LPPYF Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship

Mansi Garg

IMPRI (Impact and Policy Research Institute), based in New Delhi, is proud to introduce its dynamic and forward-thinking program, the Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship (LPPYF). Designed to span two enriching months during the upcoming summer, this fellowship is dedicated to delving into the intricate interplay of social, legal, and policy issues. LPPYF’s mission is to provide an immersive learning experience that bridges social and legal perspectives.

Throughout the program, fellows will have the invaluable opportunity to explore various dimensions of law and policies, receive training in legal methodologies, engage in hands-on action research in the field for two weeks, and ultimately prepare a comprehensive report based on their findings. Importantly, participants will have the chance to interact with a multitude of legal, thematic, and distinguished public policy experts.

LPPYF’s core objective is to equip its participants with a deep understanding of the complexities and technicalities within legal and public policy paradigms, blending theoretical insights with practical research skills.

The thematic areas covered will span international provisions, constitutional laws, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), gender justice, environmental crisis and regulations, international human rights, and more. Through this online fellowship, consisting of three weekly sessions featuring legal, technical, special lectures, and interactive discussions, participants will acquire multifaceted skills and knowledge to become effective agents of change in the realms of law and public policy.

WEEK 1 | June 12, 14 & 16, 2023

June 12, Monday: Introduction to Law & Public Policy

The Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship Inaugural Session, featuring the expertise of Professor Patel, provided an enlightening exploration of the intersection between law and public policy. The session underscored the profound impact of public policy on society, emphasizing its role in shaping our communities’ economic, social, and political aspects. Professor Patel delved into various policies, including MNREGA, population policy, health policy, housing policy, NEP, IT and Cybersecurity, and other critical issues.

She highlighted the importance of transparency and underscored mantras like accountability and the right to information for fair policy implementation and governance. The session aimed to inspire young individuals to actively engage in the public policy process, promoting a sense of responsibility and commitment to positive change in the pursuit of a more just and equitable society.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

June 14, Wednesday: Legal Hands on Session- I

“Legal Hands on Session” led by Dr. Shalu Nigam, a comprehensive discussion unfolded on multiple legal perspectives. Dr. Nigam highlighted the disparities in how law is perceived by the masses versus the court system, offering insights into various definitions of law. She focused on the making and enforcement of law through two impactful case studies.

The first case, the struggle of Bhanwari Devi, revealed the challenges and indifference faced by a survivor of child marriage and sexual assault, ultimately leading to the formation of the Vishakha Guidelines. The second case centered on the right to food, addressing food insecurity and the steps taken to ensure food security through the National Food Security Act, while also discussing its gaps and challenges.

Dr. Nigam underscored the complexity of the interplay between law, morality, culture, and society, emphasizing the need for continuous monitoring and enforcement to realize the rights of marginalized communities. The session concluded with a thought-provoking questionnaire and an open Q&A session, leaving attendees with the idea that the law serves as both a tool for challenging and reinforcing societal hierarchies, particularly with regards to the rights of women and marginalized groups.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

June 14, Wednesday: International Human Rights

The interactive panel discussion on “International Human Rights Law – Application, Impact & Relevance” led by Dr. Vahida Nainar explored the origins and significance of human rights law. She emphasized its role in holding governments accountable and discussed the four broad components of International Human Rights Law (IHRL), including systems in Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Dr. Nainar delved into the application of IHRL, highlighting the importance of overseeing, monitoring, and accountability mechanisms within the United Nations.

She pointed out that the impact of IHRL is most evident indirectly, affecting public awareness and exposing violations. However, she also noted challenges such as discrimination against women and marginalized communities, divisive nationalistic rhetoric, and shrinking civic space. Despite regional challenges, she underlined the universality of IHRL and its role in promoting compliance and accountability, ultimately emphasizing its vital importance in guiding humanity’s moral compass. The session concluded with a robust discussion on various global issues, demonstrating the enduring relevance of human rights law.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

June 16, Friday: Law, Economics and Public Policy

The session on “Law, Economics, and Public Policy” held by Prof. Mukul Asher emphasized the intricate relationship between these disciplines, underlining the importance of balancing rights with corresponding duties and responsibilities as enshrined in the Constitution. He discussed the challenges faced by India as a rising power, highlighting the need to avoid tendencies like ‘Oikophobia’ that can hinder competence in public policy.

Dr. Asher shed light on the staggering delays in the Indian judiciary, with millions of pending cases and undertrials, urging a shift towards deciding cases on first principles to expedite justice.

He stressed the significance of economic literacy in the judicial process, with a focus on the economic costs and the need for accountability, as India strives for significant economic growth. The session underscored the vital role of economic growth in national security and the importance of not unduly impinging on it through judicial processes.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

June 16, Friday: Interactive Discussion Session- I

During the interactive session moderated by Dr. Shalu Nigam, the focus was on gender disparities and wealth distribution in India. Dr. Nigam revisited a poignant poem by feminist Kamla Bhasin, underscoring the importance of educating girls. She highlighted startling statistics that revealed the extreme wealth concentration in the country, with the top 10% of the population holding a staggering 77% of the national wealth, while the poorest 67 million Indians experienced only a 1% increase in their wealth.

