Spontaneous Order, our digital publication featuring liberal commentaries, conducted its second ‘Spontaneous Dialogue’ this month on ‘Looking Beyond the Binaries of Aadhaar’. This edition of the web-series featured eminent speakers Smriti Parsheera (Researcher, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy), Ronald Abraham (Partner, IDinsight), and chaired by Parth Shah (Founder President, CCS). The discussion between our panelists analyzed the Aadhaar system’s merits and demerits, and explored the policy as a tool for bettering the present mechanism of dissemination of subsidies. The speakers also exchanged views on the larger issue of privacy and the misuse of Aadhaar as a tool of surveillance.
The dialogue series live-streamed on Facebook, aims to offer impartial and factual perspectives aims to offer impartial and factual perspectives on contemporary issues, conveyed in the form of rational deliberations between experts across ideological and academic spectrum.
Through our ‘CCS on Campus’ initiative, we reach out to young students and future leaders across the country by way of policy dialogues conducted by members of our eminent faculty. During the 2-3 hour sessions, we encourage students to contest and debate learned presumptions on contemporary political and socio-economic concerns of the nation. This February and March we successfully engaged 495 students in four cities to explore the foundations of a free, prosperous, and just society.
This February we hosted Christopher Lingle, Visiting Professor of Economics at Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala, who addressed students at Ashoka University, Delhi Metropolitan Education (University in Noida), O. P. Jindal Global University, and Sharda University. Dr Lingle addressed the emerging market economics, challenges in public policy, and development in Asia.
Avinash Chandra, (Editor, Azadi.me) engaged students of media studies from Swami Vivekanand Subharti University (Meerut) and the International Institute for Media and Films (Jaipur) for a discussion on ‘The Law’ by Frédéric Bastiat. The hindi translation of the book was released by CCS in January 2018 to make Bastiat’s pivotal ideas on the excesses of governmental intervention and the inevitable perversion of law accessible to the Hindi readership in India and abroad.
Shantanu Gupta, Political Analyst and Author of 'The Monk Who Became Chief Minister', discussed with 30 Chief Minister Good Governance Associates and Staff at Ashoka University on ‘Education: Voice, Choice and Incentives’. The session focused on understanding the current education landscape in the nation and the challenges it faces. The participants were encouraged to think about creative and effective policy interventions for the same.
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This February we partnered with Christ University, Bangalore, to conduct our flagship certificate course on public policy. We had 35 young leaders participating in interactive sessions included discussions on the ‘Policy Landscape in India’, and ‘Making India Rich’. Engaging group activities were also conducted such as ‘Cand-e-monium’ to experiment the simulation of trade, collective readings to encourage students to understand critical theoretical concepts, and question and contest learned presumptions. Our esteemed faculty for the course included Bhuvana Anand, Governance and Public Policy Expert; Dr J P Narayan, Founder of the Foundation for Democratic Reforms; Viren Shetty, Senior Vice President, Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospital; Prof. M S Sriram, Visiting Faculty, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, among others.
Subsequently, in March we were hosted by the Faculty of Management Studies, New Delhi to conduct the three-day program for 28 participants. Sessions on economic and environmental challenges faced by India and the public policy landscape were conducted by speakers including Mohit Satyanand, Entrepreneur, Investor and Policy Expert; Shreekant Gupta, Adjunct Professor, LKY School of Public Policy (LKYSPP); Apurv Mishra, Visiting Faculty, Ashoka University; and Shantanu Gupta, Political Analyst and Author of 'The Monk Who Became Chief Minister'. The participants were given an insight into the field of policy making through a range of games, interactive activities and Socratic dialogues.
