During the COVID-19 lockdown, Bridge India has hosted more than 20 webinars on Indian public policy, helping India-watchers better engage with India.
(You will be able to all sessions on Facebook Live here and our past webinar sessions on our YouTube channel here. Hear from diverse voices across India on how the COVID-19 lockdown is impacting young people, on our Instagram channel here.)
For Non-Members wishing to receive an Attendance Certificate, the fee is £10 and payable before the session here.
Nursing the neighbourhood: India’s vaccine diplomacy
2pm GMT / 7:30pm IST, 18 February (sign up here)
India has set a exemplary global example of providing free assistance in the form of Covid-19 vaccines under a “Neighbourhood First Approach” by reaching out to friends, partners and brothers in the region. In January 2021, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal Seychelles and Sri Lanka were to receive the first consignments of the vaccines, in India’s vaccine diplomacy drive.
As our event moderator Priyajit Debsarkar wrote in this article recently, India has struggled to match the pace and the hard cash diplomacy of Chinese investments but its vaccine diplomacy offers an avenue to consolidate relationships.
- Priyajit Debsarkar,Author and geopolitical analyst (moderator)
- Dr Paul Stott, Research Fellow, Henry Jackson Society
- Biro Deewara, Director, RADDHO, Senegal
- Jyotsna Mehra, Consultant, Ministry of External Affairs, India
- A Naveed Noormal, Office of the Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, Afghanistan
Indian labour rights in the GCC: Kafala and prospects for reform
2pm GMT | Tuesday 24 November
The GCC countries are the largest recipient of Indian migrants in the world, with nearly 9 million Indians living and working in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman. The UAE, with over 3.4 million Indians, is the single largest receiving country in the world. Migrants overall compromise for a large proportion of the population across the region, accounting for up to 85% of the population in the UAE and Qatar.
The GCC’s relationship with India goes far beyond labour migration, with several active trade agreements between the countries, but India’s relatively more equal positioning in terms of trade does not necessarily provide better conditions for its citizens. Migration from the Indian sub-continent to the Gulf states is not a new phenomenon, yet the exploitation of Indian migrant workers is an enduring issue. In general, low-income migrants especially do not enjoy hospitable or protective environments in the Gulf.
Commonly endured exploitation include wage theft, lack of social security, forced labour, lack of protection for domestic workers and physical, emotional and sexual abuse,
The webinar seeks to explore the plight of Indian workers in the GCC, how the different facets of the Kafala system adversely affect them, and to understand better how both Indian and GCC governments have failed in protecting this large demographic. The speakers will also discuss the recent legislative reforms in the region, and their practical impact on ground.
The webinar will bring together activists, researchers and journalists to dwell on these different issues, with the intention to put forward concrete recommendations for the Indian government, its missions in the GCC, and Gulf governments. Speakers will also examine how Indian businesses and diaspora can promote better protections for Indian migant workers. Speakers:
- Rima Kalush, Director, Migrant-Rights.org and Zaynab Siddiqui (moderators)
- Mehru Vesuvala, Former Secretary General, Indian Community Relief Fund (Bahrain)
- Ali Mohammed, On-ground Response Coordinator for Migrant-Rights.org
- Vani Saraswathi, Associate Editor, Migrant-Rights.org
India’s rural economy post-COVID-19: Opportunities to reboot, revitalise (Saturday, 12 September)
As the COVID-19 pandemic brutalises the country’s economy and paralyses its urban growth centers, a faint glimmer of light arises from rural India. Time and again, the rural economy has boosted the development of the country; and currently, a steady increase in rural demand is providing economic relief and space to recover.
Prof. L K Vaswani, Adjunct Faculty and Senior Advisor, MICA
- Dr. Puja Guha, Assistant Professor, Azim Premji University
- Kate Cochran, CEO, Upaya Social Venture
- Naveen Patidar, COO, Aga Khan Rural Support Programme
- Tara Sahgal, Research Intern, Observer Research Foundation (Moderator)
Atmanirbhar Bharat: India’s challenge in Telecom Manufacturing & Export (Friday 28th August)
We are delighted to be the Global Partner for The Digital Users Group’s webinar on “Atmanirbhar Bharat: India’s challenge in Telecom Manufacturing & Export” on 28th August. Hear from leaders at renowned institutions such as the World Bank, DPIIT, Niti Aayog, ITI and others.
