Centre for Culture, Media &  Governance, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi (CCMG, henceforth) in collaboration with Academic Staff College, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi conducts and organizes  every year the University Grants Commission Refresher Course  on Media Studies, Culture and Governance for the in-service faculty across the country. The first such RC was organized in February 2013.

The 2nd Refresher Course 2014 on Media Studies and Governance started on 14th January and will continue till 4th February, 2014.

Day 11 / 27 January 2014

DSC08694As per the RC programme, Dr. Rohan Samarajiva, Founding Chair of LIRNEasia , an ICT policy and regulation think tank active across emerging Asian and Pacific economies, conducted a two-day workshop on Policymaking whereby participants were introduced to various facets of policy research and advocacy based communication.

Dr. Samarajiva discussed the need to attune research with the ‘policy window’- unpredictable openings in the policy-making process that create the possibility for influence over its direction and outcome. Elucidating the need for ‘evidence based intervention’,  he explained that since India follows ‘Westminster Model’ of policy making consultations are a formal way through which one can officially communicate.  In such a scenario it is important to have evidence-ready before the windows open. Most of the time when the policy windows open, those with economic interests or economic stakeholders are the most influential ones because of their evidential data adds to the legitimacy.  Thereby there is need for evidence-driven policy advocacy. In order to help policy advocates tap the opportunity created by the ‘policy window’,  Dr. Samarajiva suggested following mechanisms:

  • Framing the argument or agenda setting: This would include creating ‘Memes’ that is putting ideas into the system so that ideas come out.
  • Evidence based intervention and selection of issues for discussion

???????????????????????????????Borrowing from the Aristotle’s effective communication for policymaking, he suggested that the following are important elements one should consider while doing policy advocacy:

  • Ethos (Credibility) or ethical appeal means convincing by the character of the author and/ orator
  • Pathos (Emotions) means persuading by appealing to the viewer/ reader’s emotions
  • Logos (Rationality) means persuading by the use of reasoning

Discussing on the third aspect of the advocacy i.e. evaluation, he emphasised that success can be measured by following tools:

  • Measuring tangible inputs like policy brief, interviews to media, op-eds in newspapers, etc.
  • Measuring Outputs like Memes appearing in the interview of the decision-making authorities.
  • Measuring Outcome understanding long-term changes and implications of the process. This is one of the most crucial elements one needs to map and is indisputably one of the most difficult elements to map.

Participants’ Questions

Q1:  How do you know what policy windows will open and what information will be relevant as the policy windows open?

P2Dr. Samarajiva: There is no science to this, it is probably more of arts.  Policy window opens but most of the time universities are not ready. Intuitive sense and reading between the lines, talking and consulting various people and actors and constantly analysing information is the key to identify kind of evidences that would influence policy change.

Q2: Can Advocacy work only at pathos and logos level? Without ethos can advocacy be successful?

Dr. Samarajiva explained that recognition of expertise by others is important to gain credibility especially in advocacy.  Media profile and role of conferences and international events becomes important to gain credibility. 

This was followed by a brief description of ‘How Indian Communication policy regulatory process works’? Presenting the ideal model, Dr. Samarajiva explained that insulation from day to day interference by politicians is basic element of good public administration practice, and regulation often includes implementation of policy and exercise of discretion, including quasi judicial functions in some cases.   In this context, he stressed that in polarizing societies we need to build the process of evidence-driven consultations.

Further, he dealt with the question on what kind of evidence is needed. Categorizing this under two major heads, Surface observation and Academic- anchored theory, he elaborated that evidence should be able to yield following kinds of policy influence as suggested by Lindquist:

  • Expanding policy capacities: Improving the data of certain actor supporting recipients to develop innovative ideas
  • Broadening policy horizons: Providing policy makers with opportunities for networking.
  • Affecting Policy Regimes

???????????????????????????????Getting into the politics of academic research, Dr. Samarajiva highlighted the existing lacuna in demand of evidence driven policy related to the academic work. Citing global examples and experiences, he discussed the conflict of academics where policy-oriented applied research is considered less prestigious than theoretical work affecting the supply and demand balance. Taking the example of the Canadian Telecommunications Policy Review Panel (TPRP), he emphasised  that the paucity of academic work on what has been referred to as the ‘regulatory craft’ points to the need to strike a balance between the demand and supply and marshal evidence in a systematic manner.

Discussing the void between research and policy, Dr. Samarajiva identified three key forces that can link the two. These are:

  • Reflective practitioners acting within the government or private stakeholders with the aura of ‘public interest’
  • Specialized idea brokers like think tanks
  • Policy engaged academics

Day 12 / 28 January 2014

???????????????????????????????In continuation with previous day’s discussion, Dr. Rohan Samarajiva elucidated various kinds of evidences that can be taken to the policymakers. Categorizing the information into ‘supply side data’ and ‘demand side data’, he emphasised that the data on the telecom sector, i.e. the sector he deals with, comes from multiple sources.

Slide03-Rohan Samarajiva presentationRegulators take information from operators, third party research groups or think tanks, etc.  He emphasised that it is important to understand the comparability of the data in order to avoid statistical inaccuracy e.g. If one is looking at a cross-country comparison how can one reconcile different financial years?  This specially becomes important if benchmarks are used for mainstream regulatory work such as interconnection or retail tariff regulation.

He further defined the demand side data as one that is available from the government like Census reports, Household Income and expenditure Surveys, etc. Often this data is available for free in usable or semi-usable form.  He emphasised that often this freely available data helps understand issues reflective of the country and not get biased by the popular understanding, however, P3a good policy researcher needs to interpret the available public data and link to various indicators in order to understand how it can help shape policy in public interest.

This was followed by a discussion on use of quantitative and qualitative tools and steps involved in policy research.