Policy in Action – Delhi 2023

Live projects for policymakers promise to be the most exciting component of the Policy in Action Program. For this edition of the program, fellows supported the work of the following policymakers:

Fauzia Khan (Rajya Sabha, Maharashtra)

Dr. Fauzia Khan is a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha from the Nationalist Congress Party. As the National President of the Women’s Wing of the Nationalist Congress Party, she is also a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution.

Dr. Khan has a rich political background spanning over two decades. She has also been a two-time M.L.C., i.e., a member of the Legislative Council, the upper house of the Maharashtra Legislature. As the first Muslim woman in the state to serve as a minister in Maharashtra, she served as Minister for General Administration, Education, Health, and Women and Child Development, where she initiated several progressive reforms to improve the state’s governance and welfare system.

Jagdambika Pal (Lok Sabha, Uttar Pradesh)

Mr. Jagadambika Pal is an MP from the Domariyaganj constituency, Uttar Pradesh. He is a member of the BJP.

This is his third term in Parliament. Previously, he was elected to the 15th and 16th Lok Sabha as a member of the Indian National Congress. He has also served as the president of the Uttar Pradesh state unit of the Indian National Congress and was a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council and State Assembly for several terms. He served as a Cabinet Minister in the Government of Uttar Pradesh.

Currently in Parliament, he is a member of multiple committees and is the Chairperson, Standing Committee on Energy. He holds an M.A. in Political Science, Ancient & Modern History and an LL.B. He was educated at Awadh University, Gorakhpur University and Lucknow University.

Manoj Kumar Jha (Rajya Sabha, Bihar)

Dr. Manoj Kumar Jha is a member of Rajya Sabha in the Indian Parliament and a member of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). He currently also serves as the national spokesperson of the RJD.

Dr. Jha completed his master's degree from Delhi University in 1992 and PhD in 2000. He has been a professor at the Department of Social Work University Of Delhi, and its head between 2014 and 2017. He was also a lecturer at the Department of Social Work, Jamia Millia Islamia from 1994 to 2002 and a visiting faculty to the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi. His research interests include political economy and governance, social action and social movements, majority-minority relations, and peace and conflict studies. He writes frequently for The Hindu and The Indian Express regarding socio-political affairs.

Priyanka Chaturvedi (MP, Maharashtra)

Ms. Chaturvedi is a Member of Parliament representing Maharashtra in the Rajya Sabha. She is a member of the Shiv Sena.

She started her career as Director of MPower Consultants, a Media, PR and event management company and has previously been a columnist for Tehelka, Daily News and Analysis, and Firstpost. As a trustee of two NGOs, she works to promote children's education, women's empowerment and health.

Before joining the Shiv Sena, she was a member of the Indian National Congress and has also held the post of General Secretary of the Indian Youth Congress from North-West Mumbai. She graduated in Commerce from the Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics in 1999.

Ritesh Pandey (Lok Sabha, Uttar Pradesh)

Ritesh Pandey is a Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) from the Ambedkar Nagar constituency in Uttar Pradesh. He is a member of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

Before his election to Parliament, Mr. Pandey was a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly from the Jalalpur constituency in Ambedkar Nagar, which he represented between June 2017 and May 2019. In Parliament, he was appointed as the Leader of the BSP in the Lok Sabha in January 2020. He is a member of the Standing Committee on External Affairs.

He holds a B.A. (International Marketing and Finance) degree from the European Business School, Regent’s University London.

Shashi Tharoor (Lok Sabha, Kerala)

An author, politician, and former international civil servant, Dr. Shashi Tharoor straddles several worlds of experience. Currently a Lok Sabha MP representing the Thiruvananthapuram constituency, he has previously served as Minister of State for Human Resource Development and Minister of State for External Affairs in the Government of India. During his nearly three-decade long prior career at the United Nations, he served as a peacekeeper, refugee worker, and administrator at the highest levels, serving as Under-Secretary General during Kofi Annan's leadership of the organisation. Dr. Tharoor is also an award-winning author of works of both fiction as well as non-fiction.

