You won the 2015 Sylvia Lane Mentor Fellowship for your research proposal: Asian Enigma on Child Under-nutrition: An Indian Version and its Verification vide Structural Equation Modelling Approach, how is your research progressing?
Developing countries in Asia and Africa are burdened with high proportions of malnourished children. For example despite higher GDP growth rates; proportion of children suffering from malnutrition in India is almost double of that in Sub-Saharan Africa. Studies have tried to explain this puzzle, called the “South Asian Enigma”. The difference has been attributed to women’s status level or empowerment, poor hygiene and child feeding practices. So it needs to be verified if such a paradox prevails among the states à la the Asian Enigma. What needs to be examined is whether differences in nutritional status can be explained in terms of factors, which explain the South Asian Enigma across states in India. Women empowerment is measured using Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). Expected results are in support of this hypothesis.
Your mentor is Dr. Suresh Chandra Babu; how did you two connect on this research topic?
Dr. Babu is in my PhD thesis committee. He has worked extensively in the area of food, agriculture and nutrition policy. I was really looking forward to him for guiding me, given his expertise in the Indian context. He readily agreed to it.
What led you to pursue food and agricultural economics?
Food and agriculture policy planning involves a study of different interdisciplinary subjects. This is one of the main reasons for me to work in this area. Moreover, it involves a lot of applied work which I find very interesting and challenging. A lot of multilateral organizations do work on cross-country issues related to food policy. This provides one with a lot of exposure, which I find very appealing.
What advice would you offer aspiring agricultural/applied economists?
Applied economists should expose themselves to a large number of cross country studies. They should get themselves involved in field surveys to know the practicalities.