The Centre for Environment & Development Studies, Jaipur was established in 2008 on the initiative of a group of academics, scholars and administrators of Rajasthan and is being supported by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) and the Government of Rajasthan (GoR). Apart from the ICSSR and Government of Rajasthan, the Institute receives support from various national and international organisations interested in research and development. The Institute is an autonomous organisation registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. The main objectives of the Centre include:
To contribute to the understanding of the development processes and problems;
To focus studies on the issues and problems of the by-passed sections and regions;
To bring a multi-disciplinary and collaborative approach in studying and resolving the issues;
To provide a forum for the interested groups in resolving problems of importance to the State and its people by mutual discussion and understanding.
The Centre is a multi-disciplinary research organisation. It takes cognizance of the macro environment, planning processes and strategies including their socio-economic dimensions and attempts to make timely interventions through research and dialogues. Particular attention is given to the study of processes, the impact of trickle down effects of growth, direct public interventions such as poverty reduction and employment generation programmes, and the participatory efforts of voluntary organisations with respect to the marginalised sections of the society. The centre is specifically concerned with regional issues relating to Rajasthan.
The researchers at the Centre are concerned with issues critical to livelihood such as sustainable use of natural resources; improvements in irrigation and water management; pattern and pace of agricultural development; land use and livestock management; deterioration of common property resources and environment; illiteracy; poor social infrastructure; low access of poor to food and minimum social services; unemployment and poverty in rural and urban areas; levels of political consciousness; communalism; violence and atrocities on women; empowerment of women; and emerging role of the state, NGOs, PRIs and cooperatives in the changing economic and social environment. Based on the informed assessment an attempt is made to bridge the gap between ground realities or practices and macro initiatives. A distinguishing feature of the centre is to help design interventions for grassroot organisations that are concentratedly attempting to cope with the problems of deprivation in a specific area.
The Centre's approach to research studies and dialogues is multi-disciplinary. The inter-disciplinary perspective of the centre is reflected through pluralistic approaches both in substantive and methodological dimensions of enquiry in diverse development issues. The conceptual and theoretical debate is inbuilt in different types of researches, which are being undertaken at the Institute. The outputs of the studies undertaken by the Centre’s faculty have policy implications at immediate operative level as well as for long term formulation of implementational strategies.
The Centre has been pursuing research studies and organising dialogues, training and interactions in five main areas, viz., Economic Policies and Strategies; Natural Resource Management and Environment; NGO and PR Centre; Social Policies: Institutions, Governance and Civil Society; and Women and Gender Studies.
Economic Policies and Strategies has been another important thrust area identified by the Centre for research and dialogues. Apart from economic studies, our activities in this area include policy dialogues, trainings and advocacy. Our past and continuing studies and dialogues in this area include sectoral studies covering agriculture, livestock, non-farm sector and urban informal sector; rural finance and credit; and poverty and unemployment. Agricultural sector has been the most intensively studied economic sector by the CEDSJ researchers. The issues probed are agricultural policies, food security, farm inputs particularly fertilizer and irrigation, capital formation, marketing, and liberalization of agriculture. The researchers have also undertaken studies focussing on rice, food security and agricultural marketing systems in southeast and south Asia. The livestock sector studies at the Institute have covered economics of sheep and goat rearing, marketing of wool, goat, goat products and other live animals; inter-sectoral linkages, livestock services and dairy processing. Keeping in view the emerging importance of rural non-farm sector, the researchers at CEDSJ have analyzed employment pattern in khadi and handicrafts and rural industry, and the system of credit delivery to this sector. Urban informal sector was studied with a focus on labour market, child labour, employment and income. The issue of poverty and management of poverty alleviation programmers (PAP) and livelihood adaptation has been the central focus of a number of studies and dialogues.
Apart from these, the Centre in recent years concentrated on policies and programs pertaining to different sectors of the economy which include subsidies in agriculture, spatial integration of agricultural markets, institutional finance and rural credit, financial sector reforms, evaluation of Indira Avas Yojana and Million Well Scheme, micro credit in Rajasthan, economic performance of Rajasthan, studies related to DPIP, terms of trade for agricultural sector at the state level, equity driven trade and marketing policy strategies for Indian agriculture, rural industrialization, panchayat samiti wise development status index, food security, coping mechanisms in drought conditions, tourism and structural transformation of Rajasthan economy.
Our dialogues in the area of economic policies and strategies have covered such issues as agricultural policies during the nineties; drought mitigation and food stocks; agricultural marketing reforms; employment guarantee; and future of agriculture in Asia. The centre has been conducting training programmes for development administrators, functionaries and analysts at national and international levels. For example, a series of training programmes on agricultural policy analysis and planning were conducted for development administrators of Asia and Africa. A similar series of international training programmes on macro policies for poverty alleviation was subsequently launched. The centre has also organized trainings on environmental economics, research methods, input-output analysis and poverty analysis at national and state levels.
In a state, with over 60 percent of its area under desert environment and the bulk of its remaining area with less than 60 cm of annual precipitation, water is the most scarce resource and critical to the survival and livelihood of the people of Rajasthan and several other parts of India. This has, therefore, been one of the thrust areas for intensive study. Based on a series of studies, the Institute is attempting to influence the water use policy for water scarce regions. The studies, which have been built as a series, pertain to the demand for water, supply of water and allocative mechanism, both institutional and market. In each of these sub-sets, relevant studies have been undertaken with a view to eventually influencing the water use policy, strategies and attitudes towards water. On supply side, our studies and dialogues have covered rainfall patterns, ground water and surface water sources. As regards demand side issues, our studies have covered demand for drinking water, irrigation, other uses, water markets and pricing of water. These apart, water laws, water pollution, local water management options, water balance modeling, economic evaluation of water projects and bench marking of irrigation projects have been covered by our studies and dialogues. The role of communities in water conservation and issues relating to ownership and control of water received added emphasis.
