Lecture on ‘Litigation and Conversation’ & Screening of ‘My Way or the Highway’

The Kautilya Society, RMLNLU, organised a screening of the documentary ‘My Way or the Highway’ on August 19 at 6 PM. The documentary, made by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, looks into the judicial interventions for the protection of wildlife corridors in the Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong landscape in Assam which has been plagued by various ecologically unsustainable activities resulting in the destruction of wildlife habitats and obstruction to the movement of wildlife. It undertakes an on-ground investigation of the extent to which court orders have been implemented, reasons for successes and failures in implementation and the role of activists and various central and state government agencies. The screening was followed by a keynote lecture on ‘Litigation and Conservation: The Road Ahead’ by Mr Tariq Aziz.

Watch the full video of the event here.


The lecture discusses the 100-year-old history of Kaziranga National Park. Mr Aziz acknowledged the efforts of the forest department for their contribution in making the national park a success story. The park is home to the great one-horned Rhino, Tiger, Elephant, Wild Buffalo, Bara Singha and 35 mammals and many bird species. The park also has the highest density of tigers as well. The park holds global significance and has been recognised as a world heritage site. 

Mr Aziz discussed the relocation of the One-Horned Rhino to Manas National Park and how the Brahmaputra and the change in the course of the river’s path have led to new challenges for the experts working in the area. They also discussed the issues that experts, activists and forest departments face when they have to deal with issues of mining and refineries which can affect the corridors and the biodiversity of the region. 

Mr Tariq acknowledged the struggle that activists on the ground had initiated which led to the recognition of the Supreme Court and it helped them to get stay orders on developmental projects. They acknowledged the need for activism coupled with litigation as not only does it create a ground for conservation efforts but helps outreach and initiates discussion and discourse among the common populace which helps the conservation efforts. 

Mr Aziz also emphasised how the new shift in conservation hinges on an ability to demonstrate commercial interests interlinked with species. They also believe that the way to overcome this hurdle is to work towards public interest litigations and creating legislations that take into account impact assessments and focus on more than just the commercial interest. Mr Aziz emphasised that initiatives such as the Vidhi Documentary are exemplary mediums of spreading the word and have a premium value. They also believe that for greater discourse, there needs to be initiation in regional languages for greater outreach. 

The lecture saw healthy participation from students with intriguing questions being raised throughout the session and during the Q&A parked towards the end of the discussion.

About the speaker

Mr Tariq Aziz is an independent consultant and an expert in the field of environment and nature conservation in the Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India. Mr Aziz has been part of several significant projects in Kaziranga National Park. Additionally, he was the Leader of the Living Himalayas Global Initiative for the World Wildlife Fund, International.

An Introduction to Public Policy with Mr Yazad Jal

Kautilya Society, HNLU, in collaboration with the Centre for Civil Society (CCS), organised its inaugural Talks@KSoc session on “Introduction to Public Policy” with Mr Yazad Jal on 19 February, Friday from 6:00 – 7:00 PM IST. 

The session was held virtually via Zoom and was graced by the Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor, Dr V.C. Vivekanandan, wherein he delivered the opening remarks and stressed the importance of public policy in today’s globalised world and its essential understanding for law students while sharing anecdotes from his personal and professional life.

Synopsis of the Talk

Mr Jal interacted with the students on topics including the Nirvana fallacy, Public Choice Theory, Rule of Law, and the role of institutions in a political economy. The discussion started with the Nirvana Fallacy: an informal fallacy of criticising a solution to a problem because it is imperfect and does not match up with other perfect, but unrealistic, solutions.

A common mistake made by critics of market mechanisms is that they do not produce perfect results. The argument can be set out as:

  1. Markets produce imperfect results;
  2. Governments can improve these imperfections;

Conclusion: Government action is better than private action.

The problem is that the conclusion does not follow from the premises. Market results are imperfect, and government interventions can sometimes improve them. However, the nirvana where all of humanity’s foibles are solved by government action does not exist for the very simple reason that governments are run by people too.

The discussion then moved towards the differing and varying motives of politicians, bureaucrats and the general public to illustrate how this affects public policy at large. Emphasising the need to depend on good rules instead of good rulers, Mr Jal explained this with an example of the Churchill Cigar Assistant to highlight the need for accountability by public institutions.

The session concluded with an open-ended question posed by Mr Jal to the students: “What makes a policy good/bad?” His thought-provoking response to a related question is also worth pondering upon, “While analysing any government policy, you have to maintain a balance while criticising it and appreciating it. You can’t keep doing just one of those.”

The talk saw healthy participation from students with intriguing questions being raised throughout the session and during the QnA parked towards the end of the discussion.

About the Speaker

Mr Yazad Jal is Director, CCS Academy at the Centre for Civil Society (CCS). Previously Mr Jal was Fellow, Economic Policy and managed the Technology and Policy Program at the Takshashila Institution, Bengaluru. Before that he worked as a management consultant in the United States from 2008-18 with McKinsey and Company, IBM’s Global Business Services and his own independent consultancy. Mr Jal has also been active in the non-profit sector in India, serving as CEO of Praja Foundation in Mumbai from 2002-2006. He has an MBA from Yale University and a BA (Econ) from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai University.

Further Readings:


Blog Symposium on Law & Political Economy in India after COVID

The Kautilya Society at NLSIU, in association with the Young Scholars Initiative, organised the Blog Symposium on Law and Political Economy in India from 8-23 August, 2020. The event witnessed the remarkable insights of speakers such as Mr. Alok Prasanna Kumar (Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy), Dr. Amal Sethi (University of Pennsylvania), Dr Gayatri Nair (IIIT Delhi), Mr Sanjoy Ghose (Advocate), Dr Jamie Woodcock (Open University), Prof. Nayanika Mathur (University of Oxford), Prof. Philippe Cullet (SOAS) and Prof. Rashmi Venkatesan (NLSIU). It also spanned discussion around cogent pieces on Indian Federalism, Gig Economy and the Law, and Neoliberalism and the Law – published on the Law School Policy Review.

The Symposium was featured in the Compendium of Resources, curated by the the Peter Mackell Chair in Federalism, McGill University, Canada.

Read more about the event here.

‘Freer and Fairer’: Conference on Electoral Reforms in India

On March 31, 2019, Kautilya Society at NLSIU and the Law School Policy Review organised a conference on Electoral Reforms in India. Titled ‘Freer & Fairer’, the conference was divided into three panels, each of which was tasked with debating and proposing reforms for a distinct area of election law & policy. The panelists were Sudhanshu Kaushik, Founder of Young India Foundation, Jyothi Raj, Chief Functionary of ‘Campaign for Electoral Reforms’, and Tara Krishnaswamy, Co-Founder of ‘Citizens for Bangalore’.

The panel focused on legal and systemic hurdles in ensuring free and fair elections. The Panel emphasised on need to increase access, hence diversity through elections. It discussed the non-representativeness in the present set-up, with a special emphasis on youth and women. It also discussed how the Proportional Representation system can work in India and increase representativeness of its democratic system.

Read more about the event here.