The government today performs five overlapping functions in its provisioning and regulation of education in the country— those of the Policy-maker Financier, Regulator, Assessor, and Provider, resulting in the confounding of responsibilities and accountability, and in systemic challenges in achieving desired objectives related to all the roles. The overlapping functions necessitate, at the minimum, a separation of the role of regulation and assessment from all the other roles.
Centre for Civil Society (CCS) hosted the Policy Roundtable on Separation of Roles in Education at the University of Chicago Centre, New Delhi on 20 March 2018. Chaired by Shri Anil Swarup, Secretary, Department of School Education & Literacy, MHRD, the roundtable brought together key stakeholders in education, including prominent educationists, practitioners, investors and policy experts to discuss the need for a systemic reform by separating the government’s role as a policy-maker, provider and regulator of education.
Our participants included Prof. Marmar Mukhopadhyay, Former Director, National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA); Kiran Bhatty, Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research (CPR); Shailaja Chandra, Former Chief Secretary of Delhi, among others.
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This March, in collaboration with the Vedica Scholars Programme for Women, we began a 35-hour intensive program on ‘Introduction to Public Policy’ with a cohort of 70 young leaders. The course elaborates on public policy in India and its linkages with various disciplines of study, such as law, business, economics, and media. The seminar courses are crafted in accordance with international trends in policy training and host a diverse faculty comprising of academicians and practitioners. Ourdistinguished faculty includes Prashant Narang, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi; Smriti Parsheera, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy; Bhuvana Anand, Governance and Public Policy Specialist; Yugank Goyal, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean (Research), Jindal School of Liberal Arts & Humanities. Offered as a part of the formal curriculum in leading universities, our credit courses are designed offer unique insights that bridge academic rigour with policy analysis.
CCS has consistently campaigned for governmental action to repeal redundant and inconsistent laws that promote red tapism and encumber personal, social and economic freedoms. As part of this initiative, in partnership with the Maharashtra National Law University in Mumbai, we launched the Maharashtra Repeal Law Compendium, a rigorously researched repository of obsolete laws in the state of Maharashtra. The event was marked by a panel discussion on good governance and the need for the institutionalisation of a judicial audit. Our eminent speakers included N. J. Jamadar (Principal Secretary, Department of Law & Judiciary, Government of Maharashtra), Bhawani Prasad Panda (Vice Chancellor, MNLU) and Sadashiv S Deshmukh, (Registrar, MNLU).
Spontaneous Order, our digital publication featuring liberal commentaries, conducted its second ‘Spontaneous Dialogue’ this month on ‘Looking Beyond the Binaries of Aadhaar’. This edition of the web-series featured eminent speakers Smriti Parsheera (Researcher, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy), Ronald Abraham (Partner, IDinsight), and chaired by Parth Shah (Founder President, CCS). The discussion between our panelists analyzed the Aadhaar system’s merits and demerits, and explored the policy as a tool for bettering the present mechanism of dissemination of subsidies. The speakers also exchanged views on the larger issue of privacy and the misuse of Aadhaar as a tool of surveillance.
The dialogue series live-streamed on Facebook, aims to offer impartial and factual perspectives aims to offer impartial and factual perspectives on contemporary issues, conveyed in the form of rational deliberations between experts across ideological and academic spectrum.
Through our ‘CCS on Campus’ initiative, we reach out to young students and future leaders across the country by way of policy dialogues conducted by members of our eminent faculty. During the 2-3 hour sessions, we encourage students to contest and debate learned presumptions on contemporary political and socio-economic concerns of the nation. This February and March we successfully engaged 495 students in four cities to explore the foundations of a free, prosperous, and just society.
This February we hosted Christopher Lingle, Visiting Professor of Economics at Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala, who addressed students at Ashoka University, Delhi Metropolitan Education (University in Noida), O. P. Jindal Global University, and Sharda University. Dr Lingle addressed the emerging market economics, challenges in public policy, and development in Asia.
Avinash Chandra, (Editor, Azadi.me) engaged students of media studies from Swami Vivekanand Subharti University (Meerut) and the International Institute for Media and Films (Jaipur) for a discussion on ‘The Law’ by Frédéric Bastiat. The hindi translation of the book was released by CCS in January 2018 to make Bastiat’s pivotal ideas on the excesses of governmental intervention and the inevitable perversion of law accessible to the Hindi readership in India and abroad.
