Law and Political Economy in India After Covid: The Way Ahead

YSI COVID-19 in India Webinar Symposium

July 2020 - September 2020

This event will analyse the state of legal and political-economy of India, in the context of Covid, and how it has influenced policy-choices.

Webinar Series

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Description

The Indian political economy had been in a state of flux even before India became one of the worst-hit COVID-19 affected countries in the world. The coronavirus has aggravated several structural issues we had already been facing – bringing these issues to the fore for all policymakers to grapple with: revenue shortages, inflating expenditures, large-scale unemployment, dying businesses, a stagnant manufacturing sector, and amidst this – a breakdown of centre-state relations as governments negotiate the sharing of scarce revenue. Myriad legal and policy prescriptions have also been made to the government: to foster cooperation between the centre and states, to regulate the ever-widening size of the Gig or Informal Economy, labour reforms, rethinking environmental regulations, and so on. Many such key policy decisions have already been made by the governments, over the past weeks as the country wrestled with the pandemic. This project aims to look at the choices made after the pandemic in the context of three themes:

  • Indian Federalism: Under this theme, the discussion will be on Fiscal federalism, Centre-state coordination, and Co-operative federalism. The speakers will closely look at how the centre and the state and states amongst themselves are coordinating the sharing of revenues and sharing of other responsibilities.

  • Gig Economy and the Law: Many day jobs, which were the usual employment opportunities are now being converted into gig work by modern startups (e.g. UrbanClap, Swiggy or Uber). Covid has further entrenched such work. But given the lack of job security, presence of bias, and lack of worker bargaining power, how do we use regulations to make the gig-market fair?

  • Neoliberalism and the Law: Efficiency (acting through strong property rights, deregulation and private contracts) has been touted as the best means to increase overall welfare by neoliberal policy-advisors. After Covid, the government has relied on such efficiency-based advice to modify environmental and labour regulations. The question then is whether efficiency indeed is fair and neutral? Or has neoliberalism captured our legal and political economy? How do we trace neoliberalism in the Indian Constitution? These are the questions the speakers will be critically looking at.

Structure

This Programme will take a very comprehensive look at these themes through both written and webinar medium: three posts under each theme will be published every Saturday starting on 8th August 2020, on www.lawschoolpolicyreview.com. The posts will be authored by some of India's best recent law graduates. These posts will be followed by webinars every Sunday starting on 9th August 2020. The webinars will see two-three domain experts from the field of policy-making and the law speak to each other on these themes, using the written posts to navigate the otherwise vast themes. Each webinar will reserve 45 minutes for the participants to ask their questions and take part in the discussion.

This event is being organised by Kautilya Society, which is the student arm of Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, in partnership with the Young Scholars Initiative.

UPCOMING EVENTS

There are no upcoming events in this project.

PAST EVENTS

Online

9 Aug 2020

Webinar

Indian Federalism after Covid

The discussions in this webinar will revolve around the following issues: a. Fiscal federalism: Under this, we will be looking at the revenue shortages affecting states’ capacity to deal with Covid and the responsibilities owed by the centre in this regard. The key issue is that even though public health is the exclusive domain of states they are grossly underfunded to deal with the same. b. Centre-state coordination: Here, we will be looking at the responsibilities owed by the states to the centre. The questions include: Can States have their own sui generis apparatus in lifting lockdowns based on their own understanding of the needs of their state, while ignoring the Union's call to kickstart the economy? Should they be allowed to refuse flight services in their states from operating, when central govt. forces them to start their airports? c. Co-operative federalism: Cooperation is required between states while enforcing the lockdown, or when developed states allow people coming from neighbouring states to access their superior healthcare infrastructure, while also sealing their borders. How does this workout within India's federal setup? Dr Amal Sethi will be in conversation with Mr Alok Prasanna Kumar for this webinar. About the Speakers Dr Sethi is a Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania where he researches on comparative constitutional law and theory with an emphasis on courts, constitutions and democracy. Over the years, he has worked, taught, and written on topics across a gamut of social, political, and legal issues. He has been involved in several capacities with different governmental and inter-governmental agencies ranging from USAID and the US Department of Commerce to UNESCO, UNDP, UN Women, UNHCHR, and The SDG Fund. He has advised sovereign governments on constitution-making and at international tribunals such as the International Court of Justice. Currently, Amal also serves on the board of the non-profit Dagar-Pathway which works towards prisoner rehabilitation. He obtained his Doctors and Masters in Laws from the University of Pennsylvania. Mr Kumar is Co-Founder and Lead at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy. His areas of research include judicial reforms, Constitutional law, urban development, and law and technology. He graduated with a B.A. LL.B. (Hons) from the NALSAR University in 2008 and obtained the BCL from the University of Oxford in 2009. He writes a monthly column for the Economic and Political Weekly and has published in the Indian Journal of Constitutional Law and National Law School of India Review apart from media outlets such as The Hindu, Indian Express, Scroll, Quint and Caravan. He has practiced in the Supreme Court and Delhi High Court from the chambers of Mr Mohan Parasaran, and currently also co-hosts the Ganatantra podcast on IVM Podcasts. Structure and Time 8th August: Three written blog posts on the three topics, authored by graduates of India's foremost lawschools, will be released as part of our blog symposium on www.lawschoolpolicyreview.com. 9th August: The webinar will be held from 14:30-16:30 PM. The speakers will be speaking for 1 hour, followed by an hour of QnA session.

