Ep. 666: What Makes Governments Responsive?

A government’s responsiveness to citizen’s preferences is dependent on a host of factors. In this episode, Suman Joshi and Sarthak Pradhan, discuss the dynamics between the three agents – politicians, bureaucrats, and citizens – and look at how these dynamics shape the government’s delivery of goods and services to citizen’s preferences.

Check out the paper referred to in the podcast – https://cpb-us-w2.wpmucdn.com/web.sas.upenn.edu/dist/7/228/files/2021/07/Gov_responsiveness__ARPS_final.pdf

Ep. 665: Regulating Biobanking in India

Biobanks, which are repositories of human biological materials, will shape the future of life science research. This means India needs laws to govern biobanks, that address issues like ethics, data protection, and consent. In this episode, Shambhavi Naik and Priyal D’almeida discuss the importance of biobanking, the regulations currently in place, and what India’s biobanking laws should look like.

Check out our issue brief on the subject: Issue Brief: Biobanking Policies in India.

Click here to know more about our course on “Ethical Reasoning in Public Policy”

Ep. 664: A Lawsuit of Epic proportions

The Apple v Epic Games lawsuit recently culminated in a 185-page judgment that has implications for the future of in-app purchases on the App Store. While the 30% cut that Apple places on developers is going to stay, Apple is now not allowed to prohibit developers from including links, buttons, and calls to action in apps and metadata. Prateek Waghre talks to Sapni GK and Rohan Seth to examine the fine print.

Ep. 663: Younger Generals in the PLA

Over the last three months, Chinese leader Xi Jinping has appointed several new generals in the People’s Liberation Army. The head of the Western Theatre Command, which is responsible for India, has been changed four times in just the past year. Suyash Desai and Aditya Ramanathan discuss what’s driving these changes and what they might mean for India.

Ep. 662: Tibet Before the Dalai Lamas

The Tibetan Plateau is one of Asia’s most important geopolitical regions, and it has shaped the history and culture of the continent in deep and abiding ways. Anirudh Kanisetti speaks to researcher Shivam Bahuguna to understand the intricacies of medieval Tibet.

(Correction: The scholar mentioned by Shivam is Diane Weston, not Diane Watson).

Ep. 661: Is MSP Fulfilling its Purpose?

Minimum Support Prices have been integral to Indian agriculture for decades. Sarthak Pradhan and Suman Joshi discuss the hows and whys of MSPs with Takshashila’s alumni Saurabh Karamchandani and Rakesh Kumar Yadav. The discussion traces the trajectory of the MSP regime from its origins to the multiple market failures it has caused.

This episode is based on Rakesh and Saurabh’s blog post – The Unintended: How the MSP regime induces market failures in India.

Ep. 660: New Cities – More Jobs

India needs to generate more than 20 million jobs every year to provide opportunities to its working population. However, even before the pandemic, it only produced somewhere between a million and 4.3 million jobs a year. One way to generate more jobs could be to build new cities, which need people to build and run them. In this episode, Sridhar Krishna and Aarushi Kataria talk about the origin of cities, how cities help create new jobs, and how new cities can be created.

Suggested readings:

Research by Prof. Raj Chetty (Harvard University) on Mobility and Cities

Cities and Zero Sum Games

How to build a city from scratch: the handy step-by-step DIY guide

How the unfinished city of Lavasa became a nightmare for Indian banks

Book – The New Geography of Jobs by Enrico Moretti

Book – Triumph of the City by Edward Glaeser

Podcast – Need Jobs? Build Cities.- Is Creating Additional State Capitals a Good Idea?

Podcast – India Works At Night

Ep. 659: Russian Interests in Afghanistan

With its chaotic exit from Afghanistan, the US finds itself in the same camp as the British in the early nineteenth century and the Soviets in the late twentieth century. The collapse of the US-backed government and the near-complete takeover by the Taliban has also created a vacuum of great power influence. What role can we expect Russia to play in Afghanistan in the near future? To discuss Moscow’s interests in Afghanistan, Aditya Pareek and Ruturaj Gowaikar speak to Ivan Klyszcz.

