Centre for Internet & Society

Details of a session proposed by Arya Lakshmi and Adrij Chakraborty for the Internet Researchers' Conference 2019 - #List.


Internet Researchers' Conference 2019 - #List - Call for Sessions

Session Plan

One of the earliest known forms of organised administrative list making in the modern history began with the census. Undeniably, from collection of taxes to understanding power dynamics of a diverse population, lists determine the administrative chain of command, from an era of data documentation to the brand new world of big data. Recently, we have been witnessing the increase in the volume of data and constant formulation of new techniques of list making. However, considering lists as a new infrastructure of knowledge, it is highly important to understand, study and scrutinize their legitimacy, politics, political and cultural economy, authority they fall under, and most importantly their targets.

Indian healthcare is a convoluted administration. There is a need for the healthcare system to effectively permeate into the lowest rungs of society, thereby replacing the existent maladroit structure. This session takes Ayushman Bharat – a Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY), as an admirable example which is based on a foundation of a series of lists, prepared for an administrative apparatus, in this case, the public health sector. However, not all reviews of this policy have been favourable to the cause, and the effectiveness to address health at all the primary, secondary and tertiary levels have oftentimes been met with crude skepticism and sardonic critiques. According to Young, a list is not just an organised and processed data, but it is also recorder of a data format that has multiple meaningful relations within its content while also being a window to the economy of selection and exclusion criteria adopted by societies in favour of “the social action it facilitates”. Currently being a crucial policy that involves serious list-making procedures on a large population of India, the need to scrutinize the cultural techniques behind list-making for Ayushman Bharat cannot be unseen.

Lists and network primarily serve in ways twain: the concept might be looked at as a network of information that is systemized to answer the epistemological questions asked by organizations. Additionally, networks clarify the mechanics of progression of an organization by proclivity of head-points. The holistic performance of any organization run by data depends on how well data is predisposed, which is why careful architecture of lists is absolutely essential. For Ayushman Bharat, the creation of lists does not find a pragmatic foundation on which its mettle is rested. The question therefore remains, is the concept of list still a crucial component of the operational infrastructure of the computation and network proliferation of the much talked about universal healthcare system?

We aim to establish two sub-sessions (45 minutes each). In the first half, we aim to:

  1. Begin presenting the paper on Ayushman Bharat- how various lists heavily feature in India’s largest healthcare policy, the mechanisms by which it works and what output it yields, the financial interests of the corporates in Ayushman Bharat (insurance companies, private banks and hospitals, for-profit enterprises providing medical services in collaboration with private hospitals, etc), user expectations and consumer behaviour, the problems behind the policy execution, misutilisation and exploitation of political interest groups whether it be businesses, parties or influential individuals.

  2. Discuss issues pertaining to the operations of Ayushman Bharat - how political groups take to social media platforms to disseminate their message, how there exists a wide communication gap intentionally placed to avoid retortion, how logical fallacies in and reasoning mismatches between the displayed progress and actual progress came into the picture, and how they can be removed, or even how the programme affects one’s political participation?

  3. Present findings - research is mainly reliant on secondary material, with the exceptions of verbal interviews that we aim to conduct for our research purposes. These pre-recorded interviews are merely personal opinions of the interviewee that serve to gauge the impact of our narrative and emphasize (or mask) the thesis on which our research takes shape.

We will accommodate a slideshow to describe our thesis with examples from social media accounts of the National Health Protection Scheme and National Health Agency. The second sub-session instead will be more open to interactions and critical appreciations.

The piece of work is an evidence of collaborative effort in an interdisciplinary space of social science – Economics and Media. Both the co-authors hail from different disciplines that need to intertwine in order to address the topic of choice: The whatabouts of Ayushman Bharat. As a result of our diversity, we plan to address our areas of specialization respectively. For the next half of the session, we plan to interact with our peers, thereby preparing a report on the key-takeaways and suggestions of ideas identified in the session.

Session Team

Arya Lakshmi is a journalist and a media researcher. She has worked across India with various news media publications mostly covering politics. She completed her post graduation in Political Communication from Cardiff University, UK with her interests in Big Data, Internet and Electoral Behaviour. She is primarily involved in media research that revolves around internet and politics.

Adrij Chakraborty is an economics researcher. He is currently an economic analyst with Mumbai School of Economics and Public Policy, University of Mumbai and is researching with the Government of Maharashtra on the agricultural practices and labour market behaviour in Maharashtra. He attended Edinburgh University as a graduate scholar with the Scottish Graduate Programme in Economics. His interests lie in economic policymaking in Labour Markets, Migration and Political Economics.


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