Born in London in 1956, Dr. Tharoor was educated in India and the United States, completing a PhD in 1978 at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. While there, he received the Robert B. Stewart Prize for Best Student and also helped found and served as the first Editor of the Fletcher Forum of International Affairs, a journal now in its 39th year. Dr. Tharoor is a recipient of several awards that include a Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, India's highest honour for overseas nationals.



Live Projects

During the course of the program, teams of 4-6 fellows each are assigned to work on policy issues for the participating policymakers. You’ll find below a list of the specific issues that the teams worked on during this edition of the program.

1. Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • What is the overall profile of persons with disabilities and special needs in India? What are critical gaps in access to resources and governance services that persons with disabilities face? Are there heightened vulnerabilities faced by women with special needs? 
  • Critically study the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (Act) and comment on the implementation of the provisions of the Act, and their impact. Identify the different barriers and challenges faced by women with disabilities in accessing the Act's benefits. 
  • Evaluate other schemes and government interventions to outline the Indian experience in building a more inclusive environment for persons with disabilities thus far. What are the factors that have contributed to the successes / limitations of different government interventions?
  • Compare the Indian experience with comparative countries that have overcome these challenges in building a more inclusive environment. Pay specific attention to gender-responsive measures taken by other countries.
  • Based on your findings above, what more can be done towards a more accessible and equal country for persons with disabilities. Briefly sketch a roadmap for how these objectives can be achieved.
2. Balancing Equity and Quality in Medical Education
  • Provide an overview of the state of medical education in India with a special focus on the state of Maharashtra. You may include the available data for India and Maharashtra on the number of medical colleges (government and private), their annual admission capacity, the doctor-population ratio, etc. 
  • Identify the key challenges for improving equity and quality in medical education and barriers to scaling medical education in India. Also, point out the specific problems that exist in Maharashtra in this regard. Consider issues related to the number of medical colleges and annual admission capacity of these colleges in the context of the issue of shortage of doctors in India. 
  • Examine the role of the National Medical Commission (NMC) in medical education in India. You may look into the provisions of the NMC Act, 2019 to understand its powers, functions and responsibilities. Also, analyse the regulations for medical education laid down by the NMC, especially those concerning seat allocation in medical colleges and capping of the number of medical colleges. Would the capping adversely affect medical institutions in southern states in India? How would it impact the medical institutions in Maharashtra? 
  • Evaluate the rationale behind capping the number of medical institutes in the context of a persistent shortage of doctors and medical personnel. How have other countries tackled the problem of achieving an equilibrium of equity and quality in medical education? Can we draw lessons from the regulation of other professional educational courses in India?
  • Based on your findings, suggest reforms in seat allocation regulations and policy alternatives to overcome the shortage of doctors and seats in medical colleges. Propose strategies for responsible expansion of medical colleges in India.
3. The Shift of Political Power to the North: Delimitation Exercise
  • Provide an overview of the purpose and process of delimitation while commenting on the composition of the Delimitation Commission. Trace the changes brought by the previous delimitation exercises in India.
  • Examine why the delimitation exercise was not undertaken after every census as envisaged in the Constitution of India and whether there is a need for delimitation now. Illustrate the potential impact of delimitation on the seats of northern and southern states in Lok Sabha and critically examine its potential implications for the power dynamics in the country, including the impact on policy priorities. Explain why the shift in the power balance would affect certain states more than others.
  • Assess whether the recently passed Women’s Reservation Bill 2023, which is designed to be implemented only after the delimitation exercise, would impact the power balance between states.  Examine whether the central government has taken any measures or indicated willingness to take such measures to correct the power imbalance that is expected to ensue. 
  • How have other similarly placed countries overcome the distortions associated with delimitation? Undertake a comparative analysis and critically analyse the implementation of different solutions to map possible options and challenges. 
  • Recommend policy measures for maintaining the federal balance and containing the adverse impact of the delimitation exercise concerning southern states. Also suggest ideas to make the delimitation process more transparent by ensuring that the criteria used for redrawing boundaries are fair, taking into account urbanisation, migration patterns, and specific state demographics.
4. Analysing Pathways for Cooperation on Digital Public Infrastructure

The government of India is positioning the Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) created in India as a tool that can foster inclusive growth, support economic development, and enhance good governance worldwide. In this context:

