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| Dear Friends, |
We bring you this special year-end edition of Notes from the Centre at the end of what has been a truly tumultuous year. The COVID-19 pandemic upended all that we took for granted and changed the world in significant ways. Through this moment of global crisis, CPR has emerged resilient and agile, reinventing itself to meet the policy and institutional challenges COVID-19 presented. This would not have been possible without your unflinching support and constant engagement (albeit virtually this time). We remain deeply grateful.
CPR began 2020 with the second edition of CPR Dialogues, our annual public forum that brings together leading policy practitioners, academics, and thought leaders to address the most critical policy issues of our times. The Dialogues mark a strategic shift in CPR’s public engagement as we seek to move beyond the confines of our seminar room and create new spaces for dialogue with stakeholders, civil society and the public. Contemporary India’s policy challenges require forging a new public consensus and CPR Dialogues is our effort to build the foundations of this consensus.
As the country went into lockdown, CPR found new ways to respond to the unique policy challenges that COVID-19 presented. Our faculty came together to form a research collaborative and work directly with State governments, civil society organisations and researcher-networks to develop evidence-based policy frameworks. Our response has been wide ranging, with a focus on the public health dimension, the economic dimension particularly related to relief measures and factor market reforms in land and agriculture, the institutional dimension, the associated federal fallout and the impact of COVID-19 on geopolitics. Throughout the year, CPR faculty have sought to balance the need to engage directly with the public debate on the big policy questions emerging from COVID-19 and the government response as well as working directly on the ground to support policy implementation. In this last year, CPR has deepened its engagement at the sub-national level, with crucial partnerships in various areas with the Governments of Punjab, Odisha and Meghalaya.
This year, we have had the privilege to welcome new members to the CPR family, particularly in the areas of international relations and public finance. CPR faculty have also kept alive the tradition of producing cutting edge field-defining scholarship, undeterred by lockdowns. In this special edition ofNotes from the Centre, we present you with a round up of select research and policy engagement by CPR faculty on some of the crucial policy moments of 2020.
Before signing off, a very happy new year! We look forward to your continued support.
President and Chief Executive, CPR
P.S.: For the month of January 2021, you will receive this newsletter on the second and fourth Friday, instead of the first and third Friday.
|In this video, Yamini Aiyar presents a round-up of 2020 at CPR, highlighting some of our landmark moments and work around India’s 21st-century challenges including COVID-19.Understanding COVID-19Photo credit: DNA IndiaIn episode 33 of CPR’s podcast, ThoughtSpace, Yamini Aiyar spoke to Dr Jishnu Das about the preparedness of India’s healthcare systems to respond to the pandemic. In episode 37, they spoke with epidemiologists about how the disease manifests itself differently in different people and variations in epidemiological models. In another episode of ThoughtSpace, Das explored how India could learn of live with the virus. In a brief, Das, Partha Mukhopadhyay and Neelanjan Sircar discussed desirable strategies and important considerations for COVID-19 testing to minimise transmission. In a working paper, they analysed contact tracing data collected during the lockdown in Punjab, to quantify heterogeneity in COVID-19 transmission and to examine the resultant implications of this. In an article in Hindustan Times, Mukhopadhyay highlighted the urgent need to ramp up testing. In another article, he analysed whether India’s death rate is higher than Italy’s and highlighted that young people in India are dying at a much higher rate than expected. In an article inThePrint, Das underscored that India’s response to the pandemic cannot be based on existing epidemiological models. In an article in Scroll, Das highlighted how spatially targeted risk stratification could offer a solution as India exited the lockdown. In a blog updated daily, Mukhopadhyay analyses the stability of test positivity in India. CPR also collaborated with the Government of Punjab to revise the State’s testing strategy. Analysis from this collaboration is available here. Social Protection for Migrant and Informal WorkersPhoto credit: DNA IndiaIn episode 34 of ThoughtSpace, Yamini Aiyar spoke to Partha Mukhopadhyay and Mukta Naik about how the State has repeatedly failed to address the needs of migrant workers. In episode 41 ofThoughtSpace, Aiyar spoke to the members of the Stranded Workers Action Network about the on-ground realities of migrant workers and what the government’s measures should look like. In an article in Indian Express, they highlighted why migrant workers distrust the State. Analysing the Delhi Government’s relief measures in a report, Naik and Ashwin Parulkar shed light on the lacunae and possible solutions to the crisis of hunger faced by vulnerable populations. In a journal article, Naik explored the role of State-society interactions and bordering practices in Gurugram’s response to the pandemic, particularly in relief efforts for migrant workers. In a working paper, Arkaja Singh studied the hunger crisis and examined what five Indian state governments did to address the critical needs of those at the margins of government welfare. In an article inBusiness Standard, Shyam Saran underscored the need to acknowledge the symbiotic relationship between migrant workers and the economy. InHindustan Times, Aiyar highlighted the need for a compassionate State to respond to this crisis. In a report, CPR scholars proposed how India can redesign its social protection financing architecture to meet the challenge of COVID-19. InHindustan Times, Aiyar highlighted how cash transfers can be made to respond to this crisis.CitizenshipPhoto credit: PTIIn the 31st episode of ThoughtSpace, Yamini Aiyar spoke with Patrick Heller about citizenship, democracy and protests in India and Latin America, shedding light on parallels between the two regions. In episode 32, Aiyar spoke with Sanjoy Hazarika about the opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Assam and the links between the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). In an article in Hindustan Times, Aiyar discussed the political implications of the opposition of state governments to the CAA-NRC combine. In a piece in Seminar, Aiyar described how the CAA-NRC combine fundamentally remakes the idea of who is Indian. In Hindustan Times, Aiyar wrote about how the anti-CAA protests symbolise a reclamation and redefinition of the idea of secularism. In an article in The Tribune, Shyam Saran highlighted that the State cannot put in place a system that puts the burden of proving citizenship on the citizen. In an article inBusiness Standard, Saran underscored how a majoritarian agenda by the political dispensation would make the country vulnerable to hostile external forces. Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2020Photo credit: Telegraph IndiaIn her submission to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Shibani Ghosh outlined five major concerns that arose from the regulatory design of the draft EIA Notification 2020, and explained why it is legally untenable. Her article in Indian Express based on this submission illustrated how the draft Notification dilutes environmental protections and is in denial of the ecological crisis. Debayan Gupta, Kush Tanvani, Sampada Nayak and Vidya Viswanathan presented a clause by clause comparison of the draft Notification with the EIA Notification 2006 and the Zero Draft of 2019 respectively. In an interview with Hindustan Times, Manju Menon and Kanchi Kohli analysed what this draft Notification means for India’s environment and people and highlighted why environmental approvals cannot boost the economy. In an article in The Wire, Menon, Kohli and Viswanathan highlighted why the draft EIA’s plan to ease approvals for projects is a bad idea. In an article in The Wire, Menon and Kohli traced the history of EIA to highlight how successive governments in India have used it as a weapon against communities surviving on land and forests. In an article in Times of India they highlighted how the draft EIA 2020 can impose massive socio-economic costs on the most marginalised groups in Indian society. India-China Border Stand-Off Photo credit: PTIIn episode 44 of ThoughtSpace, Shyam Saran shed light on the reasons behind border disputes between India and China despite the Line of Actual Control (LAC), highlighting the growing asymmetry of power between the two countries. In aninterview with Times of India, Saran highlighted that China’s aggression is a bid to expand its territorial claims and a warning to avoid action against its economic interests. In Hindustan Times, Saran shed light on China’s playbook to illustrate how it aims to change facts on the ground, incrementally alter the balance of power and assert its dominance. In an article in Hindustan Times, Saran highlighted that matter of war and peace are for the political leadership to decide on, and hence it is an abdication of responsibility to thrust this on to the armed forces. In an article inThePrint, Saran wrote that India’s credibility would be hit if our posture on China did not match new realities at the LAC. In an article in The Tribune, G Parthasarathy underscored how India can beat China at its game by working together with regional and global powers. In another article, he shed light on how China attempts to redraw boundaries. In The Hindu Business Line, Parthasarathy highlighted why the stand-off is unlikely to be resolved soon. In another article, he explored how the world will handle China in 2021. In an article in Bloomberg Quint, Bharat Karnad highlighted why a cowering response to China’s provocations could lose India more territory. In another article, Karnad decoded Indo-China ties against the backdrop of developments in Ladakh and shed light on what India needed to do. In an article in Hindustan Times, Brahma Chellaney shed light on why India must inflict costs on China. In another article, Chellaney highlighted that India is making a mistake on China and Beijing is using talks to consolidate its territorial gains. In an article in The Globe and Mail, Chellaney shed light on Xi Jinping’s strategy of muscular revisionism. Ina piece in Caravan Magazine, Sushant Singh analysed media coverage of the Ladakh border crisis, highlighting that the government’s strategy of unquestioning control over the narrative yielded mixed results. EducationPhoto credit: PTIIn episode 47 of ThoughtSpace, Yamini Aiyar spoke to Dr Rukmini Banerji about the impact of COVID-19 on education. In an article in Indian Express, Meenakshi Gopinath highlighted how the pandemic brings an opportunity to expand the autonomy of public universities. In an article inHindustan Times, Aiyar analysed the New Education Policy (NEP), how it can disrupt the classroom consensus and the language debate around policy. In an article in The Wire, Kiran Bhatty underscored how the NEP does not relate to on-ground realities of children and the State and leaves a lot to the imagination, especially on account of funding strategies and implementation. In an article published in The India Forum, Bhatty highlighted that the NEP does not own the narrative of education as a public good and exhibits a proclivity towards the private sector’s perception of the role of school and education. Inan article in Hindustan Times, Rahul Verma analysed why politicians, in order to preserve their patronage, would pose the biggest challenge to the NEP. In an article in Indian Express, Gopinath analysed Delhi University’s move to scrap the ECA quota, highlighting how it points to a curtailment of diversity and a shrinking canvas of learning. Mridusmita Bordoloi, Sharad Pandey, Vastav Irava and Ruchi Junnarkar co-authored a reportanalysing school education financing in India across eight cities from FY 2014-15 to FY 2017-18.AgriculturePhoto credit: Quartz IndiaIn the 49th episode of ThoughtSpace, Yamini Aiyar spoke with Mekhala Krishnamurthy and Ajay Vir Jakhar about the government’s farm laws and the resultant protests. In another episode, they discussed how the government could reform themandi system to truly double farmers’ incomes. In Hindustan Times, Aiyar and Krishnamurthy highlighted how the farmers’ agitation at Delhi’s doorstep exposes deep fault lines and new possibilities in the politics of representation, reform and Centre-state relations. In an article in Hindustan Times, they examined the federal implications arising out of the way in which the farm laws were passed in Parliament. In an article in ThePrint, Krishnamurthy highlighted that licensing and registration of farm produce buyers needs more reform, not removal. In an article inThePrint, Asim Ali explored the reasons behind the opposition to the farm laws, despite the fact that the agricultural reform push had all the features and sensibilities of Narendra Modi’s middle-class politics of aspiration. In a piece in Seminar, Krishnamurthy and Shoumitro Chatterjee analysed the electronic National Agricultural Market or eNAM.|