The other resource selected by the Institute for intensive study is livestock, which is critical for the people of Rajasthan. Within livestock, the centre initially accorded priority to the small animals, viz., sheep and goat, as these are important components of the farming systems in various regions. The goat and sheep breeders do not often fetch remunerative prices due to their weak forward linkages with the market and processing industry. The Centre has probed the linkages and identified areas of interventions at various levels for improving the incomes of goat and sheep breeders. Government functionaries and voluntary organizations are trying the identified interventions in selected areas. In recent years, we have extended our studies on dairying, impact of commercialization of livestock services on poor, and to cover role of local institutions in improving the productivity of grazing lands. The Centre has been looking at social forestry and bio-diversity. Using intensive anthropological fieldwork methods, a study, focussing on the Luni River, is examining relationship between bio-diversity and land-use. The findings seem to question some of the basic assumptions of development priorities in the region. These apart, our dialogues and studies include issues relating to environment and development; environmental economics, watershed management, and degradation of lands. Land reforms and land use patterns have also received the attention of researchers at the Institute. With a view to monitoring the status of natural resources, the Centre has established a laboratory to interpret the images available from satellite remote sensing. Based on these, the resource use plans for sustainable development of selected areas in both irrigated and dry land regions are being worked out. Remote sensing technology has also been used in our studies on 20 irrigation projects and identification of performance indicators for Rajasthan Water Resource Consolidation Project.
A large number of studies covering different aspects of education, health, empowerment of people, governance and civil society were undertaken by the researchers at the Institute. Conceptual framework of social assessment has been part of development discourse and empirical study in the field situation. Apart from the rigour of statistical analysis, the researchers have used PRA, social mapping, participatory observations, focussed group discussions and case study methods for social assessment studies.
The major thrust of the Centre in the area of social policies has been on primary education, women's education and non-formal education. The Institute has been involved in the design and participatory evaluation of the DPEP and DPIP. This apart, the Institute has under taken several studies relating to elementary education and literacy. The Institute has done social assessment for District Primary Education Project (DPEP) in 19 identified districts and for DPIP in seven districts of the state. The Institute was involved in concurrent evaluation of Total Literacy Campaign (TLC) in the state, which provided important feed back for mid-course correction in the campaign besides a composite view of external evaluations of TLCs. The Institute has also undertaken studies and organized dialogues on role of PRIs; communities in co-existence; impact of ICDS; role of NGO sector and self-help groups; pro-poor urban planning; child labour; street children; fertility and migration; development of scheduled castes, malnutrition and health education of adolescent girls. The Institute provided bench marks for DPIP and DPEP. It is also involved in process monitoring of DPIP and Integrated Child Labour Project of ILO in Rajasthan.
Identification of Women and Gender Issues as a thrust area of studies and dialogues grew out of the recognition of gender based subordination in society - an injustice, which needs to be, countered both at the individual and collective level. The attempt of the Institute has been to examine, question, address, alter and redefine those mechanisms through which subordination is legitimized, taken for granted and internalized as personal destiny. The Institute is trying to create a research base to dispel deep-seated attitudinal biases and create fresh knowledge through data, logic and cognitive interpretations. The efforts have been to bring rural, poor women's perceptions on social, economic and political issues into policy and planning discourse.
The Centre's faculty actively contributed to the Women Development Programmes of the State. The faculty participates and contributes to the trainings at village, regional and national levels on gender issues. Women in decision making and local governance; malnutrition among women and children; empowerment of adolescent girls through health education; situational analysis of women and children; women in literacy campaigns; violence against women; training in gender planning; gender in education; women and children's health; gender and food security; gender and natural resource management; gender and cultural issues and gender and poverty have received emphasis in Institute's studies, dialogues and trainings. The Institute has effectively contributed to the women's movement; capacity building on gender issues and mainstreaming gender concerns in policy and planning discourse. Childhood poverty, trafficking of women and children, girl child and child protection received added emphasis.
Apart from the core research oriented areas, the Centre has an important unit called NGO and PR Centre. The NGO and PR Centre was established with a view to maintaining close contacts with NGOs and representatives of PRIs for pursuing a better understanding of development processes, to provide a forum for reasoned debate on issues concerning them and their dialogue with policy planners, experts and thinkers and to strengthen and facilitate the development efforts of NGOs by way of training their personal and information sharing.
The specific activities pursued by the Institute in this area include advocacy, skill development, networking and undertaking research studies related to voluntary initiatives and PRIs. The advocacy role of the Institute has been mainly in the area of poverty alleviation, empowerment of local institutions, gender equity, child rights, early childhood care, gram and ward sabhas, women members of PRIs, reproductive and child health, and violence against women. The Institute has been contributing to the development of skills of PRI representatives and NGO workers in the area of project formulation, documentation, report writing, community mobilization and leadership, training needs assessment, development of training modules and training of trainers. The Institute has been providing a fora to NGOs and PRIs to interact with state government, national organizations and international development agencies on areas of mutual concerns. The Centre's faculty has been undertaking several studies with the help of grassroots NGOs on several aspects related to their role in development programmes and initiatives. It has developed or helped the state government and international agencies in developing training modules for PRIs in the area of general role of panchas, sarpanches, education, early childhood care, nutrition, and adolescent girls. The Centre has a regular feature of bringing out and updating a directory of voluntary organizations functioning in the state. The Centre's faculty actively associates in various dialogues and training programmes for elected representatives of PRIs and on decentralized planning organised by the state government.