Theme: Property Rights and Ease of Doing Business

Date and Venue: Monday, 13 July 2015, India Habitat Centre

Objective | Speakers | Conference Update | Report


The Ease of Doing Business index of the World Bank Group ranks economies on a scale from 1 to 189, 1 being the highest ranking, indicating better regulations for businesses and stronger protection of property rights. A high ease of doing business-ranking means the regulatory environment is more promotive of business operations and thus more conducive to higher economic growth. India’s ranking in the 2014 report was 142, below Uzbekistan, which ranked at 141, Pakistan at 128 and Sri Lanka at 99. The new government’s focus on ease of doing business through its Make in India campaign is therefore, a welcome development. The Union Budget 2015 proposed to introduce a regulatory reform law that will reduce the discretion of inspectors and bring accountability in regulation. The government has also promised to repeal several obsolete laws that hinder growth. These measures, if executed, are likely to positively affect India’s ease of doing business ranking. However, for a more impactful reform, the government has to focus on strengthening rule of law and securing property rights for the citizens- the two factors that are common among the parameters measured by all the indices of economic freedom.

The Ease of Doing Business index is directly proportional to the Economic Freedom Index. Together they illustrate the position of the country with regard to rule of law and protection of private property rights. India’s ranking in the Economic Freedom Index developed by the Heritage Foundation in partnership with the Wall Street Journal has not improved in the last five years. In the absence of a well functioning legal and regulatory framework, a weak rule of law, exacerbated by corruption in many areas of economic activity, undermines the emergence of a more vibrant private sector, which is the primary agent of growth in the country. As Hernando De Soto says, ” The poor aren’t breaking the laws, the laws are breaking them”, since excessive regulation affects the small and medium enterprises, and start-ups much more than large enterprises.

Though a well-defined and well-protected system of property rights lies at the very heart of a free society, India’s record in defending property and upholding the rule of law, unfortunately, has been bleak. The International Property Rights Index, which measures and compares the strength of rule of law, and physical and intellectual property rights across countries has ranked India 46 out of 97, behind many other developing countries such as South Africa, Turkey and Jordan.

Another important aspect of property rights is Intellectual Property. There exist many issues with our Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) regime, which suffers from a lack of a robust implementation mechanism. It is imperative to evolve a legal framework that respects innovation and rewards innovators for the risks they undertake. At the same time, this needs to be balanced against the need to promote further innovation by making ideas available to all. It is a tough balancing act; one that India needs to address urgently.

Against this background, India Institute has embarked on an initiative to bring together organizations, think tanks, political activists, intellectuals and policy decision makers that are committed to rule of law and protection of property rights. Though the government is rightly focusing on improving India’s ease of doing business index, given the history of license raj and assault on private property rights in independent India, improving economic freedom would require courageous reforms. Therefore, there is an urgent need for experts and intellectuals to come together to discuss and share their ideas on policy and implementation that the government can benefit from.

To facilitate the exchange of information and ideas among experts and intellectuals with regard to property rights, India Institute is organizing the first ‘India Property Rights Conference’ on the theme “Property Rights for Ease of Doing Business” on 13th July, 2015 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi in which the International Property Rights Index would be launched in India for the first time by Mr. Lorenzo Montanari, the Executive Director of the International Property Rights Alliance, the organization that has developed the index that is a barometer for protection of property rights and economic well-being. India Institute aims to collaborate with other like-minded organizations to make this an annual event to continue to focus on strengthening property rights and economic freedom in the country.

The conference series will be a forum that promotes a constructive and open dialogue between experts and intellectuals to discuss the value and importance of property rights and promote ideas for tackling the problem of India’s property rights regime and strengthening the rule of law

A conference report and a website dedicated to the cause will summarize the proceedings and share the ideas presented for the benefit of stakeholders around the country.




Anirudh Burman is presently the Legal Consultant at National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi. He is a graduate in Law from Harvard Law School (L.L.M) and completed his bachelor’s in law from NUJS, Kolkata. In the past he has worked with PRS Legislative Research, Delhi, and Amarchand Mangaldas Law firm, Mumbai. His interests pertain to issues of regulatory governance, financial regulation, public institutions, administrative law and the functioning of government agencies in India.


Mukesh Gulati is a Post Graduate in Management from Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow and graduate in engineering from National Institute of Technology. He has coordinated a number of projects on behalf of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) for 12 years on cluster based SME development. He has also represented UNIDO on several international forums and conducted a range of training programmes for policy makers from more than a dozen developing countries. During his career of 24 years, he has authored several books and publications in the area of SME development. He is presently the Executive Director of Foundation for MSME Clusters.