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Celebrating 20 years of CCS, we organised an Alumni Retreat this month with alumni and supporters of CCS from the last two decades. The two-day event packed with interactive activities such as a quiz on eminent Indian Liberals, Yoga session, Musical Musings, Speed Networking, and more. Invigorating discussions on the present policy landscape of India floated through the hours. We also hosted guest speakers Luis Miranda (Chairman, CCS) and Amit Kaushik (CEO, Australian Council for Research (India)) who led a talk on ‘The Road to Liberalisation: Envisioning State in 2025’. The Retreat afforded us the opportunity to reconnect with our alums and envisage the way forward.
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This February, Indian Liberals, our online archive of libertarian thought histories in India, brought together academics, thought leaders and scholars, for a day-long conference on the relevance of the Swatantra Party and the future of liberal politics in India. Hosted in partnership with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, the conference consisted of three gripping panels with eminent speakers such as Vasanthi Srinivasan (author of ‘Gandhi's Conscience Keeper: C. Rajagopalachari and Indian Politics’), Gurcharan Das, (author of ‘India Unbound’), R Jagannathan (Editorial Director, Swarajya), amongst other academics and thought leaders The drew an engaged audience of 350, including young scholars, students , lawyers, academics, journalists, and political commentators.
The day-long conference also marked the launch of 27,000 original and previously unpublished papers of the Swatantra Party that had been procured by Centre for Civil Society, as part of the Indian Liberals project. An exhibition of these papers was curated and the documents were handed over to the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in New Delhi for preservation and to make them accessible for the generations of scholars to come.
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In a big win for bamboo-based livelihoods in India and for us at CCS, President Ram Nath Kovind has cleared an ordinance amending the Indian Forest Act 1927. With the amendment, non-forest bamboo is now classified as ‘grass’ and can be freely produced and transported. This heralds an opening up of markets for communities directly dependent on bamboo-based livelihoods.
The classification of bamboo as a tree had made the resource inaccessible to the economically disadvantaged forest-dwelling and rural communities, and thwarted bamboo-based livelihoods. CCS had consistently campaigned for reforms in bamboo regulations in India since 2009, through its ‘Bamboo is not a Tree’ campaign, presenting regulatory reform recommendations to 13 key central ministries.
While the ordinance presents a major breakthrough in enabling market opportunities for bamboo-based livelihoods, it continues to be marred by the over-lapping and confounding legislations of the newly amended Indian Forest Act and Forest Rights Act (2006). Bamboo grown within forest limits, for instance, remains vulnerable to continuing state control. Following the ordinance and recognising its limits, CCS has stepped up its campaign to advocate for community rights for the sustainable management of bamboos.
CCS is the proud winner of Atlas Network's LIFE Award for its three-year Leveraging Indices for Free Enterprise Policy Reform (LIFE) program. The award recognises our efforts for sustainable free market solutions, and for policy reforms that foster freer, and more inclusive markets in India.
In order to reform the education landscape in India, CCS has advocated for public involvement to expand the platform for dialogue and break the arbitrary control exercised by the State. As part of this initiative we are now organising ‘Parents Forum for Student Education’ to strengthen parental voice in policy-making and create a foundation for parent-led activism. Our first Forum was organised in Hastsal (Delhi) with parent-leader representatives and amalgamated their diverses experiences with schooling, their understanding of student requirements, and challenges under the current system.
As part of our ‘Repeal of Laws’ initiative we launched a campaign on the Aircraft Act of 1934, highlighting its inconsistency, redundancy and arbitrariness in regulating all ‘flying machines’ including balloons and kites. To raise awareness about this issue, on the festival of Makar Sankrant, we orchestrated a campaign in partnership with five law schools (Maharashtra National Law University, Symbiosis Law School Noida, Hidayatullah National Law University, National Law School of India University, and National Academy of Legal Studies & Research). We mass mailed to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation appealing for a review and repeal of the Act. An article titled ‘Did You Know That Flying A Kite Could Land You In Jail?’ was published on our blog Spontaneous Order as well as a video on the ‘Lawbreakers of India’ on CCSIndiaTV. Our efforts also resulted in 7 citations in national and regional dailies including Aaj Tak and Amar Ujala.