77th SKOCH Summit | 20th November – 18th December 2021
BRINGING GOVERNMENTS AND PEOPLE CLOSER
The government’s commitment to “minimum government, maximum governance” has guided its policy, legislation and decision making at various levels. Advances in technological advancements – whether it is telecom, space, energy or information technology – have no doubt accelerated changes in governance, but the challenge before us is how to leverage these in the best possible and most practical manner so that even the last person at the end of the line, living in far and remote corners of the country, gets all that he needs in the form of service delivery with ease. It is in this context that this book is of immense relevance. It outlines the agenda as to what more needs to be done in the immediate future.
Dr. Ramachandran has very succinctly and in a very simple and straightforward manner brought out myriads of common problems people face, in both urban and rural areas. He has also described what measures need to be taken to bring out governance changes for effective delivery of services at the grass-root level.
M Ramachandran IAS, had a distinguished career in government from1972 to 2010, finally holding the challenging positions of Chief Secretary, Uttarakhand and then Secretary to the government of India in the Ministry of Urban Development. Although his various assignments he has been sensitive to the difficulties and problems which the common person faces and has made significant contributions to bring about changes in the system of governance. He is Distinguished Fellow, SKOCH Development Foundation.
SECURITY & DATA PROTECTION
India is transforming into a digital society owing to increased internet penetration which increased sharply from 2015 onwards. With over 750 million active internet users as of 2020, India is one of the largest digital markets in the world attracting global players. The rise in digital services being provided online by both the public and the private sectors has led to the generation of huge amounts of data. However, due to the unprecedented growth witnessed in internet accessibility entirely novel business models have sprung up which collect and analyse personal data for commercial purposes. The use of personal data for commercial purposes without any clear regulatory and legal frameworks poses grave risks for individual autonomy and privacy.
There is a need to construct an institutional and legal framework in such a way that it ensures utmost privacy for individuals while encouraging businesses to innovate and expand. There exists a need for a more comprehensive law to address data privacy concerns. The Personal Data Protection Bill seeks to include many aspects of the European Union GDPR laws. There are several challenges in implementing an effective data protection law such as how to govern the use of big data by large technology corporations and how to strike a balance between National security and citizen privacy concerns
Therefore policy formulation has to take into account all the recent developments in the area of commercial use of personal data so that legislation does not prove to be inadequate to handle the complex challenges that exist in this field. The policy has to strike a fine balance between necessary compliance and over-regulation. Because the bill will regulate the use of data in almost all economic activities there can be significant compliance costs specifically for businesses that are small in size. There has to be consultative dialogue with all the concerned stakeholders so that upcoming legislation can fulfil the tasks of protecting personal data and encouraging innovation
PANDEMONIUM: THE GREAT INDIAN BANKING TRAGEDY
“The Reserve Bank of India would like to assure the general public that Indian banking system is safe and stable.” – RBI statement, 1 October 2019
Why did India’s central bank have to issue an unprecedented statement to that effect?
In Pandemonium: The Great Indian Banking Tragedy, Tamal Bandyopadhyay takes you in search for the answer. It is a compelling story on the rot in India’s banking system – how promoters easily swapped equity with debt as bank managements looked the other way to protect their balance sheets, until the RBI began waging a war against ballooning bad loans.
What really ails public sector banks, the backbone of India’s financial system? Is it the government ownership itself, or how this owner actually behaves? And just when many were rooting for privatisation as a way out, powerful bankers such as Chanda Kochhar and Rana Kapoor exposed the soft underbelly of seemingly more efficient and profitable private banks of India.
A timely and insider look at the dramatic forces reshaping banking in Asia’s third-largest economy, this book is a bird’s-eye view of Indian banking and also a fly-on-the-wall documentary. A must-read to understand contemporary India’s challenges and economic potential.
Tamal Bandopadhyay has been a keen student of Indian banking for the past 25 years. A lifelong reporter and journalist, he is an award-winning national business columnist and a bestselling author. He is widely recognised for ‘Banker’s Trust’ a weekly column whose unerring ability to anticipate and dissect major policy decisions in India’s banking and finance has earned him a large print and digital audience around the world. The column won him the Ramnath Goenka Award for Excellence in Journalism (commentary and interpretative writing) for 2017.
Banker’s Trust now appears in Business Standard, where he is a Consulting Editor. Previously, he has had stints with three other national business dailies in India, and was a founding member of Mint newspaper and Livemint.com.
Author of five other books, Tamal has been named by Linkedin as one of the “most influential voices in India’.
RISING TO THE CHINA CHALLENGE
WINNING THROUGH STRATEGIC PATIENCE AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
Confit has resurfaced on the China-India border. The framework that had prevailed from 1988—to proceed with deep engagement while the border issues lay unresolved–has come to an end.
The events of Doklam and Ladakh are not the end of this story. India now faces the prospect of a hostile relationship with China. This is not just a problem of sending troops to Ladakh; this is a problem that will play out on a strategic scale. It is difficult for India to navigate these waters, as China is substantially ahead of India in many aspects.
