanthropic firm that invests on market based efforts to social and political change. They have also invested in a number of initiatives to extend transparency by the use of technology.

OMG Standard – The Open Municipal Geodata Standard Organization: OMG is a collaborative for promoting more openness in Municipal data. It seeks to develop technical standards for sharing information across municipalities, develop case studies on public geocoded data and other things that are of interest to the open data community. The home of data from various parts of US Federal government. Data is provided in open formats and it includes various tools to analyze data from across departments and also to build applications on the basis of the large volume of federal government datasets.

OpenSpending: The aim of is to track every government financial transaction across the world and present it in useful and engaging forms for everyone from a school-child to a data geek. The website has increasingly detailed datasets that provide us the ability to analyze at the macro level or drill down deep to spot contracts and purchases. Not surprisingly, the data is a lot richer for countries like the UK that have invested on releasing government information in great detail.

The Missing Open Data Policy – Sunlight Foundation: Sunlight Foundation argues that the open data policies so far discuss the format in which information should be released, but do not provide a overview on what information should be released in open data format. The article discusses some ways of regulating this.