Date: 13th February 2019
Venue: IIT Madras
On 13th February we conducted Baithak, our monthly policy dialogue at IIT Madras. Dr Parth Shah, President, Centre for Civil Society, facilitated the discussion addressing India's job crisis, equating it to an enduring 'entrepreneurship crisis'. Dr Shah also highlighted the role of poor quality of schooling and higher education, and the un-ease of doing business in India, in exacerbating the country's job crisis.
Drawing on CCS' on-going work for the rights and recognition of street vendors, the discussion explored various policy roadblocks thwarting entrepreneurship. For instance, street vendors carry out their trade in public spaces, but since they do not exercise any rights over the land that they carry out their trade in, it makes it difficult for them to expand their businesses'. This lack of property rights for street vendors is symptomatic of the larger roadblock in ease of doing business in India.
To know more about the status of street vendors in India, read our Progress Report: Implementing The Street Vendors Act 2014 here.
Date: 24th February 2019
Venue: Lodhi Gardens, New Delhi
We hosted our annual alumni brunch at Lodhi Gardens, New Delhi on 24th February. 13 alumni participated in the brunch, sharing and learning, with a vibrant discussion on contemporary affairs, the possibilities of liberalism in India and their own trajectories furthering the ideas of freedom.
The brunch is an initiative to stay connected with our liberal champions, the graduates of the various public policy courses organised by CCS over the years. In this informal meet, the graduates discussed their work and interests and how they align with CCS. The alumni were also informed about the new and upcoming programs being launched by CCS, which is in the constant pursuit of spreading liberal ideas by customising our courses to the needs and requirements of different audiences.
Event: Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) National Workshop
Date: 18th January 2019
The workshop, organised by the Deendayal Antyoyadaya-National Urban Livelihood Mission (DAY-NULM) component of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs was a platform to bring relevant state authorities together and to acquaint them with the status of implementation of the Street Vendors Act 2014 in their respective states as per the findings of our Street Vendors Act compliance Index 2018. It was chaired by the Mr Sanjay Kumar, the Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. The State Mission Directors of the 'Support to Urban Street Vendors' group operating under DAY-NULM were present along with delegates from each state.
We presented the findings from our research of compliance of states with the Street Vendors (Protection of Rights and Regulation of Livelihood) Act, 2014. The data received from NULM was used to calculate an index and rank states according to their compliance status for our annual research publication Street Vendors Act Compliance (SVAC) Index which covered 28 states and 2 union territories. Mr Kumar shared his inputs regarding the research methodology and the current status of implementation of the Street Vendors Act across the states.
Our first edition of the Street Vendors Act Compliance Index Report was published in 2017, ranking 23 states on their compliance with the Act. The full report can be found here.
Date: 10th January 2019
A delegation representing the National Independent Schools Alliance (NISA) met Shri Arun Jaitley, Union Finance Minister to urge the government to release the reimbursements committed under Section 12 (1) (C) of the Right to Education Act to enable schools to ensure continued learning for students from economically weaker and disadvantaged communities. They also contested the low bar for tax exemption, set at 1 crore for "Not for profit" education societies since it makes the functioning of the budget private schools unviable.
Shri Kulbhushan Sharma, President, NISA; supported by Members of Parliament Shri B Vinod Kumar, Kareemnagar Constituency, Telangana; and Shri Jitender, MP, Andhra Pradesh presented the concerns and enduring challenges faced by private school owners, particularly those of budget private schools that remain dependent on timely reimbursements.
Date: 28th January 2019
We met with Dr Alka Bhargava, Director, National Bamboo Mission and Joint Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, on 28th January to understand the enduring gaps in the regulation of bamboo cultivation and trade in India and the impact of the recent 2017 amendment to the Forest Rights Act that declared bamboo to be a grass, not a tree. Dr Bhargava highlighted the immense potential of the sector to transform livelihood opportunities for forest-dwelling marginalised communities and the lack of awareness among both, cultivators and investors as the fundamental factor deterring investments in the sector.
The 2017 amendment has been a big win for our ongoing efforts to free up the regulatory regime for furthering bamboo-based livelihoods in the country. Through our 'Bamboo is not a Tree' campaign, we had advocated for a change in the classification of bamboo from a 'tree' to a 'grass' recognising that the classification of bamboo as a tree had made the resource inaccessible. We have also published a comprehensive study on the state of bamboo regulation in India. Through our continuing advocacy efforts, we seek to showcase human interest stories of change and improved livelihoods made possible by the amendment.
Read more about our work for easing regulatory barriers to bamboo-based livelihoods here.