Moreover, the session emphasized the adverse impact of the pandemic on gender parity, setting it back by 36 years, as women collectively lost INR 59.11 lakh crore (USD 800 billion) in earnings in 2020, and there are now 1.3 crore fewer women in the workforce compared to 2019. These statistics shed light on the pressing issues of inequality and gender disparities in India.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

WEEK 2 | June 19, 21 & 23, 2023

June 19, Monday: Policy Initiatives and the Role of Indian Judiciary

The session on “Policy Initiatives and the Role of Indian Judiciary” conducted by Professor Uday Shankar began by distinguishing between policies and laws, emphasizing policies’ flexibility and responsiveness to changing environments. He presented two schools of thought regarding the judiciary’s role in policy initiatives: one advocating minimal judicial intervention, aligning with the separation of powers and emphasizing that policies are the executive’s domain, while the other highlighted the importance of checks and balances, with the judiciary as an independent body to review constitutional breaches.

Professor Shankar stressed that judicial intervention should be limited to cases of clear constitutional breaches, ensuring that the judiciary’s role aligns with its functions rather than jurisdiction. Professor Vibhuti Patel cited significant judgments from the 70s and 80s related to policy decisions, including changes in the Forest Act and decisions on issues like manual scavenging and women’s safety. The discussion touched on challenges the judiciary faces, such as backlogs and loose interpretations of the law leading to an increasing caseload.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

June 19, Monday: Laws, Public Policy & Media

Udit Mishra, Deputy Associate Editor at The Indian Express, discussed the transformation of the media landscape, emphasizing the impact of social media platforms and artificial intelligence on traditional media outlets. He raised concerns about the media’s shift from reporting facts to influencing public opinion, often with the aim of changing governments, and called for a return to responsible journalism that prioritizes objective reporting.

Mishra highlighted the importance of addressing underlying policy issues rather than just reacting to isolated incidents and urged the media to proactively engage with pressing societal challenges. He also emphasized the critical role of public sector undertakings in providing social welfare functions and raised concerns about the effectiveness of subsidies for Indian farmers as a temporary solution to long-standing agricultural distress issues.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

June 21, Wednesday: Bureaucracy, Laws & Public Policy

During the lecture on “Bureaucracy, Laws & Public Policy” by Dr. Nivedita P Haran, she provided a comprehensive overview of public policy, emphasizing its foundational role in government objectives and translating visions into programs, projects, and laws. Dr. Haran outlined the crucial elements that shape public policy, including physical, social, political, and economic factors, along with the importance of data availability and relevance.

She discussed how various stakeholders, including elected governments, pressure groups, and interest groups, influence policy formation. The process of policy creation and approval, from departmental input to ministerial endorsement, was detailed, highlighting potential political influences and corruption at the cabinet level.

Dr. Haran also discussed the connection between legislation and public policy, emphasizing the need to evaluate how laws and regulations are implemented and whether they effectively bridge the gap between politics and administration. She concluded by addressing concerns related to policy impact on citizens and the country’s overall well-being, underscoring the importance of improving bureaucratic quality and citizen engagement.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

June 23, Friday: Public Policy Drivers

In the lecture on “Public Policy Drivers” by Shri Bhartendra Singh Baswan, he delved into the essential factors influencing public policy formulation, emphasizing their impact on the development and evolution of policies. Mr. Baswan discussed the intricate process through which public policies are created, involving government ministers’ brainstorming, stakeholder input, and data collection, culminating in legislation.

He then introduced two primary drivers of public policy. The first driver, ideology, was examined in the context of historical events such as the Russian revolution, the Great Depression, and India’s post-independence economic growth. The second driver, corruption or rent-seeking, was explored, highlighting the presence of corruption in various forms across different countries.

Mr. Baswan also addressed the effects of freebies and subsidies on public participation and emphasized the need for reducing dependency on the government. The lecture concluded with a question-and-answer session covering topics like public versus merit goods, India’s geopolitical state, healthcare, LGBTQIA+ representation, and China’s role on the global stage. The lecture provided a holistic understanding of the intricate and dynamic factors that shape public policies.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

June 23, Friday: Interactive Discussion Session- II

During the interactive session led by Adv Dr. Shalu Nigam, the topic of custodial torture and its implications were discussed. Reference to Amnesty International’s designation of June 26 as “Ending Torture Day” was made, underlining the global issue of torture and the need for legal amendments worldwide. The conversation covered various legal aspects related to law enforcement, administration, and bureaucracy.

Different societal responses to violence and torture were examined, especially in the context of varying experiences between the poor, middle class, and the rich. The discussion highlighted the weak rules and regulations governing custodial torture in India, citing examples of violence by state actors in regions like Jammu and Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, and Manipur.

Data indicated a concerning increase in custodial deaths, and the session emphasized the need for improved police training and adherence to international standards. In conclusion, the session called for more comprehensive decision-making in legal judgments and the reinforcement of police standards in India. Professor Vibhuti provided closing remarks, emphasizing the importance of dialogue and awareness to address these critical issues within the complexities of India’s society, bureaucracy, and democratic system.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

WEEK 3 | June 26, 28 & 30, 2023

June 26, Monday: Reflections on Urban Governance Practices

Dr. Purnima Chauhan’s session on “Reflections on Urban Governance Practices” provided a comprehensive exploration of the evolving nature of governance, with a focus on urban contexts. She highlighted the shift from conventional governance to “good governance,” emphasizing the importance of instilling confidence and delivering positive impacts. Decentralization and empowering local governments were emphasized as crucial for efficient urban governance.