  • Trace the development of Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) in India (you may look at Aadhaar, Unified Payment Interface, etc.). Examine the role of different actors in developing and scaling these DPIs and critically analyse if these DPIs have promoted inclusive growth and strengthened governance, while building India’s resilience in certain strategic sectors.
  • Identify the metrics that are considered core to India’s DPI approach (like foundational building blocks, interoperability etc.) and study their role in the uptake and expansion of DPIs. Also, examine the challenges associated with the heavy reliance on DPIs (such as data breaches).
  • Is there potential for international cooperation on DPI? Examine the feasibility of offering India’s DPI products and learnings to the world. What would be the benefits of such international cooperation for India? Can India utilise DPIs to further “South-South Cooperation”? Are there policy goals India can achieve through this cooperation? Does it help from a geopolitical lens?
  • Has the government initiated international cooperation for any of the DPI solutions? If yes, what has been the experience so far? Are there challenges in building trust, reliability and accountability? How can India address these concerns to take its DPI to the world? Why should any country trust India’s DPI solutions?
  • Map out a strategy for international cooperation including pathways for knowledge sharing, collaborative initiatives, policy harmonization and setting international standards. Also, suggest strategies that can be used to win the trust of other governments and identify relevant actors and their functions in this strategy for cooperation. Finally, examine the feasibility of your suggestions - both potential challenges and their remedies.
5. Exploring India's Approach to Reforming Multilateralism
  • Develop a brief outline of the international multilateral framework, and its structure, objectives, and achievements. Identify key criticisms / failures of the current framework in responding to the most pressing challenges of our times. Is there diminishing utility and trust in multilateralism today? If so, outline a few examples that evidence this perception. 
  • What has India’s outlook on multilateralism in its foreign policy been, and how has this manifested in India’s foreign policy? What are some objectives that India looks to secure in its engagement with international stakeholders and how has India reacted to the weaknesses identified under the preceding point?
  • What reforms has India sought in the functioning of multilateral institutions and what does India hope to achieve by way of these reforms? Study available literature and consult stakeholders to develop 2-3 case studies on policy issues of concern to illustrate India’s position on the reforms. 
  • Is there an increasing trend of India relying on bilateral engagements to advance its interests on the international stage and has the emergence of non-UN-based groupings such as the BRICS-XI and G20 impacted the importance of traditional multilateral institutions? How effective are these forums? 
  • Keeping in mind the above questions, critically analyse India’s current approach to engagement with multilateral institutions, to evaluate its effectiveness. Based on your analysis, what would be your key recommendations for India to pursue its foreign policy objectives in the coming decade?
6. Fiscal Federalism: The Impact of Central Transfers on Development in Bihar
  • Examine government spending in Bihar from a historical perspective by looking at the trend of budget allocations to Bihar from the central government since 2015. Study the trends and priorities in the devolution of funds by identifying the key sectors that receive higher allocations. 
  • Analyse the role of the Finance Commission in the devolution of funds from the Centre to the states. Assess whether the recommendations of the 14th and 15th Finance Commission have been implemented properly to maintain fairness in fund devolution to Bihar by the central government. Examine how recommendations have been implemented with respect to other states like Bihar that depend heavily on central grants. Comment on whether the quantum of central grants change with the changing relationship between the political party in power in Bihar and at the Centre? 
  • Assess whether Bihar receives a proportionate share of central assistance in comparison to other similarly placed states (in terms of GDP, population, etc.). Examine the socio-economic indicators of Bihar in comparison to other states to determine the impact of financial allocations on development outcomes.  Has the central government attempted to correct discrepancies in the allocation of funds to states? If yes, examine the measures undertaken by the Centre in this regard. 
  • Undertake a comparative analysis to examine how funds are allocated by central governments in other federal countries around the world. Are there any lessons that can be drawn from their experiences?
  • With a view on fiscal federalism and equitable distribution, give recommendations to improve the process of allocation of funds from the Centre to the states in India.
7. The Case for Granting Special Category Status for Bihar: A Detailed Study of Socioeconomic Indicators Post-Independence
  • Study the genesis of the ‘Special Category’ status, its legal basis, and metrics for determination. Highlight the special allowances and concessions that are provided to states with a special status.  
