Friday Seminar Series in the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance
A series of lectures/ seminars were organised by the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance during Monsoon semester 2011. In these seminars, scholars from diverse disciplines presented their research on various socio-political challenges faced by society in contemporary times. The first lecture of series was on The Lokpal Debate delivered by Nikhil Dey, Co-convener National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI) on 02 September 2011. In his presentation, Dey argued that there was never any doubt that India needs a strong Lokpal Act and the protest has paved the way for its enactment. But the Jan Lokpals at different levels will be deemed police officers and their offices will be deemed police stations with all functions, including ordering penalties on departments and officers they find guilty as the bill brings the CVC and that part of the CBI that deals with corruption under the Lokpal. Dey also opined that, it is incomprehensible as to how the Lokpal (or Ayukta) will investigate the lakhs of complaints received, especially at the remote district and sub-district levels. Finally, the speaker argued that despite the 'Jan', what the proposed bill pushes is centralization. Citizens can only file complaints and wait, as they do now.
The next seminar was by Jean-Louis Halpérin, Professor of Law and Director, Department of Social Sciences, École Normale Supérieure, Paris on 09 September, 2011. The title of his paper was “Comparing Lay Justice in India and in France”. He proposed a comparison between the two historical patterns concerning lay justice in India and in France and the arguments used today for modernizing justice. Halpérin argued that the debates about extending the participation of lay people in justice are on the legal and political agenda in India as in France. The French Parliament has just voted in August 2011 for a new law creating lay assessors in criminal courts for judging misdemeanors. In India the Gram Nyayalaya Act (2009) is now implemented. However the two countries have a very different history about the fate of the criminal jury (abandoned in India, transformed in France). If history cannot explain the situation today, what are the reasons to develop lay justice in India as in France?
The third seminar of the series was on 30 September 2011 by Shirin M. Rai, Professor of Politics and International Studies, and Director, Leverhulme Trust Programme on Gendered Ceremony and Ritual in Parliament, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK on “Futures of Feminism: Hope and Despair”. In her paper, the speaker argued that the world that we inhabit today allows us great latitude of hope where women's lives are concerned but also constrains possibilities of transformation that we struggle towards. Shirin outlined some challenges that the future of feminism as well as future feminisms face. The paper discussed two of the debates which illustrate the problem of agential optimism in the face of structural constraints: 1) on women's work; and, 2) on political participation. Rai reviewed three challenges to feminisms, namely, 1) bridging difference; 2) bridging theory and practice; and, 3) bridging past and present.
The next seminar of the series was given by Usha Ramanathan, Independent Researcher, on “Land Acquisition in an Era of Corporate Longing for Land” on 21 October 2011. In her lecture, the speaker outlined the developments leading up to, and as reflected in, the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2011. She argued that in its 117 years of existence, the Land Acquisition Act 1894 has influenced the expansion of the power of the state to acquire, and take over, land. It has helped to institutionalize involuntary acquisition. Land reforms, mass displacement and neo-liberal priorities have produced contradictory impulses. In a bid to address these contexts, in September 2011, a Bill was introduced in the Parliament to replace the 1894 law. She said that The Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2011 is an attempt to reconcile the conflicting concerns of displacement, dispossession, growth and corporate expansion.
The last seminar of the semester in this was delivered on 04 November 2011 by Amitabh Behar, Executive Director, National Foundation for India on “Civil Society Initiatives for Governance Accountability Wada Na todo Abhiyaan (WNTA) and the 12th Five Year Plan”. Behar examined the engagement of various civil society forms with the questions of governance accountability in India. Premising itself on the empirical details of the WNTA, the speaker analyzed the experience of engaging with the Planning Commission on the issue of governance accountability during the 11th Plan and the efforts of the Abhiyan in influencing the framing of the 12 Five-Year Plan with the same objective in mind.
These lectures benefitted the students and faculty members from various schools across the University and institutions beyond in exploring new dimensions of thoughts.
