The Government of Meghalaya has collaborated with the Indian School of Business (ISB) to advance its efforts for research-driven policy formulation and implementation in the state of Meghalaya. A unique programme, Meghalaya Legislative Research Fellowship (MLRF), has been introduced by the State Government, in partnership with Bharti Institute of Public Policy (ISB), to aid research and advocacy for Meghalaya legislators. As knowledge and executing partner for the programme, Bharti Institute will be responsible for selecting, training, and mentoring fellows for the Meghalaya Institute of Governance, the nodal agency for MLRF, through a structured two-year programme.
Objectives of the Fellowship
In January 2022, a cohort of 12 Legislative Fellows and Two Data fellows from the state of Meghalaya, recruited after a three-month long competitive process, was inducted for five-day orientation and training workshop at Meghalaya Administrative Training Institute, Shillong. The workshop focussed on the understanding of public policy and governance issues in general; and legislative, legal, socio-economic and implementation issues in Meghalaya, particularly.
Mr Sampath Kumar, IAS, Principal Secretary to Govt of Meghalaya and Director General, Meghalaya Institute of Governance, along with Mr Aiban Swer, Director, MIG, and Project Lead, and Mr Stephen Anurag P, NISG-Public Policy Consultant & Project Co-Lead, had inaugurated the five-day induction training on Jan 11, which concluded with a virtual interaction of fellows with Mr Conrad Sangma, Chief Minister, Government of Meghalaya. The Chief Minister congratulated the fellows and said that MLRF was a promising initiative of the government. The fellows also got an opportunity to interact with Mr Metbah Lyngdoh, Hon. Speaker of Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, and Mr Andrew Simons, Commissioner & Secretary, Meghalaya Legislative Assembly at the Assembly premises, Khyndailad, during the course of the workshop. The Hon. Speaker also gave away certificates to the maiden cohort of fellows during the concluding day of the training and wished the team a rousing success.
Intensive training in political science, public policy, public administration, international affairs coupled with research methodologies, governance and public management will be facilitated through multiple workshops across the fellowship period, supplemented by various expert sessions, and field exposure visits. The pedagogy of training involves introducing the fellows to the theoretical, contextual, and practical tools to understand and solve complex problems. After the first training programme, the fellows have been put to interact with various stakeholders within the different structures of the government. Following this, the nodal agency (MIG) coordinated with the Hon'ble Speaker’s office to attach the fellows to the nominated legislators. To streamline the process, and guide the fellows in assisting the legislators, weekly deliverable plans are continually shared with the cohort and followed up by ISB. Through regular online and in-person sessions by policy experts and ISB faculty, the fellows are being trained to actively research and report to the legislators on different issues.
Dr OP Agarwal, CEO, World Resources Institute, on his virtual session on ‘City Visioning’ emphasised on the philosophy of creating a long-term vision for a city, and backcasting for urban planning. The MLR fellows, divided into teams, were asked to develop an economic vision for a city of their choice through a SWOT analysis and identify the supporting infrastructure and services needed to realise and materialise the vision.
In another online lecture, Dr OP Agarwal moderated the presentation session by MLR fellows wherein they had identified prospective areas of development, major economic activities of communities in the respective areas, and their revenue-generating scope in four cities/towns of Meghalaya: Shillong, Tura, Jowai, and Nongpoh.
Dr Avik Sarkar, Visiting Associate Professor for Data, Technology and Public Policy at Bharti Institute, ISB, delivered an online session on ‘Data in Policymaking and Data Privacy Issues’. Several terms and concepts pertaining to the data analytics landscape (structured & unstructured data) were covered during the session along with the laws surrounding data privacy issues in the country, which were also highlighted in terms of their significance in the process of data mining and data analysis.
Dr Sridhar Kundu, Senior Research Analyst, ISB, held two online sessions on ‘Understanding Public Finance with reference to Budget in Meghalaya’ during the Budget Session in the state. Dr Kundu presented the fellows with a detailed understanding of the terms and concepts related to budget and economic reports.
A conversation on Meghalaya’s Budget was also convened for MLR fellows at the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly Secretariat with Dr Kundu, in the presence of Mr Aiban Swer, Project Lead-MLRF, and Mr Stephen Anurag, Project Co-Lead-MLRF as moderators. The discussion revolved around the basics of budget analysis, fiscal deficit, and surplus, a brief comparative analysis of other state budgets, in addition to understanding the need of mapping the expectations of the people and creating sustainable solutions by prioritising the capital spending to certain pertinent sections.
Under the ongoing Meghalaya Legislative Research Fellowship (MLRF) for which Bharti Institute of Public Policy serves as a knowledge partner in association with the Meghalaya Institute of Governance (MIG), Government of Meghalaya, 12 fellows have successfully completed the first year of their training. The fellows have been working with all 60 members of the Legislative Assembly including the Hon’ble Chief Minister and the Ministers of state. During the training, they focused on learning quantitative and qualitative research techniques besides attending sessions on policy writing and legal issues. The fellows along with the staff of Meghalaya Institute of Governance (MIG), visited remote villages across the state of Meghalaya for public consultation regarding the development of various tourism projects and to generate awareness among stakeholders for the proposed projects, promoting further clarity and understanding. As part of the fellowship, the fellows will now be working with the Election Commission duties for the upcoming legislative assembly elections in the state.