This August we organised our third Law and Liberty Conference(LCC) in partnership with Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics (GIPE), and the Federalist Society, on 19-20th August in Pune.
The LLC conferences aim to provide a platform for liberal perspectives on legal concerns, develop a liberal critique of the extant juridical discourse and to build a network of legal practitioners, scholars and students to promote the cause of liberty. This year's LLC addressed the theme of 'Legal Foundations of a Free Society, with a focus on competition law and its key role in shaping economic freedoms.
On the first day of the conference, we conducted a one-day policy and economics workshop Engaging 53 participants, the workshop was followed by two panel discussions, on 'Competition Law and Intellectual Property Rights' with Dr Geeta Gouri, former Member of the Competition Commission of India (CCI); Sajid Shaikh, Assistant Professor (Law) and Assistant Registrar (Academic), Mumbai National Law University; Dr. Ashish Kulkarni, Professor, GIPE and on 'Society in the Internet age: Balancing Security vis-a-vis Privacy Rights', with Mr. Nikhil Pahwa Founder and Editor, MediaNama; Mr. Murali Neelakantan, Principal, Amicus and Mr. Prashant Narang, Associate Director-Research,CCS.
The panels were followed by the Keynote Address by Dr. Shruti Rajagopalan, Associate Professor of Economics, State University of New York on an economic analysis of the right to trade (Article 19).
On 10th August we conducted our monthly dialogue with journalists at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts(IGNCA), New Delhi. The dialogue addressed the 'ease of doing business for farmers', attended by 18 journalists representing prominent media houses including NDTV, Zee News and All India Radio, among others. The discussion was led by Barun Mitra, Founder and Director of the Liberty Institute; Nimish Adhia, Assistant Professor-Economics, Manhattanville College, New York and Kumar Anand, Director - Advocacy,CCS . The discussion addressed the question of Herbicide Tolerant BT(HTBT) seeds and the debate surrounding their ban in India, despite their usage and contributions to increasing agricultural productivity in other countries.
This August, iJustice, CCS's legal advocacy initiative secured a big win for street vendors in Delhi. Vendors across Delhi are challaned by MCD officials every month and magistrates impose heavy penalties, ranging anywhere from Rs 1000-3000, that exceed the legally specified limits in the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act 1957. In the absence of legal awareness or aid, and with little power to resist and legally contest such arbitrary penalties, the vendors are often forced to pay these ad-hoc challans unwillingly.
Such is the story of Samjad, Amjad and Kameshwaram, vendors from Gautam Nagar in New Delhi.. These vendors were arbitrarily fined a sum of Rs 1000 by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation under section 357 (for the accumulation of filth/rubbish) and section 397 (nuisance) of Delhi Municipal Corporation Act 1957. Wanting to contest the fine, the vendors approached iJustice.However, unfortunately, the Magistrate refused to acknowledge any plea or show the order imposing the fine.
After much contestation, Advocate Prashant Narang filed an appeal before the Additional Session Judge (ASJ), Saket Court, challenging the judgement. In a win for the vendors and us, after the ASJ directed the Municipal Magistrate to decide afresh, the Magistrate declared the challan invalid and annulled the penalty.
We have been successfully campaigning for the effective implementation of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, through Jeevika, our 'Law, Liberty and Livelihood' campaign. We have also published two comprehensive reports on the status of the implementation of the Act across the country.
Kahaan hai street vendors ki azaadi?
To know more about the Samjad V. SMDC case, or our work for the rights and recognition of street vendors, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This August 15th, we completed 22 years of advancing social change through policy!
It's been an exciting year for us, as we launched the Indian School of Public Policy (ISPP) - the next frontier to training young leaders in liberal perspectives to public policy, our most ambitious project thus far!
Chaired by Vijay Kelkar, Former Finance Secretary, ISPP offers a one-year, full-time, Master's- equivalent residential course in Policy, Design, and Management. The academic program was initiated on 5th August, with our founding cohort of 58 Policy Scholars. We hope that they will contribute to genuine freedom and dignity of all the people of India!