Shantanu Gupta, Political Analyst and Author of 'The Monk Who Became Chief Minister', discussed with 30 Chief Minister Good Governance Associates and Staff at Ashoka University on ‘Education: Voice, Choice and Incentives’. The session focused on understanding the current education landscape in the nation and the challenges it faces. The participants were encouraged to think about creative and effective policy interventions for the same.
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This February we partnered with Christ University, Bangalore, to conduct our flagship certificate course on public policy. We had 35 young leaders participating in interactive sessions included discussions on the ‘Policy Landscape in India’, and ‘Making India Rich’. Engaging group activities were also conducted such as ‘Cand-e-monium’ to experiment the simulation of trade, collective readings to encourage students to understand critical theoretical concepts, and question and contest learned presumptions. Our esteemed faculty for the course included Bhuvana Anand, Governance and Public Policy Expert; Dr J P Narayan, Founder of the Foundation for Democratic Reforms; Viren Shetty, Senior Vice President, Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospital; Prof. M S Sriram, Visiting Faculty, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, among others.
Subsequently, in March we were hosted by the Faculty of Management Studies, New Delhi to conduct the three-day program for 28 participants. Sessions on economic and environmental challenges faced by India and the public policy landscape were conducted by speakers including Mohit Satyanand, Entrepreneur, Investor and Policy Expert; Shreekant Gupta, Adjunct Professor, LKY School of Public Policy (LKYSPP); Apurv Mishra, Visiting Faculty, Ashoka University; and Shantanu Gupta, Political Analyst and Author of 'The Monk Who Became Chief Minister'. The participants were given an insight into the field of policy making through a range of games, interactive activities and Socratic dialogues.
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Celebrating 20 years of CCS, we organised an Alumni Retreat this month with alumni and supporters of CCS from the last two decades. The two-day event packed with interactive activities such as a quiz on eminent Indian Liberals, Yoga session, Musical Musings, Speed Networking, and more. Invigorating discussions on the present policy landscape of India floated through the hours. We also hosted guest speakers Luis Miranda (Chairman, CCS) and Amit Kaushik (CEO, Australian Council for Research (India)) who led a talk on ‘The Road to Liberalisation: Envisioning State in 2025’. The Retreat afforded us the opportunity to reconnect with our alums and envisage the way forward.
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This February, Indian Liberals, our online archive of libertarian thought histories in India, brought together academics, thought leaders and scholars, for a day-long conference on the relevance of the Swatantra Party and the future of liberal politics in India. Hosted in partnership with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, the conference consisted of three gripping panels with eminent speakers such as Vasanthi Srinivasan (author of ‘Gandhi's Conscience Keeper: C. Rajagopalachari and Indian Politics’), Gurcharan Das, (author of ‘India Unbound’), R Jagannathan (Editorial Director, Swarajya), amongst other academics and thought leaders The drew an engaged audience of 350, including young scholars, students , lawyers, academics, journalists, and political commentators.
The day-long conference also marked the launch of 27,000 original and previously unpublished papers of the Swatantra Party that had been procured by Centre for Civil Society, as part of the Indian Liberals project. An exhibition of these papers was curated and the documents were handed over to the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in New Delhi for preservation and to make them accessible for the generations of scholars to come.
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In a big win for bamboo-based livelihoods in India and for us at CCS, President Ram Nath Kovind has cleared an ordinance amending the Indian Forest Act 1927. With the amendment, non-forest bamboo is now classified as ‘grass’ and can be freely produced and transported. This heralds an opening up of markets for communities directly dependent on bamboo-based livelihoods.
The classification of bamboo as a tree had made the resource inaccessible to the economically disadvantaged forest-dwelling and rural communities, and thwarted bamboo-based livelihoods. CCS had consistently campaigned for reforms in bamboo regulations in India since 2009, through its ‘Bamboo is not a Tree’ campaign, presenting regulatory reform recommendations to 13 key central ministries.
While the ordinance presents a major breakthrough in enabling market opportunities for bamboo-based livelihoods, it continues to be marred by the over-lapping and confounding legislations of the newly amended Indian Forest Act and Forest Rights Act (2006). Bamboo grown within forest limits, for instance, remains vulnerable to continuing state control. Following the ordinance and recognising its limits, CCS has stepped up its campaign to advocate for community rights for the sustainable management of bamboos.