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Category: Polity

Mock Set 1

1. Which of the following statements is correct about the legislative control of Parliament over the Union Territories (UTs)?

a) The Parliament cannot make laws in State List for those UTs that have a legislative assembly.

b) The Parliament can make laws in State List for even those UTs that have a legislative assembly but only after prior recommendation of the President.

c) The Parliament can make laws on any subject of the three lists (including the State List) for the union territories.

d) None of the above.

2. Consider the following statements about the Election Commission of India (ECI).

  1. Being an all-India body it serves both the Central and State Governments.
  2. It is not at all concerned with elections to any level of Panchayats and Municipalities.
  3. The State election Commissions work under the overall supervision of the ECI.

Choose the correct answer using the codes below.

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) 1 and 3 only

d) All of the above

3.Consider the following statements about District Planning Committees.

  1. It is constitutionally mandated for each state to constitute a District Planning Committee (DPC).
  2. The DPC does not plan for the urban based Municipalities.
  3. All members of the DPC are elected indirectly.

 

Choose the correct answer using the codes below.

a) 1 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) 1 and 3 only

d) All of the above

4. Article 280 of the Constitution of India provides for a Finance Commission.

Which kind of a body is Finance Commission?a) Quasi-judicial

b) Executive

c) Administrative

d) Quasi-legislative

5.Which of these is/are Constitutional bodies?

  1. National Commission for SCs
  2. National Commission for Minorities
  3. National Commission for Protection of Child Rights
  4. National Human Rights Commission

 

Choose the correct answer using the codes below.

a) 1 only

b) 1 and 4 only

c) All of the above

d) 2, 3 and 4 only

6. The Delhi Legislative assembly can make laws on all the matters of the State List and the Concurrent List except the three matters of the State List, that is

1. Public Order

2. Police

3. Land

Choose the correct answer using the codes below.

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) 1 and 3 only

d) All of the above

7. The chief election commissioner is provided with the security of tenure. He cannot be removed from his office except in same manner and on the same grounds as that of

a) A Supreme Court Judge

b) UPSC Chairman

c) Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India

d) Either (a) or (c)

8.Which of the above is/are true?

The district and regional councils under Sixth Schedule administer the areas under their jurisdiction. Consider the following statements about it.

They can constitute village councils or courts for trial of suits and cases between the tribes.

Laws made by them do not require the assent of either the Legislature or the Governor.

Which of the above is/are true?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) None

 

  1. In the context of India, the Fundamental Rights include:

 

  1. Right against forced labour
  2. Protection of linguistic rights of the minorities only.
  3. Protection of religious rights of the minorities only.
  4. Right to constitutional remedies

Which of the statements is/are correct?

a) 1 and 4

b) 4 Only

c) 1, 3 and 4

d) 1, 2 and 4

 

  1. Consider the following statements:

 

  1. The Rajya Sabha cannot initiate legislation, but a bill in order to become a law is required to be passed through the Rajya Sabha.
  2. The members of the Rajya Sabha are nominated by the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of various states.

Select the correct code:

a) 1 Only

b) 2 Only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Answers:

1 c
2 a
3 a
4 a
5 a
6 d
7 d
8 a
9 a
10 d

Idea of India

The Indian state after 1947 was left in control of a population of incomparable differences – Hindu castes and outcastes, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Christians, Buddhists, Tribes, speakers of more than a dozen languages, thousands of dialects and myriad ethnic and cultural communities.

Where did the commonality lie? There was no common identity, unity, ideology or symbol or an emperor to rally around.

For a few decades after independence, Nehru’s conception of a tolerable, common Indianness seemed to suggest a basis for itself. It was a political conception and to sustain itself, it had to constantly persuade.Today, with Ayodhya and other related incidents, this has given way to a more exclusivist ideas of India and political community. Definitions of India were again fiercely contested by Hindu nationalists trying to create a homogenous, exclusive and Hindu states and others fighting to escape the state altogether, creating their own smaller, homogenous and equally exclusive communities.

Rise of Indian nationalism:

Indian nationalism arose in parallel and oblique currents in the late nineteenth century. It began before Nehru and before the Congress, imaginatively described in places like Maharashtra and Bengal (places exposed to the British longer) In these places, the sense of regional identity came only while defining the larger Indian community. Nationalism is therefore not only about uniting and subordinating regional identities, the sense of region and nations emerged parallelly. The way different identities were explored was neither uniform nor consistent.

We cant reduce all the projects – anti colonialism, patriotism, nationalism – happening at this time to nationalism alone. However, one intention running across all the projects was to rebut humiliation inflicted by colonial views. John Strachey declared that there never was an India nor any country of India, possessing any sort of unity – physical, political, social, religious, no nation, no people of India we hear so much about.

Three responses to this emerged:

  • Nationalist Hindus said that we can find Indian unity out of common culture derived from religion

  • Gandhi settled on religion as a source of interconnectedness among Indians but came out with his own eclectic and pluralistic morality born out of different religious traditions

  • Nehru turned away from religion and based unity on a historical past of cultural mixing and a future project of common development

How was India before?

Before the 19th century, no resident of the continent would have identified themselves as an Indian. Inhabitants of a space called ‘India’ have been of interest only to outsiders – greeks, travellers, traders, invaders and the British. It was British interest which converted India from the name of a cultural territory to one with precise geographical boundaries. But they scorned at the idea of India having ‘natural’ frontiers.Thus colonial administrative techniques brought about a unified and bounded space called India.

