Blog Symposium on Law & Political Economy after COVID

LSPR’s Blog Symposium Theme#3: Neoliberalism And the Law

This is the third and final theme of the webinar series and blog symposium – organized by the student wing of the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, the Kautilya Society, in partnership with the Young Scholars Initiative.

Structure and Time

22nd August (Saturday): Three Articles on the three topics, authored by the Batch of 2020 graduates of India’s foremost law schools, will be released as part of our blog symposium on

23rd August (Sunday) : A webinar will be held from 14:30-16:30 IST, hosted by two domain experts from the field of law and policy-making, who shall discuss the written posts and navigate the otherwise vast ambit of this theme. The speakers will be speaking for 1 hour, followed by a 45-minute QnA session.


About the Theme

Prof. Nayanika Mathur would be in conversation with Prof. Philippe Cullet and Prof. Rashmi Venkatesan for this webinar. They will be looking at the interaction of 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.

The Speakers

Dr. Mathur is an Anthropologist of South Asia with wide-ranging research and teaching interests in the anthropology of politics, development, environment, law, human-animal studies, and research methods. She was educated at the Universities of Delhi (B.A. and M.A.) and Cambridge (MPhil and PhD). She has held postdoctoral research fellowships awarded by the Leverhulme Trust and the British Academy at Cambridge’s Centre for the Research in Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH). Her book, Paper Tiger: Law Bureaucracy and the Developmental State in Himalayan India, was published in 2016 by Cambridge University Press as part of their ‘Law and Society’ series. Paper Tiger is a winner of the Sharon Stephens Prize awarded by American Ethnological Society for a first book

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).

Ms. Venkatesan teaches courses on Law, Poverty and Development, Human Rights Law and Business and Human Rights. An alumnus of National Law School of India University, Bangalore, she completed her B.A.LLB (Hons.) in 2007 and later 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 continues to consult with various civil society organisations, conducts training for lawyers and legal education seminars and is published in academic journals.

The Articles

1. How biased is efficiency as a standard for welfare? by Unnati GhiaEfficiency (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?

2. Neoliberalism’s Capture of Environmental Law by Utsav Mitra: 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?

3. Neoliberal Constitutionalism by Abhishek NippaniWith 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?

Looking forward to your participation!

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