This August, Baithak, our monthly conversations in policy turned one! The Baithak has been conceptualised as a platform for CCS alumni, young students and professionals to engage in debate and discussion on contemporary policy concerns.. Engaging 23 participants, in August, Shruti Rajagopalan, Associate Professor of Economics, State University of New York, spoke about India’s State Capacity. She discussed the enduring challenge of India’s weak state capacity, manpower, and institutional design, resulting in regulations being either unenforced, or selectively and perniciously enforced.
Missed this Baithak? Watch it here.
This July, we completed the 19th edition of our annual summer internship program, the Researching Reality Internship. Each year, the research internship engages college and university students in critical learning, primary research and policy analysis, leading to a publication of original research papers addressing key governance concerns and policy frameworks.
This edition saw our cohort of 14 young learners researching K-12 governance in India, with a focus on the unease of opening non-governmental schools, enduring administrative prejudices against non-governmental providers and the scope of parental choice and the lack thereof in education in India.
Under the guidance of Research Advisor Bhuvana Anand, the interns delved deeper into understanding the challenges within the Indian education system through quantitative and qualitative research, data analysis, and critical thinking. Our flagship introductory course in public policy - ipolicy, was also conducted for the interns with interactive games, simulations, debates and introduction to fundamental policy concerns including the principles of sound policy-making, rule of law, stakeholder mapping in education, spontaneous order and pricing, RTE Act analysis, among others.
The interns also underwent dedicated sessions on 'How to Talk to Babus and Netas' by Shantanu Gupta, Author and Policy Analyst, and on 'Principles of Research' by Ajay Shah, Professor, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.
Politics of Development (PoD) is a three-day residential course that explores the intersection of politics and policy and their implications for the nation's development. Offered in partnership with the GD Goenka University this July, the certificate course drew a participation from 40 young leaders.
The course encouraged participants to understand India's developmental challenges and the role of effective policy in addressing them. Dedicated sessions on education policy, the state of India's agriculture and a reform agenda for the for Modi 2.0 among others, were discussed by our expert faculty including, Amit Kaushik, CEO, Australian Council for Educational Research; Swaminathan Aiyar, Senior Journalist and Columnist; and Barun Mitra, Founder and Director, Liberty Institute, among others.
We conducted our advanced four day residential program, Liberty and Society Seminar, in Goa from 11 to 14 July. Engaging CCS alumni, the seminar provided participants with a greater understanding of the larger world within a liberal framework, emphasising limited government, individual rights, free trade, and competitive markets.
Attended by 24 alumni, the seminar engaged the participants in vital issues of public policy through thematic sessions on free speech, the job crisis in India, making a case for a liberal trade and agricultural policies and reform agenda for Modi 2.0 among others. The seminar also discussed the foundations of liberalism land liberalism in India, highlighting Indian voices and practises that have influenced our culture. Our esteemed faculty included, Bhuvana Anand, Director - Research, Centre for Civil Society; Parth Shah, President, Centre for Civil Society; Anupam Manur, Assistant Professor,The Takshashila Institution; Jerry Johnson, Writer; Neeraj Kaushal, Economist and Writer and Swaminathan Aiyar, Journalist and columnist.
The Indian School of Public Policy (ISPP) organised a workshop on 'Hard Evidence for Tough Decisions: Evaluation in Development Policy' conducted by Dr. Emmanuel Jimenezon, Executive Director, The International Initiative on Impact Evaluation on 13 July, 2019.
Engaging with 40 enthusiastic learners, Dr. Jimenezon explained the various tools used in impact evaluation, including randomised control trials, regression discontinuity, the differences in differences approach, and instrumental variables. Drawing on case studies of interventions in India – environmental auditing in Gujarat, of corruption in MNREGA in Bihar and of school education in Haryana, he demonstrated the role of impact evaluation in leading policymakers to better understand policy and developmental outcomes.