- Anil Prakash, President Digital Users Group
- Ramesh Abhishek (IAS), Former Secretary, DPIIT, Ministry of Commerce Govt. of India
- Rajendera Singh, Sr. Regulatory Specialist, Digital Development, World Bank
- RM Agarwal, Chairman and MD, ITI Ltd.
- Dr. Archana G. Gulati, Joint Secretary, Digital Communications, NITI Aayog
- Smita Purushottam, Ambassador Rtd. Founder & Chairperson, SITARA
- Prof. NK Goyal, President, CMAI & Chairman Emeritus, TEMA
- PVG Menon, President & CEO, VANN Consulting & Past President, IESA
- Vipin Tyagi, Former ED-CDOT,
- Bhupender Saharan, CEO, VVDN
- Parag Naik, Co-founder and CEO, Saankhya Labs
- Sanjay Naik, CEO & MD, Tejas Networks
- Subrata Kumar Mitra, Vice President & Head Govt. and Industry Relations, Ericsson
Realising the vision of an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (Saturday 25th July)
On 12 May this year, PM Narendra Modi made mention of a new industrial strategy for the nation, of the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’, or ‘Self-Reliance Mission’. It was an evolution of the ‘Make In India’ slogan of his first term, but with more of an emphasis on disentangling from global supply chains reliant on China. Some of the headline announcements included changing the definition of MSMEs, boosting scope for private participation in numerous sectors, increasing FDI in the defence sector, greater private engagement in downstream space activities and more.
How has ‘Make In India’ evolved into ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ and how feasible is this mission given the economic downturn? How will this affect FDI? What are the key sectors to focus on and how is this seen from outside India by potential investors? What further steps does the Government need to take to help PM Modi realise this vision? Is it correct to see the policy as a bold and swift shift to self-reliance for India’s economy, or could this mean a return to protectionism?
- James Quinn, CEO, Faradion
- Bart D’Souza, Head Aerospace, DIT, British Deputy High Commission, India
- Dr Amarendra Khatua, IFS, Former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs; Former Director General, ICCR
- Sumit Sharma, Regional Director, Indo-German Chamber of Commerce
Civil Society’s response to the migrant worker crisis (Wednesday 15th July)
This webinar seeks to explore the issues faced by migrant workers during the pandemic. The social sector in India has become increasingly important in catering for the vulnerable, where government and other stakeholders are not able to assist.
What can the government do to address the plight of the migrants who have been worst hit by the lockdowns? With the collapse of the health system in India, how can we provide healthcare to migrants without access to clinics and hospitals? What’s next for the migrant workers? How can they recover their lost stream of income? How can we create jobs for these migrant workers? How can NGOs and the private sector better complement the government’s response?
This session is in conjunction with Daily Wage Worker, which launched nearly two months ago to help coordinate relief efforts to support migrant and daily wage workers impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. Today, its online platform has documented over 200 relief efforts across the country to provide food and medicines to workers during the lockdowns. Daily Wage Worker provides rations to 25,000 workers in the Dharavi slum, an epicentre of the pandemic and are in the process of launching Swaasthya, a project providing emergency healthcare services to 30,000 migrants in 3 cities for < Rs. 1.5 per day per worker.
- Rahul Roy, Member, Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch
- Vaishnavi, Volunteer, Stranded Worker’s Action Network
- Noel Maddhichetty, Director, Don Bosco Network South Asia
- Siddhartha Prakash, Founder, Daily Wage Worker
- Priyanka Dahiya, Co-founder, Daily Wage Worker (Moderator)
India’s foreign policy: Taking stock at the end of Year One (Wednesday 8th July)
The completion of the first year of the Modi Government’s second term in office presents a good opportunity to take stock of its successes and failures on the foreign policy front. The recent stand-off with China (covered in our other recent webinars here and here) and ongoing tension with Pakistan have led to debates on India’s foreign policy choices. Nepal’s portrayal of a new map of its border with India has also posed a diplomatic challenge India did not anticipate. India’s abrogation of Article 370 and the removal of the special status of the disputed border state of Jammu and Kashmir pushed its diplomatic outreach into overdrive.