Rukmani, Ph.D. Scholar
Centre for the Study of Law & Governance
Talk on “Exploring the Sites of Moral Contextualism”
Centre for Philosophy, School of Social Sciences, JNU organized a talk by Dr. Bhagat Oinam on the theme “Exploring the Sites of Moral Contextualism” on September 07, 2011
Dr. Oinam began by critiquing the position of the strong foundationalists that there can be a universal idea of goodness, and an inseparable logical relationship between the “principle of goodness” and the “moral judgements”. Such a view holds that what is good is bound to be so without any exception, goodness being unconditional. He also critiqued the strong anti-foundationalists position that harps on impossibility of a universal or universalisable moral principle. The latter would not subscribe to any form of causal or intentional relationship between the principle(s) and judgements of morals. On the other hand, the weak foundationalists and weak anti-foundationalists take softer positions on the relationship between moral principle and moral judgement.
Critiquing the anti-foundationalist position that judgement on moral conduct can be passed independently of an a priori conception of what is good, Dr. Oinam argued that if what is “desirable” changes from time to time, and situation to situation, then it will be extremely difficult to conceive of a consistent idea of “good” and “bad,” “desirable” and “undesirable.”
Even the idea of an informal or non-formal relationship as propounded by some weak anti-foundationalists lacks methods of conceptualising on the idea of moral goodness. A relationship between the two, i.e. moral belief and settled convictions/traditions/final vocabulary, has to be already preconceived prior to evaluation of a moral conduct and subsequently in passing of a moral judgement.
Highlighting the main focus of moral contextualism, Dr. Oinam explained the coherent connection between moral principle, conduct and moral judgement within the ambit of a situation so as to ensure certainty of moral judgement within the same ambit. A “situation” not merely consists of the trilogy of moral principle – moral conduct – moral judgement, alone. It also consists of several other constituents, such as, moral agents directly or indirectly related with the conduct and judgement, moral belief on the given moral principle, and other factors (religious authority, a cultural tradition, moral conviction, collective conscience etc.) that influences one's moral commit-ment as well as helps in shaping a moral principle.
Further, Dr. Oinam focused on the idea of “embededness” and “transcendental” that show the wholesome account of moral contextualism not to be either falling into the fold of moral universalism nor to moral relativism. As such this formulation is expected to accommodate richness of cultural pluralism and life-worlds to be able to understand objectively the nature of moral beliefs and commitments that are located in culture.
Bhagat Oinam, Associate Professor,
Centre for Philosophy, SSS
Talk on “Sanskrit Lexicography, a New Sanskrit Dictionary”
The Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies organized a talk by Dr. Oscar Pujol, Director, Institute of Cervantes, Delhi on 19 September, 2011
The aim of the talk was to underline the obsolescence of modern Sanskrit Lexicography which is more than 100 years old and has not been updated in spite of the great advances done in this field in the XX Century. To achieve this a brief report on the Sanskrit- Catalan dictionary and how the basic principles of modern LExicocraphy have to be integrated while preparing new Sanskrit.
Prof. Michael Coulson in his book “Sanskrit” was of the opinion that the existing Sanskrit dictionaries were grossly out of date. The most important lexicographic activity regarding Sanskrit was done more than a hundred years ago. Since then many unpublished Sanskrit works have been brought to light, specialized studies and glossaries have been prepared but existing dictionaries have not been enriched with the newly available information. Additionally English and other modern languages have also undergone a change and evolution which is not properly reflected in the existing dictionaries. As a result the English renderings, or for that matter renderings in any other modern language, often sound old and outmoded. Consequently updating Sanskrit lexicography is a badly needed task. The present Sanskrit-Catalan Dictionary is a small attempt in that direction.
C. Upender Rao, Associate Professor,
Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies
Orientation Program for IERB members
Institutional Ethics Review Board – JNU organized its first orientation program on ethics in research on human subjects on 20 September 2011. A number of experts specializing in the field of medical and non-medical sciences, social sciences and humanities were invited to address the members of the board. JNU is a research university and takes pride in its interdisciplinary academic activities and research programmes. It is one of the very few Universities in India that believe in maintaining the highest ethical standards in research. We have a properly constituted ethics review board even through most of the universities across the country have no properly constituted EC's. We have IERB constituted as per national and international guidelines, closely following the ICMR guidelines.
