Indian-American economist Abhijit Banerjee and his co-researcher and wife Esther Duflo have had a long and crucial association with Sewa Mandir, an NGO from Udaipur in Rajasthan that has been working for the welfare of tribals. According to Sewa Mandir officials and Paliwal, immunization in tribal areas was barely around 6% but due to the interventions by Banerjee and Duflo, it jumped up to 10% in less than a year. Sewa Mandir, with their help, began to organise immunization camps in around 30 villages and that ensured that over 77 per cent children got at least one vaccine and the overall immunization rate jumped from 6% to 16.6%.
Sewa Mandir officials said later inspired by Duflo and Banerjee, an incentive scheme was launched which led to a rise in immunization rate from 17 to 38%. “Using their advice, we started giving incentives to mobilize and motivate people. We started offering people one kilo of moong dal for the nutrition of a child and pregnant women. Their incentives helped to mobilize most of the community to adopt immunization on a huge scale,” said Paliwal, current director HR and admin of Sewa Mandir.