On the other hand, one of the notable successes of the government has been its outreach in India’s neighbourhood, beginning with Modi’s visits to Sri Lanka and the Maldives shortly after taking office for the second time. In the US, Foreign Secretary met with five of the leading Washington think tanks in just 72 hours, as engagement with the US increases. While dealing with the pandemic New Delhi has established contacts across world capitals through the provision of medical supplies and other assistance. This soft-power approach has elevated India’s standing in the world.
- Manish Tewari, Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
- Nirupama Rao, Retired IFS and Former Foreign Secretary of India
- Dunya Maumoon, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Government of Maldives
- Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, Senior Fellow for South Asia, IISS
Cultural diffusion across closed borders: India’s Cultural Diplomacy in a lockdown (Wednesday 1st July)
India’s practice of cultural diplomacy is probably more defined by ‘international cultural relations’ than terms more commonly associated with the such diplomacy elsewhere, such as ‘soft power’ and ‘public diplomacy’. The Indian diaspora abroad is itself a significant co-producer of the image India wishes to project overseas.
The pandemic has caught the world off guard. The restrictions that accompany the fight against the Coronavirus have affected the cultural diplomacy of a country like India, which has a rich culture and heritage, but does not yet benefit as much from international awareness, positive associations or investments in cultural diplomacy as many other countries, according to Dhruva Jaishanker.
This session explores has COVID-19 impacts India’s cultural diplomacy, and what the government’s plan is with respect to its various avenues of cultural outreach, including cultural programs, diaspora, students and other cultural exchanges.
- Dinesh Patnaik, Director General, Indian Council of Cultural Relations
- Amish Tripathi, Director, Nehru Centre (London); Author, The Shiva Trilogy
- Sangeeta Bahadur, Senior diplomat; Author, The Kaal Trilogy
- Mira Kaushik OBE, Founder, Manch UK; Former Director, Akademi
- Spriha Srivastava, Executive Editor, Business Insider (Moderator)
- Arunima Kumar, Kuchipudi dancer, teacher and choreographer
India’s food security in a pandemic (Friday 19th June)
The socioeconomic implications of lockdowns enforced around the world are only just beginning to hit home. In countries like India, vulnerable communities have been deprived of daily income for months. The government and non-profit organizations are working to address food shortages but the problem may soon be amplified natural disasters such as a cyclone in West Bengal and locusts are swarming in Rajasthan.
This webinar, organised in collaboration with Asha for Education (London), is to better understand the challenges facing the food supply chain in India as well as its implications for domestic security and impact on economic growth during, and in the aftermath of, COVID-19, including:
- Policy changes that can be made to mitigate effects of food shortages in the coming years
- Technological solutions such as vitamin fortification to address lack of access to essential nutrients
- Grassroots initiatives such as women’s self-help groups that are solving problems in their communities
We will hear from a wide range of stakeholders, including from government, the NGO sector, development and rural entrepreneurs.
- Urvashi Prasad, Public Policy Specialist, NITI Aayog
- Bhawani Singh Shekhawat, CEO, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, Europe
- Lakshmi Santhosh Maithel, Project Steward, Asha for Education (Moderator)
- Suhrid Patel, Co-founder, Impagro Farming Solutions
- Sahil Shah, Director & Co-founder, Sustainable Seaweed
How can India position itself globally relative to an assertive China? (Tuesday 16th June)
US and Chinese foreign policy has for long been to embrace China’s integration onto the world stage, but under President Xi, China has displayed greater assertiveness. Foreign Policy magazine said in May 2020 “Xi Jinping’s China is displaying a superpower’s ambition. Only a few years ago, many American observers still hoped that China would reconcile itself to a supporting role in the liberal international order or would pose—at most—a challenge to U.S. influence in the Western Pacific … Now, however, the signs that China is gearing up to contest America’s global leadership are unmistakable, and they are ubiquitous.”
