Counting COVID’19 deaths in India- The WHO report

A year from the deadly second wave of Covid-19, the WHO has released a report estimating 47.4 lakh excess deaths in India for 2020-21. The government has objected to the estimate, standing by its narrative of 5 lakh Covid deaths. Mihir Mahajan and Suman Joshi discuss the WHO report, how deaths are measured in India, and why it is important to have up to date and accurate data on mortality.

Suggested Readings:

  1. WHO Data
  2. Murad Banaji article discussing objections

The State of abortion policy and access in India

In the United States, there is much ongoing discussion around a leaked draft opinion by the US supreme court that reveals that the landmark Roe V Wade judgment, which protected abortion rights in the country, is likely to be overturned.

This discussion has gone beyond the powers of the judiciary in the US and has been centred around women’s rights and the importance of safe and legal abortions. Such a discussion needs to be global, even in countries where abortion is not as contentious an issue. Such as India, where despite abortion being legal since 1971, the state of women’s reproductive rights is far from ideal.

Priyal Lyncia D’ Almeida, Aarushi Kataria and Atish Padhy discuss the state of abortion access and policy in India.

The episode references the following articles and studies:

  1. A Womb of One’s Own: Privacy and Reproductive Rights
  2. India’s amended abortion law still gives doctors, not women, the final say in terminating pregnancy
  3. The incidence of abortion and unintended pregnancy in India, 2015
  4. National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4)

Sri Lankan Crisis and India’s Challenges

The largely peaceful anti-government protests in Sri Lanka became violent earlier this week after the clashes between the government’s supporters and the protestors. Nine people lost their lives in the resulting violence, including two policemen. After the angry crowd burnt Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ancestral home, he had to resign and is now living in Trincomalee naval base. His brother, President Gotabaya, remains in power, even as the protests continue with the slogans of #GoGotaGo. Priyal Lyncia D’Almeida talks to Shrey Khanna to discuss how the latest events in Sri Lanka impact India and what New Delhi can do for the Sri Lankan democracy.

Ep. 822: Chinese Democracy: Some Guns and Some Roses?

China has tried to define and project itself as a democracy as opposed to the general conception of China as an authoritarian political system. These attempts seem to be not just to highlight China’s democratic system, but also to highlight how different it is from the western conception of democracy. In this episode, Megha Pardhi talks to Dr. Sungmin Cho about China’s attempts to define its own version of democracy.

Dr. Sungmin Cho is a Professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI APCSS) since August 2018. His research interests cover China-Korean Peninsula relations, North Korea’s nuclear program, Korean unification, and the US alliance in East Asia. He also closely follows the domestic politics of China and North Korea.

Cleck here to read Dr. Cho’s paper on Why Non-Democracy Engages with Western Democracy-Promotion Programs.

Check out Megha’s newsletter here – China Tech Dispatch.

Ep. 821: Ukraine War’s Impact on Space

In the ongoing Ukraine conflict, the use of space has played a key role on both sides.

With fears of the conflict extending into space, the status of private companies and their space assets being seen as legitimate targets by belligerents has entered the discourse.

The latest economic sanctions and tech. export controls imposed on Russia have also derailed space cooperation between Russia and many Western countries and private companies. The potential fallout may also usher in delays for India’s space activities and possibly decline for Russia’s own space programme. Aditya Pareek joins Aditya Ramanathan to discuss the future direction of impact on space activities around the world in light of the ongoing hostilities in Ukraine.

Ep. 820: Solving Goa’s Unemployment Crisis

According to Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) the unemployment rate in Goa has increased from 11.6% to 15.5% in the last 3 months, which is higher than the national average. The mining ban and loss of tourist influx over the last two years are the main reasons for these numbers.

Sridhar Krishna and Sudisha Mishra discuss these reasons behind the unemployment rate, what can possibly boost employment in Goa, and how to get tourism to create more jobs in India.

