Ep. 693: Digital Activism in China

How does digital activism work in China when the Internet is so heavily regulated? Netizens in China get creative when they have something to say online. Recent viral trends like “Lying Flat” and projects like “996ICU” are part of this creative tradition. In this episode, Ruturaj Gowaikar and Arjun Gargeyas join Megha Pardhi to discuss the nature of digital activism in China.

Subscribe to Megha’s newsletter “China Tech Dispatch” here.

Ep. 692: Going Beyond Disinformation

Conversations about the impact of Digital Communication Networks on public discourse tend to focus heavily on misinformation and disinformation. While these two terms are used interchangeably, Prateek Waghre and Rohan Seth discuss why some researchers are calling for an expansion of the problem definition to look beyond the frame of mis – and – disinformation.

Read MisDisMal-Information Edition 52 here.

Suggested Readings:

  1. Samuel Woolley’s article – It’s Time to Think Beyond Disinformation and False News
  2. Renee DiResta’s article – It’s Not Misinformation. It’s Amplified Propaganda
  3. Ben Thompson’s Stratechery post (paywall) – Facebook Files, Continued; Misinformation and Vaccinations; Fact-Checking and the Unknown

Ep. 690: India’s Hunger and Nutrition challenge

The recently released Global Hunger Index sparked discussion on the methodology used to arrive at the figures. What exactly is this index? What are the larger challenges India faces in tackling hunger? Apurva Kumar and Suman Joshi try to unpack some aspects of this issue.

Read Apurva’s Newsletter here: https://gentleleviathan.substack.com/p/dispatch-51-the-specter-of-south

Suggested Readings:



Ep. 689: Democratise Credit to Create Jobs

Now that we have JAM, people want bread. Financial inclusion has been bandied about for decades with limited success but JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile) brings new hope. Sridhar Krishna and Aarushi Kataria are working on a project at the Takshashila Institution on policy initiatives to help create 20 million jobs each year in India. In this episode, they talk about how access to credit is limiting growth. They discuss the RBI approach paper on the national policy for financial inclusion and the UNCTAD policy framework for improving access to finance. They explain why rural women are a good target segment alongside small and medium enterprises for credit access and offer ideas for bridging the digital divide in this episode.

Suggested Readings:

Global Financial Development Report – Banking regulation and supervision a decade after the global financial crisis 2019-2020

The priority sector lending India needs, Janmajeya Sinha and Ruchin Goyal

Giving credit where credit is due, Goldman Sachs Global Markets Institute

Entrepreneurship policy framework and implementation guidance, UNCTAD

Closing gender gaps in India – does increasing women’s access to finance help?, IMF working paper

National strategy for financial inclusion – RBI approach paper

The rural urban divide: why cash is still king in India’s rural regions, Amit Nigam

Is Gramin Bank sustainable, Shahidur Khandkar, B.Khaliliy, Z.Khan

Microcredit was a hugely hyped solution to global poverty. What happened? S.Wykstra

What can India learn from Bangladesh’s microfinance institutions? Prasanna Mohanty

Ep. 688: Cracks in CPEC

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is facing trouble on more than one front. These include China’s frustration with the lack of progress on the economic projects, the emerging security threat from a resurgent Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, and the growing anti-China sentiment in Pakistan. How will these challenges impact their all-weather strategic partnership? Suyash Desai talks to Shrey Khanna.

Ep. 687: AI Regulation: A Global Policy Challenge

The use of Artificial Intelligence technologies is on a rise across the globe. Countries are increasingly demonstrating a keen interest in regulating their use, specifically the effects of such technologies on civic life. In this episode, Sapni G K and Megha Pardhi join Mihir Mahajan to look beyond the buzzwords and discuss regulatory initiatives that target the use of AI technologies.

Read Sapni’s and Mihir’s article in the Diplomat here.

Subscribe to Takshashila’s Technopolitik newsletter here.

Subscribe to the China Tech Dispatch here.

Ep. 686: A Practical Agenda for the Quad

The Quad grouping has launched several new initiatives over last few months. While this is an encouraging development, there are concerns that the grouping has way too many items on its plate. Which of these areas should the Quad prioritise and why? Listen in to Hayley Channer, Senior Policy Fellow at the Perth USAsia Centre in conversation with Pranay Kotasthane to find out.