The present phase of India-China relations emerged from the desire and imperative to reset relations after the Doklam standoff in 2017 and the realisation that, despite the persistence of major differences between them, India and China have significant areas of cooperation both in the bilateral and multilateral arenas.
Strained ties with Washington are driving Beijing to reach out to New Delhi, without assurances that it will not revert to a confrontationist posture under different circumstances in the future.
This session follows on from our earlier on the view from South Asia on the future of OBOR and associates initiatives in a post-COVID-19 world. How should India adjust its own position in the world to a situation where China is a much bigger, more assertive country? What is the position of India geopolitically versus a China that is already the largest economy in Asia and, before too long, the world? Does India have sufficient leverage on trade, on providing Huawei access to India’s 5G network, and on border security?
- Andrew Cainey, Co-Founder and Senior Partner, Asiability Limited
- Matthew Henderson, Director of Asia Studies, Henry Jackson Society
- Partha Ghosh, Professor, MIT and Tufts
- Manoj Kewalramani, Fellow – China Studies, The Takshashila Institution
Indian Higher Education: Has Remote Learning come to stay? (Tuesday 9th June)
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes in Higher Education worldwide. The reactions ranged from autonomous actions of the institutions to move lectures online, technology companies making their tools available to academic institutions and even Governments revisiting regulatory guidelines. The changes have thrown open new questions about security, privacy and value, with some students questioning whether they should be required to pay the same fees for online education as they would have otherwise paid.
In this webinar, we will explore the potential long term impact of the pandemic on Indian Higher Education, the second-largest higher education system in the world by size, with the following questions:
- Will this pandemic ‘normalise’ remote learning for students, their parents and the institutions?
- Does Remote Learning change the value proposition of Higher Education? For better or for worse?
- Will the institutions continue to offer remote learning and develop the proposition further as and when life returns to normal?
- What changes in regulations are needed for this ‘new normal’?
- Would acceptance of remote learning alter and expand the scope of international Higher Education in India?
- Supriyo Chaudhuri, Education entrepreneur
- Dr DNS Kumar,Vice Chancellor, Ansal University
- Delia Heneghan, Director of Education – India, Sannam S4
- Dr Devjani Chatterjee, Assistant Professor, IIM Kashipur
- Dr Pankaj Gupta, President, IIHMR University
- Rohini Lakhani, Student, King’s College London
#AarogyaSetu: Contact tracing in India (Monday 8th June)
At midnight on the 27th of May 2020, Aarogya Setu – India’s digital contact tracing app – went open-source, uploaded to a public GitHub repository. This is a significant step forward towards transparency in the collection and usage of sensitive data about COVID-19 patients.
The app had been installed 114mn times by then already, and represents a contact tracing app that is larger than the sum total of all other such apps used in other countries. More than 3000 hotspots at the sub-post office level have been identified thanks to the app, and 1264 potential hotspots predicted. 24% of contacts identified by Aarogya Setu tested positive, allowing for rapid treatment and control of spread.
The gaps in Aarogya Setu’s privacy protections, data usage and perception of intent have been concern areas for activists, with the Internet Freedom Foundation being at the forefront of efforts to address these issues. Since it’s introduction on 2 April, the Aarogya Setu app has been criticised for overreach in terms of data collected.
This is a unique opportunity to meet one of the driving forces behind the app – Arnab Kumar, Former Program Director, NITI Aayog, as well as other speakers.
The impact of COVID-19 on Indian investment into UK real estate (Tuesday 2nd June)
Looking at the average property prices, London and Mumbai are similar – London has an average price per sq.ft of £842 while Mumbai sits between £800 and £1,000. Slough, on the other hand, has an average price per sq.ft of just £381.
