Friday, 28 November 2014

But that’s another blog

by Haris Gazdar

From left: Arafat, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bhutto, Gaddafi in Lahore, Feb. 25, 1974. AFP

Who is interpreting? 
 From left: Arafat, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bhutto, Gaddafi in Lahore, Feb. 25, 1974. AFP

The question first arose many years ago when my colleagues and I started to design the qualitative component of a study on access to land.  We thought we should use the opportunity provided by that study to develop our own protocols and training manuals for conducting qualitative research.  We read a lot of material that was available then on research methodology, and got busy with serious debates while trying to complete various research tasks.  What were the relative merits, functions and complementarities of qualitative and quantitative approaches (another blog)? How does a social policy focus allow qualitative research to escape the more narcissistic indulgences of contemporary anthropology (another blog)?  Why was it important to insist on the distinctiveness of qualitative social science research from similar-feeling field approaches such as participatory appraisals and action research (another blog)? How the term ‘data’ needed to be constantly rescued from the monopoly of statisticians (another blog)? Why was rigorous qualitative research anything but woolly, and usually much harder work than numbers (definitely another blog)?

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Debating political economy of the budget

by Asad Sayeed and Kabeer Dawani 

Two rupee coin by Rehman Chughtai

In the last week of October, an event was hosted by a multilateral organization in collaboration with a local think tank to discuss ‘The Political Economy of the Budget.’ The invite was a pleasant surprise for two reasons.  First, it is unusual in Pakistan to come across a seminar with the ‘political economy’ prefix as part of it. Budgets are especially amenable to political economy analysis given the explicitly political nature of resource allocations and revenue collection. Second, seminars and discussions on the budget generally begin in the second quarter of the year. Debating budget related issues so early in the fiscal year is also a welcome initiative.