The Indian political economy had been in a state of flux even before we 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 webinar series cum blog symposium – organized by the student wing of the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, the Kautilya Society, in partnership with the Young Scholars Initiative – aims to analyse these choices in the context of three broad themes:
- Indian Federalism: Under this theme, the discussion will be on Fiscal federalism, Centre-state coordination, and Co-operative (state-state coordination) 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.
This free-of-charge and open-for-all Programme will take a comprehensive look at these themes through both the written and webinar media: three posts under each theme will be published here every Saturday starting the 8th of August 2020.
The posts will be authored by the Batch of 2020 graduates of some of India’s best law schools. These posts will be followed by webinars every Sunday starting the 9th of August 2020. Each Webinar shall host two-three domain experts from the field of law and policy-making, who shall discuss the written posts and navigate the otherwise vast ambits of these themes. 45 minutes will be reserved in each webinar for the participants to ask their questions and take part in the discussion.
Click here for a glimpse into the successful symposium we hosted last year – Freer & Fairer: LSPR’s Conference on Electoral Reforms in India