Rajesh Veeraraghavan

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I am a Ph.D. candidate at UC Berkeley School of Information.

My dissertation commitee: AnnaLee Saxenian(co-chair), Peter Evans(co-chair), Paul Duguid(mentor), Michael Burawoy

My CV is here.

I am interested in information and communication technologies for development(ICTD).  My research include both experimental attempts to introduce information and communication technologies for social change as well as critically examining claims that are often made on the transformative use of technology. My work so far has been in ICT use in agriculture and transparency in governance.

My dissertation research based on 12 months of participant observation, interviews and surveys, examines a bold "open government" experiment of a South Indian State (Andhra Pradesh) to eliminate corruption at the local "last-mile".  I study the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGA), which aims to support India's poorest citizens by guaranteeing a minimum level of employment for rural families. The state has a project of technology-enabled surveillance of the day-to-day practices of the lower bureaucracy and an active project of approaching the workers of NREGA, by conducting audits (“social audits”) to improve the quality of the government records. 

Prior to my doctoral work, I was an associate researcher at the Technology for Emerging Markets group at Microsoft Research, India, where my work focused on building appropriate technologies for agriculture. My past research work has led to a creation of a NGO, Digital Green. In my past, I have worked as a software developer at Microsoft in the US for about six years. I have volunteered for the non-profit Association for India's Development in the US for a decade. I have a Master's degree in Computer Science from Clemson University, Master's degree in Economics from Cleveland State University, and Bachelor's degrees in Economics and Management from Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani, India.

My past research has explored three themes: how technology is deployed to address agricultural development, how information and technology shape social and political institutions to foster collective action, and the contributions of technology in fostering participatory and democratic governance.  I have explored these themes primarily through participant observation, primarily in India, as well as by designing new technologies for development.

I am currently a research partner in a Stanford based "Transparency for Development" project, that is working through activists, NGOs and the State to provide citizens living in rural India with "relevant" information about changing government practices and public records to foster local public action.  We are experimenting with using mobile phones and use a combination of SMS, IVR(interactive voice response) to communicate.
Our research strategy combines randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with qualitative methods to understand the effects on corruption. The work is partly in my dissertation field site, so I am able to lend support to the research and the institutional agendas of the project.

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