Dr. Chauhan stressed the significance of citizen engagement, drawing on the example of Malmo, Sweden, where citizens actively contribute to policy formulation. She discussed the trust deficit in India’s governance landscape, the need for legal reforms, and flexible laws to adapt to technological changes. The session also underscored the importance of efficient resource utilization, data-driven governance, and addressing gender disparities in urban governance, emphasizing the power of data to identify and rectify inequalities for a more inclusive and prosperous society.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

June 26, Monday: Inclusion, Laws & Policies I

In a thought-provoking session on reservation policies and affirmative action in India, hosted by Swetha Shankar, Dr. Almeida emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach that goes beyond numerical fixes, focusing on recognition and empowerment of historically marginalized communities. She discussed the challenges, debunked misconceptions, and presented the historical evolution of affirmative action policies, highlighting the goal of creating a more just and harmonious society.

Dr. Almeida’s call to action inspired participants to engage in informed conversations, advocate for well-informed policies, and work collectively toward a more inclusive and equitable society, culminating in a dynamic Q&A session and a commitment to ongoing dialogue and action.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

June 26, Monday: Interactive Discussion Session- III

The session on “Dissent and its Legal Implications,” led by Advocate Dr. Shalu Nigam, explored the fundamental role of dissent in a democratic society, examining its legal foundations and real-world significance. It emphasized that dissent, as a form of expressing disagreement and criticism, is essential for holding the government accountable and ensuring responsive governance. The session discussed legal precedents and challenges, advocating for the repeal of restrictive laws and proactive judicial mechanisms.

Additionally, it encouraged constructive dialogue among participants on topics like the death penalty, highlighting the importance of diverse opinions. The session underscored the vital need for citizens to engage in shaping policy, promoting inclusive governance, and safeguarding the right to dissent within the legal framework.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

June 28, Wednesday: Legal Hands on Session- III

During the “Navigating the Criminal Justice System” session led by Adv Dr Shalu Nigam, the complexities and challenges of the criminal justice system were discussed through the lens of dowry violence cases in India. These cases illuminated the issue of victim blaming within the system and the struggle for justice in the face of deep-rooted gender inequalities.

The session delved into the purpose and functioning of the criminal justice system, exploring theories of justice, the history of Indian criminal law, and various aspects of legal procedures. Adv Dr Shalu Nigam also highlighted the rights of complainants, survivors, and accused individuals within the system. The critique of the criminal justice system brought attention to patriarchal presumptions, emphasizing the need for transparency, accountability, and a victim-centered approach for more equitable and just outcomes.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

June 28, Wednesday:  Peace, Conflict & Social Work

During the session led by Dr. Gladstone Xavier, the multifaceted nature of conflicts and their implications for human progress were explored. Dr. Xavier highlighted the origins of conflict and its vital role in shaping human evolution, focusing on the significance of collaboration and adaptation for survival. He introduced a structured classification of conflict, encompassing various types and levels, emphasizing the importance of understanding the specific nature of each conflict for effective resolution.

Participants engaged in discussions about real-life conflicts between humans and the environment, shedding light on the complexities of these issues. Dr. Xavier also discussed the tools available to social workers for conflict resolution, emphasizing the value of historical context, conflict trees, conflict mapping, iceberg analysis, and intervention. The session concluded with insights on the challenges and opportunities of addressing conflicts in India’s diverse cultural landscape, leaving participants with a deeper understanding of conflict dynamics and their relevance to social work and peace-building efforts.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

June 30, Friday: Social Security, Law & Public Policy

During the session led by Prof Aruna Roy, the discussion revolved around the key issues of social security, law, and public policy in India, with a focus on addressing poverty and livelihood concerns. Prof Roy highlighted the gap between government policies and the needs of marginalized communities, emphasizing the issues of corruption, non-delivery of services, and inadequate funding allocation. She underscored the importance of understanding the rights of individuals enshrined in the Constitution and their relevance to building a social democracy that addresses social and economic inequality.

Prof Roy discussed the role of transparency, accountability, public audit, and awareness in achieving social justice, giving examples of the Right to Information (RTI) and social audits. The session also touched upon the importance of participatory democracy and the need for participatory budgeting and law-making.

Nikhil Dey, a collaborator with Prof Aruna Roy, provided insights into how policies like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and various other acts have been instrumental in promoting social and economic well-being, while emphasizing the significance of directive principles and the role of civil society in policy discussions. The session concluded with remarks and questions from participants regarding strengthening voices, the impact of digitalization, MNREGA, and structural development.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

June 30, Friday: Inclusion, Laws & Policies II

During the session on “Inclusion, Laws, and Policies” led by Adv Dr. Albertina Almeida, the focus was on legal provisions related to inclusion in the public sector in India. The constitutional mandate for inclusion, as detailed in Articles 15, 16, 46, 330, and 335, was discussed, emphasizing the prohibition of discrimination based on various factors and the promotion of educational and economic interests of weaker sections of society, particularly Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Reservations for these groups were outlined in Article 330, and the consideration of their claims in appointments was highlighted in Article 335. Additionally, definitions of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Articles 341 and 342 were explained. The session covered various aspects of reservations, including their impact, proportion of representation, concerns about the creamy layer, religious barriers, post-based reservations, legal provisions, jurisprudence, and the current reservation policy in India.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

