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 Recent Updated:13-09-2021


Centre for Multi-disciplinary Development Research (CMDR) is an autonomous social science research institute recognised and financially supported by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India as well as Government of Karnataka.

The Centre for Multi-disciplinary Development Research (CMDR) has been functioning since 1976 at Dharwad as an autonomous not for profit research organisation. It has been registered in 1980 under the Society’s Registration Act. The aims and objectives of the Centre include, among others, conducting research on issues of socio-economic development, and decentralised planning at the sub-regional, regional and national levels in a multi-disciplinary framework, covering economic, social, political and cultural dimensions of human behaviour  There is also an attempt to combine judiciously the conceptual and empirical perceptions in its research studies. The Centre has aims to examine the relevance of the received theories in social sciences which have alien origins and form new theories and conceptual frames of greater relevance to Indian conditions.
Setting up of CMDR was inspired by the advice of a band of dedicated and eminent social scientists. Being located in Dharwad, which combines both urban and semi-rural features, the Centre has the unique advantage of providing a suitable environment for the analysis of the socio-economic problems of the rural people and regional economy at the grass root level. Hitherto, there has been an unusual concentration of research institutions in urban and metropolitan areas in the country. Further, there is no adequate effort made to induct multi-disciplinary approach in the analysis of the socio-economic problems of the people. In North Karnataka, there is a significant scope for strengthening the institutional infrastructure for conducting socio-economic analysis of regional problems. Considering these needs and the unique features of CMDR, the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), New Delhi, an all India apex body created by Govt. of India to promote social science research in the country, recognized CMDR as a national level research institute for social science research


  • To undertake research work with multi-disciplinary perspectives on specific socio-economic problems of Karnataka, of the Indian economy and also of the developing economies in general, through the agency of its own staff, and such special research and other staff as may be appointed from time to time.
  • To arrange for continuous investigation into economic problems of fundamental theoretical nature and attempt to recast the various accepted theoretical frames into a new mould of relevance to the socio-economic characteristics of the economy.


  • To conduct investigations to aid the Government, organisations of employers, workers etc., or of other bodies of persons interested in promoting a study pertaining to socio-economic issues.
  • To provide consultancy services on such practical aspects like market analysis, project evaluation and feasibility, financial analysis, budget formulation and analysis, etc.


  • To build up a research and reference Library in social sciences and other related disciplines.
  • To undertake publications of professional journals, monographs, etc., to disseminate important research findings.


  • To conduct refresher courses and research seminars on social sciences with an emphasis on a multi-disciplinary approach.
  • To undertake and publish studies on the socio-economic and cultural themes which require analysis with multi-disciplinary approach.



CMDR has now crossed more than a quarter of a century of its existence. This is the occasion for self introspection about the journey it has covered so far and the journey it has to cover in the future. It has passed through a tumultuous struggle so far, the struggle for strengthening its roots as a major think tank in north Karnataka and a struggle for sustenance and stability. While these struggles are continuing our future initiatives should introduce further strength for stability and sustenance of the institute making it more viable, self reliant and providing at the same time an identity to it in the comity of social science research institutes in the country. Those who are observing the development of CMDR from its inception must be noticing that CMDR has been known as an institute focusing on social sector, considering social sector as the trigger for the overall development of the region and its people. The Centre has also focused on the micro level perspectives of the sector/s or sub sectors which it has taken up for researching implying that while aggregative perspectives might help develop a sweep of understanding the issue in question, micro level perspectives are necessary for understanding the various nuances of the issue and providing deeper insights useful for policy making. The Centre also has aimed at demonstrating the effectiveness of its policy insights in some of the chosen areas of study through action research initiatives. It may not be wrong to state that CMDR has been one of the pioneering institutes among ICSSR institutes in highlighting the importance of action research in social science research by actually conducting such action research. There have been many firsts for CMDR so far as social science researches are concerned. For example, CMDR is probably one of the first institutes in Karnataka if not in the southern region of the country in undertaking serious studies in tobacco economics, including tobacco cultivation and tobacco consumption, integrating action research with usually followed research approaches; it is probably one of the very few institutes emphasizing the importance of supply side controls and the need for coordinated international level initiatives for effective tobacco control; it has been probably the first in highlighting the need for systematic studies of merit bads such as addiction to tobacco, alcoholic drinks, etc. It is first in demonstrating the usefulness of novel approaches in decision making such as sectoral accounting systems (like health accounting, educational accounting, etc); its action researches in terms of adoption of certain villages for tobacco economics studies, health economics studies, etc and experimenting with its insights derived from usual research studies with regard to selected areas, can be considered as highly challenging and useful. Its micro level studies of evaluation in the field of education, health, environmental challenges associated with some types of life styles (like smoking, gutka, second hand smoking, etc and their effects on air quality, health and even education) are too important to be overlooked. The Centre has been emphasizing the importance of multi disciplinary perspectives in its research and has been trying to bring different discipline experts on a common research platform to comment upon the issues of socio economic development through the methodology of individual disciplines so that the research studies would finally have a multi disciplinary perspective. The Centre has been designated as an Education Data Bank and its very detailed Data and Information System publications on Elementary Education and Higher Education have been considered as pioneering attempts in compilation, processing and presentation of the quantitative and qualitative data on these sub sectors of education in an user friendly manner.  The initiatives taken by the Centre in the field of environmental economics are quite notable and they need to be further strengthened. The fact that the Centre has been able to develop its own campus in Dharwad is another feather in its cap, which certainly has put an end to its dependence on other institution/s for its research working space requirements. Thanks to ICSSR for providing the necessary financial assistance to CMDR that now our institution can function in its own building, which in due course also needs to be expanded in view of increasing felt requirements.  