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Online

16 Aug 2020

Webinar

Gig Economy and the Law after Covid

The discussions in this webinar will revolve around the following issues: a. Digital-Informalization of Labour: Many day jobs, which were the usual employment opportunities for most people, are now being converted into gig work by modern startups (e.g. urbanclap, swiggy or uber). Covid has further entrenched such work. But given the practices of class action waivers, lack of benefits and job security, mandatory arbitration agreements and third party control, what impact will this have on the labour market. How do we use regulations to make it fair? b. Anti-trust law and Collective Bargaining in the gig economy: Gig economy is on the rise, especially during and after Covid. However, there are multiple unresolved anti-trust issues in this area. Can gig service-providers take collective action? Does the labour exemption in anti-trust extend to them or are they independent-contractors who cannot collectivize? c. Bias and Discrimination in the Gig Economy: How do we tackle gender and social discrimination which has seeped into the gig economy (Refusing deliveries because the delivery person was a Muslim is an examples of this). Dr Gayatri Nair will be in conversation with Adv Mr Sanjoy Ghose and Dr Jamie Woodcock for this webinar. About the Speakers Dr Nair is an Assistant Professor at IIIT, Delhi. She received her M.Phil (2012) and PhD (2016) in Sociology from the Centre for the Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her research interests lie in urban informal labour and livelihood patterns with an emphasis on the question of technology, caste and gender. Mr Ghose is one of India's foremost lawyers on employment and labour law and has been in practice for over 23 years. Dr Woodcock is a senior lecturer at the Open University and a researcher based in London. He is the author of The Gig Economy (Polity, 2019), Marx at the Arcade (Haymarket, 2019), and Working The Phones (Pluto, 2017). His research is inspired by the workers' inquiry. His research focuses on labour, work, the gig economy, platforms, resistance, organising, and videogames. He is on the editorial board of Notes from Below and Historical Materialism. He completed his PhD in sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London and has held positions at Goldsmiths, University of Leeds, University of Manchester, Queen Mary, NYU London, Cass Business School, the LSE, and the University of Oxford. Structure and Time 15th August: Three written blog posts on the three topics, authored by graduates of India's foremost lawschools, will be released as part of our blog symposium on www.lawschoolpolicyreview.com. 16th August: The webinar will be held from 14:30-16:30 PM. The speakers will be speaking for 1 hour, followed by an hour of QnA session.

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Online

23 Aug 2020

Webinar

Neoliberalism and the Law after Covid

The discussions in this webinar will revolve around the following issues: How biased is efficiency as a standard for welfare?: Efficiency (acting through strong property rights, deregulation and private contracts) has been touted as the best means to increase overall welfare. But has this approach worked? How will efficiency ensure overall welfare when resources themselves are unequally distributed and remain captured by few? Can efficiency resolve systematic issues like gender inequality, class inequality, caste inequality and so on? Neoliberalism’s Capture of Environmental Law: Neoliberalism has often targeted environmental regulations, classifying them as ineffective and characterizing them as an obstacle to commerce and industry. Many governments, including in India, have bought into these arguments. Recent changes to Environmental Impact Assessment is an example of this. Does this approach work when it comes to the environment? What are the legal options to limit such changes? Neoliberal Constitutionalism: With time neoliberalism has permeated into the sphere of constitutional law. While constitutional principles should revolve around protecting life, liberty and dignity, the focus in recent times has been on ensuring growth and development. What are its consequences? And what is the way forward? Prof. Nayanika Mathur would be in conversation with Prof. Philippe Cullet and Prof. Rashmi Venkatesan for this webinar. About the Speakers Prof. Mathur is an Associate Professor at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, Oxford University. She has extensively worked on bureaucracy, welfare, and techniques of government in South Asia, including studies on the intersection of technocracy and politics. She is also the author of Paper Tiger: Law Bureaucracy and the Developmental State in Himalayan India, which was the recipient of Sharon Stephens Prize awarded by American Ethnological Society for a first book. Her second book Crooked Cats: Human-Big Cat Entanglements in the Anthropocene, is due to be published this year. Dr Cullet is Professor of international and environmental law. He came to teach at SOAS with qualifications in law and development studies from Geneva University, London (King’s College and SOAS) and Stanford University. His main areas of interest include environmental law, natural resources, human rights and the socio-economic aspects of intellectual property. He works on these at the international level and in India. His monographs include Water Law, Poverty and Development – Water Law Reforms in India (2009), Intellectual Property Protection and Sustainable Development (2005) and Differential Treatment in International Environmental Law (2003). Prof. Venkatesan teaches courses on Law, Poverty and Development, Human Rights Law and Business and Human Rights. An alumnus of NLSIU, she graduated from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London with an LLM in International Economic Law. Her areas of research and engagement have been broadly in the field of development policies and its impact, labour rights, global economic laws and human rights. She brings with her unique experience of nearly a decade as a legal practitioner having worked with an array of different organisations; law firms, NGOs, international organisations and civil society organisations. Structure and Time 22nd August: Three written blog posts on the three topics, authored by graduates of India's foremost lawschools, will be released as part of our blog symposium on www.lawschoolpolicyreview.com. 23rd August: The webinar will be held from 14:30-16:30 PM. The speakers will be speaking for 1 hour, followed by an hour of QnA session.

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Working groups
  • Finance, Law, and Economics
  • States and Markets
  • South Asia
Project Organizers
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Binit Agrawal

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Aleksandar Stojanović

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Aneesha Chitgupi

For questions, the Project Organizers.