WEEK 4 | July 3, 5 & 7, 2023

July 3, Monday: Legal Hands on Session- IV

The session on “Navigating Criminal Justice II,” conducted by Advocate Dr. Shalu Nigam, delved into the pressing issue of crimes against women and children within the Indian legal framework. Dr. Nigam highlighted the concerning increase in such crimes, despite stringent laws, and presented alarming statistics on sexual abuse. She traced the historical context of criminal justice in India, including pivotal cases like the Mathura Rape Case and the subsequent legal reforms inspired by public protests.

The session discussed amendments in the law, such as the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 2013, addressing sexual harassment, assault, voyeurism, stalking, and the provision for rape punishment. Dr. Nigam also emphasized the importance of victim rights, including the right to file a Zero FIR, a speedy trial, and compensation. The session concluded by addressing the growing challenge of online sexual predation and highlighted a relevant legal case while also showcasing a video depicting violent protests in Chile, shedding light on the broader context of global civil unrest.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

July 3, Monday: Legal & Social Practice – Gender

Advocate Audrey D’Mello, Director of Majlis Legal Centre, discussed the state of legal protection for women and children in India during her session. She emphasized that India already has an array of laws in place, citing Article 15(3) of the Constitution that allows for special laws to protect women and children. Despite these legal provisions, the ground reality remains bleak.

Domestic violence, including mental, economic, and physical abuse, is still pervasive, and the legal process often fails to hold perpetrators accountable. D’Mello pointed out that societal pressures and victim-blaming discourage women from taking legal action, and even when they do, the legal system often falls short in delivering speedy justice and adequate remedies. She stressed the need for better training and accountability for police officers, as well as a shift in societal attitudes to truly protect the rights and dignity of women and children.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

July 3, Monday: Civil Society, Laws, Public Policies & Impact

Dr. Kaustuv K Bandyopadhyay discussed the pivotal role of civil society in inclusive development and democratic governance, focusing on the trajectory and future of these organizations. He emphasized that the definition of civil society extends beyond mere philanthropy to encompass a range of non-political and non-economic associations that collaborate with the state. These include traditional associations, religious groups, social movements, self-help groups, membership associations, and intermediary organizations, all working to address various challenges.

Dr. Bandyopadhyay highlighted the challenges civil society faces, such as recognition, repression, diminishing resources, and collaboration issues with the government. He stressed the importance of strengthening the relationship between civil society and the government and mobilizing resources to address these challenges and promote inclusive development and democratic governance.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

July 5, Wednesday: Goa Children’s Act 2003: A Case Study

Advocate Dr. Albertina Almeida led a discussion on “Enabling Child Protection: Insights from The Goa Children’s Act.” She highlighted The Goa Children’s Act and its significance in safeguarding children’s best interests. This comprehensive act addresses various aspects of child welfare, providing guidelines and definitions for child abuse, exploitation, education, health, nutrition, child labor, and trafficking. Dr. Almeida emphasized the importance of inclusive legal processes and the need for inclusion both in the law’s content and the decision-making processes.

The law’s origins were rooted in the need to protect children from various vulnerabilities, especially those not adequately addressed by the existing legal framework. She explained the mechanisms established under the act, including Children’s Courts, the State Commission for Children, and District Inspection Teams to ensure its effective implementation. The presentation shed light on the complexities and challenges of creating a child-centric legal framework and its essential role in promoting child protection and well-being.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

July 5, Wednesday: An Unresolved Dilemma of Anticipatory Bail to Juveniles under the JJ Act

Professor Sharmila Ghuge, a faculty member at JC College of Law, discussed the evolution of the Juvenile Justice Act and the challenges it faces in dealing with juvenile delinquency. She highlighted the historical development of the Act, from the British era to its modern forms, emphasizing its primary objectives of ensuring the well-being and rehabilitation of children in conflict with the law or in need of care and protection.

She discussed the factors contributing to juvenile delinquency, such as biological changes, urbanization, family issues, and the impact of mass media. Professor Ghuge also touched on the absence of anticipatory bail in the Act and concluded by emphasizing the need for clarity and a liberal approach in interpreting the Act’s provisions to fully achieve its objectives.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

July 7, Friday: Women’s Rights & Legislative Reforms

Advocate Flavia Agnes, a renowned women’s rights lawyer and co-founder of Majlis Legal Centre, addressed a discussion on “Women’s Rights and Legislative Reforms.” She recounted the legislative changes in India, notably during the 1980s, including amendments to anti-rape laws in 1983, dowry-related legislations in 1984, and subsequent legal reforms addressing issues like trafficking and rape. While these laws were introduced, Agnes highlighted the challenges in their effective implementation and access to justice, especially for marginalized women.