While the Centre can legitimately feel proud of its achievements, some of which have been recounted above, it should also be conscious of the challenges and demands on its expertise. Some of the following issues deserve our attention in this connection. They have been listed here primarily to understand the future challenges in the background of the past so that the Governing Council, the Director and the faculty and also the non academic staff would be helped in their understanding of their respective roles with an element of clarity in the process of CMDR’s future development.  
Viable Research Faculty Size:
The Centre should reach a viable size in terms of its faculty strength with the association of senior faculty members in the profession on full time basis or even on deputation basis from other research organizations
Research Focus:
The Centre should get identified with a well defined research focus, which was evolving gradually in the past but which started becoming less visible on account of the project chase for funds. Now that the Centre has ICSSR funding and a matching grant from the Government of Karnataka the efforts for achieving the objective of evolving a well defined research identity for the Centre need to be renewed. It is not necessary that the focus of the Centre in the past should itself be continued. In order that the Centre is vibrant and responsive to newer developmental challenges its research focus may be reconsidered at regular intervals. The new focus of the Centre can be evolved through faculty interactions and peer group interactions. Possibly, the Academic and Research Programmes Committee (ARPC) of CMDR can be a good forum for discussing this issue.

Project oriented Research vs Basic Research: Empirical Research and   Conceptual Research:
For the same reason the faculty needs to address increasingly to the non project linked research activities especially on the basic issues in the field of social science research. Unfortunately, most of the research institutions at present seem to have overlooked this mandate of social science research and the research has come to be considered as an exercise in measurement without theory and any effort at theorizing has been only by way of drawing inferences from the analysis of the data collected under the research projects rather than reflective research evolving theoretical insights. Of course, social sciences cannot be divorced from reality and data and information are the bread and butter for research initiatives in social sciences. However, it has been argued that this type of research initiatives has almost blunted the researchers’ very capacity for reflective thinking. It should be highlighted that social science researchers are not just technocrats and they are essentially thinkers with practical insights about different aspects of the society, polity and economy in which they live. It is felt that CMDR can hereafter address itself to this aspect of social science research.
Newer Areas for Research
CMDR should try to choose newer areas of research in social sciences, which are amenable to multi disciplinary approaches to a more significant extent. Thus, merit goods and merit bads, environmental challenges, challenges that the current trends of liberalization, privatization and globalization have thrown up before the micro level decision makers in the society, economy and the polity can be some of the areas for future research initiatives. The issues of history of thoughts in different branches of social sciences might also provide useful insights about the historical backgrounds of the challenges currently faced.
Of course, the precise specifications of such and other issues have to be left to the researchers associated with CMDR.
CMDR’s Capacity Building Programmes: 
a.     Research Methodology Courses
CMDR was known for its very effective research methodology courses conducted quite regularly in the past, thanks to ICSSR and UGC for supporting these courses. One of our former Chairmen used to even suggest that we should have a separate building exclusively meant for conducting research methodology courses on an ongoing basis. Research Methodology courses provide to the faculty a great opportunity for teaching, which normally is not available in research institutions. Academicians always look forward to opportunities for sharing with their peers their views on certain current issues and also on the theoretical aspects of their basic disciplines. In regions where social science research is not so much high on agenda of the educational institutions and where much is desired so far as the rigorous research initiatives are concerned research methodology courses of the type organized by CMDR would play a great role in motivating young post graduates into undertaking serious social science research studies. We have discovered from our fairly extended experience of organizing research methodology courses that there is no dearth for a desire to taking up social science research in the region. Being a research organization of the region we have a tremendous responsibility in promoting the research interests in the region.
b. Capacity Building Programmes for Elected Representatives for Efficient Governance:
CMDR organizes capacity building programmes for the elected representatives from Karnataka for the MLAs and also for Panchayat and Urban Local body representatives regarding say, different aspects of the budget, resource mobilisation  planning process, availability of services to the poor, etc. Such programmes would have their impact on the quality of debates in the panchayat meetings, municipal body meetings and legislative assemblies.
Peer Review of Research Output and Publication of Research Studies:
A generally made observation is that though CMDR has been doing large amount of useful research most of its research output is not visible and is just submitted to the funding agencies only as a part of grant compliance and it is not published in professional refereed journals. This lacuna needs to be seriously filled. Review of research work may be put as the first item on the Agenda in ARPC meetings.
Academic and Research Programmes Committee (ARPC) at CMDR:
ARPC should be made more active with larger and wide based representation and more frequent discussion meetings intended to review the academic and research activities undertaken by the Centre and also for planning new research initiatives. A more vibrant ARPC would also be another way of making CMDR’s work more visible. This purpose was intended to be fulfilled by the quarterly discussion meetings of the then CMDR Colloquium, with the college and university faculty from the region, opinion makers around and university students also, as special invitees for these meetings. Those who have been watching CMDR for years might have felt convinced that with such activities CMDR was emerging as a leader for social science research in North Karnataka.
Action Research:
CMDR should continue to take interest in action research. Such initiatives, wherever possible and feasible, would show the meaningfulness of research taken up by the Centre. It would also help developing micro level perspectives about the issues studied, (since action research undertaken by a research institute like CMDR would be of a small scale and at a micro level), which in turn would help the policy initiatives. CMDR is located in a suburb of Dharwad, called Dr Ambedkar Nagar, which is a place for living for less developed and deprived communities. We have been seriously thinking of adopting this Nagar for holistic development of the deprived and less developed communities.
Regional Focus:  
For obvious reasons CMDR needs to focus its research and developmental initiatives on the challenges of north Karnataka in particular and the state of Karnataka in general. Thanks to the Government of Karnataka for creating an endowment of Rs One Crore, at CMDR in the name of Prof DM Nanjundappa, crusader for removing regional disparities in the state that the Centre has now not only an opportunity but also a mandate for undertaking serious research on regionally relevant issues.

