On September 21, 2021, the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay launched the ‘Ashank Desai Centre for Policy Studies (ADCPS)’, during a virtual event held at the Institute. The launch was presided by distinguished personalities Prof. Kaushik Basu, Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University; Dr. Naushad Forbes, Co-Chairman of Forbes Marshall, India's leading steam engineering and control instrumentation company; Ms.Yamini Aiyar, President and Chief Executive of the Centre for Policy Research; and Mr. Ashank Desai, an IIT Bombay alumnus and Founder, Vice-Chairman and MD of Mastek Limited whose generous donation to the Centre for Policy Studies at IIT Bombay, has provided a much-needed boost to this nascent field.
Inaugural keynote addresses were made by Dr. Forbes and Prof. Basu. While speaking about ADCPS, Dr. Forbes said, "Good public policy must bring together solid theoretical understanding and academic work in the subject with a policy perspective. This Centre can play a very valuable role because it is at IIT Bombay – within one of our leading research and education institutions. By working collaboratively with other departments on campus, we can develop policy that is both theoretically right and doable."
Prof. Basu said, “I congratulate IIT Bombay for having the foresight of setting up a Policy Studies institute and Mr. Ashank Desai for his generosity and farsightedness in helping establish this institute. I have believed for long that we need top-quality technical research and policy centres which can bridge the gap between the world of technical research and policymaking and IIT Bombay epitomizes that. I am delighted that the ‘Ashank Desai Centre for Policy Studies’ has been set up at a top place like IIT Bombay.”
Ms. Aiyar, who was the discussant for the event, said, “Strengthening the institutional foundations for undertaking credible research and policy dialogue is critical for India. India needs an ecosystem of robust, rigorous and independent institutions in the university and civil society that contribute to knowledge building, knowledge creation and simultaneously interface with policy. ADCPS is thus a really important contribution to the public life of India and I'm really looking forward to future interactions with researchers and the cohort of students from the Centre."
CPS was set up in 2016 at IIT Bombay to create capacity for policy studies in India, by positioning itself as a leader in the study of Public Policy. The Centre’s work comprises interdisciplinary research, providing evidence-based, collaborative, and critical research in various policy fields, with a special focus on policy formulation and evaluation in India. CPS continues to make significant contributions to the field of Policy Studies and has achieved multiple milestones by establishing the Ph.D. and Masters in Public Policy programmes.
The funds from Mr. Desai’s donation will be utilised for building the Centre’s infrastructure and its subsequent maintenance over a period of 10 years. This support is also expected to enable the Centre to focus on research in key areas of Digital Societies, Structural Inequalities, Environment, Energy and Natural Resources, Markets and Governance Processes and Technology and Society.
Mr. Ashank Desai is an Information Technology (“IT”) Entrepreneur and a respected business personality in India and is a Founder, Vice-Chairman and MD of Mastek Limited. He is one of the founder members and past Chairman of NASSCOM. He is presently the Vice-Chairman, Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE) at IIT Bombay. He is a Distinguished Alumnus of IIT Bombay, and also an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA).
Mr. Desai has been felicitated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for his contribution to NASSCOM and the IT Industry for the last 25 years. He is the former President of the Asian-Oceanian Computing Industry Organization (ASOCIO), an apex IT industry association covering 21 Asia-Oceania countries, including Australia, Japan,etc. He has also been presented with the Honourable Contributors Award by ASOCIO – the only Indian to receive this recognition twice. He was conferred the much-coveted ‘Outstanding Entrepreneur Award’ at the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards in 2010.
Prof. Subhasis Chaudhuri, Director, IIT Bombay, said, “The Centre for Policy Studies at IIT Bombay has a stated mission to promote dialogue between academia and other policy stakeholders and create a capacity for policy studies in the country. Mr. Desai’s contribution will be a big step in this direction and will provide a boost to the field of policy studies in India. It will enable IIT Bombay to transform this setup into a Centre of Excellence that facilitates evidence-informed and inclusive public policy.”
Speaking of the launch, Mr. Ashank Desai said, “Policymaking will continue to become a very complex and arduous task, thanks to fast-changing technologies and alert stakeholders impacted by policies. We need an unbiased advice based on intellectual insight and dialogue. Also, career professionals need to be created to support the policymakers in formulation and implementation. IIT Bombay with an exemplary track record in Research and Education covering technology and social disciplines is very well suited for this task. As payback to my alma mater, my contribution will enable the Policy Centre to move to a next level of effectiveness.”