She emphasized the need for attention not only to statutory laws but also to the procedures and mechanisms that allow access to justice. The Domestic Violence Act of 2005 was cited as an example of a protective legislation that provided civil remedies alongside criminal provisions. Agnes also delved into the contentious issue of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), discussing its complexities and emphasizing the importance of genuine reforms rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. The session concluded with a call for dialogue and awareness to address these complex issues effectively in Indian society.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

WEEK 5 | July 12, 14 & 15, 2023

July 12, Wednesday: Environment, Laws & Public Policy

During the “Environment, Laws and Public Policy” session led by Debadityo Sinha, the complexities of Environmental Law were discussed, emphasizing its distinction from other legal systems and its multifaceted nature. Sinha highlighted the development of environmental laws in India, stemming from the 1970s and shaped by social movements, international commitments, and judicial intervention. He underlined the key principles that underpin environmental regulations, including the Precautionary Principle and the Principle of Sustainable Development.

Sinha traced the global evolution of environmental laws, from the Stockholm Summit in 1972 to modern agreements like the Paris Agreements, while acknowledging the ongoing threat of global climate change. He also delved into India’s environmental policies, the role of the Supreme Court in shaping environmental laws, and the challenges and limitations of the current legal framework. In the end, he pointed out the failures in implementing these laws, stemming from a lack of public compliance, political interference, and industrial pressures.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

July 12, Wednesday: Foreign Policy

Professor Swaran Singh discussed the current state of foreign policy during the “Foreign Policy” session, emphasizing the importance of understanding foreign policy in today’s interconnected world. He explained how foreign policy has evolved from being the domain of a single ministry to permeating various aspects of governance and even universities. Prof. Singh highlighted key determinants of foreign policy, including leverage, leadership, population, size, and location, and how they influence a nation’s engagement with the world.

He examined foreign policy in the Indian context, noting India’s strategic advantages, historical background, and young, tech-savvy population, which has made it an attractive partner for many countries. Prof. Singh also discussed India’s shift from non-alignment to multi-alignment, aiming to build partnerships in various sectors and with multiple countries. He concluded by underscoring India’s growing importance on the global stage due to its unique assets, which position it as a key player in international affairs.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

July 12, Wednesday: Legal Hands on Session- V

Dr. Shalu Nigam conducted a comprehensive exploration of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, delving into the details of the disaster, its aftermath, and the legal implications. She emphasized the environmental and legal ramifications of the incident, describing the two major arguments surrounding it: corporate negligence and worker sabotage. Dr. Nigam also elucidated the long-term health effects of the tragedy and the changes in legislation that ensued, such as the Environment Protection Act of 1986.

She further highlighted subsequent gas leakage events in India and questioned the adequacy of safety standards, especially in the context of India’s rapid economic growth and liberalization policies. Dr. Nigam concluded her session with thought-provoking questions about the valuation of human lives in the pursuit of market-oriented development.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

July 14, Friday: The Dilution of Environmental Policy with a Special Focus on the Environmental Impact Assessment Process

Advocate Lara Jesani provided a comprehensive overview of the evolution of environmental laws and policies in India, highlighting significant milestones and international conventions that shaped the country’s environmental regulations. She discussed the importance of a rights-based approach to environmental protection, emphasizing access to information, participation in decision-making, due diligence and impact assessment, access to justice, and the defense of democratic spaces.

Jesani explained the stages of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process in India, covering screening, scoping, public consultation, and appraisal. She also raised concerns about the dilution of environmental policies in recent years, citing specific amendments and relaxations that favor polluting sectors and bypass public consultation. She stressed the importance of public awareness and vigilance to protect the environment and prevent further harm.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

July 14, Friday: Environment, Disasters and Sustainability

During the “Environment, Disasters, and Sustainability” session, Professor Anil K Gupta emphasized the interconnectedness of disaster risk reduction, adaptation, and sustainability, requiring an integrated approach. He discussed the environmental implications of developmental projects, the land crisis, and water conflicts, pointing out the need to release land back to nature due to landscape changes.

Professor Gupta stressed the significance of disaster risk reduction, considering climate change’s impact on extreme events and biodiversity. He highlighted the interplay between disasters and environmental degradation, shedding light on how disasters affect ecological systems and corporate sustainability. Several case examples illustrated the environmental consequences of various disasters, from the destruction of forests in the Sundarbans to water pollution in Assam. Professor Gupta underscored the importance of balancing economic growth and ecological sustainability for long-term disaster mitigation and true development.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

July 14, Friday: Interactive Discussion Session- IV

The session on “Capital Punishment Should be Retained or Abolished?” led by Advocate Shalu Nigam and facilitated by Prof. Vibhuti Patel, delved into a comprehensive debate on the continued relevance of the death penalty in the 21st century. The discussion presented arguments from both sides, with proponents of capital punishment emphasizing its deterrence factor for heinous crimes and its role in ensuring justice for victims, particularly in cases of grave offenses like rape and terrorism.

On the opposing side, concerns were raised about the potential for miscarriages of justice, the discriminatory application of the death penalty, and its irreversibility. Advocate Shalu Nigam argued that the death penalty does not effectively deter crime and diverts attention from systemic flaws in the criminal justice system, emphasizing the need for victim-centric and rehabilitative justice. The session also highlighted international trends in abolishing capital punishment and the need for a more comprehensive approach to justice and victim support.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

July 15, Saturday: Reporting Parliament & Laws & Policies

Mr. Himanshu Shekhar, a Senior Editor at NDTV India, shared his extensive experience in covering and reporting on the Indian Parliament over 22 years. He highlighted the complexity of India’s democratic system and its management, emphasizing the significance of consensus-building through dialogue, meetings, and parliamentary committees. Mr. Shekhar explained the workings of the Indian Parliament, its daily schedule, question-answer sessions, and the pivotal role of parliamentary and standing committees in deliberating complex issues.