Date: 26 - 27 January 2019
Venue: YWCA, International Guest House, Delhi
To mark this Republic Day, we conducted our first two-day certificate course in Law and Public Policy from 26-27 January in New Delhi. With 40 young learners, the course explored the various ways in which the Indian constitution continues to be the fundamental determinant of government policy and its implications on our policy successes and failures.
The course offered dedicated sessions exploring policy implications of the rule of law, the right to property as delineated in the Indian Constitution, the right to business, trade and profession and constitutional change and the pursuit of public interest. Our session facilitators included policy experts, practitioners and analysts including Prashant Narang, Advocate, Supreme Court of India; Bhuvana Anand, Governance and Public Policy Specialist; and Barun Mitra, Founder, Liberty Institute, among others.
We also conducted the ipolicy, our flagship introductory certificate course in public policy in partnership with four leading institutes of higher education: Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (Mumbai); Symbiosis School of Economics, Pune and Madras School Of Social Work (MSSW), Chennai. 119 young leaders graduated from our courses.
On 10th January, the Indian School of Public Policy (ISPP) hosted its first roundtable with industry experts to discuss market needs and understand their expectations from policy professionals. Steered by Dr Shubhashis Gangopadhyay, Dean, ISPP, the dialogue brought together 10 representatives from the school's industry partners to dialogue on curricular framework and contents, and understand industry requirements, recommendations and concerns. Our participants included representatives from Ernst & Young (EY), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Uber, Procter & Gamble (P&G), GMR Group, Deloitte, Juul India, Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, and Quicksand, along with senior bureaucrats and government officials.
The feedback and recommendations from the partners will be incorporated into the curricular design of ISPP to deliver skills that meet industry requirements.
Know more about the Indian School of Public Policy and meet our faculty and leaders here.
Date: 20th January 2019
Venue: Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR), Mumbai
We hosted a Colloquium on 'Limits of Democracy' on 20th January at Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR), Mumbai with 23 participants including industry leaders, policy experts, researchers and academics. The colloquium served as a platform to understand the limits and possibilities of Indian democracy, primarily in terms of the productive and protective roles of the state. The day-long colloquium also deliberated on the need for constitutional reforms, Indian electoral politics and the possibilities of minimising the state for maximum governance.
Our participants included Rajesh Jain, Founder & Managing Director of Netcore Solutions; Shagata Mukherjee, Professor, Meghnad Desai Academy of Economics; Parth Shah, President, Centre for Civil Society; and Makarand Bakore, Lawyer, Bombay High Court among others.
Date: 14 December 2018
Venue: Silver Oak, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
We hosted the 10th edition of the School Choice National Conference - our flagship, annual conference on education policy, on 14 December at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi. Addressing the theme of 'Alternative Education: Philosophy, Practice, Policy', the conference drew participation from over 200 people, including policy experts and policy-makers, educationists, practitioners, civil society leaders, researchers, journalists and students.
The conference had 3 dedicated panels exploring the philosophy, practice and policy of alternative education in India. Our eminent speakers and panellists consisted of leading policymakers, researchers, academics and education practitioners such as Anil Swarup, Former Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, Government of India; Padma Shri Geeta Dharmarajan, Founder, Katha; Chandra Bhushan Sharma, Chairman, National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS); and Gitanjali JB, Co-founder, Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh (HIAL) among others.
The keynote address was delivered by Dr Sugata Mitra renowned for his 'Hole in the Wall' experiment and winner of TED Prize 2013. The inaugural panel on 'Philosophy: Education beyond conventional classrooms', explored the philosophical/pedagogical foundations of alternative education in the country, deliberating whether the shift from conventional to alternative schooling today is a response to the established failure of mainstream schooling in engendering competence and critical thinking among students. The second-panel 'Practice: Experiments in alternative education', explored efforts to redefine conventional schooling practices both within the framework of established learning sites and outside of it. Drawing from a rich tradition of alternative educational practices in India, the session was a conversation with practitioners in the space to examine the success, challenges, scope of experiments to address some of the key challenges in the education sector in India today.
Highlighting the critique of the pro-government, non-inclusionary policies, the final panel 'Policy: Examining regulatory frameworks' debated the policy framework for alternative education in India, heard perspectives of education experts and explored the involvement of civil society in creating and shaping opinions that govern the thriving model of alternative education in the country.
The conference concluded with the valedictory address delivered by Padma Shri Geeta Dharmarajan who highlighted the need for flexible education policies to help alternative education thrive and flourish.
The conference received significant media coverage with 23 citations in leading print and online publications like Times Now, India Today and Business Standard.
See snapshots from the conference here.