Unpacking Agnipath: The anatomy of the new recruitment scheme

The Agnipath scheme which aims to reform the way the armed forces recruits new soldiers, has been met with criticism and protests across the country. But what is the problem the policy is trying to solve and why is it so problematic? In this episode, Pranav R Satyanath is joined by Pranay Kotasthane and Lt Gen (ret) Prakash Menon to discuss the fundamental of the Agnipath scheme, the unintended consequences it creates and the alternatives.

The Great Tech Game

How will technology influence geopolitics and geoeconomics in the Information Age? What might be the key drivers for nation-states to succeed in this technological era? Arjun Gargeyas talks to Anirudh Suri, the author of the book ‘The Great Tech Game’ for his insights on how technology will shape the global order in the coming decades.

Suggested reading:

The Promise of Power by Maya Tudor

Democracy in Pakistan: What Went Wrong?

India and Pakistan had striking similarities when they embarked on their different democratic trajectories immediately upon their twin independences. Maya Tudor’s The Promise of Power examines the origins of democracy in India and autocracy in Pakistan. Aarushi Kataria and Shrey Khanna join Atish Padhy to discuss the role of class composition of the independence struggle and how it feeds into the characteristics of the political party.

Suggested reading:

The Promise of Power by Maya Tudor

The role of inequality and economic prospects in political violence

Economic inequality has many negative consequences. But could it also motivate individuals and groups to engage in political violence? A recent research paper titled Poor Prospects—Not Inequality—Motivate Political Violence, in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, claims that it is not static inequalities but the deterioration of an individual’s economic prospects that motivates them to engage in political violence.

Aarushi Kataria and Atish Padhy examine the paper’s claims and theoretical grounding, using other existing literature and approaches in the study of political conflict.

Click here to read the paper

GST council – what lies ahead?

Recently the Supreme Court held that the Goods and Services Tax Council’s suggestions are mere recommendations and have only persuasive value. In this episode, Pranay Kotasthane and Sarthak Pradhan discuss the implications of the judgment. How will it impact the relationship between the union and the states? What will be its implications on the GST structure?

India needs more institutions, not fewer

A popular way to think about strengthening the Indian republic is to ponder on improving its institutions. Sridhar Krishna speaks to Pranay Kotasthane who goes beyond this to talk about the institutions that don’t exist. India is missing many meta-institutions which could truly strengthen our republic and Pranay has lots to say on this subject.

Suggested Readings:

  1. The House that Jack built and other stories from Anticipating the Unintended
  2. Over 4.70 crore cases pending in various courts – Economic Times
  3. Indians have the most trust in societal institutions: Edelman report

Talks with the TTP: Peace in Sight for Pakistan Army?

On June 3, the Pakistani Taliban or Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) announced an indefinite ceasefire on its operations in Pakistan. Negotiated by the body of 50 tribal elders from Pakistan and the Haqqani Network, the ceasefire will allow the Pakistan army and the TTP the time to conclude the peace agreement. The fact that the Army agreed to release a substantial number of TTP prisoners and provided a Presidential Pardon to two key militant commanders shows that the army is serious about negotiating a peace deal with the terrorist group. So, how are the peace talks going on? Whether a negotiated settlement is possible or peace will remain elusive? Priyal Lyncia D’Almeida talks to Shrey Khanna about the ongoing negotiations between the TTP and Pakistan Army.

Lancet Commission Report : Financing Primary Health – Part 2

In low-income and lower-middle income countries such as India financing of Primary Health Care (PHC) is dominated by relatively unregulated private expenditure, most of which is out of pocket. In this episode of All Things Policy, Priyal Lyncia D’almeida and Harshit Kukreja talk about ways to finance PHC, fixed payment, incentives for providers, capitation based financing and reducing Out of Pocket expenditure in the second part of a 2 part series.

Suggested Readings:

1. Our previous episode – Lancet Commission Report : Financing Primary Health – Part 1

2. The Lancet Global Health Commission on financing primary health care: putting people at the centre

Do Tech Sanctions Actually Work?

The Russian invasion of Ukraine resulted in the concept of technology sanctions especially with regard to the unilateral response of big tech companies to conducting business with Russia. Priyal D’Almeida talks to Arjun Gargeyas on the implications of tech sanctions and whether they can act as deterrence or punitive actions against a robust tech economy like China.

Read Arjun’s op-eds on this topic, here:

  1. West’s Russia Model Won’t Work with China: Why Tech Sanctions Alone Cannot Deter Dragon
  2. The effect of tech sanctions on the Russian economy

Why aren’t Indians looking for jobs?

The CMIE has estimated in April of 2022 that around 900 million Indians have voluntarily exited the workforce because they do not want to look for jobs.

