The Concept and Practice of Open Prison System in India

Did you know that the open prison in Sanganer, Rajasthan is the largest in the world? And it works! Recidivism rates are low, and the monthly costs of maintaining these prisons are 7 times cheaper than the closed prisons in India. In today’s episode, we are joined by Smita Chakraborty, Founder of PAAR (Prison Aid Action Research), an organisation focused on prison reforms & open prison advocacy. We discuss the concept of open prisons, its public policy implications and how it helps us rethink questions of law, justice & punishment.

What’s up with the Communist Party’s 20th Party Congress?

The leaders of the Chinese Communist Party are all set for their secretive annual conclave at the resort town of Beidaihe on the outskirts of Beijing. The meeting will likely result in key decisions on personnel and policy for the upcoming 20th Party Congress. Will Xi Jinping secure a third term as the Party’s General Secretary at the Congress? Manoj Kewalramani and Megha Pardhi discuss all this and more.

The Pakistani economy is in trouble, yet again

Our neighbor in the North West is yet again in a deep economic crisis. With foreign reserves at a historic low and the rupee losing its value by the day. Pakistan is yet again seeking a loan from the IMF. Will it go down the Bangladesh way? Will the World watch a nation with nukes to collapse?

Links mentioned in the episode:

  1. Why world won’t let Pakistan go the Lanka way by Anupam Manur
  2. Tweet thread mentioned in the episode
  3. Video on Pakistan’s economic crisis

Battery Swapping Policy in India

A battery swapping policy and interoperability standards are being introduced by the Union Government in the 2022–23 Budget Speech, and NITI Aayog has recently put out the draft battery policy. Priyal D’almeida talks to Rohan Pai about the highlights of the policy and what lies ahead when it comes to battery swapping in India.

Suggested readings:

  1. Draft Battery Swapping Policy
  2. How India Can Take a Leaf Out of China’s Playbook on Battery Swapping to Form a Robust EV Ecosystem by Rohan Pai
  3. India’s Battery Swapping Policy: Too much expected from too little? by Lydia Powell, Akhilesh Sati, Vinod Kumar Tomar

Heat waves, droughts and floods: The Climate Emergency

The UK has declared a climate emergency. Europe is seeing unprecedented heatwaves, forest fires and droughts. In this episode, Mahek Nakani and Harshit Kukreja discuss climate change, its effects, who is responsible for this and what can India do to be prepared.

How can an optimist create jobs in Bihar

Bihar’s per capita GDP is at the level of Sub-Saharan Africa and unemployment is double the national average. Sridhar Krishna talks to Dr. Sudhanshu Kumar of the Centre for Economic Policy and Public Finance in Patna seeking solutions to the huge unemployment in Bihar and bridge the gap.

Civic Technology – The use of technology to engage with the Government

In this episode, Sowmya and Ritul are joined by Antara Vasudev (Founder, CIVIS) and Divya Pinge (Senior Associate, CIVIS) in discussing the relationship between state and citizens and its evolution in the wake of CIVIC tech platforms.

They also talk about pre-legislative consultation, precedents of technology-led initiatives in the International arena, the role of CIVIS and the way forward for the Government.

Suggested Reading:

  1. Civis’s blog and report on global civic tech initiatives:
  2. Civis’ platform:
  3. Debadityo’s letter to Environment Minister –
  4. Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy (PLCP) –

Long COVID in children

Children were thought to be less susceptible to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with the emergence of the omicron variant, many children have been infected by this variant. Recent studies have shown the prevalence of long COVID in kids infected by SARS-CoV-2. Priyal D’almeida talks to Arjun Gargeyas about what long COVID is, its symptoms and what can be done.

Can nuclear-powered submarines be hunted down?

For decades, it has been assumed that placing nuclear weapons inside nuclear-powered submarines, also known as SSBNs, is the best way of ensuring the survivability of a countries nuclear arsenal. But can the same be said today, when we have a leap in computer processing and sensor technologies? To discuss this topic, Rohan Pai joins Pranav R Satyanath to talk about the history and future of SSBN survivability.