Hayley is the author of a new report titled Roadmap to Quad Success: Practical Recommendations for Action and Sustainability which provides a novel framework for Quad engagement.

For further reading:

  1. Hayley Channer’s report Roadmap to Quad Success: Practical Recommendations for Action and Sustainability
  2. Pranay’s paper on the Quad semiconductor partnership
  3. Fact Sheet of the Quad Leaders’ Summit in September 2021

Ep. 685: Should India Make Semiconductors?

While semiconductor design has always been a strong suit for India, the extremely complicated manufacturing process of semiconductor chips has never taken off in the country. Should India stick to its strengths or go all in to create a state-of-the-art fabrication facility to compete on the global stage? Arjun Gargeyas talks to Pranay Kotasthane on India’s potential foray into semiconductors manufacturing and why it may not matter in the long run.

Read Arjun’s and Pranay’s article in CNN-News18 here.

Read Pranay’s article in ISAS NUS here.

Ep: 683: Fantasy Sports and Karnataka’s Online Gambling Ban

Over the past few years, online fantasy sports in India have gone from being a rather shady area of niche interest to becoming ubiquitous, so much so that a fantasy sports platform was the title sponsor of IPL 2020. The industry holds significant economic promises, but its growth has been hindered by arbitrary bans in various Indian states. Karnataka became the latest Indian state to do so. So, what’s next for the industry? Arjun Gargeyas speaks to Atish Padhy to discuss.

Click here to read Atish’s article in the Hindustan Times analysing many of the themes covered in the podcast.

Ep. 682: Are the Balkans on Edge Again?

With recent headlines warning of impending hostilities between Serbia and Kosovo, there is greater attention again on the proverbial powder keg of conflict in Eastern Europe. The EU and NATO have expanded their influence in the Balkans in recent decades. Turkey and Russia, the two nations with historically significant influence in the region, continue to hold their own too. However, is conflict a serious possibility? And if so, what could be the global ramifications of such a development? Listen in as Aditya Pareek talks to Serbian journalist and geopolitical analyst Nikola Mikovic.

Ep. 681: The Shadow Pandemic: Impact of COVID-19 on mental health in India

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly affected our lives in more ways than one. It has impacted our engagement with others and disrupted daily routines. Apart from this, “Fearodemic” or the shadow pandemic has been the biggest trigger for mental health issues during the pandemic. In this episode, Aarthi Ratnam and Apurva Kumar talk about the effects of the pandemic on mental health and recommend some possible policy interventions

Read Aarthi’s article here: Improving India’s record on child mental health

Suggested reading:

COVID-19 and psychological distress: Lessons for India

Click here to take our foreign policy survey – India’s Global Outlook Survey

Click here to know more about our upcoming course – “Evidence-based policy-making for responding to COVID-19”.

Ep. 680: India’s labour force: Why are women missing?

India’s Women Labor Force Participation Rate (WLFPR) rate is at an abysmal 21%. Why does this matter? What are the factors that are driving this trend? And what can be done to course-correct? Priti Kataria, Anupriya Mohta and Aarushi Kataria discuss all this and more.

Anurpriya Mohta has an academic background in business and marketing. Seeking to build a career in Marketing and Brand and Operations Consulting and promote sustainable growth of organisations, esp. in the social space.

Priti Kataria is the CHRO of Wipro’s iCore business. She leads an employee base of over 100k employees across 40 different countries with 37% gender diversity. She is also pursuing a Ph.D. in Organisational Behaviour and Human Resources from IIM Indore.

Reading List

Beneria, L2003. Gender, Development and Globalisation. Economics As If All People Mattered. New York: Routledge (Book)

Women, Gender and Development Reader, Edited by Nalini Visvanathan, Lynn Duggan, Nan Wiegersma and Laurie Nisonoff (Book)

Words Matter: Gender, Jobs and Applicant Behavior (Ashoka University Economics Discussion Paper)

Women’s labour force participation in India: Why is it so low? (Doc – International Labour Organisation)

Having A Glass Ceiling To Break Through Is Privilege. Here’s Why. – Forbes article

World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development

Click here to take our foreign policy survey – India’s Global Outlook Survey

Click here to know more about our upcoming course – “Evidence-based policy-making for responding to COVID-19”.