Micro level Data Bank at CMDR for efficient Governance:
CMDR needs to develop Data and Information System initiatives for efficient Governance at decentralized levels. Some of the points worth noting in this connection are :

  • CMDR, which is designated as a National Level Data Bank for Education by ICSSR should continue to compile, process and present in a meaningful way the data and information about different aspects of education on an on-going basis.
  • CMDR has also plans of developing an MLDB- a Micro Level Data Bank, based upon the data it has collected under different research projects over the past three decades on different socio economic variables relating to the households in different districts of Karnataka and also in some of the selected states, where it had conducted empirical studies.  A meticulously conducted analysis of these data over years would provide rich insights about the socio economic change taking place at the household level.
  • The Centre has developed a large scale data base based upon household survey for Hubli Dharwad twin city and this is the first ever large scale socio economic survey for the twin city. Similarly constituency wise socio economic surveys would be directly useful for the decentralized governance and policy making. CMDR’s massive data collection (from as large as nearly 60,000 households) for selected constituencies in the Dharwad Hubli region with a purpose of assisting the elected representatives is worth mentioning in this connection. Such initiatives should be extended also to other constituencies of the state. Since CMDR aims at assisting the decentralized planning process in concrete and practical ways such initiatives for developing meaningful information system at the decentralized levels should be very useful.

CMDR’s International Programmes:
The Centre has been participating in selected international programmes. CMDR is a member of the Asian Network for Training and Innovation in Educational Planning- ANTRIEP- an outfit of UNESCO, Paris.
Some of CMDR’s faculty have participated in SANDEE programme and SANIE programme, and research collaboration with foreign universities. Distinguished professors of foreign universities have agreed to spend some time in CMDR helping the researchers here. Such programmes should continue and efforts should be made to get big research funding from international agencies, initiate faculty exchange programmes, etc.  
Further Development of CMDR Infrastructure:
CMDR needs to now develop its infrastructure further particularly for housing its growing library and faculty offices and also for organizing large scale seminars, etc..
Service Benefits to CMDR faculty and Staff:
In order that qualified faculty are attracted towards a moffusil –semi rural/semi urban centre of Dharwad and to a growing research institute like CMDR it would be necessary to provide suitable benefits and incentives to the persons to be associated with the Centre. Apart from the reservation stipulations being followed by the Centre, the Centre needs to provide other incentives also in this direction. The Governing Council has already taken some initiatives in this direction.

Work Ethos and Discipline:
CMDR has been known right from its inception for seriousness and commitment to the work taken up. The work ethos and work discipline that were exhibited during the early stages of CMDR’s development, were exemplary. The ethos of mutual trust and mutual respect among the faculty, administrative staff and members associated with governance is extremely important in turning out meaningful research output. The Centre is known for this ethos and in the years to come this ethos must be strengthened further with appropriate leadership and conscious efforts on the part of the faculty and the staff. It is necessary to make conscious efforts to strengthen the value base with which CMDR came into existence in North Karnataka. CMDR has now emerged as an active Think Tank of North Karnataka. Dr DM Nanjundappa Committee of Government of Karnataka for Redressal of Regional Disparities in Karnataka had also visualized such a role for a research institution from north Karnataka and CMDR eminently fulfils this vision.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkarnagar, Near Yalakki Shettar Colony, Dharwad-580 004 Karnataka – India      Right to information act
Phone No: +91-0836-2460453 Fax No: +91-0836-2460464
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