India is however not just pure invention. There does exist a civilisational bond – epics, myths, folk stories etc, connecting us from Persia to Indonesia. The caste system is uniformly seen, imposing itself on all new comers, excluding the British. This bestowed a certain unified coherence on the lives in the subcontinent.There was also a sort of political community which existed. Pilgrimage points, epics and sub continental empires led to the creation of this. If India was weakly united, it was also weakly divided. No politically significant religious identities were formed to either obstruct unification or direct it. So basically, moments of unification were achieved only under imperial rule.

Unification:

Rewriting history:

There were attempts at summoning up common historical pasts. James Mill wrote A History of British India, an outsiders view of how India will benefit from subjugation to the British. The colonial subjects began to question this and a need was identified to write our own histories. However this ended up dividing nationalism. Three periods were identified – Hindu, Muslim and British. The starting point was in the classical Vedic period, followed by the ‘dark’ Muslim period which left us vulnerable to attack. Hindu resistance was seen as brave but floundering. They couldn’t depict Hinduism as a unifying force so it was tailored to emphasise broad cultural commonalities rather than ritual practices, caste exclusivities and particular gods as this could exclude people.

Hindutva:

Savarkar came out with this concept in his search for a seamless Hindu past. Using the genealogical equation of hindu = Indian, he said that members were united by geographical origin, racial connection and a shared culture based on sanskritic language and common rules and laws. These formed the core majority community. Others – muslims, tribes and Christians were relegated to secondary positions. These ideals can be seen in the modern definition of Indianness as well. Hindutva has moulded India’s political history throughout the years and was an important part in the agitation for Pakistan. Direct action by Hindu organisations and the influence of hindu nationalism in the congress, led Jinnah to question democracy as proposed by the congress as not adequately representing the interests of Muslims in Muslim minority states. His fear was of a large state with an undivided electorate and one religious community holding a numerical and potentially permanent political majority. These fears have surfaced now as well.

Gandhi:

He refused to separate religion from politics, trying to refute the charge that religion must keep India divided. He also recoiled from the vision of nationalist Hindus. He inverted their image of a khaki shod fatherland and invoked an older anguage of feminised patriotism, making himself a demonstration of the message that strength was with the victims of history.He rejected the idea of using history as a source to determine future action. He wanted to abandon the imitative history of religious nationalists. He preferred the legends and stories of popular religious traditions. SO in place of an Indian unity with a common historical bond, he substituted a religious morality with elements of folk and Bhakti traditions as well as Christian morality. He tried to create a larger Indian identity by appealing to pre-existing local beliefs and identities through the idea of swadeshi – respect for the everyday material world inhabited by most in the subcontinent.Gandhian Vision receded in the 1940s, with partition and his assassination. His idea of anarcho-communitarianism (pluralist defn of India as well as his faith in the everyday tolerances of ordinary people) was helpless in the face of communal mayhem which threatened India.

Ambedkar:

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s intervention in the political discourse of modern India was an attempt to answer the following questions: Is India a Hindu nation? If it is not, then what are the ways in which Hinduism could be equipped to live with other faiths? Can Hinduism cope with the ever growing pressures exerted by democracy, liberal institutions and modern technology?Ambedkar was a modernist who was deeply influenced by Western ideas of personal freedom and equality. He believed that Dalits had no place within Hinduism. The very foundation of Hinduism rested on caste, a system which he evocatively formulated as one constituting an “ascending scale of reverence and a descending scale of contempt.” This was graded inequality. Emancipation therefore lay in a total rejection of Hinduism. Because of these beliefs, he remained torn between the imperatives of giving Dalits an identity and a voice independent of Hinduism on the one hand, and his fidelity to the fundamental principles of constitutionalism and citizenship.Ambedkar’s held allegiance to the idea of India as one nation often came into conflict with the place of Dalits within this nation at a practical level. As a legal idealist, Ambedkar believed that the formal devices enshrined in the Indian Constitution and strict adherence to them would take care of primordial identities and resolve all latent conflicts.

Nehru:

Nehru managed to persuade the country that his was the only possible definition of Indianness. He came up with a compelling and imaginative story of the Indian past told as a tale of cultural mixing and fusion, a civilisational tendency towards unification which would realise itself within the framework of the modern nation state. He was influenced by Gandhi and Tagore, however, seeing the nation state as neither one emerging out of community and common citizenship nor one of shared cultural and ethnic origin. He sees India emerging only within the territorial and institutional framework of the state.

His model committed to protecting cultural and religious difference rather than imposing a uniform India. He discovered India using history – defining his sense of political possibility and made him vigilant about the future also spurred by his insight into Indian culture. To Indians, the past was as valuable as language/religion, valuing it themselves and seeing the world through it. He introduces the language of accommodation and acceptance. India appears as a space of ceaseless cultural mixing, its history like a document on which layers after layers had been added and inscribed, yet with no succeeding layer hiding or erasing that which had previously been written. He was not trying to chronicle fact but producing ‘living history’ an enabling fiction that bound a variety of pasts of immeasurable successions of human beings into one shared history of a single political community.

However, we also needed to coexist with a modernist, self critical way of looking at our past which acknowledged its immense failures as well. He saw India as neither a society of liberal individuals nor exclusive communities but of interconnected difference. This guided his practice post 1947. Besides using the institutions of the army and civil services, he added that of economic planning as well, to impart cohesion drawing Indians into a shared project of development. Not attempt was made to impose a single uniform identity upon the new nation. (example, language)This brings out an important part of the way Indianness has been defined. It recognised atleast two other aspects – citizens as members of linguistic and cultural communities. He saw no need for internal partition into States. But to make governance easy, states were created on the basis of language. This was not for any other reason but for administrative efficiency. This showed that indianness can be revised and wasn’t static.He opted to tackle the threats of religious identity formation through democracy – universal suffrage and a single electorate not divided into communities. The focus was on winning the trust of the people. Protections were instituted for the oppressed and minorities. These were however subject to change.