Suggested Readings:

  1. Employment rate has fallen in UP, Uttarakhand, Goa and Punjab since the last polls
  2. Continuous suspension of mining in Goa a threat, says industry
  3. Factories in Goa allowed to have 12-hour working shift

Ep. 819: Informal Matters – Future of Quad in the Indo-Pacific

Since the 2017 relaunch of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), it has been popular in the discourse on Indo-Pacific in India. In this episode, Megha Pardhi talks to Dr Brendon Cannon on various aspects of Quad in the Indo-Pacific and the future of Quad.

Dr. Brendon J. Cannon earned a PhD in Political Science with an emphasis on International Relations at the University of Utah, USA (2009). His research interests include contextualizing domestic, regional and international relations in eastern Africa, regional security in the Gulf and western Indian Ocean region, the political economy of ports, bases and airports, as well as the Indo-Pacific strategy of India, Japan, the US and Australia as well as China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as they relate to and are operationalized in Eastern Africa. He is the author of multiple articles and books on Indo-Pacific.

Click here to read Dr Brendon Cannon and Ash Rossiter’s paper: Locating the Quad: informality, institutional flexibility, and future alignment in the Indo-Pacific.

Ep. 818: The Roe v Wade Debate

The US Supreme Court’s decision to potentially overturn the historic 1973 Roe v. Wade verdict has sparked off discussions on how this might impact abortion rights in the US. Arjun Gargeyas talks to Megha Pardhi and Priyal D’Almeida on the history and context behind the verdict along with future implications of the court’s recent decision.

Ep. 817: Are Health Star Ratings Enough?

The country’s plan to implement a Health Star Rating(HSR) system for packaged food items has been a long due move. The aim is to make customers aware and capable of making informed food choices. However, will HSRs be enough still remains a question. Mahek Nankani and Dr. Harshit Kukreja discuss in detail the Front-Of Pack Labels in India.

Ep. 816: Time to Focus on Inflation Again

With the latest retail inflation figures coming in at 6.95%, the focus should shift to inflation and monetary policy. The RBI is bound by an inflation targeting mechanism, where it is accountable to parliament when inflation is in excess of 6% for three consecutive quarters. Anupam Manur and Mihir Mahajan discuss the evolution of central bank mandates, the inflation targeting mechanism and why the RBI has been let-off easily this time despite inflation breaching the comfort zone.


  1. Deccan Herald report on inflation
  2. Hindi Films adjusted for inflation [cartoons]
  3. Petrol prices [twitter thread by James Wilson]

Ep. 815: NFTs Could Revolutionise Policies

Till now, conversations around web3 have revolved around crypto, but they’re not changing with the influx of NFTs, DAOs, and smart contracts. We are still in the nascent stages of the revolution as it unfolds. NFTs can be a part of land contracts, elections, a new financial system, and everything that is connected to ownership. What could be the implications of accepting this and taking large strides in this space? Aarushi Kataria talks to Aritra Sarkhel (Director, Public Policy and Governance at WazirX) about the implications acceptance of NFTs could have on India’s policies.

Ep. 814: 73 Years of PLA Navy

The naval branch of China’s People’s Liberation Army completed 73 years in service. During these 73 years, PLA Navy went on to be seen as the ‘Assassin’s Mace’ to a key force safeguarding China’s overseas interests. In this episode, Megha Pardhi talks to Suyash Desai about PLA Navy’s journey.

Link to Suyash’s article:

Ep. 813: Why Curtis LeMay Matters

Gen. Curtis LeMay, one of the architects of allied victory in WWII, the Berlin Airlift and the post war US Strategic Air Command, is a figure larger than life. His contribution to techniques synonymous with strategic air campaigns and military operational art are perhaps the most significant developed in the 20th century. Aditya Pareek speaks to author Warren Kozak to explore the complex legacy and wartime actions of Gen. Curtis LeMay.