Ivan Klyszcz is a Junior Researcher at the University of Tartu in Estonia and Peace Fellow at the Åland Islands Peace Institute in Finland, his research focuses on the North Caucasus and Russia.

Ep. 658: The Climate Threat in the Indian Ocean

The IPCC Report released in early August reveals the potential impact of climate change on the Indian Ocean region. Atish Padhy talks to Arjun Gargeyas about why the report ought to be a wake up call for collective action by states in the Indian Ocean Rim Association.

Suggested readings:

Arjun’s Op-Ed in The Diplomat

Effect of Climate Change on Indian Ocean livelihoods

Ep. 657: The Curious Case of the Havana Syndrome

The Havana Syndrome was recently back in the news when US Vice President Kamala Harris had to postpone her flight to Hanoi due to suspected cases. The illness first came to prominence when CIA officers and State Department officials in Havana first reported experiencing symptoms like nausea, excruciating headaches and potential brain damage in 2016-17. In this episode, Ruturaj Gowaikar and Priyal D’Almeida discuss the suspected causes and possible reasons behind this phenomenon.

India’s Global Outlook Survey

As India plays an increasing role in shaping the course of world events, the future of India’s foreign policy will be marked by tricky trade-offs and tough choices. What are the approaches that you think India should prioritise? Click here to take the survey and let us know your views on India’s foreign policy.

Suggested book: “Havana Syndrome: Mass Psychogenic illness and the real story behind embassy mystery and hysteria” by Robert E. Bartholomew and Robert W. Baloh (Here: https://www.amazon.in/Havana-Syndrome-Psychogenic-Illness-Hysteria/dp/3030407454)

Ep. 656: What makes democracies tick?

In recent times, there have been apprehensions about the future of democracy. In this episode, Apurva and Sarthak talk about the factors and circumstances that might breed support for democracies.

Click here to read the paper referred in the podcast

Suggested readings:

Aisi Taisi Democracy

Pew Research Centre report – Many Across the Globe Are Dissatisfied With How Democracy Is Working

Freedom House report – Freedom in the World 2020 finds established democracies are in decline

Ep. 655: The US Versus Facebook

In a renewed antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has alleged that Facebook used anticompetitive acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp to further its monopoly power. It also alleges that Facebook unfairly blocked rivals from accessing its application programming interface, or API. Rohan Seth talks to Sapni G Krishna and Prateek Waghre about the lawsuit and what it could mean for Facebook.

Link to the paper by Prateek Waghre and Vishal Ramprasad: https://takshashila.org.in/takshashila-working-paper-governance-of-dcns-i-categorisation-of-harms/

Link to a previous episode talking about FTC’s suit against Facebook: https://ivmpodcasts.com/all-things-policy-episode-list/2020/12/16/ep-477-is-the-ftc-suit-against-facebook-fair

Ep. 654: Can India Mediate Between Russia and Japan?

Trilateral engagement between Russia, India and Japan is emerging, with Pacific Russia and the Russian Far East at its centre. However, the agenda in discussions so far has been limited to trade issues. Aditya Pareek and Suyash Desai discuss an approach India could take to further its strategic goals by helping Russia and Japan fix their troubled relationship.

Links to Articles Mentioned in the Episode:

Aditya Pareek’s Opinion piece in Hindustan Times arguing for India to mediate in Russia-Japan relations

Ambassador Krishnan Srinivasan’s article in the Hindu

Aditya Pareek’s Opinion piece in Asia Times discussing the Quasi Fisheries Trade War inflicted by China on Russia

Ep. 653: Pottery for the Gods: The Worship of Ayyanar in Rural Tamil Nadu

Every year, hundreds of clay sculptures of horses, cows, and bulls are dedicated across Tamil Nadu to the god Ayyanar. Anirudh Kanisetti speaks to photographer and filmmaker Julie Wayne about the worship of this deity and what it tells us about local religions and transforming economies in rural Tamil Nadu.