He provided insights into the process of how laws are made in India, starting with public input and expert committees, inter-ministerial consultations, and Cabinet approvals. The session concluded with a focus on the participatory nature of India’s democracy and the central role of Parliament in shaping legislation.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

WEEK 6 | July 17, 18 & 21, 2023 | Action Research Field Work

July 17, Monday: Ethics in Research: Field Work & Action Research

Dr. Amar Jesani emphasized the paramount importance of research ethics, serving as the moral compass for the scientific community. He outlined eight fundamental benchmarks for ethical research, including social value, scientific validity, a favorable risk-benefit ratio, fair selection of the study population, informed consent, privacy, independent review by Research Ethics Committees, and collaborative partnerships. Dr. Jesani also delved into ethical challenges in community-based research, action research, and participatory research, stressing the need for deep commitment to collaboration and ethical frameworks.

Additionally, he highlighted misconduct in data collection, analysis, and publications, such as fabrication, falsification, inappropriate statistical methods, plagiarism, and issues with authorship credits, underscoring the essential role of rigorous ethical standards, accountability, and transparency in maintaining the integrity and trustworthiness of scientific research.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

July 17, Monday: Field Work & Qualitative Research Methods & Questionnaire

Dr. Soumyadip Chattopadhyay outlined key aspects of conducting research, emphasizing the importance of a well-defined problem statement, clear objectives, and structured methodology. He discussed survey techniques and the choice of survey modes, considering factors such as research goals and target populations. Furthermore, he highlighted the importance of questionnaire design, focusing on steps like defining research objectives, identifying the target audience, selecting survey techniques, question choice, logical flow, and pilot testing. Dr. Chattopadhyay’s session provided valuable insights into the research process, ensuring the collection of meaningful and reliable data through well-structured questionnaires.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

July 21, Friday: Housing Laws and Act

Bilal Khan’s presentation emphasized the fundamental concept of housing as a human right, rooted in international declarations, and discussed the key components of adequate housing, including security of tenure, availability of services, affordability, habitability, accessibility, and cultural adequacy. He highlighted India’s current housing initiatives, particularly the Housing for All mission, pointing out implementation gaps and challenges related to defining affordability.

Khan raised questions about the effectiveness of these initiatives, notably the eligibility criteria for housing schemes, which often disqualify vulnerable populations. He also highlighted the limited scope of Slum Improvement Acts and the urgent need for policymakers to prioritize the housing needs of marginalized communities. In conclusion, his presentation shed light on the multifaceted aspects of housing in India and the challenges in ensuring housing as a right for all citizens.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

July 21, Friday: Police System, Laws, Public Policy & Security

The session, led by Shri Rajiv Rajan Singh, a retired I.P.S. Officer, provided an insightful overview of the structure and roles within the Indian criminal justice system, focusing on the police force. It outlined the hierarchy within the police and the multifaceted responsibilities they shoulder, including law enforcement, security, and protection of vulnerable segments of society. The session highlighted the challenges faced by the police, such as political intervention and manipulation, which can compromise their impartiality.

It also emphasized the urgent need for police reform to address these challenges, particularly in matters of political interference and the importance of accountability through effective reporting and communication, underscoring the evolving role of women in reporting crimes and aiding the police in fulfilling their duties more efficiently.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

July 21, Friday: Local Governance & Public Policy

In the session on “Local Governance and Public Policy” conducted by Shri Tikender Singh Pawar, the historical evolution of urbanization and its implications for modern cities were explored. Pawar emphasized the diverse historical models of urban governance, ranging from citizen-managed settlements to colonial legacies influencing urban landscapes. He outlined the post-colonial urban development phases, from the Nehruvian era of self-reliance and planned industrialization to the challenges and shifts brought by economic liberalization after 1991.

The changing dynamics of Indian cities, marked by rapid urbanization, migration, and economic transitions, were discussed. Challenges faced by contemporary urban areas, including participatory governance, informal labor trends, resource centralization, and climate change, were highlighted. The session underscored the need for equitable, efficient, and responsive urbanization strategies that serve the diverse needs of urban citizens.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

WEEK 7 | July 24, & 28, 2023 | Action Research Field Work

July 28, Friday: Timebound Justice is Easily Possible in India

The session on “Time Bound Justice is Easily Possible in India” by Shri Shailesh Gandhi, a former Central Information Commissioner and RTI activist, underscored the critical issue of delayed justice in India. The speaker began with a poignant real-life case illustrating how delayed justice can lead to abetment of suicide and emphasized that timely justice is integral to a just legal system. He compared India’s justice system to those in other countries, highlighting the alarming backlog of over 5 crore pending cases in India and its negative impact on justice.

The talk focused on the consequences of prolonged legal proceedings, including the loss of interest in criminal cases and the frustration of relief in civil matters. The speaker proposed solutions such as major judicial reforms, better judicial performance, reducing adjournments, increasing the number of judges, and adopting e-filing to expedite the legal process. The session called for active citizen involvement and the need for the Chief Justice of India to define a roadmap to achieve timely justice. The session ended with a call to action, stressing the collective responsibility of citizens in ensuring the timely delivery of justice in India.

