Jessica's trojan mice*: where are they now?
*“Trojan Mouse” is a term coined by Dr. Santhosh Mathew of the Government of India. In a Center for Global Development Forum, he described working for the Indian Government after getting his PhD in Development Studies as a kind of lying in wait. He describes a tiny mouse with very little power working in a large organization, “knawing away at the cheese bit by bit.” Dr. Mathew knew that JPAL had done some very informative RCTs on reducing corruption in government programs, but hadn’t yet found the right policy maker to scale up the findings. After lying in wait for more than 3 years, finally the right Secretary asked for a new idea and Dr. Mathew sprang out with great ones. As a Trojan Mouse, Dr. Mathew helped to reduce corruption in NREGA (one of the largest social safety net programs in the world), applied the same principles to all transfer programs in India (saving the Indian government US$15 billion), and convinced the government to demonetize. I told my students that I think of them as my Trojan Mice, and that one day, I hoped one of them would help to change the world for the better too.