Also important was to establish indianness as an international identity – a way of being in the wider world. To become a world player, the country would have to create its own opportunities and chances, which it did by speaking the language of morality and justice. Nehru created an image that was not a martyr of colonialism but a self confident actor in international politics.Nehru’s conception of India did not monopolise or simplify the definition – India, an ungainly, inelegant combination of differences, still exists as a single political unit even after sixty years. This would have been impossible without Nehru.

Politics of representation in India

There has been a historic shift in the forms and modes of political representations available to the people who seek to take up the representation of their interests and social claims. There are two significant changes with respect to this:

  1. In the early 20th century, there was an upsurge of social relations formed in workplaces, getting organized into trade unions and then linking it to political parties. Now the new politics are more focused on social movements, voluntary associations and NGOs amongst other forms. The issues which these movements take up are more local than national.

  2. There has been a change in the process of representation which is marked by a greater emphasis on descriptive representation and participation in decision making. This means that even if there is a policy which is equitable and just, it can be objected to on the grounds that it did not include minorities like women for example in its formulation. There is a focus on the entire process being democratic.

These global trends provide an important context to the discussion of the politics of representation in India. Representative democracy in India is largely connected to a deepening of the concept of democracy and places a large emphasis on the role of electoral politics in providing space for the expression of rights and claims by disadvantaged groups. Some political scientists even go on to say that the electoral politics in the 1990s is the second democratic upsurge after India’s independence movement. This politics of representation has bought leaders from the grassroots and from the historically backward and lower castes to the focus. A significant percentage of the voter participation is also from the poorer classes, the uneducated and the socially underprivileged castes in India. This is in contrast to industrialized democracies where participation is biased towards better educated, wealthier and advantaged citizens.

Even though political parties are not institutionalized so as to speak, it is through them that there has been an increased participation of marginalized groups in politics. Contrary to popular belief, the needs and interests of the poorer groups are met by the political parties rather than by the NGOs and other social movements. Available evidence so far highlights a substantial increase in political participation and continuing importance of parties, both of which underline the strength and legitimacy of the political system. But this also poses a challenge with regard to political representation as it does not deal with the status of political equality and citizen’s abilities to produce change unless we accept the standard formulation that everyone’s vote should count as one vote, which implies that all are equal.

Political equality implies that there needs to be a proportionate distribution of political activity. While there is an increase in the participation through public meetings, demonstrations and rallies, this has not translated into real participation through involvement in critical decision making which happen in such events. There is no real political equality in that sense.

There are two types of political representation broadly. In the first one, a person becomes a representative of the people by virtue of a contract or mandate. In this he is expected to deliver some set targets and responsibilities. In the second one, a person is selected from the people itself. He belongs to the community or group and is selected in any way to represent the needs and issues of the community. In other words he is a part of the community which he represents.

In most cases the representative does not represent persons as such; rather the representative is charged with the responsibility of seeing that the interests of the constituents are adequately represented in decision-making, and is obliged not only to represent interests, but also to ensure that something is done about the pressing problems of the constituency, in terms of production and implementation of appropriate policies, for instance. In short, the representative is accountable to her constituency.

The political representation can be assessed in two ways. Firstly, by the process of representation and secondly by the quality of representation and responsiveness. The three groups which have been historically underrepresented in politics are: Other Backward Classes (OBCs) up till recently, women and minorities.

The major change in representation has been a switch from the ‘politics of ideas’ to the ‘politics of presence’. The politics of ideas means that a person would support an ideology he believes in. For example, a person would vote for the BJP if he believes in their ideology alone. Politics of presence implies that a person who represents the larger community or group one belongs to would be supported. For example, simplistically, a Dalit would choose to vote for a Dalit candidate no matter what the candidate’s political ideology is.

But the politics of presence is also questionable as it does not necessarily bring out a resolution for the problems of under-representation or to the larger issue that the representation of interests of the constituents, especially the most vulnerable may not be met. Having a larger number of representatives of one group does not necessarily translate to a change in policy for that group. Additionally, simply changing the social structure of a party would not change the party’s ideologies and its focus on issues for the disadvantaged or even for that group.

There are three major challenges in the politics of representation. They are:

  1. It could over-politicize group differences, thereby disrupting political stability, weaken the basis for political accountability, and undermine representation aimed at promoting the general interests and shared concerns, which might also have policy implications. Such a shift towards identity politics has exacerbated social conflicts and advanced the politicization of social cleavages. Indeed, the most overtly conflictual aspects of Indian politics have in recent years been those related to identity politics, variously, Punjab, Assam, Kashmir, Ayodhya and Mandal. It has reduced accountability and damaged responsiveness because presence becomes a value in itself at the expense of interests, principles and ideas.

  2. The second concerns proportionality in the process of representation and the varied processes of gender and minority as categories/groups in enhancing their presence in decision-making structures. The different groups cannot harness their numbers in the absence of political mobilization and readiness of political parties to give them nominations. But when we look at the problem in a larger time-frame then we can see that reservations do play the role of a catalyst in the construction of political identities. In other words, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs have become political categories through reservations.