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WEEK 8 | July 31, August 2 & 4, 2023 | Report Writing

July 31, Monday: Legal Hands on Session- VI

The session on “Access to Equal Justice and Free Legal Aid” by Adv. Dr. Shalu Nigam highlighted the critical importance of legal aid and equal access to justice, emphasizing its role in ensuring fairness, the right to counsel, and a fair trial. Dr. Nigam underlined the international provisions recognizing legal aid as an essential element of a just legal system and its role in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 16. She emphasized that free legal aid is a constitutional provision, enshrining citizens’ right to access justice without discrimination based on class, sex, race, or creed.

Dr. Nigam discussed Article 39A, inserted into the Indian Constitution in 1976, and its aim to provide legal aid, particularly to vulnerable sections of society. She referred to a landmark Supreme Court judgment in the case of Hussainara Khatoon V/S. State of Bihar, where the right to free legal aid was recognized as integral to the right to life and personal liberty. Dr. Nigam highlighted current statistics and challenges, including disparities in accessing justice and reduced budget allocation for legal aid clinics. She suggested enhancing infrastructure, increasing legal aid clinics, and focusing on the availability of trained paralegals in underserved areas to address these issues.

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July 31, Monday: A Review of the RTI Act

The session on the “Review of the Right to Information Act” conducted by Adv Abdul Hafiz Gandhi emphasized the critical need for the Right to Information (RTI) Act in India, highlighting its role in promoting transparency, accountability, and democracy. The Act empowers citizens by granting them access to government-held information, acts as a tool to combat corruption, and fosters transparency in decision-making processes.

The discussion delved into the status and provisions of the RTI Act, its constitutional basis, and the ongoing controversy about whether the Supreme Court falls under its purview. Additionally, it addressed the exemptions outlined in Section 8 of the RTI Act, emphasizing the importance of balancing the public interest against protected interests when considering disclosure. The session underlined the pivotal role of the RTI Act in upholding democratic principles and ensuring government accountability and responsiveness.

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July 31, Monday: The Politics of Law & Deficits of Implementation

In the session on “The Politics of Law and Deficits of Implementation,” conducted by Professor Amrita Singh, the discussion revolved around the intricate relationship between politics, law, and its implementation in India. Professor Singh emphasized that law is a command of the sovereign and delved into the roles of various authorities in upholding and interpreting the law, including the challenges and prejudices women often face when seeking justice.

She highlighted the dominance of ideology within the judicial system, stressing the importance of ensuring that judges’ political leanings do not interfere with legal proceedings. The session also addressed issues such as sanitation, education, and the revival of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to improve the lives of marginalized communities. It concluded by emphasizing the importance of compulsory education to empower individuals to understand their rights and protect themselves against injustices in a majoritarian democracy like India.

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August 2, Wednesday: The State of Law & Public Policy in India’s Politics

In the session on “The State of Law, Public Policy in India’s Politics” led by Dr. Ajay Gudavarthy, the discussion centered on the crucial role of public policy as a mediator between capital accumulation and political stability. Dr. Gudavarthy explained how public policies shape a nation’s economic and social landscape and help strike a balance between economic growth and social well-being. The session provided insights into India’s post-independence public policies, addressing areas such as economic development, social welfare, and technological advancement.

It also delved into the challenges, including bureaucratic inefficiencies, resource constraints, and a lack of private sector involvement. The discussion emphasized the significance of India’s shift towards economic liberalization in the 1990s and its impact on the country’s economic landscape. It also explored the intersection of “nudge” policies and neoliberalism in governance and the transformative New Education Policy (NEP) introduced in 2020 to modernize the education system. The session highlighted how public policy plays a vital role in shaping India’s socio-economic and political dynamics and the need for careful consideration of emotions in policy design.

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August 2, Wednesday: Technology, Laws and Public Policy

In the session on “Technology, Laws, and Public Policy,” Shri Amit Dubey discussed the recently passed Data Protection Bill, 2023, and the increasing role of technology, particularly Artificial Intelligence (AI), in our lives. He highlighted the ongoing debate regarding whether AI is a blessing or a threat, emphasizing the risks associated with data breaches. Data breaches pose significant threats to individuals and organizations in the digital age, and addressing them requires robust cybersecurity measures.

Dubey presented key techniques to counter data breaches, including the use of firewalls, encryption, access control, employee training, and incident response plans. He also stressed the importance of staying vigilant in the rapidly evolving landscape of technology and data security, especially with the emergence of Quantum Computing, AI, and Meta Verse technology. The session underscored the need for individuals to carefully manage and monitor the data they share with websites and applications in this digital era.

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August 4, Friday: Health Policies and Laws

In the session on “Health Policies and Laws,” Prof. Sanghamitra Acharya, a chairperson professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, shed light on the intersection of health policies and legal safeguards, emphasizing the importance of bridging the gap between what the State promises and delivers in terms of healthcare. She discussed significant milestones in health policy development, including the Alma Ata Declaration of 1978, which highlighted the importance of primary healthcare.

