Tag Archives: Pavan Srinath


Measurements and Market Research

by Aparna Ravikumar

Our everyday lives revolve around the consumption of goods. From the relatively trivial ones, like toothpaste, soaps and shampoo, to the more important goods like water, power and food grains.

The production and sales processes of FMCG are thoroughly exhaustive-in terms of manufacturing the product and performing market research. These production and sales processes can be broadly grouped into different baskets-input, output and outcome.

The entire cycle of manufacture can be grouped into the input basket. For example, in the manufacture of toothpaste, the different ingredients, like carbonate salts that go into creating the toothpaste fall under the input category. The manufacturer also incorporates several other features into the toothpaste, like fresh taste, to maximize consumer satisfaction.

On the output side, the manufacturer uses market research to gauge the response of his user. Randomized surveys will tell the manufacturer the levels of satisfaction that his consumers experience. The outcome basket categorizes the scientific testing methods and procedures that the product is subjected to. These processes are used to answer questions regarding the harmful effects, if any, of the toothpaste on the user’s health, the toothpaste’s ability to fight of germs, etc. It provides solid, evidence-based proof of the toothpaste’s real performance as against its claims.

A relatively trivial product like toothpaste requires exhaustive steps to ensure consumer satisfaction, so it is safe to assume that a vital good like water supply will require the same measurement techniques to ensure safe and efficient water supply to all citizens.

On the input side, the sources of water, water quality,  presence of stray sewerage elements among various other indicators are measured and the impurities are suitably filtered out before the water enters the supply lines.

On the output side, the quality, in terms of the water’s colour, smell, taste, and quantity, measured using water bills or sump sizes, are used as major yardsticks of measurement. Other indicators can also be used to understand consumer satisfaction- the delay in supply, affordability, ease of setting up new connection, etc.

As an attempt to gauge market performance of public utilities, the citizen report card was introduced by the Public Affairs Centre (PAC). The CRC was first introduced in Bangalore and is now being adopted in different cities of the world. The CRC attempts to understand the consumer’s satisfaction, suggestions and complaints regarding the public utilities extended by the city’s corporation. Using randomized sample survey techniques, households are surveyed to gather data on consumer levels of satisfaction, with the quantity and quality of supply of public utilities, like power and water being specifically measured. The findings from the CRCs are shared at the local level to create awareness and increase citizen participation in the sphere of local governance.  They are also shared with governmental agencies, giving the agencies a clear picture of their performance.

On the outcome side, scientific tests performed on water from different sources give a clear evidence-backed picture of the quality of water being consumed by the people.

The input, output and outcome model provides the service provider or the product manufacturer with a clear picture of his performance in the market, giving him opportunities for improvement, which will, in turn, account for improvement in consumer satisfaction levels.

The concepts of measurement and market research were covered by Pavan Srinath in the B.CLIP classroom sessions.


School for politicians

B.CLIP was featured this week in Open magazine, which includes snippets the lectures of Takshashila Councillor Prof Mukul Asher on public finance and municipal budgeting.

When he throws the floor open to questions, there are several. Predictably, in keeping with the zeitgeist, there is a question about the Aam Aadmi Party. A student asks if AAP can afford to give away free water and subsidised power to the residents of Delhi. Asher’s response is a question. “In the 21st century, what is going to be the commodity that will be the scarcest?” he asks. There is a murmur of responses, then someone gives the right answer: water. “If something is very scarce, would you price it at zero?”

Asher then explains that although a free-water policy may appear to benefit households at the outset, it would eventually hurt them. As water becomes scarcer, the cost of supplying it will increase. Therefore the only way the Delhi government can afford to give its citizens water free is by finding an alternative source of revenue—it can either take money away from other infrastructure projects, or raise water prices for commercial establishments.

The first idea is obviously a nonstarter. And if the government opts for the second, it would increase the cost of doing business in Delhi, forcing commercial establishments to move to other cities. Such an exodus would come back to hurt households, because they are customers and employees of these businesses.

Read the entire article: School for Politicians, Priyanka Pulla, Open.

Water meter


This session was taught by Pavan Srinath and went into the importance of measurement in understanding the needs and wants of citizens along with the problems that plague a city. The session emphasised on how the ‘need’ of a citizen should be broken down to information and data first and then there should then be an attempt to create meaning from that data. The process should flow from data to information—information to knowledge.

The example of water supply was used to  illustrate measurement. The first step to understanding water supply in a city or any problems faced with respect to it, is that every aspect of it should first be broken down, looked into and defined.  Indicators such as class, source, quantity, quality, pressure, time spent-money allocated, effort spent—on water connection, grievance redressal, payments, coping strategy, storage etc. should be defined.

Among the many, there are three things that can be measured: input, output and outcome. Opinion and user experience can also be used to measure the three. Opinion includes interviews and structured interviews and focus group discussions, (particular group discussion). A way to measure diverse opinions accurately is using surveys- a sample size will determine the estimation of error in a survey. There is a methodology that needs to be learnt to understand how to conduct a survey. In a survey, there are two kinds of questions that can be asked: the subjective and the objective. Subjective questions usually have a yes or no answer while objective can be vague and can vary, depending on the question and situations.

The point of measurements is to use the appropriate techniques and collect different kinds of information. The first task is to always ascertain the numbers involved, measure them and then proceed with analysing the numbers.

Bangalore 2011-12

The growth of Bangalore

The city of Bangalore grew from about 5.7 million people in 2001 to 8.7 million in 2011. Earlier, the official city area was 226 square kilometres under the erstwhile Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) which expanded to 716 square kilometres in 2007 with the creation of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike.

However, these area numbers only reflect the official administrative boundaries, and are not always reflective of the organic growth of cities in various directions. Below are two land use images from ISRO’s Bhuvan portal of Bangalore from 2005-06 and 2011-12. Built-up area in the region is marked in red.

Bangalore 2005-06

Bangalore 2011-12

Visit the Bhuvan portal for higher resolution maps and the full map key.

In the period of five years, Bangalore has grown in area mostly only on the southeastern side. It has grown considerably along Hosur road, forming a continuum between the city, spanning electronic city until the edge of the state boundary. The bulk of the rest of the growth has happened along the southeastern section of the outer ring road.

Just like administrative boundaries influence governance, organic boundaries of changing land use bring in their own influence. Those who seek to govern Bangalore may need to think along two lines: how can administrative boundaries adapt themselves to reflect changing realities; and how to govern these areas when the boundaries remain rigid.

This was a part of Pavan Srinath and Saurabh Chandra’s lecture titled ‘Introduction to the Bangalore Municipal Ecosystem’ to B.CLIP students on December 7, 2013. Adapted from The Transition State blog on the Indian National Interest.

Further reading: Karthik Shashidhar finds that Bangalore’s fastest population growth rates were actually in the 1940s and 1970s.