  • How have ‘Special Category’ states been able to leverage this status to forge their development agenda? Has the special status enabled holistic economic as well as social progress in these states. Examine economic and social indicators (such as human development indicators, per capita income, unemployment, migration etc.) for your analysis. Identify a ‘special’ state of your choice for a case study to illustrate the impact of the ‘special status’.
  • How would the special status impact Bihar in the short term and long term? Identify some critical sectors/industries/regions in Bihar that will benefit the most from the ‘special’ status? How has the Government of Bihar explored these opportunities in the absence of the special tag? 
  • Is there another state that can be said to be comparable with Bihar (by reference to economic, polity, and/or social factors) which has catalysed its development trajectory without the ‘special status’? Are there lessons that Bihar can learn from and implement? Based on your analysis, outline key policy recommendations for the state of Bihar as well as the centre. Factor in political considerations and risks associated with your recommendations.
8. Studying India's Electricity Subsidies: Gaps and Challenges
  • Map the evolution of electricity subsidies in India. How have electricity subsidies impacted the financial health of state governments, intended beneficiaries, and other stakeholders in the energy ecosystem (generating companies or gencos, and distribution companies or discoms)? Analyse the current financial health of discoms, and factors behind rising central government support to discoms. What steps have been taken at union and/or state level in order to ease the economic burden of electricity subsidies?
  • Are subsidies the most efficient and effective way of achieving the intended policy objectives? Is the current system of tariff design and cross subsidies efficient? How do other comparable countries manage similar challenges? Are there any lessons that India can draw from their experience?
  • Case Study - Uttar Pradesh: What are some unique state specific factors (challenges and opportunities) impacting UP’s electricity ecosystem? What has been the impact of electricity subsidies in achieving the intended outcomes and on the state’s financial health?
  • Based on your analysis, what would be your key policy recommendations for ensuring the health of the electricity ecosystem in India, and more specifically the state of UP? What actionable measures should the state prioritise? Can subsidies be used to propel energy transition to renewable / low carbon sources?
9. The Pension Debate: Old vs. New Scheme
  • Sketch of the structure of the old pension scheme (OPS) and the new pension scheme (NPS), and highlight the key differences between the OPS and the NPS. Also, trace the evolution of the OPS over time. Contrast the benefits and criticisms of these schemes. 
  • Trace the evolution of the tussle between the OPS and NPS into an election issue. What are dominant political narratives surrounding the NPS and the call to revert to the OPS? Analyse the financial impact of OPS and NPS, and gaps in providing financial and social support to Indian senior citizens. Does the NPS impact fiscal federalism?
  • Undertake a survey of literature and consult experts and stakeholders to explore alternative solutions to provide social security and care options for the elderly population.  Can India draw lessons from the experience of other comparable jurisdictions in planning for a robust post retirement social security ecosystem in a financially sustainable manner?
  • Based on your analysis, outline key recommendations keeping in mind the political economy of this issue and the electoral constraints faced by policymakers. Draft an opinion piece (~1,000 words) for a mainstream publication to highlight key issues and possible alternatives.
10. Roadmap for 50% Cumulative Electric Power Installed Capacity from Non-Fossil Fuel Energy Resources by 2030
  • Provide a snapshot of the use of different energy sources in India’s power generation sector. Where does India's cumulative installed capacity from non-fossil fuel energy sources stand at present? Identify the reasons for high dependence on fossil-fuel electric power generation.
  • What is India’s commitment (Nationally Determined Contribution or NDC) concerning India’s electric power capacity under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change? Where would you place this commitment in the context of the NDCs of other similarly placed developing countries?
  • How will India balance its climate commitment with the ever-rising energy demand to achieve the NDC target for electric power generation? What are the challenges associated with land acquisition, investment/financing, infrastructure and technology development? How can India leverage international cooperation to move towards its NDC target for electric power generation?
  • Undertake a comparative analysis to identify best practices from other similarly placed countries that can be applied to the Indian context and outline key policy recommendations for  achieving 50% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy sources by 2030 as per India’s NDC. Identify existing policies that are working in favour of moving towards this target. What new policies can you suggest in this regard?



Class profile


Total class size (Delhi 2023): 50
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Educational background

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Age profile

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