The Public Policy Club at the Jindal School of Government and Public Policy (JSGP) & Policy Talks, organised a policy dialogue on ‘Legal Empowerment and SDG 16’ with Dr. Naresh Singh, International Development Advisor, Canada and Mr. Bibek Debroy, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India and Member of NITI Aayog. It was moderated by Professor Ramaswamy Sudarshan, Dean, JSGP, on Monday 11th February 2019, at Jindal Global Educational & Professional Academy, NTH Building, Qutab Institutional Area, Delhi.
Policy Talks is a body cofounded by Meenuka Mathew, JSGP alumna, which provides public policy resources, opportunity, leadership, and tools needed by civil society to expand, enhance, and sustain their ability to advance social change. The Public Policy Club is a student led initiative at the JSGP mentored by the Dean Professor Sudarshan organises events such as workshops, and seminars for students on different public policy issues.
Dr. Naresh Singh was Executive Director of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor. Prof. Bibek Debroy contributed to the work of the Commission, which was co-chaired by Ms. Madeleine Albright and Prof Hernando de Soto. The commission published its report in 2008.
Along with the Prof. Bibek Debroy, Dr. Naresh Singh and Professor Sudarshan as moderator, Vice Chancellor of the O.P. Jindal Global University Professor (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar was also present on the occasion. Professor (Dr.) Kumar welcomed the guests and mentioned that public policy school has been an effort on the part of the university to engage with issues surrounding policy not only related to only universities but also with the government, non-governmental organizations, think-tanks, research institutions etc. He reiterated that public policy school has an important role to play to help government take informed decisions and continuously working towards speaking truth to power. Government rarely tend to take suggestions from outside of the government, nonetheless such dialogues are important which brings together people from different walks of life to create a unique perspective to look at problems.
Dr. Naresh Singh stated that in 2008, his commission identified that 4 billion people at that point of time, could not use the law to improve their living. The only time when the people encountered a law when they faced some sort of a punitive action. Those people are the people who live in the so called ‘informal’ sector. In India, the current estimates show us that 90% of the livelihoods and 50% of the GDP come from the informal sector. Dr. Naresh Singh talked about four pillars – property rights, business rights, labor rights, and access to justice & rule of law for empowerment of people. The other four steps for people to take action for their empowerment are – mobilization, articulation, contestation, and confirmation.
Professor Bivek Debroy discussed all the four pillars in Indian context. He said that the four individual reports of the commission of legal empowerment of the poor should be available and read by everyone. The four individual reports are not available and only the aggregate composite report of is available.
Professor Sudarshan welcomed the guests as well as talked about the importance of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor.
The other eminent guests present in the session were Dr. Parth Shah, Anup Pujari and others.