Ep. 623: Bangladesh – The New Miracle Economy?

Bangladesh’s per capita GDP has been on a rise as it emerges as the garment factory of the world. Has Bangladesh defied the received wisdom that countries outside East-Asia and Europe can’t have an export-led growth? Sarthak Pradhan and Apurva Kumar discuss the new miracle economy of Bangladesh and the factors that contributed to its growth story.

Further readings:
Noah Smith on Bangladesh’s industrial policy
ADB’s report on Bangladesh’s export-led growth
Arvind Subramanian on Bangladesh miracle
Kaushik Basu on Bangladesh’s economic growth

Ep. 622: Tackling Mis/Disinformation on Vaccines

Only around 6% of Indians have been fully vaccinated. While there are supply-side constraints, demand-side bottlenecks such as vaccine hesitancy are a challenge. With a new virus variant hitting several countries, vaccine hesitancy in a vast country like India can reverse the gains made in the past few months. One of the factors that are driving vaccine hesitancy is incorrect information about the efficacy of vaccines and its side effects.

Kamesh Shekar and Apurva Kumar discuss how mis/disinformation leads to vaccine hesitancy and what steps can be taken to address the problem.Kamesh is a technology & policy researcher. He is currently pursuing his PGP in Public Policy at Takshashila Institution. His research interests are data protection, intermediary liability, issue of mis/disinformation on social media, AI in media, etc. You can read his work here- https://kameshsshekar.in/writing/

Further readings:

Ep. 621: How Social Media is Reshaping Politics

Over the last 10 years, the optimism surrounding social media platforms has given way to skepticism and concerns about their impact on democracy. In this episode, Nitansha Bansal and Prateek Waghre discuss some of the defining characteristics of social media and digital communication networks, and how they can affect strong or weak, liberal or authoritarian regimes.

Further readings:

Technopolitik #4

The Political Effects of Social Media Platforms on Different Regime Types

MisDisMal-Information Newsletter 

Ep. 620: China’s New Missile Silos

China has reportedly begun the construction of more than 100 new silos for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in a desert near the northwest city of Yumen. Pranav Satyanath and Suyash Desai join Aditya Ramanathan to discuss what this development means for China’s evolving nuclear strategy, and the US-China and Sino-Indian nuclear dyads.

Pranav Satyanath is a researcher and foreign policy analyst focusing on arms control, nuclear strategy and space policy issues.

Ep. 619: The Queens of Medieval Kashmir

Royal men and their conquests dominate our imagination of medieval India – but they are merely one part of an enormously diverse and complex group of societies. Medieval Kashmir offers fascinating examples of how women could rise to power and rule as successfully as any man. From women’s erasure in history-writing to the legacy of the queens of medieval Kashmir, academic and author Dr Devika Rangachari joins Anirudh Kanisetii for a fascinating discussion on women in the making of Indian history.

You can buy From Obscurity to Light here: https://www.amazon.in/gp/product/B085RB5BRR/
You can buy Queen of Ice here: https://www.amazon.in/Queen-Ice-Devika-Rangachari/dp/9383331186/

Ep. 618: How Indians Shaped their Constitution

The Constitution of India forms the basis of the republic and influences all aspects of our lives. But is it really that powerful? Suman Joshi and Apurva Kumar talk about the role common citizens played in building constitutional values through the years.
This discussion is premised on Rohit De’s book, A People’s Constitution, in which the author challenges the notion that the constitution was a document created by the elites and for the elites.

Further readings:
What is constitutional morality? By Pratap Bhanu Mehta
Rohit De – Law and Life in India
Two cases from the book, Hanif Quereshi vs state of Bihar and Pesikaka vs state of Bombay

Ep. 617: Cracking Down on Didi

The Chinese state is cracking down on the ‘barbaric growth’ of its tech companies. Twenty-five apps from Chinese tech giant Didi were removed from Chinese app stores last week. Rohan Seth talks to Manoj Kewalramani to understand what’s driving this dramatic move by China’s authorities.

Link to Manoj’s book:
https://www.amazon.in/Smokeless-War-Chinas-Geopolitical-Dominance/dp/9354350941/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=smokeless+war&qid=1626099778&sr=8-1

Ep. 616: India, the Moon and the Artemis Accords

Humans have always been fascinated by the Moon, but have never managed to agree on a common set of rules governing our activities on the lunar surface. As outer space becomes increasingly commercialized, competitive, and contested, the US is pushing for the Artemis Accords, a series of bilateral agreements, meant to lay down rules for lunar activity. While Russia and China have publicly expressed their skepticism, India is yet to take a stand on signing the Accords.

Nitansha Bansal, Aditya Ramanathan and Aditya Pareek discuss the advantages and drawbacks of the Accords and examine the choices that lie ahead for India.

Ep. 615: Theatre Commands: Are they Necessary?

India has ambitious plans for setting up theatre commands for its armed forces. These are expected to facilitate better planning and unified military response to any future contingency. But, are these theatre commands really necessary?
In this episode, Nitin Pai discusses this with three former decorated officers from India’s armed forces, Lt. General Prakash Menon, Vice Admiral Anil Chopra, and Air Marshal Anil Chopra.

