The Bharti Institute and the office of Shri Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda, Member of Parliament (MP), Kendrapara (Odisha), jointly organized a Policy Workshop in association with Young Indians (Yi), Chandigarh Chapter on February 15, 2014 at ISB’s Mohali campus. The workshop aimed to provide a platform for youngsters to develop an understanding of important policy issues, the role of MPs, the working of a political offices, approaches to public policy, opportunities in the field and ways for citizens to engage with elected representatives.

Mr. Rohit Kumar, Head of Policy and Research in Mr. Panda’s office, led the first session titled ‘Understanding governance better: Our Constitutional structure’, explored issues such as distribution of powers among the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, checks and balances, and the three levels of government – centre, state and local (Panchayats and Municipalities).

Ms. Yashita Jhurani, of Mr. Panda’s office and Mr. Gaurav Goel, Co-Founder, Samagra Development Associates conducted the next session titled ‘The MP and his People’. The session focused on explaining the nature of an MP’s role in the constituency and the monitoring and reviewing of projects and schemes including the MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).

In the following session on “Public policy – Challenges and Opportunities” Prof. Matthew Hull, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan and Dr. Kaushiki Sanyal, Senior Analyst, Bharti Institute of Public Policy spoke about issues such as policy making in the digital age, avenues of citizen engagement with policy making and career opportunities in the field of public policy. Dr. Sanyal also presented insights from some ongoing projects of the Bharti Institute.

The post-lunch session featured a talk on “Important Institutional and Systemic Reforms” by Mr. Panda. The discussion included specific references to federalism, electoral reforms, Parliamentary reforms and judicial reforms. The session stressed the need for parliamentary reforms in order to avoid legislative deadlocks on the floor of the House. The discussion also dwelt on the topic on relative merits of caps versus traceability in election funding.

The last session explored the “Dynamics of the Interaction between the Legislature and the Executive” through a conversation between Mr. Panda and Ms. Vini Mahajan IAS, Principal Secretary, Government of Punjab and moderated by Prof. Rajesh Chakrabarti, Executive Director of the Bharti Institute of Public Policy. Ms. Mahajan pointed out that the bureaucracy not only implemented policy but often initiated policy change as well. The discussion highlighted points of difference and areas of much needed collaboration between the two important institutions of governance in the country.

Over 100 participants from diverse backgrounds attended the workshop.