Contact Julie for access to the documentary From Earth to Earth, about the potters involved in the celebrations of Ayyanar: http://juliewayne.net/contact/

Ep. 652: India’s Free Speech Challenge

The first amendment of India’s Constitution allowed the right to freedom of speech and expression to be “reasonably restricted”. This amendment created a distinct space for the judiciary and the legislature to produce an ambiguous stream of interpretations to address the vagueness associated with terminologies such as ‘reasonable’, ‘in the interest of’, ‘public order’, ‘decency’, ‘morality’, ‘incitement’ etc.

Ratika Gaur and Apurva Kumar explore the possible reasons for this ambiguity. They also examine the immediate effects of this ambiguity on the reach and scope of Article 19(1)(a), which lays out the right to free speech. Finally, they consider possible solutions that can be achieved through creative policy interventions.

Ratika is a political scientist who has been researching freedom of speech and expression. She is an Assistant Professor at Miranda House and is also pursuing PGP at Takshashila.

Ep. 651: Financing Upskilling

Jobs that are being created today are increasingly technical and tend to require some degree of specialised skill. Without these skills, even the ‘created’ jobs will remain vacant. It is estimated that over a million jobs are vacant in the Central Government and one of the biggest reasons for these vacancies is a skill shortage.

Aarushi Kataria and Sridhar Krishna propose that the sustainable way to create employment, and fill vacancies is by upskilling people through Career Impact Bonds (CIB).

Suggested reading:

The Career Impact Bond

Ep. 650: Ethical Design Practice for Smartphone Financial Apps

Trading in stocks, funds, cryptocurrency and other financial assets has been made super easy by smartphone-based apps. A dark side to this ease of use is that many users can make trades without understanding the associated risks and can end up losing money. User interaction design of such apps plays a big part in the user experience.

Mihir Mahajan talks to Anirudh Tagat and Saksham Singh to understand these issues and how responsible design practice and a robust regulatory framework can help protect investors while not impeding the investing opportunities enabled by smartphone apps.

Anirudh Tagat is a research author at the Department of Economics, Monk Prayogshala, Mumbai.

Saksham Singh is a researcher with the Centre for Social and Behaviour Change, Ashoka University. He is also a part of India’s Behavioural Insights Unit at the NITI Aayog.

Further Readings:

Anirudh and Saksham’s article in BloombergQuint

Dark Patterns in User Experience

Vivek Kaul in Mint on regulating newer forms of investing

Ep. 649: The Bear’s Space Power

During the Cold War, the USSR was a pioneering space power, and its successor state the Russian Federation has inherited much of its grandeur and capabilities. In the early twenty-first century, the use of space has become vital for economies and militaries. To discuss the various strategic dimensions of Russian space power, Aditya Pareek joins Dmitry Stefanovich, a Research Fellow at the Center for International Security, Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations.

Stefanovich is also an expert with the Russian International Affairs Council and a non-resident Fellow with IFSH Hamburg. He is a leading international expert on global security, strategic stability, nuclear weapons, and the military applications of emerging technologies.

Ep. 648: An Indian 5G Standard?

Arjun Gargeyas, Research Analyst with Takshashila’s High-Tech Geopolitics programme, wrote an article about 5Gi, India’s domestic 5G standard. Using a unique feature called Low Mobility Large Cell (LMLC), which significantly enhances the signal transmission range of a base station for a service provider, 5Gi, attempts to address a crucial challenge to technology accessibility in India.

But do the costs of a local standard in emerging technology outweigh the benefits? Is everyone in the country onboard with 5Gi? What challenges will the already floundering telecom industry in India face if 5Gi is made mandatory?

Atish Padhy talks to Arjun Gargeyas to answer these questions.

Further Readings:

Arjun’s Op-Ed in The Wire

China Standards 2035 Project

The Geopolitics of 5G

Ep. 647: Creating An Epidemic Intelligence Agency

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need to develop the ability to assess biological threats. India has mechanisms in place to monitor some health-related trends and biological events, but there exist several lacunae. A Takshashila Institution discussion document proposes the creation of an Indian National Epidemic Intelligence Service. Ruturaj Gowaikar and Shambhavi Naik discuss the role of such an organisation and how it would work.

Readings: