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.


Ep. 646: Can Vaccine Mandates Work?

As India races to vaccinate its population amid the COVID-19 pandemic, can it consider the use of mandates to ensure speedier and more comprehensive vaccinations? Arjun Gargeyas talks about the fascinating history of vaccine mandates and discusses the ways in which India can implement them in a manner that is viable and ethical.

Ep. 645: Vaccinating Kids: A Parent’s Perspective

Since the early days of the pandemic, parents have been taking some comfort from the fact that SARS-CoV-2 is much less likely to cause serious illness in children than it is in adults.

As India’s vaccination drive progresses, it has sparked a conversation about the issue of vaccinating children. Since children are legal minors, vaccination-related decisions will be taken by legal guardians/ parents. In this episode, Priyal D’almeida and Suman Joshi look at vaccination trials being conducted for children and the decisions that lie ahead for parents in India.

Ep. 644: What did the Kakatiyas do for us?

From 160 years, the often forgotten medieval Kakatiya kingdom sprawled across modern Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and parts of Odisha and Karnataka. In its brief life, this extraordinary kingdom experimented with new forms of political organisation and warfighting, while commissioning architectural marvels.

Anirudh Kanisetti takes us through the birth of the Kakatiya dynasty, its extraordinary rise, and its violent fall.

Links mentioned in the episode:

Anirudh’s collab with Shashanka Mouli on the Ramappa Temple here.

Book – Precolonial India in Practice: Society, Region, and Identity in Medieval Andhra

Ep. 643: How Columbus Transformed Indian Cuisine

The arrival of the Portuguese and other European powers on India’s shores profoundly impacted the subcontinent’s militaries, polities, and societies – but also its food. Anirudh Kanisetti speaks to food blogger Sujata Shukla about how the arrival of new crops from the Americas, often brought by Europeans, transformed Indian eating habits.

Ep. 642: India’s Reverse Migration

According to the latest CMIE estimates, there has been a reverse migration of labour from the manufacturing sector to the agriculture sector due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. The loss of jobs in small and medium manufacturing units have resulted in people going back to their farms and thus engaging in less productive employment.

In this episode, Suman Joshi and Apurva Kumar discuss the latest trend of reverse migration of labour in India.

Further Readings:

Migration from factories to farms

India’s Labour Is Moving Back From Manufacturing To Farms

Ep. 641: The PLA and India

The People’s Liberation Army is a unified organisation of China’s land, sea, and air forces. It is one of the largest military forces in the world and traces its roots back to 1927. The PLA celebrated its 94th anniversary on August 1, and now, under Xi Jinping, it has undertaken military reforms intended to make it fully informatised by 2035, and a ‘world-class’ force by 2049.

Click here to read Suyash’s article in The Times Of India

Subscribe to Suyash’s newsletter here 

Ep. 640: Outraging into the Machine

A recent analysis by NPR comparing engagement-per-post between mainstream and conservative media outlets described ‘outrage’ as a business model. Books like The Outrage Industry and Angrynomics have explored some of the following themes that we can draw on.

Is outrage a genre? What are its attributes? What roles do supply-side and demand-side incentives play? Prateek Waghre joins Rohan Seth to discuss.

NPR article – https://www.npr.org/2021/07/19/1013793067/outrage-as-a-business-model-how-ben-shapiro-is-using-facebook-to-build-an-empire

MisDisMal-Information edition on outrage: https://techpolicy.substack.com/p/outrage-against-the-machine-digital

MisDisMal-Information edition on the anatomy of online conflicts: https://techpolicy.substack.com/p/of-soscial-media-kindness-of-the

Ep. 639: The Dilemmas of Religious Freedom

The French Parliament has passed a bill that will increase the state’s power over mosques. President Emmanuel Macron argues the law will bolster the country’s secular values, but will it really work? Anirudh Kanisetti and Aditya Ramanathan talk to Professor Olivier Roy of the European University Institute about the law. As one of the world’s leading experts on political Islam, Roy explains why he believes most of the conventionally cited reasons for violent extremism are wrong and why France’s new law is unlikely to do much good.

Further reading:

Roy’s essay on European jihadists

Roy’s book on ISIS, titled Jihad and death : The Global Appeal of Islamic State

Ep. 638: Building India’s Semiconductor Ecosystem

Semiconductors are central to our global economy. However, the supply chains that make them are fragile and not easy to change. Despite this, India needs to build a sophisticated semiconductor sector of its own. Aditya Pareek speaks to Samparna Tripathi, Amol Sarin, and Anup Rajput to discuss India’s challenges and opportunities.