  1. The third argument pertains to the substance of representation. While much of the justification for electoral reservation revolves around the need for marginalized groups to have a voice within the legislature which will otherwise get submerged, there is little systematic evidence to show that representatives elected from these seats have performed this role with effectiveness. Special representation in governing institutions may not benefit the whole community, and it invariably results in promoting personal empowerment of middle classes and elites and transfer of resources to them. It may just create a new elite group among the disadvantaged who participate with society’s elite.

To conclude: By its very nature representation as presence does not have a broad transforming agenda. It is a politics of positional change, not structural reform.

Significant Works and Ideas of Thinkers

 

1.

Name

Three influential ideas / concepts

Relevant

1. Kautilya – 350 – 283 B.C. ancient Indian Philosopher Adviser to King Chandragupta Maurya.
  1. Monarchy as the best form of government; Absolute powers to King.
  2. Saptanga theory of elements of state.
  3. Principles of public administration.
i.role of the king=PM

ii.corruption

iii.personnel admin- value based selection

iv.welfare state concept

2. Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) Former President of America and Political Scientist
  1. Importance of study of administration as science.
  2. Politics – administration dichotomy.
  3. Public administration as ‘Government in action’.
i.administration=analysis=system

improvement

ii.policy implementation.

3. Henri Fayol (1841 – 1925) French Mining Engineer and Administrative Theorist
  1. Principles of management
  2. General theory of management / management process school.
  3. Gang plan / level jumping
i.structure as element in organsation

ii.emergency communication

iii.training

iv.higher level- administrative skills

4. Frederick Winslow Taylor (1865-1915) Engineer, Inventor and Consultant
  1. Principles of scientific management.
  2. One best way” of doing things.
  3. Functional foremanship.
i.effective structures

ii.scientific division of work

iii.piece rate system-NPM,salary

iv.problem in multiple head

5. Max Weber (1864 – 1920) German Sociologist and Political Scientist
  1. Form of authority.
  2. Legal rational bureaucracy.
  3. Protestant ethic.
i.critic = modern day bureaucratic problem

ii.types of authority=development objective

6. Luther Gulick (1892-1993) American Expert on Public Admnistration. Lyndall Urwick (1891-1983) British Management Consultant
  1. Structure based principles of organization.
  2. POSDCORB as functions of executive.
  3. Bases of departmentalization.
i.executive function=common to any management

ii.failure of structural design in organization

iii.creation of department

7. Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933) American Political Scientist, Social Worker and Management Consultant
  1. Constructive conflict
  2. Integration
  3. Depersonalizing orders
i.conflict-multi cultural society

ii.resolution of conflict

iii.ideas about power,authority,control-modern day rights based developmental model

8. George Elton Mayo (1880-1949) Australian social Psychologist and Industrial Researcher
  1. Human relations approach to organizations.
  2. Hawthorne effect.
  3. Role of informal organizations and groups in effecting the behaviour of individuals at work.
i.informal organization-organisational improvements

ii.communication as control

iii.natural leadership-development domain

9. Chester, I. Barnard (1886-1961) American Executive and Management Thinker
  1. Acceptance theory of authority and “Zone of Indiffference”
  2. Contribution – satisfaction equilibrium
  3. Functions of the executive
i.communication for mature individuals

ii.role of a administrator

iii.personnel admin-designing incentives

10. Herbert A. Simon (1908-1970) American Psychologist and motivation Theorist
  1. Administration as decision-making
  2. Bounded rationality.
  3. Zone of acceptance.
i.decision in public administration

ii.behaviour & decision

11. Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) American Psychologist and Motivation Theorist
  1. Hierarchy of needs.
  2. Self-actualisation.
  3. Peak experiences.
i.motivation in organization

ii.design incentives-perssonal administration

iii.organisational improvments

12. Douglas McGregor (1906-1964) American Social Psychologist and Management Consultant
  1. Theory “X” and Theory “Y”
  2. Management education from cosmology to reality.
  3. Transactional influence.
i.theory y= modern organization
13. Chris Argyris (July 16, 1923) American Behavioural Theorist and Management Writer
  1. Maturity – Immaturity theory.
  2. T-Group Techniques; Single loop and Double loop learning
  3. Organisatoinal learning
i.understanding HR

ii.sensitivity traning- development administration

iii.system learning

14. Frederick Herzberg (1923-2000) American Psychologist and Management Consultant
  1. Hygiene – Motivation theory.
  2. Job-enrichment.
  3. Job loading.
i.job design

ii.challenging job design for matured individuals

15. Rensis Likert (1903 – 1981) American Organisational Psychologist and Educator.
  1. Management system 1-4.
  2. Linking pin model.
  3. Interaction – influence system.
i.design of organization

ii.personnel administration,development administration

16. Fred W. Riggs (1917-2008) Chinese born American Political Scientist and Administrative Model Builder
  1. Prismatic society.
  2. Sala model of administrative
  3. Development as diffraction and integration.
i.bureaucracy –india,developing countries

ii.problems of developing countries

17. Yehezkel Dror (born in 1928) Israeli Political Scientist and Pioneer in policy studies
  1. Societal direction system as a mega-knowledge system.
  2. Optimal Model” of policy making.
  3. paradigms of policy science.
i.poicy design

ii.india & policy science

iii.models for policy design

18. Dwight Waldo (1913-2000) American Political scientist and “Defining figure” in public Administration.
  1. Public administration as political approach.
  2. Professional orientation to public administration.
  3. New Public Administration.
19. Peter Drucker (1909-2005) American Management Thinker, Professor and Consultant
  1. Management by objectives.
  2. Restructuring Government / New Public Management.
  3. Knowledge society and knowledge workers.
20. Karl Marx (1818-1883) German Revolutionary Philosopher and Political Economist
  1. Bureaucracy as an exploitative class instrument.
  2. Materialistic interpretation of history.
  3. Alienation of bureaucracy.

