NLSIU announces Research Project on Digital Public Records | Call for Applications
July 12, 2021
The National Law School of India University is excited to announce its Digital Public Records Project. The two-year research project is supported by Thakur Foundation, and will focus on research, engagement and policy advocacy to chalk out ways in which accessibility and transparency of public records can be improved in India.
A key vision in the Union Government’s Digital India programme is ‘Universally Accessible Digital Resources’. Although the vision documents discuss open formats and interoperability, by focussing on resources rather than records, this articulation elides the question of the legal status of public information, and whether the government is obliged to provide accessibility across a range of data.
Despite the existence of specific laws and policies, much work remains to be done before India can boast of meaningful access and use of public information to improve public accountability. In the absence of a normative framework that addresses the status of public records in the digital era, practices across government agencies have naturally varied widely. As a result, sharing of such public records largely fails to meet substantive goals of transparency and accessibility.
- Noting the fact that openness in digital government requires intervention from different fields and perspectives, the project will conduct an interdisciplinary conference involving people who work on these issues in different fields – archivists, historians, public policy scholars, civic tech and right to information actors, as well as data platform builders from public and private institutions. Their perspectives will help shape the agenda for the researchers in this project. Follow-up events will be conducted at the midpoint and end of the project as well with the same set of participants.
- The project also intends to publish a series of papers taking a deep dive into the practices of the executive when it comes to record-keeping. The focus will be on practices, policies, notifications etc., at the Ministerial or Departmental level, which form the most direct basis for the government’s handling of records. For this series, government records will be classified into broad categories, such as
– Records that are legally public, such as subordinate legislation, public orders, policy documents, circulars etc.
– Financial records
– Internal government communication
– External government communication
- With these inputs, the project intends to develop a draft framework law that harnesses experiences and approaches within and outside India, and attempts to clarify the legal status, standards and executive obligation with respect to public records in India.
- The project will also explore ways in which public tools and datasets can be built as demonstrations of the recommendations made. Efforts will be made to collaborate with interested institutions in this regard.
Call for Applications
All roles are full-time based out of the NLSIU campus in Bangalore. Due to COVID related restrictions, engagement may begin on a remote basis.
- Develop and implement the research agenda for the initiative under the supervision of the project lead.
- Conduct original, empirical research on identified issues
- Leverage new and existing advisory networks and partnerships across academic institutions, research organisations and government.
- Participate in, and organise platforms for discussion of issues related to the research.
- Lead the dissemination of research findings and policy-relevant insights.
Who should apply
- A degree in law, and either a Masters degree or relevant post-qualification experience
- 2+ years of post-qualification academic or professional experience
- Excellent research, writing and communication skills.
- Familiarity with contemporary law and policy issues.
- Experience in designing and executing research projects will be preferred.
How to apply
Write to with the subject heading “Application for Digital Public Records Project” with –
- Your CV
- A published writing sample or extract on an issue of law, technology or public policy (not more than 2000 words)
- A short statement of purpose (not more than 500 words)
Deadline for applications is 18th July, 2021.