Samparna works as a Product Marketing Specialist by day & a Public Policy Analyst by night. She is pursuing PGP in Public Policy here at Takshashila and has chosen Strengthening Semiconductors Ecosystem in India – as her capstone project.

Amol runs his own capital equipment business Conteknik Enterprise. Ex- GCPP alumni from Takshashila, he has worked earlier with Cypress Semiconductor where he was exposed to the semicon industry and its importance.

Anup is a co-founder of Envir AI. He worked on semiconductor design at Texas Instruments and has experience in applied Machine Learning (from large city scale designs to battery-less micro electronics) 

Links to resources mentioned in the episode:

 Takshashila Discussion SlideDoc – India’s Semiconductor Ecosystem: A SWOT Analysis

 The Case for a Quad Semiconductor Partnership

 Beyond Borders: The Global Semiconductor Value Chain

 The global semiconductor value chain: A technology primer for policymakers

 SIA Beyond Borders report

Ep. 636: Pegasus and India’s Cyber Security Capabilities

While the Pegasus spyware scandal has led to discussions in India on government surveillance and privacy, it is also important to take note of what this means for India’s cyber defence capabilities. In this episode, Nitansha Bansal and Nitin Pai discuss what issues the Pegasus row has brought to light for India’s defence strategists and policymakers.

Further readings:

Technopolitik Newsletter

Nitin Pai’s article on Pegasus

Ep. 635: Takshashila’s Founders Discuss Post-COVID Inequalities

The socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has increased inequalities. In this episode, Sarthak talks to Takshahila’s founders – the two N’s, Narayan Ramachandran and Nitin Pai – about the disparities exacerbated by the pandemic and what can be done about it.

Click here to read Nitin’s article on the challenge of post-pandemic inequalities

Ep. 634: A “Platform” for More Jobs

The platform economy is restructuring jobs in the 21st century. In this episode, Sreelakshmi Ramachandran talks to Sarthak Pradhan on how India can leverage the platform economy to create jobs.

Sreelakshmi Ramachandran is a Research Manager and leads the Future of Work track at Ola Mobility Institute. She has a Master’s in Development Studies from IIT Madras. She has recently co-authored a paper “Unlocking jobs in the platform economy”

Link to the paper – https://olawebcdn.com/ola-institute/OMI_Platform_Economy_Report.pdf

Ep. 633: Uncovering the Warriors of Sinauli

Remains dating back to nearly 4000 years ago, at the site of Sinauli in Uttar Pradesh, have revealed that the history of the Indian subcontinent in the Bronze Age is far more complex than imagined. From chariots to swords to coffins, these remains tell us that the people of Sinauli were a warlike, sophisticated culture – but who really were they, and how did they relate to the far better-known Harappans? Anirudh Kanisetti speaks to archaeologist and history communicator Disha Ahluwalia, who worked on excavations in the region, to find out.

Ep. 632: Making Public Health More Equal

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities in access to health care. Apurva Kumar and Suman Joshi examine the contours of the Indian public health system in the light of a recently released Oxfam India report titled “Inequality Report 2021: India’s Unequal Healthcare Story“. In this episode, we examine some recommendations of the report.

Ep. 631: The Game of Drones

The attack on Merchant Vessel Mercer Street, allegedly by an Iranian drone, has been grabbing headlines. Beyond all the hype, drones have proven to be simple but effective tools in any country’s asymmetric arsenal. Whether state actors, irregulars, or something in between, drones have key advantages including deniability and standoff capabilities. Aditya Pareek joins Aditya Ramanathan to discuss the latest developments and some possible future trajectories for drones including autonomous systems.

Link to resources mentioned in the episode:

  1. Technopolitik Newsletter with Aditya Ramanathan’s section

  2. The article in Japanese Press discussing Russian Orlan – 10 UAVs that use off the shelf components, including Japanese engines without the OEM knowing about it

Ep. 630: Digital Communication Networks and their Harms

Over the years, a number of harms have been attributed to Social Media platforms/messaging apps. Despite their high adoption over the last decade, estimates suggest that approximately 50% of the world’s population do not use them yet. This implies that there is still significant headroom for adoption and therefore further amplification of the harms (and benefits) attributed.
In this episode, Prateek Waghre joins Rohan Seth to discuss a Takshashila Working Paper that defines Digital Communication Networks (DCNs) and categorizes the harms attributed to them as potential market failures, social problems, and cognitive biases.

Click here to read the paper