Devesh Kapur is the Director of the Center for the Advanced Study of India at University of Pennsylvania. He is Professor of Political Science at Penn, and holds the Madan Lal Sobti Chair for the Study of Contemporary India. Prior to arriving at Penn, Professor Kapur was Associate Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin, and before that the Frederick Danziger Associate Professor of Government at Harvard. His research focuses on human capital, national and international public institutions, and the ways in which local-global linkages, especially international migration and international institutions, affect political and economic change in developing countries, especially India. His book, Diaspora, Democracy and Development: The Impact of International Migration from India on India, published by Princeton University Press in August 2010, earned him the 2012 ENMISA (Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Migration Section of International Studies Association) Distinguished Book Award. His latest book, Defying the Odds: The Rise of Dalit Entrepreneurs (co-authored with D. Shyam Babu and Chandra Bhan Prasad), was published in July 2014 by Random House India. Professor Kapur is the recipient of the Joseph R. Levenson Teaching Prize awarded to the best junior faculty, Harvard College, in 2005. He is a monthly contributor to the Business Standard. Professor Kapur holds a B. Tech in Chemical Engineering from the Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University; an M.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota; and a Ph.D. from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton.

Rajiv Kumar

Rajiv Kumar, senior fellow at CPR, is an economist and the author of several books on the Indian economy and India’s national security. Dr Kumar is also chancellor of the the Gokhale Institute of Economics and Politics in Pune and the founding director of Pahle India Foundation, a non-profit research organisation that specialises in policy-oriented research and analysis. Before coming to CPR, he was Secretary General of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). He has also served as Director & Chief Executive of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) and chief economist of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), as well as in positions with the Asian Development Bank, the Indian Ministry of Industries, and the Ministry of Finance. He presently sits on the boards of several international and national institutions, including the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in Riyadh, the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and Asia in Jakarta, the State Bank of India, and the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. He was a member of the Government of India’s National Security Advisory Board between 2006 and 2008. Dr Kumar holds a DPhil in economics from Oxford and a PhD from Lucknow University.

Barun Mitra

Barun Mitra is a commentator on current affairs on a range of issues from economic development to conservation of wildlife. His articles have appeared in publications across the world, from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, to The Indian Express, the China Daily and the Sydney Morning Herald. He regularly appears on national television on current affairs. He is the director at Liberty Institute, an independent think tank dedicated to empowering the people by harnessing the power of the market. His initiative, Empowering India, to make democracy meaningful by empowering citizens with information has been recognized with the Manthan Award for South Asia 2009. For the past several years, he has been involved in an initiative to use GPS technology to secure land titles for tribal and marginal farmers in Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.

Lorenzo Montanari, is Executive Director of the Property Rights Alliance (PRA), an advocacy group/think tank based in Washington, DC USA committed to the protection of physical, legal and intellectual property rights around the world. On the international stage, PRA works closely with famed property rights champion and President of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD) in Lima, Peru, Hernando de Soto and other 81 think tanks.  At Property Rights Alliance, he is in charge of publishing the International Property Rights Index, an international comparative study focus on intellectual and physical property rights. Previously, he worked for a public affairs firm in Washington, DC and as a political analyst and electoral observer in Latin America. Lorenzo holds a BA in Political Science and in International Relations from the University of Bologna and MA in Political Management from the George Washington University. He collaborates with The Daily Caller and Forbes.


Ananth Padmanabhan is the author of the leading treatise, Intellectual property rights: infringement and remedies. He is currently affiliated to the Centre for Advance Study of India, University of Pennsylvania. His general research interests are in the field of Indian constitutional law, administrative law, and intellectual property rights. While a practitioner in the Madras High Court for more than five years, he has also taught at different business and law schools in India, and it was his teaching and writing interests that motivated him to pursue doctoral studies. Presently, he is a doctoral student at Penn Law and is also the winner of the Karin Lest Award for excellence in L.L.M program 2013, at Penn Law.


Baladevan Rangaraju is a social entrepreneur with extensive experience in research, advocacy, community engagement, campaigns, organization building and education leadership. He is the Founder and Director of India Institute (www.indiaI.org) and the author of The Private School Revolution in Bihar: Findings from a survey in Patna Urban (with James Tooley and Pauline Dixon), India’s first landscape study of the school market in a city. His pioneering use of GPS technology to measure private school popularity provided new information on school distribution and enrollment patterns – data that helped the state review its regulatory policies. The study won the global Templeton Freedom Award in 2012. A staunch proponent of choice and enterprise, Bala is widely quoted and has appeared in national and international media, most often commenting on education policies and social infrastructure issues. He is an articulate and passionate advocate of market-based policy solutions to education challenges: vouchers, grading institutions, competition among institutions, and performance-linked pay for teachers. Before founding the India Institute, Bala was the National Director of the School Choice Campaign in India, heading its political advocacy, pilot projects, public relations and outreach programs in the six states of Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and Uttarakhand. Recently, Bala founded the Centre for Justice at the India Institute to promote rule of law, competition and individual liberty through research, advocacy and litigation.


