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Acknowledging a prominent think tank: the Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP) in India

Politics & Ideas is a joint initiative of researchers and practitioners to co- produce and share innovative and relevant knowledge linking ideas and politics in developing and emerging economies. We encourage researchers and practitioners in the field to speak about their own challenges and share their perspectives about how research can interact (or not) with policy making as they encounter them at the local, national and regional levels.

Courtesy of furiousgeorge81 under CC at flickr.com

Courtesy of furiousgeorge81 under CC at flickr.com

P&I aims to think critically about the relations between ideas, research, and politics to support a more constructive use of research based evidence in policy making. Since 2013, several think tankers, policy makers, donors, academics and other stakeholders interested in linking research and policy making have generously shared their challenges, lessons and reflections through P&I.

One of these valuable partners is the Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP), a prominent think tank in India. As one of the largest think tanks in South Asia, CSTEP’s vision is to enrich the nation with technology-enabled policy options for equitable growth, and its mission is to impact policy at governmental and corporate levels by assessing and designing science and technology options with informed and systematic analysis for (equitable and inclusive) human development and economic growth. CSTEP has grown to become a multi-disciplinary policy research organisation in the areas of Energy, Infrastructure, Security Studies, Materials, Climate Studies and Governance.

During 2014 and 2015, CSTEP fed P&I’s platform with its experience on different aspects of a think tank’s operation: from policy engagement, to communication planning and tools, and research and data management. This experience has also fed P&I’s projects (online courses, research studies, mentoring) with relevant lessons to be shared with other peer organizations.

From our perspective, CSTEP is a leading think tank in the South, not only because of the quality of its research and its influence in policy making in its context. CSTEP is concerned with building a sustainable organization with institutionalized procedures, and it has demonstrated commitment to cross-learning and willingness to share its lessons (which came from both successes and failures) with other peers worldwide.

In this sense, P&I would like to acknowledge CSTEP work by recapping some of its blog posts in the last two years:

On communications and influence

  • Annual Report – a Powerful Communicating Tool. By Dr. Annapoorna Ravichander, Head of Communication and Policy Engagement. CSTEP’s experience in using Annual Reports to share with audience from various backgrounds and experiences events, milestones achieved, impact studies made, innovations, new projects, etc.
  • Showcasing Policy Impact through Cinema. By Dr. Annapoorna Ravichander, Head of Communication and Policy Engagement, and Arushi Sen, Senior Communication Officer. CSTEP’ experience in producing a documentary film to showcase a story on the impact of the organization’s work in energy research.
  • Standards & Guidelines: An Effective Tool for Researchers and think tanks. By Bhavna Sharma, Associate, Communication and Policy Engagement, and Dr. Annapoorna Ravichander, Head of Communication and Policy Engagement. CSTEP shares its Standards and Guidelines to ensure that consistency in style and formatting within a document and across multiple documents is maintained.
  • Strategising Research Communication at CSTEP: developing a communications strategy. By Arushi Sen, Senior Communication Officer, and Dr. Annapoorna Ravichander, Head of Communication and Policy Engagement. Traces CSTEP’s experience in formally instituting communication strategies to achieve certain organisational objectives.
  • Strategising Research Communication at CSTEP: building an effective team. By Arushi Sen, Senior Communication Officer, and Dr. Annapoorna Ravichander, Head of Communication and Policy Engagement. Focuses on the need for a dedicated team and the advantages of having a team over alternative methods of communication adopted by other organisations.
  • Theatre, a strategy to raise awareness about public policy challenges. By Dr. Prasoon Agarwal, Senior Advisor at Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), and Dr. Annapoorna Ravichander, Head of Communication & Policy Engagement at the CSTEP. GGGI and CSTEP have used theatre to communicate a complex issue such as a global warming.

On research, researchers and knowledge management 

On capacity building 

  • Online Training: a perspective from India. By Dr. Annapoorna Ravichander, Head of Communication and Policy Engagement. CSTEP gives its perspective on India’s e-learning industry to suit the vast panorama of individuals, universities and organisations. 

Many valuable knowledge exists within think tanks, both as an organizations and in each if its members. Imagine how much the think tank community (including donors and other practitioners) could grow if every once in a while step out of our comfort zones to discuss and share lessons with our peers. It is also about dealing with the shared tensions and dilemmas in a more collective manner and make development a cooperative process. P&I and CSTEP are organizations that are committed with knowledge sharing. What about you?

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