Right to Information Act, 2005

Right to Information Act, 2005

Origin

The work of a small activist group in Rajasthan MKSS- Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan was an association for the empowerment of workers and farmers started a campaign to secure the right of ordinary people to gain access to information held by government officials. MKSS is a grassroots organization and is a “non-party political formation”. It relies on small formal membership of local people. They are supported by few committed activists from other parts of India. Thus MKSS emphasized that citizens have a right both to know how they are governed and to participate actively in the process of auditing the civil servants and their representatives. They started campaigning at the grassroots level and lead to a larger movement at the state and center level.

The activities of MKSS initially were on livelihood issues, such as the failure of the state government to enforce minimum-wage regulations on drought-relief works, to ensure availability of subsidized food and other essential commodities through the Public Distribution System (PDS), inflated estimates of bills in public works projects, etc, highlighting the role of corruption and mal practices in local authorities. They had no way to cross check the accounts without the official documents and thus access to information became very essential. While the nexus between local politicians, local government officials, and local contractors was well known, it continued to thrive under a pretext of secrecy. Thus the resistance of MKSS was against secrecy. One of the MKSS’s most important innovations has been jan sunwais – or “public hearings” in which all members of administration i.e. government officials , politicians, local villagers, outsiders etc were invited to verify the official documents obtained by MKSS by photocopying and thus the whole community took collective verification or auditing of the official documents1. Thus this exposed of the mechanics of forms of corruption through access to government documents and cross-checking them in public hearings.

Although MKSS was successful in exposing corruption in a number of localities, the public hearings were a relatively rare because of the difficulty in obtaining certified copies of government accounts from reluctant officials. This exposed the transparency of the government officials since they were reluctant to provide official documents and the role of information was very important which can be used was weapon against government accountability2.

Central values and the objectives this policy is built on is

  • Accountability

  • Transparency

  • Corruption

  • Good Governance

  • Participation

  • Human rights

  • Justice

The Act focuses on corruption, accountability and transparency in the system all leading to good governance. The reason of corruption is asymmetry in information and this asymmetry leads to poor public service delivery and corruption in the system of governance and ultimately it leads to ineffective and inefficient service delivery system. This act focuses more on creating a system of accountability and transparency in the administration machinery thus leading to better governance.

Accountability

Accountability – “an obligation to accept responsibilities or to account for ones actions.”3. Accountability is defined as the application and/or responsibility of anyone handling resources, public office, power of administration or any position of trust to report on the way it has been exercised (World Bank Institute) The most important issue of efforts of governments to move from traditional compliance based accountability towards performance based accountability.

Accountability has three main components4:

  • Transparency

  • Responsiveness

  • Compliance

Transparency is introduced as a means of holding public servants accountable and to help fight corruption.

Responsiveness concerns the responsibility of the organization for its acts. It thus shows the result of decision making process.

Compliance is an act or process of complying to a desire, demand, proposal, or regimen or to coercion, and conformity in fulfilling official requirements 5

Therefore accountability means where one party is accountable to another party for any action, process, output or outcome. If the information of accounter is given to a person, who can evaluate it and then judge that person.

But this information given should be

a) Reliable and correct b) understandable c) a complete part of information should be given and not just the part.

Transparency

One of the main aims of Right to Information Act is to create transparency in administration machinery. Transparency is a means of holding public servants accountable and thus fights against corruption. When the transactions of government office i.e. its statements on decision making, muster rolls etc are open to public discussion and scrutiny , then only we can term it as transparent. Thus eliminates opportunity for the public servants to misuse or abuse the public system as they are appointed to serve the public. Transparency concerns the duty to account to those with legitimate interest in organization. It creates fairness and clarity in functions and operations of governance, thus puts a check on officials from exercising their discretionary powers and put a check on malpractices and thus reduces corruption.

Corruption

Corruption is multi-dimensional concept. Dictionary defines it as moral decay and subject of unconditional condemnation. It is rightly said that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”6. Definition of corruption is both legal and economic terms. Legally, corruption is an act against the laid laws and liable for punishment. Economic view indicates that public servants who use public office for private gains and thus behaves like a market driven by demand and supply6.

MKSS demand for regulating the entire system provides a valuable new perspective to fight corruption. Corruption is one of the greatest obstacles to efficient delivery of development resources to the people. The focus of these grassroots people on Right to information, offers a constructive practical approach to fight against corruption which directly affects these people. Many women participated in these struggles and they directly confronted the government officials which helped in bringing dignity to their life and enhance their quality of life and translates into good livelihood of their life. Thus this Right to information has lead to pursuit of change of governance framework and a need for good governance. Corruption has critical ill effects of relationship of poor with state, market and civil & political society6. Ability of poor to achieve market gains is hampered by corruption because of lack of access to good education and healthcare systems, food etc. If the policing of market is not effective then whatever small benefits poorer people get for their productive activities will be very less.

Good governance

Governance is interplay of society, state and administration. It depends on efficient functioning of legislature, executive, judiciary, civil societies, NGO’s etc. The end result of administrative systems is to ensure accountability, transparency, participation, upholding human rights of society, procedural fairness equity, inclusiveness, etc. even though each society and state has different cultures, tradition, economic differences etc. Good governance would include making administration ethical, making each civil servant accountable and each service result oriented, responsive administration, citizen friendly system of administration.