Implications of a depreciating rupee

This year the Indian Rupee has depreciated almost 7% against the US dollar. On 14th July 2022, it briefly touched the Rs 80 mark against the dollar. Why is the rupee falling against the dollar? What will be the impact on the economy? Is there anything the government can do? Anupam Manur talks to Sarthak Pradhan.

Global Liveability Index: What makes for a good Indian city

In this episode, Ritul Gaur speaks to Varun Kaushik, Architect and Urban Planner about the latest Global Liveability Index 2022 by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

They discuss the causes behind Indian cities’ abysmally poor rankings, the categories it considers and the importance of this index for policymakers.

They also discuss the evolution of Indian cities, imitation from the west and the need for a new model for Indian cities.

Suggested Readings:

  1. Global Livability Index 2022: Bengaluru, ranked 146, scores least among Indian cities
  2. Ease of Living Index 2020: Bengaluru, Shimla adjudged best cities
  3. The Global Liveability Index 2022
  4. Order without Design: How Markets Shape Cities (The MIT Press)

Measuring public policy outcomes

Programme evaluations could improve the effectiveness of public policies and drive more efficient use of public funds. In this episode, Sarthak Pradhan and Ritul Gaur speak to Veenu Singh about the history of programme evaluation in India. They discuss India’s Output-Outcome framework, Monitoring & Evaluation frameworks across the world, the constraints and the way forward.

Here are some links referred to in the podcast –

  1. Outcome Budget for 2022-23
  2. DMEO Newsletter Vikas Patra
  3. Mexico Monitoring and Evaluation System: Scaling up from the Sectoral to the National Level
  4. Monitoring and Evaluation System:The Case of Chile 1990–2014

The Evolution and Influence of Kinetic Kill Vehicles

For decades, scientists and engineers have attempted to intercept incoming missiles through pure kinetic energy. While these efforts have never been fully successful, they have influenced international politics a great deal. In this episode, Aditya Ramanathan and Pranav R Satyanath talk about the evolution of Kinetic Kill Vehicles since the Cold War and how this technology has come to space today’s nuclear arms race.

Suggested readings:

  1. Mutually assured surveillance at risk: Anti-satellite weapons and cold war arms control by Aaron Bateman
  2. Keeping the Technological Edge: The Space Arms Race and Anglo-American Relations in the 1980s by Aaron Bateman
  3. Discussing Orbital Dangers: How States Negotiated in the UN’s OEWG on Reducing Space Threats by Pranav R Satyanath

Solving Bihar’s Unemployment Crisis

The key to improving the employment rate in Bihar lies in capitalising on the industrial and agricultural sectors.

Sudisha Mishra and Srijay Raj discuss the ways in which Bihar can improve its agricultural and industrial output and the role improvement in law and order plays in that.

Suggested readings:

  1. Political Economy of Poverty in Bihar
  2. Bihar chalks out new plans for industrialisation, job creation
  3. Agricultural Diagnostics for Bihar

Insights from Biology: Deep Dive into Learning Biases

Evolution, sociology and psychology have wonderful insights that can be used to understand society and civilization. In this episode, Priyal Lyncia D’almeida and Harshit Kukreja discuss cultural-gene convolution, costly information hypothesis and learning biases.

Suggested Reading:

Why Humans Cooperate: A Cultural and Evolutionary Explanation – book by Joseph Henrich and Natalie Henrich

Geoengineering and Why it Matters

The climate crisis is worsening every day and there’s a need to find some mitigation factors. This is where the field of geoengineering comes in. Priyal D’Almeida discusses with Arjun Gargeyas the pros and cons of geoengineering.

Suggested Readings:

  1. What is geoengineering—and why should you care? by James Temple
  2. Climate change: How India and China can work together on a geoengineering governance framework by Arjun Gargeyas

The Role of Ideology in Xi Jinping’s Policies

What role does ideology play in the policies of Communist states, and how useful is studying and thinking about ideology to understand the actions of China’s leader Xi Jinping? In this episode, Manoj Kewalramani speaks to Joseph Torigian, Asst. Professor at the School of International Service at the American University in Washington DC, about his new paper Xi Jinping and Ideology.

Cleck here to read the paper: Xi Jinping and Ideology by Joseph Torigian