Policy Engagements and Blogs

CPR Dialogues 2020- Article 21 and India’s Social and Economic Rights

March 13, 2020


Watch the full video (above) of the panel discussion on ‘Article 21 and India’s Social and Economic Rights’ featuring Sudhir Krishnaswamy (Vice-Chancellor, National Law School of India University, Bangalore); Namita Wahi (Fellow and Director, Land Rights Initiative, CPR); Shibani Ghosh (Fellow, CPR); Kiran Bhatty (Senior Fellow, CPR) and moderated by Arkaja Singh (Fellow, CPR).

Social and economic rights (SER) underpin basic human conditions necessary to live a life of freedom and dignity. The Indian Constitution, when it was adopted in 1950, guaranteed SER but they were made expressly non-enforceable by courts. However, starting from the late 1970s, in a series of judgments, the negative guarantee of the right to life in Article 21 was expanded into a positive one of right to life with dignity, and read the rights to health, housing, a clean environment, water, sanitation, food, education as the underlying determinants of the right to life with dignity.

The effect of the recognition of these various rights, however, varies, and the context and actors involved in the court cases has influenced the way in which these rights have been developed. There is considerable disagreement as to whether the articulation of social and economic rights has helped claimants and potential claimants. This panel drew from the experience of specific social and economic rights to understand how they are being put to use, and what constraints and limitations might prevent people from mobilising their rights.

The panel was organised as part of the second edition of CPR Dialogues, held on 2nd and 3rd March 2020 at the India Habitat Centre. Addressing the theme of Policy Perspectives for 21st-century India, CPR Dialogues 2020 provided a window to the India of the future. Experts from around the country and the world engaged with and debated these very significant development and policy challenges that India faces in the coming decade.

ThePrint India was the digital partner for the event.

An article on the rights of manual scavengers, written by Arkaja Singh and Aditya Unnikrishnan in ThePrint can be read here.

Videos of other panel discussions organised as part of CPR Dialogues 2020 can be found below:

CPR Dialogues 2020- Inaugural Address by Hon’ble Subrahmanyam Jaishankar
CPR Dialogues 2020- At the Threshold of a New Decade: Navigating the Emerging Geopolitical Landscape
CPR Dialogues 2020- Rights in Times of AI: Emerging Technologies and the Public Law Framework
CPR Dialogues 2020- What Would Happen if We Were to Believe in Indian Agriculture?
CPR Dialogues 2020- Creating an Inclusive Economy in a Digital World
CPR Dialogues 2020- What Would it Take to Build a 21st-century State for India? Launch of CPR’s State Capacity Initiative
CPR Dialogues 2020- Technology and Administrative Reform: Experience from India and the World
CPR Dialogues 2020- Tracking Government Spending: Challenges in Social Policy Financing
CPR Dialogues 2020- The Air Pollution Crisis: Making Political Salience Count
CPR Dialogues 2020- Challenges in Public Education: Balancing State and Non-State Actors
CPR Dialogues 2020- Emerging Trends in Indian Politics
CPR Dialogues 2020- Are India’s Financial Institutions in Crisis? Understanding India’s Economic Slowdown
CPR Dialogues 2020- The Role of Ideas in Shaping Policy
CPR Dialogues 2020- Indo-US Relations
CPR Dialogues 2020- Land and the Constitution: Solving Land Conflict in India
CPR Dialogues 2020- Political Elites and Local Bureaucratic Capacity