R Saha is a Master Degree holder in Aeronautical Engineering from Cranfield University in England and a Bachelor  Degree holder in the same subject from IIT Kanpur. He served the Government of India for 35 years different  capacities and handling different responsibilities including technology evaluation and assessment, research and  development and public policy matters and regulatory functions. In the last 15 years he spearheaded the national efforts in capacity building by creating awareness about IPR in India especially universities through workshops (380), publishing a monthly magazine, writing articles and papers, setting up operational systems at state levels, starting university IPR cells  in about 60 universities, conducting one year specialized training programme for women scientists in the area of IPR and helping academic institutions in designing their IPR policies. He evolved an innovative system for protecting university inventions and other original IP ensuring active participation of inventors and attorneys. About 1000 patent applications have been filed after careful patentability analysis. While in government he was actively engaged in law and policy making in the most crucial times after India signed the WTO agreement.  He represented India in discussions at WIPO and other international forums and was involved in negotiating international agreements in the context of scientific research and development. He has been a member of the standing IPR committee of the Confederation of Indian Industries for many years. He was facilitated by CII for his immense contributions in the area of IPR in India. He has been conducting IPR training programmes in India and elsewhere; he recently conducted a one week training programme on IPR for developing countries which was attended by representatives from 28 countries. He is a visiting faculty in many national institutions in India.


Nirvikar Singh is a Professor of Economics and Co-Director of the Centre for Global, International and Regional Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He was also a co-founder and Director of the Santa Cruz Centre for International Economics. He has also served as an advisor for several startups and knowledge services firms in Silicon Valley and in India. He is the recipient of the University of Pennsylvania Award, “Entrepreneurship in the Indian Diaspora”. His current research topics include information technology and development, federalism and political economy, and economic reform. He has authored over 100 research papers and his book, The Political Economy of Federalism in India, co-authored with M. Govinda Rao, has been published by Oxford University Press.


Prashant Narang – During his law school days, Prashant founded and managed a youth group called ‘Prabodh’. One of the projects conceptualized and successfully executed by Prashant was an awareness campaign called Third Wheel that successfully advocated for liberalization of the Delhi auto-rickshaw sector. Before joining iJustice, he assisted in cases involving cycle rickshaw pullers and recently at iJustice, he got a judgment in favour of street vendors from Rajasthan High Court at Jaipur for implementation of the new law. A ‘Nani Palkhivala’-gold medalist in the LL.M. program at Jindal Global Law School, he has a keen interest in regulatory frameworks. Some of his publications include –– ‘Regulatory barriers to litigation in India’ in Asian Journal of Law and Economics, “Time for Manushi-II” in the Student Law Journal of NLU- Delhi and ‘RTE-another license raaj’ in Auro Law Journal (best paper – professional category). Prashant has also contributed to some of the well-known law blogs in India such as lawandotherthings.blogspot.com and mylaw.net. Not only has Prashant been a resource person for several Public Policy workshops and policy internship programs, he has also taught a course ‘Law and Public Policy’ at NUJS, Kolkata, a top law school in India.


Prathiba Singh, senior advocate, is one of India’s leading intellectual property (IP) litigators. She is also a member of professional bodies like INTA, APAA, IPAA, IPLPA, SCBA, DHCBA and Indian Arbitration Bar. She is presently Founder Partner, Singh & Singh, Advocates and has completed 14 years within the firm. She is a counsel in intellectual property cases in India and is currently handling a large volume of trade-mark prosecutions, oppositions and infringement, passing off and, unfair competition cases. She has appeared for both innovator and generic companies and been part of landmark Indian patent decisions.

Conference Update

The India Property Rights Conference 2015 was successfully held on Monday, 13 July 2015 at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. The conference, on the theme “Property Rights for Ease of Doing Business”, was attended by more than 60 delegates from the Bar, academia and industry. The discussions were open and constructive, and aimed at arriving at effective strategies for strengthening rule of law and property rights.

The Conference began with a welcome note by Mr. Baladevan, Director, India Institute followed by the launch of IPRI index for the first time in India by Mr.Lorenzo Montanari. The key note speech was delivered by Mr.Rajiv Kumar, Senior fellow at Centre for Policy Research and Chancellor of the Gokhale Institute of Economics and Politics, Pune. He focused on key challenges that the country faced in its attempt to strengthen rule of law and economic freedom, and possible solutions.

Following the key note address, there were three panel discussions, one each on

  1. Rule of Law: How to create institutions that work for all ?
  2. Property Rights: for securing justice, peace and prosperity
  3. Intellectual Property Rights: The Balancing Act.

The panelists included Prof.Devesh Kapur, Mr.Mukesh Gulati, Mr.Anirudh Burman, Mr.Barun Mitra, Mr.Prashant Narang, Ms.Prathiba Singh, Mr.Ananth Padmanabhan, Dr. Nirvikar Singh and Mr. Raghav Saha.

The conference concluded with a vote of thanks and the announcement that the conference will be an annual series that takes stock of India’s progress in strengthening property rights, rule of law and economic freedom. Subscribe to our publications and updates to receive the conference report on your email.