Human Rights

MKSS asked for the information that was denied to people so that all the services delivered by state are implemented and accounted properly. So they attacked the base of the problem, which was one of the basic rights which state should have given long time back. In India, where most of the villagers are illiterate and can’t make much use of information especially about financial transaction and accounts, but MKSS stuck to its stand and demanded for Right to Information7. If even basic procedural rights such as Right to Information are beyond the grasp of ordinary people, they are none the less very important because it concerns their socio-economic, cultural rights which are relevant to immediate needs of poorer sections of society for their sustainable livelihood3. The nature and utility of rights of people are linked to process by which they are obtained and the meaning established in democratic concepts can be transformed through political process. The key point is that, MKSS efforts to use Right to Information as something which can be used even by ordinary people and also in collective manner has made a marked distinction in its importance. Right to Information within Indian constitution provisions relates to Right to life and livelihood. Citizen’s right to know who governs them and how, can also be derived from citizens Right to liberty in article 21 and Right to equality by article 14 of constitution7.

Participatory approach

MKSS work had a distinct characteristic that it worked collectively at the grassroots participation in exercise of rights, even though Right to Information was partially recognized by entire society through public hearing or Jan Sunmais. Thus MKSS targeted the people at bottom of pyramid unlike the many development programmes. If more people participate in decision making process, better will be information sharing and better use of resources and services. Thus it was a bottom up approach. MKSS approach was called “participatory auditing” “participatory monitoring and evaluation”. This highlights the gaps between peoples expressed needs and projects outcomes and its impact on people. Their approach was different in the sense that people had to directly confront with the government officials by demanding access to detailed expenditure records and verifying these collectively and then to demand an explanation from officials for apparent discrepancies7. This has changed the elite’s culture of bureaucracy since people are organized by training and inculcation of new pro-poor values. Therefore people’s knowledge was translated into power and thus exposing the corrupt practices, transparency of bureaucracy. MKSS approach of participatory method is different because people are mobilized, organized to fight against corruption, injustice etc and thus their approach is radical1.

Justice

Justice is the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, fairness, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics. Justice concerns itself with the proper ordering of things and people within a society (Wikipedia). Justice is one of the central values of RTI Act so that people can be given right based on fairness, equity etc.

Contradictions in the way in which the policy has been operationalised

Accountability

For this act to be operationalised on the terms mentioned above, accountability and performance measure have to be unambiguously defined, else it is highly probable that RTI Act will not be implemented in true spirit.

Some key issues in the act are8,9

  1. The role and ownership of State Information Commissioner and State Nodal Department are not defined clearly, even though their role is defined in sections 19, 26, 27, 28. Specific responsibilities of State Information Commissioner and State Nodal Department should be made and thus make them accountable for implementation of the RTI Act.

  2. There is inadequate planning at Public Authority level regarding ownership for the implementation and to proactively identify and address constraints so that citizens are provided with the information as requested in totality.

  3. There is inadequate infrastructure and resources at all levels, so that measurement of number of RTI applications, files disposed or rejected on real time basis can’t be achieved. This greatly delays the process and thus hampers accountability.

Convenience of filing requests

  1. Many RTI applications were rejected saying that the applications were not in prescribed format. Officials took advantage of this and rejected many applications and thus many people lost hope in the RTI system

As per sections 4(1)(b) xv- xvi, 6(1) and 5(3), Public Authority should provide information on demand made in application of RTI9.

  1. For filing RTI applications, a citizen has to pay cash and he should be physically presented, but Act doesn’t have any such mention in it. Citizens should submit their RTI application at PIO office which is usually located outside their village and sometimes villagers have to visit 3 or more times to PIO office to submit RTI application so that they have physically delivered their application and also sometimes the relevant officers will not be present.

  2. Inadequate help was provided to applicant of RTI and even attitude of PIO was hostile, but sections 5(3) and 6(1) says otherwise (they should lend at information). Many applicants were dissatisfied with the quality of information provided.9

  1. Accounts and Accountability by Rob Jenkins and Anne Marie Goetz.
  2. Understanding the “Key Issues and Constraints” in implementing the RTI Act, June 2009, PWC

Encouraging accessibility to information is one of the major changes in the management issues among Government employees. For a Government servant, there has been a significant shift from the “Official Secrets Act” mindset to the “Right to Information Act” mindset.8

Absence of Independent Audit system

The MKSS approach in auditing by public hearing any information obtained from RTI Act and thus getting a collective opinion of public is missing in this Act. The absence of a strong review and auditing mechanism can cause some problems in implementation of the Act. Inadequate mechanism for monitoring proactive disclosure, thus has caused in low compliance to Section 4(1) of RTI Act. Officials don’t comply to respond to the RTI application within 30 days and thus causes delay. Even if the response is given, the officials are not held accountable to their misdeeds. Therefore an absence of independent audit system has not been operationalised in the RTI Act.

Public Participation

RTI Act emerged out of public participation. The Act should empower the citizens of India and thus creating awareness among people is necessary. Key issues are

Act mentions that it is the responsibility of Government to spread the awareness of this Act so that citizens can exercise their right as said in section 26(1) A of the Act. But this is not done. Many citizens are not aware of this Act leave alone the usability of the Act.

Also many government officials are not aware of this Act. The appellants were not aware of their rights during the hearing process. Mass awareness campaign of Government of India is missing.

Therefore to increase public knowledge and awareness, the citizens are to be involved in debates and not just few elites so as to increase betterment of the system.