Although the discipline of Bioethics and ethics committees are an essential part of any research institution today, UGC is silent on this, and for a number of years it was only considered necessary for medical institutions and clinical researches. The ethical issues and concerns have been there as long as we have had illness and cure and any kind of clinical services, but the history of ethics / bioethics as a discipline is not very old. It is just about 40 years and we have several landmark studies and several milestones in this short history. One could begin from 1969, when Daniel Callahan, together with Willard Gaylin, founded the Institute for Society, Ethics and the Life Sciences, later known as Hastings Center. D Callahan published his well known article on “Bioethics as a Discipline” in the first volume of the Journal of the Hastings Center in 1974. It was Daniel Callahan's article that gave the field such vast dimensions. He said that this new discipline is a unique discipline, using both “the traditional methods of philosophical analysis and sensitivity to human emotion and to social and political influences with which medicine was practiced”.
Daniel Callahan's article on “Bioethics as a Discipline” which can answer many questions arising out of actual practice of research on human subjects was circulated for ready reference by the members in the orientation program. Albert Jonsen's article was also being circulated, for wider discussion.Today we have a number of international policy documents guiding the conduct of research on human subjects, Helsinki Declaration of 2000 (clarifications in 2002, 2004), CIOMS 2002, and UNESCO document 2005, and specifically for India we have ICMR guidelines. Protecting the human subjects/participants in research is the primary objective as stated in all of these policy documents.
As of today, every policy document on ethics in research (any research, medical, non-medical, science and technology, social science and humanities research) involving human subjects insists that “Autonomy and Individuality” of a participant must be respected and that patient/ subject autonomy is by far the most powerful principle in ethical decision making. The question of Identity and Individuality is as much a question of basic human rights as any other. In this context, “On Liberty” by John Stuart Miller 1859 is relevant even till today
So, it is a big responsibility for the ethics committees of institutions. The researcher and the research institution has to ensure the safety and well being of patients in clinical settings and subjects in research settings. Most of the time these research subjects are highly vulnerable, e.g. studies may involve uneducated or illiterate populations, tribals and rural populations, children and those with special physical or cognitive needs, or even those who are educated but may not be able to understand the risks involved.
So, it is binding for most of the research institutions to have a mechanism, a system in place which not only provides the necessary checks and balances but also creates awareness amongst young scholars so that the future generations of researchers follow only those methods and procedures which are ethical as per international norms and guidelines.
An orientation program or a training workshop for the members of any institutional ethics committee is mandatory as per ICMR guidelines. Although UGC is silent on this, IERB- JNU aims at maintaining the highest ethical standards in research, hence this program. The meeting was chaired by Prof. S.K. Sarin, Chairperson IERB. Prof. S.K. Sopory, Vice-Chancellor addressed the members and extended a warm welcome to the experts and special invitees. After a formal welcome by Prof. S K. Sareen, and a brief introduction by the Member Secretary Prof Vaishna Narang, Prof. Ranjit Roychaudhury, Emeritus Scientist, National Institute of Immunology, delivered a special lecture on Informed Consent and Data Sharing. Prof. Amitabh Dutta spoke on Human Subject Selection for research, Prof. Peush Sahni from AIIMS, covered a wide range of ethical issues in Clinical Researches, Dr. Raghunandan dwelt on Ethical Issues and Concerns in Social science research, Prof. Raghunandan, an eminent social scientist and activist, from Society for Economic and Social Studies, pointed out the fact that there are, as of today, no formally spelt out guidelines for social science researches, although the issues and challenges are enormous. Dr Kavita Agrawal, from Kamla Nehru College & Hospital, Allahabad talked at length about Ethics in social and Psychological/cognitive science research. Prof Sangeeta Sharma and Renu Saxena from AIIMS shared their experience of ethics committees, their roles and responsibilities in detail.
Prof. Ranjit Roychaudhury summed up the discussion and underlined the need to have regular sensitization programs for the students and faculty of any research institution, while Prof. Sopory talked about the responsibility of the institution, role of the CASRs and the Boards of Studies of different schools in JNU, to ensure smooth functioning of the ethics committees. In her vote of thanks, Member-secretary, Prof. Vaishna Narang expressed gratitude to all the experts and special invitees and said that one could draw two most important conclusions we draw from this orientation program – one, conducting regular awareness programs for the researchers in JNU, sensitizing and preparing the future generations of students for ethical standards in research, in addition to the fair and proper review of the proposals received as one part of the task. The other task which is more important is to initiate a discussion on ethics in social science research which may lead to formalization and documentation of the issues and concerns in social science research which do not even find a mention in any policy document so far. JNU can take a lead in that and perhaps start with courses and programs in ethics/bioethics for research students of JNU. Bioethics as a discipline is perhaps the only way to prepare future generations of students for ethical research.
