Ep. 713: Omicron: The Harbinger of the third wave?

COVID 19’s latest variant: Omicron, may become the cause of the third wave in India. This could lead to a similar or even greater loss of life than before. In this episode, Harshit Kukreja and Mahek Nankani discuss Omicron, how different it is from Delta, its severity and what can be the possible initial steps for India.

Suggested Readings:

Update on Omicron

Omicron is starting to spread around the world (Article – The Economist)

Ep. 712: Are Cities Still Relevant in the Metaverse Era?

Cities are where jobs are created and have been important to human progress. Can cities redesign themselves to remain relevant in the era of internet-based 3-D virtual environments, like metaverse? In this episode, Mihir Mahajan speaks to Aarushi Kataria and Sridhar Krishna to discuss the rise and decline of cities, and how cities were reinvented to stay relevant.

Suggested Reading:

1. Distance Matters by Olson and Olson

2. Making sense of Bangalore by Glaeser

3. How Life in Cities Will Look After the Coronavirus Pandemic

4. Here’s how rising global risks will change our cities by Franco, Lukacs, and Muggah.

5. How the CoronavirusRecovery Is Changing Cities by Bloomberg CityLab

6. Has the Pandemic Changed Cities Forever? by Sablik

7. The Faltering Escalator of Urban Opportunity by Autor

8. Triumph of the City by Glaeser.

Ep. 711: Dissent on The Personal Data Protection Bill

The Data Protection Bill is supposed to be up for discussion in the winter session of Parliament. Jairam Ramesh, an MP and a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee has made public a dissent note to the committee chairperson. Rohan Seth talks to Sapni G K and Prateek Waghre to discuss.

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Link to the sources mentioned in the episode:

Dissent note

Economic Times report on classifying platforms as publishers

TheQuint article

Ep. 710: What’s Climate Change Got To Do With Your Dinner?

Climate change is likely to result in increased frequency and intensity of extreme events and alter weather patterns in the long run. This, in turn, will impact agriculture and food security. In this episode, Arjun Gargeyas talks to Atish Padhy and Aarthi Ratnam on the potential effects of climate change on food production, diversification of animal husbandry, and the global supply of food products.


Here’s how climate change will affect what you eat

WashingtonPost article on Climate Change and ThanksGiving


How climate change might affect tea

Ep. 709: India’s COVID-19 Risk Communication Plan

Public health incidents around the world have demonstrated that a well-timed and well-executed risk communication plan can help manage circumstances on the ground in a much better way. However, in unusual circumstances like the existing COVID-19 pandemic, implementing effective communication methods is difficult. In this episode, Mahek Nankani and Apurva Kumar talk about the communication successes and failures of the Union government and discuss the significant lessons we have learned for future crisis management.

Suggested Readings:

Risk Communication Initiatives amid COVID-19 in India: Analyzing Message Effectiveness of Videos on National Television

Risk Communication During COVID-19

Community and Risk Communication: Experience of COVID-19 Communication in India

Ep. 708: Talks with the TTP: Peace in sight for Pakistan?

Recently, the government of Pakistan reached a month-long ceasefire agreement with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The deal, mediated by the Afghan Taliban, has revived the hopes of ending the long-running Islamist insurgency in Pakistan. Priyal Lyncia D’almeida talks to Shrey Khanna to get insights on the nature of the talks and the prospects of peace in Pakistan.

Ep. 707: India’s Jobless Growth

India’s economy has grown at 7% on average over the last thirty years, but employment elasticity has been constantly declining from 0.4 to 0.087. This number is significantly lower than the US (0.64) and Northern Europe (0.51). How can India increase employment elasticity? In this episode, Aarushi Kataria and Sridhar Krishna draw on ideas from Takshashila’s 20 Million Jobs project to look for ways India can create new jobs.

Suggested readings:

Education, labour and agriculture reforms will usher in individual freedom by Manish Sabharwal.

Trends and forecasting of employment intensity of growth in India by Puttanaik and Nayak.

The employment elasticity of economic growth by Morén and Wändal.

Ep. 706: Mental Health and India’s Police

Indian police personnel are overworked, under-trained, and under-equipped. Yet they are at the forefront of jobs from traffic duty to pandemic management. This has lead to mental health problems in the force. Ruturaj Gowaikar and Aarthi Ratnam discuss the lack of systemic, institutional psychological support for India’s police personnel. They also dwell on the role of police as first-responders for a mental health emergency.

Ep: 705: Social Networks and Indian Women

Access to social networks could potentially benefit Indian women, but women in India tend to be isolated. In this episode, Suman Joshi, Apurva Kumar and Sarthak Pradhan discuss the barriers women face in creating and accessing social networks. They also reflect on the possible implications of the same.