Ep. 614: The Syncretic Rituals of South Indian Catholics

Christianity in India is as diverse and complicated as anything else in the subcontinent. Though the story of the Portuguese and the Goan Inquisition might dominate airwaves today, the history of Catholicism in Tamil Nadu offers fascinating examples of local Indian beliefs evolving in continuity with the veneration of Catholic saints. Anirudh Kanisetti speaks to independent researcher Vivek Joseph to learn about the peoples and practices involved in these connected dynamics.

Ep. 612: The Constitution & India’s Democracy

How does the Constitution of India codify democratic principles? Why does it see an overarching role for a centralized state? How does it address the issue of representation? In this episode, Apurva Kumar and Sarthak Pradhan discuss the motivations and intentions of the framers of India’s constitution.
This episode is based on the book – India’s Founding Moment: The Constitution of a Most Surprising Democracy by Madhav Khosla (https://www.amazon.in/Indias-Founding-Moment-Constitution-Surprising/dp/0674247981)

Ep. 611: Fortress Russia

On 23 June, news emerged that Russian forces had fired warning shots and dropped bombs in the path of Royal Navy’s HMS Defender. Russia alleged the British warship was intruding in its territorial waters in the black sea. However, the UK has denied this and downplayed the incident. Dr. Andrey Gubin joins Aditya Pareek to discuss the event and some broader themes in Russia’s military affairs and international relations.
Dr. Gubin is currently an Associate Professor at the Oriental Studies Institute, Far Eastern Federal University (Vladivostok, Russia). He is an expert on Russian foreign policy towards Asia-Pacific, regional conflicts, and International Military cooperation.

Link to Dr. Gubin’s article – https://valdaiclub.com/a/highlights/were-shots-fired-similarities-and-differences/

Ep. 610: To DARPA, or not to DARPA

US’ Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency(DARPA) is the progenitor of many technologies which are synonymous to modern life today. Several countries including India strive to duplicate DARPA and its success in their own respective defence R&D ecosystem. None have been successful due to various policy, funding and structural reasons. Aditya Pareek joins Pranay Kotasthane to discuss the various issues around the Indian defence R&D space and what we can learn from the DARPA model.

Link to the Resources mentioned in this episode:

  1. The case for nurturing military scientists in the Indian Army by Lt. Col. Vivek Gopal
  2. Study of the US DARPA Model and its Applicability to the Indian Defence Research and Development System by Bikramdeep Singh
  3. A Rare Earths Strategy for India Discussion Document by Takshashila Institution
  4. Weapons of Mass Distortion by Marina Favrov
  5. The Shock of the old by David Edgerton

Ep. 609: Policies for the Entertainment Sector

The animation, visual effects, gaming and comics (AVGC) industry has seen unprecedented growth and has immense potential in creating jobs and economic opportunities. In this episode, Biren Ghose talks to Sarthak Pradhan about the need for a policy to enable this sector to thrive in the coming years.
Biren Ghose is the Vice Chairman at CII National Media & Entertainment Committee and is Country Head at Technicolor India.

Ep. 608: The Mirage of High-Tech Self-Sufficiency

China’s growing technology prowess has led many countries to rollout old-style industrial policies of their own. What is the likelihood these measures will succeed? Is there a way beyond subsidies? And does the notion of indigenizing high-tech supply chains even make sense? Aditya Ramanathan and Pranay Kotasthane discuss.
Further reading:

  1. Technopolitik newsletter #3 – https://hightechir.substack.com/p/3-of-myths-and-delusions
  2. https://itif.org/publications/2020/09/17/allied-approach-semiconductor-leadership , Stephen Ezell, ITIF

Ep. 607: India Needs a Robust Cyber Security Strategy

Over the last decade, India has been facing a flurry of cyber attacks targeted at critical infrastructure sectors for reasons such as espionage or information theft among others. However, information around cyberspace, its definition, and policies remain unclear. It is high time this changes, in the face of increased vulnerability to risks. Ameera Rao joins Lt. Gen Prakash Menon to discuss.
Read Lt. Gen Prakash Menon’s article here –
https://theprint.in/opinion/cyber-threats-now-sit-alongside-nuclear-india-needs-formal-national-strategy/681866/

Ep. 606: Consumer Protection & E-commerce

On 21 June, The Department of Consumer Affairs invited comments on draft amendments to the Consumer Protection (E-commerce) Rules, 2020. Anupam Manur and Rohan Seth join Prateek Waghre to unpack the changes proposed and the impact they might have on India’s e-commerce industry.
Links mentioned in the episode:
https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1729201
https://pdfchomper.substack.com/p/hand-me-the-paper-13-summing-up-the

Ep. 605: One Year After Galwan

This month marked the first anniversary of the Galwan Valley clash between China and India, which resulted in the deaths of 20 Indians and at least four PLA soldiers. Even after 13 months of friction, the two sides have only disengaged at Galwan and Pangong Tso. Manoj Kewalramani and Suyash Desai join Ameera Rao to discuss the possible Chinese motivations and India’s response.

Ep. 604: What Archaeology Really Tells Us About the Harappans and the Sarasvati River

At its peak, the Harappan culture was the powerhouse of the Bronze Age world. It stretched from the lush meadows of Punjab to the salt flats of Kutch and the deserts of Sindh, its sway extending over nearly 40% of the human population of the time. What do excavations really tell us about the nature of this unique culture? And what does it have to do with the so-called Sarasvati River, known today as the Ghaggar-Hakra? Anirudh Kanisetti speaks to archaeologist and history communicator Disha Ahluwalia, who is conducting a study of the region, to find out.