Policy Advocacy: A collaborative and democratic approach to solving societal issues in India

Policies are clear plans about how a social, political, or economic vision will be achieved and how ideas will be implemented as actions. Policy advocacy can be defined as efforts taken by organizations or groups of individuals to promote a governmental policy and champion it with the help of resources such as groundwork, detailed research, social media marketing, public education, lobbying, and litigation. Policy advocacy can be symbolic and a representation of true democracy being practiced in a free nation. Policy advocacy is initiated by citizens, acting individually or as a collective (Reid, 2001) often represented by nonprofit organizations (Reed, 2006). To elaborate on the tools for policy advocacy, organizations can resort to building public favor by addressing the policy and whether it needs to be implemented, improved, or prevented. In a country like India where a myriad of marginalized groups exist, steering government policies towards the right direction becomes an important job for the Non-Governmental Organisations/Civil Society Organisations and various other organizations who work with the people on a grassroots level. The first step would be to detect the loopholes in a particular policy- this can be achieved by doing subsequent research and collecting data. The research would just not be limited to finding faults but it would also help generate solutions to bridge the gaps. The next and the most important step is to involve stakeholders of the society who are directly affected by the policy decisions and also the ones who would actively contribute to correct the policy to achieve its goals (for the betterment of the society). The final step lies in execution which requires lobbying and providing the decision makers with solutions through findings accompanied by the voices of the concerned citizens who were mobilized by the organizations.  (more…)

Deciphering the Status of the Electoral Bonds Scheme

As the country geared up for the State Assembly Elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, and Puducherry recently, a new wave of political rebuttal surfaced after the Supreme Court reserved its order on a plea that demanded a stay on the sale of electoral bonds. An electoral bond is a promissory note that can be anonymously bought by any Indian citizen or company incorporated in India from select branches of the State Bank of India to be donated to any eligible political party of their choice. Since its inception in 2018, the electoral bonds scheme has stirred a debate among the transparency activists who fear the scheme to turn into a scam; only this time it would be completely legitimized. (more…)

Matters of Legislation: Dynamics between the Centre and the States

Did you ever raise an eyebrow over the fact that India with its strong federal structure is not a federation? For a sovereign nation to be called a federation, the legislative powers between the Centre and the States need to be divided in an independent manner such that they remain within their sphere. Unlike the American Federation, India was called a Union of States as its formation was not the result of an agreement by the States and no State can secede from it. According to BR Ambedkar and the Drafting Committee of 1947, the indestructibility of our federal nation made it a Union. (more…)

Proposed Regulation of OTT Platforms and Digital Content in India : Implications and the Way Ahead

India is predicted to become the 6th largest market for OTT (Over-the-top) platforms by 2024, with digital media reaching a valuation of $5.1 billion by 2021 alone. This growth can be credited to several factors including record low internet prices and the proliferation of mobile devices. This massive and undeniable change in the media landscape raises, perhaps inevitably, the issue of the integration of digital media into a broader policy landscape. The dialogue surrounding the regulation of digital media in all its forms has been steadily gaining momentum globally and in India. The question of content regulation in particular has proven to be a complex and nuanced issue with different stakeholders such as the government and media entities representing varied perspectives. (more…)

The Anuradha Bhasin Judgment and the Conditional Status of the Right to the Internet

The preamble to the Indian Constitution provides for the liberty of thought and expression to each and every citizen of the country. This solemn resolve is envisaged in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution which provides for freedom of speech and expression to its citizens. This freedom is restricted by Article 19(2) which provides for reasonable restrictions on eight grounds under which the State can encroach on a person’s freedom of speech and expression. Article 19(2) is generally understood as a provision enabling the State to make laws that impose reasonable restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression. In addition to this, Article 19(2) is also a restriction on the State itself as it cannot restrict a citizen’s free speech on any grounds other than those specifically mentioned. Furthermore, the restriction must be made through a law that needs to be checked against fundamental rights. Thus, restrictions cannot be imposed at the whims and fancies of the State. A recent case that reinforces this principle while also improvising the interpretation of the right to access the internet vis-a-vis the fundamental rights is Anuradha Bhasin v Union of India (more…)

Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020: Widening the Purview of the Act

The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Ordinance was promulgated on 4th November 2020 by the President of India to ensure that all the stakeholders get an unconditional stay on the enforcement of arbitral awards where the Court finds out that the underlying agreement or the making of the award is induced by fraud or corruption and thus, through this amendment the parties to the proceedings, who challenged the award can now be saved from the conditions that the Court may impose in the normal circumstances for the stay of award. Further, the Ordinance omits the Eighth Schedule relating to the qualification and experience of the Arbitrator, which had impliedly excluded the foreign nationals from acting as arbitrators in an Indian seated Arbitration and substitutes the Schedule with Section 43J of the Act so as to state that the accreditation for arbitrations shall now be done as per the qualifications, experience and the norms specified by the regulations. (more…)

Anti-Defection Law in India: A Long Road to Stability

To curb the menace of horse-trading or floor crossing or party defection by the legislators that gave rise to instability in the House and the government, the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution or the Anti-Defection Law was enacted in 1985. Under this law, a legislator can be disqualified from the house on grounds of defection. Defection is defined as voluntarily giving up the membership of a party. The Courts have later interpreted this definition to examine and explain what counts as “voluntarily giving up” the membership of a party. There are some exceptions to this law and the power to disqualify a legislator lies with the Speaker or Chairman of the House.  (more…)

Solving India’s Infrastructure Problem: Is NIIF the Answer?

The National Infrastructure and Investment Fund (NIIF) is an entity registered as a Category II Alternative Investment Fund (AIF) under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). It was established by the Government of India in the financial year 2015-16 under the former Minister of Finance, Arun Jaitley, with a planned corpus of Rs. 40,000 crore to invest in commercially-viable long-term greenfield, brownfield and stalled projects in the infrastructure sector collaboratively and sustainably. Its headquarters are in Mumbai, Maharashtra, with Mr. Sujoy Bose as its Chief Executive Officer. (more…)

Role of media in policy

Role of Media in Policymaking

Media as Quintessence of Democracy

Labeled as the “fourth estate” in democratic societies, the media possesses a distinctive capability to influence and shape government policies. Normatively ascribed the role of a “watchdog” with a capacity to contribute to institutional change, the media holds the political elite accountable, reflects the needs of the audience, and exposes transgressions of the power holders within the democratic system. Its role thus in influencing matters related to legislation and government policies is crucial and should not be overlooked. (more…)

Privacy: The Laid Jurisprudence and Contemporary Challenges

Living life with dignity, encapsulated in the rights such as privacy, which is for all to enjoy, is the victory of democracy. The article highlights some of the salient features of privacy rights and takes a step back to analyse the status of privacy rights in its current form. On 24 August 2017, a nine judge bench of the Supreme Court of India in Justice K.S Puttaswamy v. Union of India passed a landmark judgement declaring the Right to Privacy as a fundamental right protected under the Indian Constitution. It is a natural right subsisting as an integral part to the fundamental right to life and liberty, inherent in Articles 14, 19 and 21. (more…)