Warren Kozak is an author, biographer, journalist and a regular essayist on a wide variety of issues for publications like, The Wall Street Journal, The National Review and The New York Sun. He has also lectured at prominent military education institution in the US, the US Air Force Academy and West Point.

Link to Warren Kozak’s book – LeMay: The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay

Ep. 812: Understanding India’s poverty data

Since 2011-12, there has not been any official estimate of poverty in India. Recently two papers (World Bank and International Monetary Fund) estimated the poverty to be around 10.2% and 0.8%, respectively. In this episode, Pranay Kotasthane and Sarthak Pradhan talk about the state of data on India’s poverty levels.

Sources referred to in the podcast:

  1. Poverty in India Has Declined over the Last Decade But Not As Much As Previously Thought – Sutirtha Sinha Roy, Roy van der Weide
  2. Pandemic, Poverty, and Inequality: Evidence from India – Surjit Bhalla ; Karan Bhasin ; Arvind Virmani

Ep. 811: Labour Law Reforms in India

Indian workers, establishments, and trade unions have been demanding labour law reforms for a decade or so. Now that the new labour codes have been passed, the country has witnessed protests and discourse against the same.

Sudisha Mishra sits with labour economist Professor KR Shyam Sundar to discuss how these labour law reforms affect the working class, do establishments benefit, and what we can hope for the future.

Further readings:

  1. The shaky foundation of the labour law reforms
  2. Labour Law Reforms Book NLU Delhi 2021
  3. Are Labour Law Reforms for the Labour?

Ep. 810: Social Movements and Public Policy

The Yellow Vest Movement in France, the Farmers’ Movement in India, the Civil Rights Movement or Marriage Equality in the United States, and the Anti-Sexual Harassment movement in Pakistan have one thing in common: they were social movements that were able to affect public policy change by creating, amending or repealing legislature. Policies are made behind closed doors yet they affect people outside of these doors. One way to affect change is to intervene behind these supposed closed doors. Atish Padhy and Aarushi Kataria discuss the role of social movements in public policy through a case study of the Alliance Against Sexual Harassment (AASHA) which helped bring laws against sexual harrasment in Pakistan.

Ep. 809: Advanced Computing Age and India’s Position

From advanced processing capabilities to solving very complex problems, Computing power has become a key determinant in many advanced computing mechanisms and scientific applications. In this episode, Megha Pardhi talks to Arjun Gargeays about his recent discussion document with Siddharth Bannerjee which outlines a Background of India’s Position in the Advanced Computing Age.

Here is the link to Arjun’s discussion document “A Background to India’s Position in the Advanced Computing Age

Check out Megha’s newsletter here – “China Tech Dispatch

Ep. 808: Sri Lanka’s Default and The Future of Rajapaksa Family

On April 12, Sri Lanka declared the default on all payments on its $51-billion external debt to save precious forex reserves to buy oil and agricultural commodities. The alarming level of food scarcity in the country has mobilized the population to demand the ouster of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa along with his family from the government. How has the situation deteriorated to such an extent? What is the role of the Ukraine War in aggravating economic instability in Sri Lanka? What is the political future of the Rajapaksa family? And What can India do to help ease the situation in the country? Aditya Pareek talks to Shrey Khanna to discuss Sri Lanka’s economic crisis and the future of the Rajapaksa family in Sri Lankan politics.

Ep. 806 – Women in Politics – Some Thoughts

Globally women are underrepresented in politics. It has led to a situation where women’s voices are not heard, and demands are not met. In this episode of All things Policy, Suman Joshi and Sarthak Pradhan discuss the different dimensions of women’s representation in politics.

Some sources referred to in the podcast:

  1. When women’s electoral representation matters
  2. Representation from below: How women’s grassroots party activism promotes equal political participation
  3. Why Don’t Women Vote For Feminist Parties?
  4. Anticipating the Unintended – Pranay’s newsletter