Other issues in operationalisation

Sections 1(3) and 15 provide for initiating process of constituting Information Commission with the immediate effect, but it was not done in many states and thus implementation of Act was delayed from beginning.

Even information required to be displayed by suo moto in every office was missing.

RTI act is available in local language, but the User guide is not available in all the official languages , thus making it impossible for those sections of society who can’t read and write in their local languages Section 26 says that 18 months is the time duration for translation, but government is buying time to translate the Act and the User Guide. When translated it should be ensured that is gives precise meaning as said in original one8.

The Central and State Information commission has only about 10-12 officers who are involved in the implementation of this Act. This has resulted in more centralization, but instead in the participatory approach people were looking for decentralization.

In case if any private company is associated in implementing a part of government projects like in PPP, then there is no provision in the Act to get information about this private company.

Stakeholders

Bureaucracy: Sometimes provides improper, incomplete, incorrect and ambiguous information. Most of PIO & AA consider RTI Act as biggest curse upon them & openly defy knowing well that information furnished by them shall expose illegalities & criminalities committed by their colleagues & theirs. Bureaucracy is taking advantage of certain loop holes in the act.

PIO: Both central and state Governments have a rule which says that public servants have to submit annual declaration of moveable and immoveable properties. RTI was files to request this, but PIO rejected it saying that Account General will have it and document sought for, if given will invade into privacy of officer10.

States Government: Even though RTI Act was passed and the Act also says that all the state governments have to setup State Information Commission within 6 months. 12 States didn’t do it. An appeal from PIO goes to 1st appellate authority and then to State Information Commissioner (SIC). Now if the SIC is not present then the applicant had no choice but to go to court. State government instead of acting according to the rules laid down in the Act is taking opportunity to delay the implementation process.

Central Information Commission (CIC):- It has ruled that all Government officials can refuse to give information, if the application form is not in prescribed format as given by Public Authority. So bureaucracy got loop holes in implementation of RTI Act. But the law only asks public to make written request and both PMO and Department of personnel & Training were involved in drafting this law.

In another case CIC pays compensation for delays as it didn’t give information to RTI applicant for more than 4 months. It acts as a neutral arbiter.

Opposition Party: – Opposition Party Congress in Rajasthan accused BJP that it has taken more than 5 months after deadline to implement RTI Act as it didn’t set up State Information Commission. The opposition party took an opportunity to launch an attack on the ruling party.

Civil Society and NGO’s:- They organized a mass campaign and mass drive to popularize the RTI Act in New Delhi. Many NGO initially didn’t support MKSS activities since they had challenges and problems in transparency in their own accounts. Few NGO’s were substantially funded by Government and they also came under scanner of RTI Act. Many NGO’s were reluctant to show information about of their accounts and other details. Many NGO’s even don’t have PIO. Information about how they get funds and their use it is not clear and many small NGO’s are the main defaulters10.

CBI: – CBI maintains a list of undesirable Contact Men (UCM) and all government officials are warned against these UCM list. RTI was filed by a person who suspected that his name was in the list, but CBI rejected this, citing that section 8(1 g) “Disclosure of info which would endanger life or physical safety of any person”. Thus this person faced a threat by CBI10.

Cabinet: – gave its approval for amending the RTI Act 2005 to exclude file noting’s in few areas except those related to social and development programs, UPSC, other government exams etc. Therefore Cabinet took an opportunity to make amendments to Act.

110 Lok Sabha members did not disclose assets even after eight months of their election to the Lok Sabha as against the mandatory provision to do so in 90 days.

Local People: Around 8000 people in Rajasthan participated in “Drive against Bribe” to get information and Suchana Evum Rozgar Ka Adhikar Abhiyan organized it to train these people in using RTI act and people were taught how to file applications for RTI.

RTI Activists: – Magsaysay Award winner Aruna Roy of MKSS has played a major role in bringing RTI to citizen so as to empower them. She said that it is “democratic privilege” as citizens could question public servants and fight against corruption.

Anna Hazare found irregularities in the functioning of “Council for Advancement of People’s Action & Rural Tech” (CA-PART) & threatened to go on fast unto death and also return Padmabhushan Award since CA-PART is not able to put in place effective monitoring & evaluation system. Of grants that were allocated to it for the betterment of poor people.

Similarly many well known activists rallied against amendments to exclude file notings and said that it would kill the Act and make Information Commission as a mere advisory bodies as it takes away independence of IC. Section (2) (f), (I), (j) of RTI set out “information” to include ‘opinion & advice’ and according to CIC this covers file notings10.

Murder of RTI activist: Upset by the brutal murder of RTI activist Satish Shetty in Pune on Wednesday, citizens using the Right To Information Act in Mumbai say the authorities need to answer some questions urgently. Recent cases have put a question mark on people’s security. In some cases government officials are even revealing the names of whistle-blowers. Instead of taking action when we bring irregularities to light, they claim there is no irregularity and leak our names. Activist Vihar Dhurve said that as more of the corrupt are exposed, those doing the exposing will be targeted13.

Supreme Court: SC says that RTI doesn’t apply to judges. “A judge speaks through his judgments and he is not answerable to anyone as to why he wrote a judgment in a particular manner,” the Bench said dismissing an appeal filed by one Khanapuram Gandaiah, who had filed for information under Section 6 of RTI Act. The District Judge had rejected his RTI plea. The Bench agreed with the rejection of his plea seeking information about the judgment under the RTI Act and said: “A judge can only speak through his judgments and he cannot be made to go on explaining why he took a particular view in a judgment.”