For international investors, particularly from India, the question a few months ago was how Brexit would impact the UK market in the long-term. London saw an 11% year-on-year rise in the number of Indian homebuyers in prime London markets in FY19 (2018-19), according to a report by property consultant Knight Frank. “An effective discount of about 20 per cent, taking into account the currency and price movements in prime central London in the period between the EU referendum and October 2019, has benefitted Indian buyers,” Knight Frank said in its report London Super-Prime Sales Market Insight – Winter 2019. Belgravia, Hyde Park, Mayfair, Marylebone and St John’s Wood are the most favoured locations of interest for Indian homebuyers in London.
London has seen a number of Indian hotel and restaurant chains opening in the capital and the UK has also seen major Indian residential developers developing in the UK.
However, the Coronavirus pandemic will put downward pressure on property prices and will clearly impact on the retail and leisure market. What impact will this have on Indian (both from India and the diaspora in the UK) investment into the UK real estate sector?
Meet a panel of experts to go through the range of options for where the property market is headed, and what Indians should be looking out for.
- Manish Karani, Founder and CEO, MVK Group
- Vivek Raghunath, Business Head – International Operations, CharCoal Concepts
- Varun Dev Gudka, MRICS, Associate, Valuation & Advisory, Knight Frank
- Arya Taware, Founder, FutureBricks
- Chirag Rao, Senior Associate and Head of India Group, Howard Kennedy LLP
The importance of broadband in post-COVID life – in partnership with The Digital Users Group of India (Thursday 28th May)
Work From Home, video conferencing, online clearance of files in the Indian government etc. are becoming new norms in industry today. Demand for data consumption by existing users has increased significantly.
This webinar will examine India’s readiness on the supply side and aspirations on the demand side. It will also look at the policy and regulation aspects of broadband in India, including the introduction of 5G in India and its implications on equipment suppliers, telecom operators, industrial output and adoption by consumers.
- N. Sivasailam, Former Special Secretary, Govt. of India (Chief Guest & Speaker)
- SK Gupta, Secretary Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Guest of Honour & Speaker)
- Vivek Banzal, Director (CFA) BSNL
- P Balaji, Chief Regulatory and Corporate Affairs Officer at Vodafone Idea Limited
- Manoj Barara, Director Pre Sales, Nokia India
- NK Mohapatra, CEO, Electronics Sector Skill Development Council
- Anil Prakash, President Digital Users Group
- Anil Jain, Former Chief General Manager, BSNL (Moderator)
- Gokul Tandon, Exec. Chairman Cloud-Connect, Enhanced Communications & Technologies, Roam1
One Belt One Road, CPEC and other Chinese initiatives: Where next after COVID-19? (Monday 18th May)
The Munich Security Report 2020 sheds light on the phenomenon that it refers to as “Westlessness” – a widespread feeling of uneasiness and restlessness in the face of increasing uncertainty about the enduring purpose of the West. In a multi-polar world, with President Trump riding a wave of economic nationalism, the chosen theme at the Munich Security Conference (the “Davos for diplomats”) was to discuss whether the West was now so divided and challenged by the rise of China that its whole existence had become imperilled.
In dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak, there has been little of the multilateralism and global coordination that perhaps occurred after the Great Financial Crash – at least, as far as optics as concerned.
But with China being battered for the origin of the COVID-19, by politicians in the US, in India and elsewhere, where does this leave China’s ascent on the global stage? The session covers:
- The current perception of China in South East Asia
- What next for One Belt One Road, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and other Chinese initiatives?
- If China’s stock has reduced, can India take its place on a global stage? Can it?
- What positive role can India play post this pandemic, be it in vaccine development, disaster recovery or otherwise?
- Priyajit Debsarkar, Author, The Last Raja of West Pakistan
- Matthew Henderson, Director of Asia Studies, Henry Jackson Society
- Deep Pal, Nonresident Fellow, The National Bureau of Asian Research
- Ashwin Kumaraswamy, DeepTech VC
The Indian space industry coming to the forefront (Tuesday 5th May)
You can watch the recording of the webinar on our YouTube Channel here.
As India recovers from the Coronavirus over the coming years, the next set of innovations may just come from the space sector. From sending satellites to colonising different planets, private firms, as well as government-run space agencies, India is not far behind global leaders like the US and Israel. A decade ago, developments in the space sector would have only been of interest to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), especially for technology development. But since then, India has launched several satellites, the latest being the Chandryaan-2 and Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM). Last year, India joined the cohort of space superpowers along with the US and China, when it shot down a live satellite with its anti-satellite weapon, A-SAT.
