The Network’s innovative and dynamic research on rights protection reflects its firm commitment to advancing a focal emphasis on citizen awareness, empowerment, and mobilization for an engaged, effective and positive State-citizen interface. The themes that The Network underscores have been historically de-emphasized in both scholarly and policy work in South Asia, either because of their potentially controversial nature or because of general socio-political apathy and neglect. The State’s conceptualization, provision, enforcement and regulation of rights in many ways determines the citizens’ level of trust in the State and its institutions, and whether they are perceived as efficacious or weak and ineffective, equitable or unjust, and legitimate or unjustifiable.
The Network’s existing and ongoing work on a broad range of rights-related issues seeks to create a socially relevant discourse around citizen empowerment through a legal and policy framework that is more egalitarian, inclusive and pluralistic on the one hand, and which enables and incentivizes citizens to be active social agents for change on the other.The State’s: regulation of speech, which oftentimes oscillates between over and under regulation without any meaningful debate or checks and balances; imposition of divisive, puritanical and punitive laws, as in the case of blasphemy laws; and use of coercive law enforcement and criminal justice frameworks in a constitutional milieu that has historically under-enforced the rights of the criminally accused, are all areas in which The Network has produced a rigorous and critical rights narrative supported by original empirical work to inform constitutional and legal reform. At the same time, its research on compensation for civil wrongs and proposals for, and drafting of, consumer protection laws equip citizens, for the first time, with legal frameworks for rights enforcement in which the State was not previously invested.