Vaishna Narang, Professor and
Member Secretary- IERB
Seminars organised by the Centre for International Politics, Organisation & Disarmament, SIS
Dr Joel Oestreich, Associate Professor of Political Science, Drexel University and Director of the Drexel University International Area Studies Program is currently in India as a Fulbright Fellow. He spoke on “Human Rights, Development and the United Nations System” on 19 October 2011. He spoke of how UN agencies integrate human rights concerns into their development work, focusing on three examples of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank. Identifying one organization as “successful” (UNICEF), one as “partially so” (World Bank) and one “not at all” (WHO), in integrating human rights concerns into their work, he traced the reasons behind this to leadership and staff profiles in these organizations.
Prof. Ashok Kapur, who is Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Waterloo, Ontario spoke at CIPOD on “India, China and the USA, 2011: Where are the Strategic Partnerships?” on 9 November 2011. Dr Kapur has authored several major works on nuclear and Asian strategic questions. His talk at CIPOD focused on security issues in the South Asian region, covering the situation in Pak/Afghan region and the role of actors such as the US, India and China. More specifically, he spoke on the “rise of China”, both in the context of the reactions of its neighbours as well as its own internal dynamics. He also spoke of Indian diplomacy and its current challenges such as a lack of direction and unclear mandates. He asserted the need for 'trilateralism' in diplomatic relations and the framing of foreign policy in geopolitical terms.
Dr Katherine Morton spoke at CIPOD on 22 November 2011 on the topic “China and Non-traditional Security: Towards What End?” She is Associate Dean for Research, College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University. Her topic was particularly relevant as all discussion relating to China is usually couched in terms of traditional security concerns. She spoke of issues such as the impact of climate change on the Himalayan glaciers and rivers. She pointed out that climate change in China is framed as a 'development' issue and not as a 'security' issue. She underscored the need for focusing on issues of non-traditional security such as climate change
Archna Negi, Assistant Professor,
Centre for International Politics, Organisation &
Seminars at Centre for International Trade & Development, SIS
- Dr. Takahiro Sato (Associate Professor, Kobe University, Japan) presented a seminar titled “The Effect of Corruption on Manufacturing Sectors in India” on 21 October 2011. He presented his empirical findings on the effect of corruption on the performance of manufacturing sectors at the state level in India. Using conviction rates of corruption-related cases as an instrument for the extent of corruption, the author examines the impact of corruption on gross value added per worker, capital labour ratio and total factor productivity of three digit manufacturing sector in each state of India. The estimation results show that corruption adversely affects gross value added and total factor productivity. Furthermore, the adverse effects of corruption are found to be more salient in industries of smaller average firm sizes.
- Prof. Tridip Sharma (ITAM, Mexico) presented his theoretical findings on “Transparency of Deliberations”. Gilat Levy (2007, AER) argued that when experts are primarily motivated by career concerns, sometimes the decision maker is better off not to announce individual or collective votes recommending ideal actions but rather announce only the final decision (for an appropriately chosen voting rule). That is, secrecy may outperform transparency. If experts can be asked by the decision maker to vote in sequence (as opposed to Levy's simultaneous voting), it is shown that semi-transparency, where only collective votes are announced but not their timing, weakly dominates both secrecy and complete transparency (where individual votes and their timing are announced). This result is shown by Bayesian decision making setting (with experts motivated by career concerns), rather than for specific voting rules.
Alokesh Barua, Chairperson,
Centre for International Trade & Development, SIS
Lecture on “The Global Financial Crisis and its Implications for Heterodox Economics”
On 1 November, 2011, Prof. Joseph E. Stiglitz (Noble Laureate) gave a lecture on “The Global Financial Crisis and Its Implications for Heterodox Economics”. The lecture was organized by the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences. Prof. Deepak Nayyar chaired the meeting. Prof. Arun Kumar, Chairperson, CESP, formally introduced the speaker and after that the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. S.K. Sopory welcomed the speaker and presented a memento to him. In his talk Prof. Stiglitz explained why recent economic crisis could not be prevented.