Ep. 679: Reading between the lines of the Facebook Files

The Wall Street Journal’s Facebook Files and subsequent revelations made by the whistle-blower Frances Haugen have documented many online harms present on Facebook’s various platforms based on its own internal research.

In this episode, Prateek Waghre and Sapni GK join Rohan Seth to unpack the revelations and what a news cycle involving large technology companies looks like.

Read Takshashila’s Working Paper on Categorisation of Harms attributed to DCNs here.

Read the Facebook Files (paywall) here.

Read details about the whistleblower’s complaint to the U.S. S.E.C here.

Click here to take our foreign policy survey – “India’s Global Outlook Survey”

Click here to know more about our upcoming course – “Evidence-based policy-making for responding to COVID-19”.

Ep. 678: What’s China doing in Africa?

Infrastructure projects and technology investments under BRI have led to a sustained expansion of China’s stake and presence across Africa. What is the aim of this engagement? Is there a larger power struggle between the West and China? Arjun Gargeyas talks to Ameera Rao about the possible implications of Chinese investments and influence in Africa.

Read Ameera’s articles here:

Firstpost – As China’s Belt and Road Initiative steams ahead in Africa, West plays catch up

Asia Times – India should cooperate with Africa in renewable energy

Click here to take our foreign policy survey – India’s Global Outlook Survey

Click here to know more about our upcoming course.

Ep: 677: Religion and the State in Medieval South India

The late 11th and early 12th centuries saw the origins of two remarkable religious traditions that have continued to survive to this day: Virashaivism and Srivaishnavism. Anirudh Kanisetti speaks to history scholars Revanth Utkalam and Prathik Sudha Murali to understand how they engaged with state and social structures in the medieval period.

Check out Revanth and Prathik’s podcast, Pravaha here

Click here to take our foreign policy survey – India’s Global Outlook Survey

Click here to know more about the course mentioned in the episode.

Ep. 676: Keeping up with the Splinternet

September 2021 has been an important month for the future of the internet, in Russia and around the world. The Play Store and the App Store have bowed to pressure and removed a ‘smart voting’ app from Alexei Navalny’s team just before the Russian elections. Rohan Seth talks to Prateek Waghre and Sapni GK about implications for global cyberspace going forward.

Click here to check out Rohan’s reading list

Click here to take our foreign policy survey – India’s Global Outlook Survey

Ep. 675: Afghanistan: 50 Days After Taliban’s Takeover

After 50 days of the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, the situation remains tense. The ISI-imposed interim government is struggling to provide political stability even as the humanitarian crisis worsens. As the interests of regional powers come into conflict in Afghanistan, what is likely to happen next? Arjun Gargeyas joins Anand Arni and Shrey Khanna to discuss the prospects of peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Check out our recent document on this topic: Taliban’s Afghanistan Takeover: Assessment of Regional Powers and Indian Interests.

Also, read Shrey’s article here: 2021 isn’t Pakistan’s 1971

Suggested reading:

RUSI’s recent report – Russia and Iran: Disappointed Friends of the Taliban?

Click here to take our foreign policy survey – India’s Global Outlook Survey

Ep. 674: Regulating Judicial Data

India’s judicial system is in need of a whole host of reforms. However, one crucial aspect of this reform process should be the regulation of judicial data. This requires ensuring the right balance between transparency and privacy.

In this episode, Aakanksha Mishra and Siddharth Mandrekar Rao talk to Sarthak Pradhan, about the reasons and the mechanisms for regulating judicial data.

Aakanksha Mishra is a Research Associate with Daksh. She is a dual-qualified lawyer eligible to practice in India and New York. Siddharth Mandrekar Rao is a Research Associate with Daksh. At Daksh, his research focuses on political economy and the judiciary.

Check out the paper discussed in the podcast – https://dakshindia.org/judicial-data-regulation/