The Mumbai School of Economics and Public Policy (MSEPP), which took off in September, has picked up four major research projects for the state government, to measure the effectiveness as well as to improve the implementation of government schemes. Three months after the state government renamed and revamped the Economics department of the University of Mumbai into the MSEPP, the school has decided to launch a four-year integrated MA course in Economics.
The integrated MA course is set to start in the next academic year. While traditionally integrated MA courses are of five years, where the student has an option to pull out with a BA in the third year, the MSEPP plans to offer a four-year course without an exit option. “The course is likely to start at St Xavier’s College. At the end of four years, the student will be awarded an MA. The reduced duration will attract more students as they can complete their masters within four years, a year shorter than the usual duration,” said Neeraj Hatekar, a senior professor and former director, department of Economics, University of Mumbai.
The school, now headed by Mala Lalvani as the director and Padma Vibhushan awardee and renowned economist Vijay Kelkar as the chairperson, will also start a diploma course in community forest rights management for a better implementation of the Forest Rights Act from the coming academic year. The diploma course is a part of the projects taken up by the school with the government. While three of these projects are for the department of tribal development, one is for the water resources department.
The MSEPP is currently measuring the effectiveness of the state government’s decision to provide scholarships to students via Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT). “As part of the project, we are evaluating whether the DBT scheme has worked out for the benefit of students, particularly in the tribal pockets. We are interviewing around 10,000 school children from 100 schools. So far it appears that the children are happy with the move,” said Hatekar.
The Maharashtra cabinet, in September, approved the formation of the MSEPP — an educational as well as research institute that operated along the lines of the London School of Economics. The cabinet has approved a fund of Rs 25 crore in a span of five years for the development of the institute. The school is now in the process of raising funds as the estimated requirement is Rs 150 crore.
The school is focussisng primarily on research and will have a Policy Research Centre, Tribal Research Centre, an Urban Research Centre and a Policy Research Group. The Policy Research Group will bring together former policymakers, academicians, researchers and experts to prepare Policy Research Documents that will help students, governments as well as researchers, said Hatekar. Several world class economists and academicians have already agreed to become fellows at the MSEPP, he added.
Some of the fellows are Jeremy Edwards, faculty of economics at University of Cambridge, Ajit Karnik, professor of Economics, Middlesex University, Dubai and S Subramanian, ICSSR National Fellow at Madras Institute of Development Studies.