He argued that conventional economic theory and its modality is unable to predict and prevent such a crisis. That is why policy makers are also unable to solve such a macro and global pro-blem with the conventional tools of economics. He addressed the question of the faulty assumptions underlying the currently dominant in economic theory. He argued that in the real world, markets are neither efficient nor self-correcting. He stated that ensuring low inflation does not suffice to ensure high and stable rate of growth. Further he stated that collateral based credit systems are especially prone to bubbles. He pointed out that all policy is made in the context of uncertainty.
Regarding the financial crisis of 2007-08, he mentioned that the loss, before the bubble broke, was hundreds of billions and the loss after the bubble bust, was in trillions of dollars. All economic models represent simplification. What were the critical omissions of the standard models?
What were the most misleading assumptions of the models? The problem is that the standard models made wrong simplifications. In the representative agent models, there is no scope for information asymmetries, redistributive effects and financial sector.
Macro and microeconomics both have its own limitations. There is a need to reconcile macro with microeconomics and derive aggregate relation from micro foundations. But standard micro-theory puts few restrictions on aggregate demand functions. It is hard to reconcile macro behavior with reasonable specifications. To derive macro behavior from micro foundations, which takes into account information asymmetries and imperfection, is essential. The test of good macro-model is not whether it predicts a little better in normal times, but whether it anticipates abnormal times. Recession is a pathology through which we can come to understand better the functioning of a normal economy. Markets are not in general Pareto efficient nor are they stable.
Theory suggested that diversification would lead to lower risk and a more stable economy. Privately profitable innovations may have socially adverse effect. Recent research reflecting full integration of economy may never be desirable. In the life cycle model, capital market liberalization increases consumption volatility, and may lower expected utility. New researches are showing how economic structure, including interlinkages and interdependencies can affect systemic risk. Privately profitable interlinkages are not in general, constrained Pareto efficient. Interconnectivity in economy can help to absorb small shocks but exacerbate large shocks can be beneficial in good times but detrimental in bad times. Interlinked systems are more prone to system wide failures, with huge costs. A failure in one part of the system can lead to system-wide failure. But, well-designed networks have circuit breakers to prevent the contagion of failure from one part of the system to another. Full integration never pays if numbers of countries are too much. Therefore, optimal sized clubs are required. Restriction on capital flows (circuit breakers) is also desirable.
It should be clear that standard models were ill equipped to address key issues. New macroeconomics needs to incorporate an analysis of risk, information, institutions, stability in the context of inequality, globalization and structured transformation. Conventional models and policy frameworks contributed to their failures before and after crisis. New macroeconomic models provide alternative frameworks. They are sensitive to agency problems, externalities and broader set of market failures.
He concluded by arguing that models based on rational behavior and rational expectations (even with information asymmetries) cannot fully explore, what is observed. But there can be systematic patterns in irrationality that can be studied and incorporated into our models. New policy frameworks should be developed based on this new macroeconomic modeling which focuses not only on price stability but also in financial stability.
Arun Kumar, Chairperson,
Centre for Economic Studies & Planning, SSS
Indo-Swiss Symposium on “Parasitic Diseases/ Infectious Diseases”
Indo-Swiss meeting on Parasitic Diseases/Infectious Diseases was organized from 3-4 November, 2011 at the School of Life Sciences. The meeting was organized by Prof. R. Madhubala SLS, and Dr Celio Mattias, Scientist attaché Swiss Embassy. About 14 Scientist from Switzerland and 10 speakers from India participated in a brain storming session of parasitic diseases/infectious diseases. A workshop on bioinformatics was also organized for half a day. The aim of the workshop was to set up collaboration with various Swiss Universities in parasitic research. The meeting was jointly supported by the Swiss Government and the Department of Information Technology, Government of India. Swiss scientists represented, University of Zurich, University of Geneva, University of Laussane and University of Bern.
R. Madhubala, Professor,
School of Life Sciences