Prof. Acharya highlighted the interdependence between individuals and the State in ensuring healthcare, referencing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the need to respect the healthcare rights of every individual without discrimination. She stressed that India’s post-independence laws have made progressive attempts to address public health, but more comprehensive policies are needed to fill the gaps and address issues like health hazards in slaughterhouses and hazardous factories. In conclusion, she emphasized the need for continuous efforts by both individuals and the State to boost healthcare and ensure effective distribution.

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August 4, Friday: Education Policies & Laws

In the session on “Education Policies & Laws,” Dr. Y. Suresh Reddy, Director of SRF Foundation, provided insights into the evolution of the Indian education system, starting from the pre-independence era to the present. He emphasized the transformative nature of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and its key principles, highlighting principles such as equity, community participation, the use of technology, and the promotion of critical thinking and creativity.

Dr. Reddy also discussed the significant impact of the Right to Education Act (RTE) 2009, which mandates free and compulsory education for children, and he explained its key provisions. He stressed the importance of continuous evaluation, adaptation of policies, and collaborative efforts involving government policies, educators, parents, and the private sector to meet the evolving needs of students and further develop the education sector in India, fostering both individual and national progress.

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August 4, Friday: Interactive Discussion Session- VII

The session on “Navigating Criminal Justice II” by Adv. Dr. Shalu Nigam addressed the challenges and issues related to crimes against women and children within the criminal justice system in India. Dr. Nigam highlighted the alarming increase in such crimes, despite strong legal provisions. She discussed historical cases, such as the Mathura Rape Case, which led to legal reforms, including the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1983 and recommendations from the Justice Verma Committee following the Nirbhaya protests in 2012.

The session covered various legal amendments introduced to strengthen women’s rights and protection, including sections dealing with sexual harassment, assault, voyeurism, stalking, and the duties of authorities handling rape cases. Dr. Nigam also discussed the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the rights of rape survivors. She concluded by addressing emerging challenges related to online sexual predators and shared examples of legal actions taken in response to such cases.

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WEEK 9 | August 7 & 11, 2023 | Report Writing

August 7, Monday: Interactive Discussion Session- VIII

The session on “Consumer Rights” by Adv. Dr. Shalu Nigam highlighted the importance of consumer rights in India. Dr. Nigam began by underlining the significance of consumer awareness, the unorganized nature of consumers in India, and the need to protect them from exploitation by unscrupulous trade practices. She discussed historical instances where social movements, such as the Salt Satyagraha led by Mahatma Gandhi and protests against inflation in the 1970s, served as assertions of citizenship rights, ultimately influencing government policies.

Dr. Nigam delved into the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 and its subsequent amendments, emphasizing the law’s role in safeguarding consumers against unfair practices. She outlined the six fundamental rights of consumers, including the right to safety, right to information, right to choose, right to redressal, right to compensation, and the right to consumer education. Dr. Nigam also explained the redressal mechanisms in place through district, state, and national consumer commissions, highlighting case examples of consumers standing up for their rights. She concluded by emphasizing the political nature of shopping and consumption, highlighting that consumer activism plays a crucial role in shaping ethical and environmentally friendly products and services.

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August 7, Monday: Careers in Law & Public Policy

The “Careers in Law & Public Policy” session, led by Advocate Sanchita Ain, emphasized the importance of legal knowledge in various career paths, whether in the public or private sector. Professor Ain discussed how law informs policy and the abundant opportunities for law students in the realm of public policy. She highlighted the value of internships, observing lawyers in action, and learning the nuances of legal language while still in law school. She encouraged setting clear goals and embracing trial-and-error learning.

She also discussed networking, suggesting that authenticity and targeted connections are crucial, even for introverts. The session underscored the significance of legal awareness in people’s daily lives, particularly in a changing legal landscape, emphasizing the need for legal education in regional languages and demystifying legal jargon.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship Inaugural Session and the subsequent weeks of informative sessions have provided a comprehensive exploration of the intricate and multifaceted relationship between law, public policy, and governance in India. The sessions have delved into a wide array of topics, ranging from international human rights to local governance, from health policies to the intricacies of the criminal justice system, and from the politics of law to the influence of technology in shaping public policy.

Throughout this program, it has become abundantly clear that public policy is not merely a set of rules and regulations but a dynamic force that influences the lives of individuals, communities, and the entire nation. The discussions have emphasized the profound impact of public policy on society, touching upon its role in shaping economic, social, and political aspects of our communities. Moreover, they have highlighted the importance of transparency, accountability, and the right to information in ensuring fair policy implementation and governance.

The sessions have underscored the pressing issues facing India, including gender disparities, wealth distribution, the need for timely justice, and the challenges of marginalized communities. They have also shed light on the importance of inclusivity, human rights, and the protection of civil liberties in the pursuit of a more equitable and just society.

As we reflect on the insights gained from these sessions, it is evident that public policy is a powerful tool that can either reinforce or challenge societal hierarchies. It is up to the youth, as the future leaders of this nation, to actively engage in the public policy process, advocate for positive change, and ensure that the rights and well-being of all citizens are upheld. By continuing to learn, discuss, and act on these critical issues, we can collectively work towards a more just and inclusive India.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here

Acknowledgement: This event report is written by Mansi Garg, Researcher at IMPRI.