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Swetha Shanker Pydimarry
The Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship Inaugural Session marked an inspiring and informative gathering aimed at fostering a deeper understanding of the intersection between law and public policy. This report aims to provide an overview of the session and capture the key insights shared by Professor Patel, an esteemed expert in the field.
The session shed light on the importance of public policy in shaping our world and emphasized the valuable role lawyers can play in influencing and crafting policies that promote justice and equality.
The Significance of Public Policy
Professor Patel commenced the session by emphasizing the profound impact of public policy on society. She articulated public policy as the decision-making process that guides our coexistence, emphasizing that it shapes the economic, social, and political fabric of our communities. By illustrating the various types of public policy, including regulatory, fiscal, and social policy, Prof. Patel demonstrated the broad scope of its influence.
The following policies were discussed in the session:
Prof. Patel talked about the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) in her second session in the Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship Program. She discussed the importance of MNREGA as a social safety net for rural India, and she also highlighted some of the challenges that the program faces. She also pointed out that MNREGA faces a number of challenges. These include corruption, delays in wage payments, and a lack of adequate infrastructure. She said that these challenges need to be addressed in order to ensure that MNREGA can continue to be an effective social safety net for rural India.
- Population policy
She highlighted that India was the first post colonial nation state to adopt family planning. She continued to explain the First Year Plans (FYP), while indicating the difference between “population control” and “birth control”.
- Health policy
Prof. Patel underscored that health is a fundamental right and is an important social goal. She mentioned that India has made significant progress in improving health outcomes in recent years, but there is still much work to be done. The government needs to focus on universal health coverage, primary healthcare, preventive healthcare, non-communicable diseases, and mental health in order to improve health outcomes in India.
Prof. Patel also discussed the following issues in her session:
- The role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in health policy
- The importance of community participation in health policy
- The need for evidence-based health policy
- The challenges of implementing health policy in a developing country
- Housing policy
She noted that the country’s housing shortage is a major problem, and that this is particularly acute for the poor and the marginalized.
She talked about the origins and evolution of NEP in the years 1966, 1986, and the recent policy change in 2022. NEP 2022 focuses on the 5 pillars: access, equity, quality, affordability, and accountability.
- IT and Cybersecurity
She noted that the country is becoming increasingly reliant on IT, and that this makes it vulnerable to cyberattacks. She said that the government needs to take steps to protect India’s IT infrastructure, and that it also needs to raise awareness of cybersecurity among the Indian public.
Finally, she discussed the gender responsive budget, reservation of seats for women, environment and forest policy, water policy, and energy policy.
In a nutshell, she concluded that transparency is imperative in all of these policies. In addition, she emphasised on various other mantras that would ensure fair implementation and governance of public policies. They are
- Right to information about functions, functionaries, implementing structures and mechanisms, and funds allocation and utilisation.
These mantras are effective when run in tandem with the governance structures which would encompass administration, corporate, committees, policy, staff, mission, responsibility, decision-making, ethics, board, and rules.
The Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship Inaugural Session provided a thought-provoking platform for young minds to delve into the critical nexus of law and public policy. Professor Patel’s insights highlighted the far-reaching consequences of public policy decisions and underscored the invaluable contributions lawyers can make in shaping a more equitable and just society. By empowering young individuals to actively engage in the public policy process, the session inspired a sense of responsibility and commitment to effecting positive change. Moving forward, it is imperative that participants seize the opportunity to leverage their knowledge and skills in shaping policies that address societal challenges and uplift communities.
Swetha is a research intern at IMPRI.
YouTube Video of Inaugural session for Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship Programme: https://youtu.be/fT0XLKGJ6LY
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