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Iqbal Dhaliwal, Global Executive Director of MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), and Vikrant Bhargava, Founder of Veddis Foundation


Iqbal Dhaliwal, Global Executive Director of MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), and Vikrant Bhargava, Founder of Veddis Foundation, join Alberto Lidji to discuss the power of evidence, the ASPIRE partnership and the innovative Emissions Trading Scheme.


We also explore how philanthropists should decide what to fund, where and how to fund; why evidence is so important in driving forward policy change; and why policy itself should be a key focus in the philanthropic space.


The ASPIRE partnership (Alliance for Scaling Policy Impact through Research and Evidence) is a coalition of governments, philanthropic organizations, civil society groups, and research institutions.


The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is a flexible, market-based approach to solving the air pollution problem in India. It works by capping emissions for a particular pollutant, like particulate matter, in a particular area. It allows sources of the pollutant, such as industrial plants, to trade emissions permits among themselves. The capping ensures emissions targets are met while trading allows this to be achieved cheaply.


The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is a global research center working to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. Anchored by a network of more than 900 researchers at universities around the world, J-PAL conducts randomized impact evaluations to answer critical questions in the fight against poverty.

J-PAL co-founders Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, with longtime affiliate Michael Kremer, were awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics for their pioneering approach to alleviating global poverty.


Veddis Foundation invests in organisations working at the intersection of technology, policy, and impact. Veddis also partners with governments on policy implementation, effective public service delivery and governance.


About Iqbal Dhaliwal


Iqbal Dhaliwal is the Global Executive Director of MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) since 2018. He leads the development of the organization’s strategic vision and worldwide operations in research, policy outreach and training in over a dozen countries. He co-directs the J-PAL’s South Asia regional office with Nobel Laureate Esther Duflo, and co-directs the Innovation in Government Initiative (IGI) with Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee. He is a board member of J-PAL and of award winning social enterprises Noora Health and Rocket Learning.


Before joining J-PAL, Iqbal worked in the private sector, first in strategy consulting and later in economic consulting. He began his career in public service as a member of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), where he helped formulate state policy as a Deputy Secretary, was the CEO of a public-sector company, and head of one of the state’s largest administrative divisions that implemented numerous development programs in the field.


Iqbal stood first in the nationwide Civil Services examination. He received the Director's Gold Medal at India's National Academy of Administration. Government of Punjab, India awarded him the Guru Nanak Devji Achievers Award for his "contributions to the field of economics and poverty alleviation." He received the Dean's Fellowship at Princeton University and the gold medal for standing first in the college in his undergraduate program.

Iqbal has an MA in economics from the Delhi School of Economics, and an MPA in international development from Princeton University.


About Vikrant Bhargava


Vikrant Bhargava is the founder and trustee of Veddis Foundation. Veddis Foundation invests in organisations working at the intersection of technology, policy, and impact. Veddis also partners with governments on policy implementation, effective public service delivery and governance.


He was previously the co-founder and marketing director of PartyGaming Plc, where he spearheaded the company’s growth from a start-up in 2000 to a FTSE 100 business at its IPO in 2005. After stepping down from PartyGaming, Vikrant has been an investor and mentor to technology start-ups. In 2012, he incubated and supported the development of LetzChange, one of India’s first retail giving platforms, which later merged with GiveIndia to become the country’s largest online fundraising platform for charities. Vikrant is the chairperson of Founders Pledge, an organisation that gets entrepreneurs to pledge a portion of their exit proceeds to philanthropy and advises them to maximise the impact of their giving. He is also the founder chairperson of FIRSTUK, an organisation that aims to make STEM less intimidating and more inclusive for high-schoolers using robotics. He serves on the advisory boards of the Alliance for Scaling Policy Impact through Research and Evidence (an initiative of J-PAL South Asia) and the Centre for Effective Governance of Indian States (CEGIS).


He is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta.





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