Thinking about these questions and developing an intellectual framework for Indian strategy is very important in India today, and will have an impact on a broad swathe of Indian policy planning.
In Rising to the China Challenge Gautam Bambawale, Vijay Kelkar, Raghunath Mashelkar, Ganesh Natarajan, Ajit Ranade and Ajay Shah, examine this problem from India’s point of view, and develop the elements of the Indian strategic response. Their in-depth study of China and a compare-and-contrast with India establish the roadmap for the economic, diplomatic and military aspeets of the bilateral relationship. This book represents a holistic picture that integrates these three diverse perspectives.
Rising to the China Challenge is a call to action that policy planners will find invaluable while engaging in deep consultations and developing a pragmatic way forward.
10 FLASH POINTS 20 YEARS
An insightful examination of the challenges that have characterized Indian foreign policy in recent years by one of our more thoughtful political figures.
For India to grow, prosper and achieve its true potential, it requires peace on its periphery. But this amity has eluded it since 1947. The challenge from Pakistan and China, and now from the China– Pakistan nexus, has not allowed India to break out of its neighbourhood’s quagmire.
In the past two decades, the challenges to India’s national security have only exacerbated both in complexity and intensity. The seizure of Afghanistan by the Taliban and the complete withdrawal of all the military forces of the United States and its allies have opened up a security void creating a strategic vacuum in the region. It would have profound implications not only for Pax Americana, but for nations in the arc of turbulence.
10 Flashpoints; 20 Years looks back at the security situations that have impacted India in the past two decades and dissects our responses—both successes and failures—to them. Manish Tewari examines the tools and processes of Indian statecraft defence, diplomacy and intelligence, and weaves a veritable tapestry around the institutions and individuals that form part of the country’s national security establishment. He also offers suggestions on ways in which the national security doctrine can be reformed to meet the demands of the twenty-first century’s regional and global security environment.
Manish Tewari is a lawyer and a member of parliament representing Sri Anandpur Sahib in Punjab in the 17th Lok Sabha. He served as the union minister of state (independent charge) in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. He was the spokesperson of the Cabinet and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. He is currently the senior national spokesperson of the Indian National Congress (INC).
He served as distinguished senior fellow at the South Asia Centre of the Atlantic Council and as honorary advisor to the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). He has served on the standing committees of law and justice, defence and foreign affairs, and the joint parliamentary committee, which examined the issues pertaining to the telecom sector from 1994–2009, as well as the parliamentary consultative committee of defence.
He currently serves on the standing committee of finance and joint committee of parliament examining the Data Protection Bill as well as the parliamentary consultative committee of defence.
INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE AND POWER ASYMMETRY IN THE CONTEXT OF RURAL INDIA
This book explains how to bring about institutional change and foster new institutional structures (institution building) by resolving power inequities in a rural ecosystem in India, and advocates the identification of an appropriate institutional champion to make this happen.
The book develops a power-asymmetry-based framework and argues that a champion with the right attributes and the ‘ability’ to ‘convene’ people over a social issue can only succeed if he/she can resolve or reduce the deep-rooted societal power asymmetries within that community. It also presents four case studies that indicate how such social change is typically spread over a long period of time.
Amar Patnaik is a former civil servant belonging to the Indian Audit and Accounts Service under the Comptroller and Auditor General of India from where he prematurely retired to join the academic world. He has held positions of principal Accountant General of Sikkim, Odisha, Kerala and West Bengal during his service career. He was also the Director of the Agricultural Marketing and Co-operatives Department of Odisha, India, where he designed sustainable livelihood models for farmers through efficient and effective marketing of their produce.
CURTAIN RAISER: LIVING WITH CRYPTO
Cryptocurrencies are here to stay in different forms whether as floating currencies or Stablecoins- which are pegged to actual currencies or Digital coins issued by Central Banks. The rapid adoption of cryptocurrencies has also led to them being recognised as legal tender by countries like El Salvador.
There are questions on how cryptocurrencies can function like fiat currencies because of the wildly fluctuating nature of their value. However, The technological backbone on which cryptocurrencies function can be the foundation of transforming large-scale payments. An example of this can be when Hong Kong, China, Thailand and the UAE, together with the Bank for International Settlements’ Innovation Hub, carried out cross-border transactions with their central bank digital currencies, on an experimental basis. The transaction took seconds, instead of days, as with the conventional method of transferring payments via Swift. This shows that with the efficient implementation of Blockchain the nature and scale of large international transactions can be transformed.
The distributed ledger which underlies the blockchain technology is useful for supporting smart contracts which means that predetermined actions can be executed when payments are concluded on the blockchain. While the potential of this technology is huge, There are also underlying issues such as huge power consumption when compared to traditional forms of payments.
The policymakers have to come to terms with this new form of currency and dedicated awareness campaigns must be run to inform investors about the legitimate and illegitimate ways in which cryptocurrencies can be used. If the adoption of these currencies goes on unchecked it can undermine the stability of National Currencies and make it difficult for the Central Banks to implement Monetary policy effectively. The upcoming economic models will integrate Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain from the outset and it will have a definite impact on National Economies and their GDP.