Sudisha Mishra and Aarushi Kataria discuss the reasons why this might be happening, the idea of ‘discouraged workers’, and the steps that can be taken to alleviate this including data collection, employer policies, and skill development.

Further readings

Low Wages, Precarious Jobs: Why Millions of Indians Aren’t Even Looking for Work

Millions of Indians exiting labour force no longer looking for jobs: CMIE

Denied & discouraged: Why youths not looking for jobs can be a crisis for India

Online Fantasy Sports are booming in India. But for how long?

Last week, reports emerged that the Union government has set up an inter-ministerial panel to regulate online gaming. This is a good thing. Online gaming is a popular emerging sector with great economic potential that has thus far been hamstrung by regulatory uncertainty.

In this episode, Aarushi Kataria and Atish Padhy talk about one specific sector within the broader online gaming industry: Online Fantasy Sports (OFS). They discuss the opportunities, challenges and the road ahead for OFS platforms.

The episode quotes from the following documents:

  1. Fantasy Sports: Creating a virtuous cycle of sports development
  2. Fantasy Sports Industry Has Got an IPL Boost but It Needs a Coherent Policy Going Forward
  3. Guiding principles for the uniform national-level regulation of online fantasy sports platforms in India – Niti Aayog draft

Talking Space Security in the OEWG

The first meeting of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) on reducing space threats was held between 9th and 23rd May. The group deliberated long-running issues concerning the threats to Outer Space such as anti-satellite weapons, dual-use technologies and space debris. Aditya Ramanathan and Pranav R Satyanath unpack these issues and understand the core tenets of the OEWG discussion.

Lancet Commission Report: Financing Primary Health – Part 1

1 rupee spent on mother and child health gives 11 rupees worth of health and economic benefit. In this episode, Priyal Lyncia D’almeida and Harshit Kukreja discuss these statistics, primary healthcare, paying for primary healthcare and achieving Universal Health care. Part 1 of a 2 part series.

Additional Reading:

The Lancet Global Health Commission on financing primary health care: putting people at the centre

The Return To Office Debate

Over two years after the pandemic began and changed the geography of work to one’s home, we are now seeing the rise of Workspace 2.0. Boardrooms are debating what should be the organization’s Return to Office policy, especially in light of what the world, their competitors, customers, and employees want. Aarushi Kataria speaks to Priti Kataria (CHRO, iCORE, Wipro) about the Return to Office debate in organizations, the role of policymakers, and the impact on employees.

Suggested Readings:

Future of Work by Pwc.

Indo Pacific Economic Framework

The Quad leaders launched Indo Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) at the recently held Quad summit in Tokyo. In this episode, Megha Pardhi and Manoj Kewalramani discuss various aspects of IPEF.

The Primacy of Trade Policies in Building Semiconductor Ecosystems

What role has trade policies and technology transfer agreements historically played in ensuring the growth of the global semiconductor industry? Priyal D’Almeida talks to Arjun Gargeyas on his recent paper with Pranay Kotasthane on how trade policies can be harnessed by India to improve its existing ecosystem.

Click here to view the paper: Harnessing trade policy to build India’s semiconductor industry

Quad Summit and Future of the Indo-Pacific

On May 24, the fourth Quad Leaders’ Summit and the second in-person meeting were held in Tokyo. The joint declaration issued after the meeting by the leaders of Australia, India, Japan, and the US sought to renew the “steadfast commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific that is inclusive and resilient.” Building upon the in-person summit of September 2021 and virtual meeting of March 2022, the leaders of the four countries asserted that the “Quad is a force for good, committed to bringing tangible benefits to the region.” While China was not mentioned by name, much of the Quad’s agenda reflected the fact that it was the challenges emanating from China’s increased assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific that have put an increased emphasis on the grouping since 2017. Megha Pardhi talks to Shrey Khanna to discuss the recent Quad summit and the future of the Indo-Pacific.

NFHS-5: India’s declining fertility rate

The fifth round of National Family Health Survey has shown that most of the Indian states have seen a decrease in the Total Fertility Rate. This decline indicates that the country’s population might be stabilizing. Rohan Pai talks to Priyal D’almeida about the declining fertility rate and the reasons for the same.

Do we need to improve Government Healthcare usage?

Only half of India’s population is utilizing Government healthcare. Although this number has increased but still remains low. Should we aim to improve this? How can we improve this? Is there any other way? In this episode, Mahek Nankani and Harshit Kukreja discuss all this and much more.

Suggested Readings:

  1. National Family Health Survey (NFHS – 5), 2019–21
  2. NFHS-5: Half of households don’t seek govt health care