Although private sector players have increasingly engaged with ISRO as suppliers and component manufacturers, they have not been able to scale level of economic activity to take the trajectories that the IT or the biotech sectors have taken previously. How might the space sector evolve over the coming decade? What does this mean for startup opportunities in the sector? Where can India collaborate more effectively globally?
- Narayan Prasad, Partner, SpacePark Kerala, Government of Kerala Initiative
- Arfan Chaudhry, Head of International Policy, UK Space Agency
- Vishesh Rajaram, Managing Partner, Speciale Invest
- Prateep Basu, Co-founder and CEO, SatSure
- Devleena Bhattacharjee, Founder & CEO, Numer8 Analytics
- Abhilasha Purwar, Founder and CEO, Blue Sky Analytics
- Pawan Kumar Chandana, CEO at Skyroot Aerospace
The impact of Coronavirus on the Indian economy (Monday 4th May)
You can watch the recording of the webinar on our Facebook Page here.
A decades-low economic growth rate in India and increasing unemployment is compounded by the impact of the Coronavirus lockdown. A record expansion in a Keynesian fiscal stimulus in the US, UK and Europe already beats the proportion of GDP spent to shore up these economies after the Great Financial Crash. The World Bank says there is a real risk of a global recession.
The impact on the Indian economy is likely to be severe too. This session takes a deeper look at both the short-term and longer term impacts on the Indian economy. Does the government have sufficient firepower to combat the problem?
- Dr A Didar Singh, Former Secretary General, FICCI; Advisor, Bridge India
- Ambassador Khatua, Former diplomat and Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs
- Abhinandan Sekhri, Co-founder, Newslaundry
- Spriha Srivastava, Executive Editor, Business Insider
- Atul Thakkar, Investment Banking, Anand Rathi Securities
Does the Corona lockdown spell the end of India’s valuations-driven startup boom? (Thursday 30th April)
Startup India has more than 27,000 registered startups — tripling from 8,939 registered startups until March 2018, according to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. India is the third-largest startup hub in the world and home to several unicorns. But India’s startups are notoriously valuation driven, rather than by fundamentals. The Coronavirus lockdown has exposed the overvalued nature of many of these startups. Uncertainty over the impact of COVID-19 is expected to act as a significant headwind to Indian PE/VC investments. Business risk premiums have spiked, which has already led to significant downward correction in capital markets around the world.
Has India’s startup boom well and truly ended? We speak to those involved in the startup ecosystem in India for an insider’s perspective.
- Dr A Didar Singh, Former Secretary General, FICCI
- Vatsal Gaur, Associate Partner, HSA Advocates
- Rishi Kapal, Investor and Mentor
- Arbinder Chatwal, Partner and Head of India Group, BDO LLP
- Rashid bin Abdulla, Founder, Genrobotics
India: Lockdown or locked out? (Friday 24th April)
BAME in Property, which brings together professionals passionate about increasing ethnic diversity in the property and planning sectors, and Bridge India bring our members a fascinating event on lockdown in India. Bringing you experts from the fields of law, public policy and the built environment, we look forward to having a discussion on the socio-economic and health impacts of lockdown on India’s 1.2 billion strong population.
We will be exploring how a successful lockdown policy is synonymous with good housing arrangements, drawing parallels with central London, Mumbai and New York. From high-rise blocks, to overcrowding within homes, such factors are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ensuring lockdown can successfully benefit everyone. Ultimately, we will be asking whether lockdown is a privilege of the wealthy and middle class, and whether ‘locked out’ is the real danger for millions of India’s poor people.
- Priya Shah, Founder, BAME In Property
- Navya Mehrotra, Lawyer; former Digital strategy and VC partnerships (Asia-Pac), IBM
- Pratik Dattani, Advisor, Bridge India
- Pushparaj Deshpande, Director, Samruddha Bharat Foundation