Here are the papers referred to, in the episode:

Ep. 704: Creating Safety Nets for Gig Workers

Gigs are not new. Hollywood made the transition to gigs from the studio system 70 years ago and the result is not all bad. While the movie industry today does not offer wage stability unlike the studios of the past, it does offer employment today to millions more and the quality of movies made is decidedly superior. Listen to Anupam Manur, Aarushi Kataria and Sridhar Krishna discuss the reasons for growth of the gig economy and ideas around providing a safety net to gig workers.

Reading List:

The Global Gig Economy by Mastercard.

Unlocking the Potential of the Gig Economy in India by Boston Consulting Group and Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

Emerging Employment Patterns of 21st Century India by Bhandari and Dubey.

Gig Economy: Prospects and Challenges by iLearn Cana.

California Threatens $1 Trillion Gig Economy with New Law by Heidi Curter.

Gigs are here to stay, it is time to give them benefits by Alex Rosenblat

Ep. 703: How Piped Water Empowers Women

Piped water allows women, the primary caretakers of a household, more time for labour and leisure, thus improving their bargaining capacity at home and in the labour market. Apurva Kumar and Suman Joshi discuss a new paper examining the impact of piped water on India’s women.

Suggested readings :

Piped water – welfare and empowerment – empirical evidence from a gendered analysis in India by Ashish Kumar Sedai.

With no tap at home, Indian women are wasting their lives transporting water (Article – Quartz India)

Jal Jeevan Mission (website)

Women and Water (Article – India Water Portal)

Ep. 701: Getting Our Feeds In Order

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers in the US has introduced a bill that would require online platforms to let users opt out of having personal data-driven algorithms select the content they see. The move could spell a significant change in how our news feeds are shaped. Rohan Seth talks to Prateek Waghre to discuss the fine print.

Ep. 699: The Unique History of the Early Deccan

The Deccan Plateau is generally believed to have been “conquered” by the Mauryan empire of the Gangetic Plains – but the reality of its early history is far more complex and thought-provoking. Anirudh Kanisetti speaks to Prof. Namita Sugandhi about her excavations at the site of Tekkalakota, Karnataka, to learn about how archaeology challenges not only our understanding of the Deccan in the Iron Age but our ideas about urbanisation and civilisation itself.

Ep. 698: How Sports Shapes Diplomacy

Sports have been used to bolster diplomatic relations between states as well as to make political statements on the international stage. There is also extensive evidence of sports’ involvement in international politics and vice versa. Priyal Lyncia D’Almeida talks to Arjun Gargeyas on instances which have seen an intersection of sports, politics and diplomacy.

Suggested Reading:

A brief history of modern sports and the nation state

Ep. 697: The Geopolitics of International Technical Standards

With a new technological revolution underway, emerging technologies are at the heart of geopolitical competition between States. Standard-setting is one key dimension of this competition. But what does this entail and how should India navigate related challenges? Ameera Rao talks to Arjun Gargeyas about his new report, which recommends action points for Indian policymakers.

Read Arjun’s Report here

Read Arjun’s Op-Ed in the Hindustan Times here

Ep. 696: How India’s Canals Shape its Cities

According to a recent study, towns situated close to canals in India witnessed faster urbanisation and demand for education but not industrialisation. And agriculture still remains the biggest employer in the rural areas near these canals. In this episode, Apurva Kumar and Sarthak Pradhan, discuss the strange ways in which canals have shaped India.

Sources referred in this episode:

  1. The Long-run Development Impacts of Agricultural Productivity Gains: Evidence from Irrigation Canals in India
  2. Canals Created New Towns But Few Non-Farm Jobs: Study

Ep. 695: The EU’s Arctic Strategy and India

Last month, the European Union (EU) came out with a publication detailing its strategy for the Arctic. The focal points of the strategy are the implications of melting permafrost on geopolitical developments, biosecurity, digital connectivity, and a push for sustainable energy for the region. Ruturaj Gowaikar and Aditya Pareek discuss the strategy, its background and the opportunities it may contain for the EU to cooperate with India and Russia in the Arctic region.

Link to sources mentioned in the episode:

  1. Full text of the EU Arctic strategy document
  2. Aditya Pareek and Ruturaj Gowaikar’s Opinion piece in HT
  3. CSIS report on the impact of climate change on Russia’s Arctic ambitions
  4. CGTN/Xinhua article on losses to Russian infrastructure because of permafrost melting

Ep. 694: Can Fortifying Rice Tackle Malnutrition?

India is set to fortify rice distributed through the PDS (Public Distribution System) and mid-day meal programmes to alleviate malnutrition. Will fortification achieve its aims? What will be the unintended consequences of this move? Are there better ways to tackle malnutrition? Shambhavi Naik and Sarthak Pradhan try to unpack some aspects of this issue.

Suggested readings:

1. Don’t chase the mirage of iron-fortified rice

2. New study calls for restraint in ‘unnecessary’ food fortification