In another case The Madras High Court ordered TNPSC to give info under RTI Act and said that so long as information sought for under the RTI Act was available with the TNPSC and if it is not exempted under the Act, the Commission is duty bound to provide the information10.

High Court: The Bombay High Court today sought all the information which social activist Satish Shetty — who was killed and had obtained through Right to Information Act. High Court took suo motu notice of Shetty’s murder, which was preceded by attack on social activist Naina Kathpalia’s house in Mumbai. His younger brother Sandeep Shetty has told the Bombay high court that now he too is being threatened by some unknown persons and he didn’t trust the police, and therefore would like to submit the documents directly to the court. Court also questioned the state government on the progress in the investigation10.

STAKE

HOLDER

STAKE HOLDER’s role related to RTI Act 2005 De–facto interest ( Their actual interests) Power of position in relation to RTI Act 2005 Threats and opportunities
Central Government

(legislative and executive)

(Primary Stakeholders)

To bring out formation of RTI Act so as to improve accountability,

transparency and responsiveness in

government functioning (bureaucracy) and thus to check corruption

To control information and use it arbitrarily To make laws and

Rules for the RTI Act

To appoint central

Information commissioners.

The PMO and Ministry of Personnel and Training drafted the law and as stated above, it has taken opportunity to leave some loop holes in RTI Act.
State Government (legislative and executive)

(Primary Stakeholders)

To enforce the Act as laid out by central government To control information and use it arbitrarily To make laws and

Rules for the RTI Act

To appoint state Information commissioners.

Instead of acting according to the rules laid down in the Act is taking opportunity to delay the implementation process.
Local urban bodies

(Primary Stakeholders)

To apply the Act in all the departments Not to provide information or not to provide it as desired Has access to all the information of government departments in local bodies Is taking opportunity to delay the implementation process.
Civil society organizations

and NGOS

(Secondary Stakeholders)

To make this act functional and operative as per their demands and interests.

Creating awareness of the Act for mass participation

To mobilize people and thus negotiate with

authorities

Awareness campaign Have taken opportunity to expose irregularities in bureaucracy.
Common citizen’s

(Primary Stakeholders)

To get information as

and when desired

To get information by filing RTI application so that administration is

Accountable, transparent

Legal right to get

Information under the Act

To go to higher authorities if information is denied

or mislead

Citizens are mainly threatened if they voice against bureaucracy
Media-Press

Secondary Stakeholders

To publish and broadcast success and failures of various stakeholders Sometimes misusing and establishing their nuisance value. Opinion building Popularizing this act through print and electronic medium. They have taken opportunity to advance their own interests.
Political leaders

(Secondary Stakeholders)

To use this act to help citizens To use it in propaganda and for vote politics. To amend and to add or delete certain or whole provisions of the act. They have taken opportunity for vote bank politics
Bureaucracy

(Primary Stakeholders)

To prove their accountability,

transparency

Very less interest in information access Manipulation of

Information to hide their mistakes

Initial and key source of information. Is taking advantage of certain loop holes in the act.
Information

commission

(Primary Stakeholders)

To make this act

working

To make a commanding position over government

Institutions.

To hear second appeals and deliver judgments

To impose fine

To recommend government

It acts as a neutral arbiter.
Courts(High court and Supreme court) (Secondary Stakeholders) To watch the legal interpretation of Act Establish judicial authority above all. To pass judgments in writ jurisdiction. To issue directions even to the information commissions It acts as a neutral arbiter to enforce the law as laid out the RTI Act
International Agencies

(Secondary Stakeholders)

Capacity building.

Complete access to

information

To promote their own agenda. Funding and other

assistance

Have taken opportunity to advance their own demands and of good governance.

Suggestion for improvement11, 12

  1. To ensure co-ordination between the appropriate Government and the Information Commission in discharging the duties mandated under the RTI Act, it is recommended that there should be an RTI Implementation Cell. And this cell should be supported by the Nodal Department for all administrative support.

  2. Due to current low level of implementation of section 4(1) b and delays in providing information, there is a need for capacity building within Public Authority. Suggest having a Public Authority’s RTI cell to proactively address RTI applications. Size of the RTI cell can vary depending on the number of RTI applications received. Some its functions will be to capture no. of application filed, information provided, and appeals at First Appellate Authority, fines imposed by SIC and SIC orders and instruction.

  3. Composition of Information Commissions: As per the Section 12(5) and 15(5), the composition should be such that it should have people with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance. To implement these sections in spirit, it is recommended that the people who have worked in Government should be restricted to 50% (if not less) as recommended in the ARC report.

  4. Branding and promotion of RTI as done for many similar pro poor schemes such as MNREGA etc so as to increase public knowledge and awareness and to encourage citizen to involve in public discussions and thus increase transparency. This can be done by designing posters, pamphlets, audio, video message to create awareness and give punch line as done by say Family Planning department.

  5. The filing of RTI application is not convenient. Service Centers can be established to ease the process of RTI filing. Department of Posts (GOI) is already a designated APIO under the Section 5(2) for Central Government. It is suggested that the State Governments also accord the status of APIO to post offices and designate staff to assist citizens in drafting and forwarding the applications or appeals. RTI Call Centers: these have already been implemented in some states such as Bihar, Haryana. This is a convenient channel wherein the RTI application is taken by the call centre and payment of fee is included in the telephone bill. RTI Portal and other e-governance programs can be created so that all the RTI applications can be filed online and thus enables faster delivery of information.

  6. Re-organization of record management system to promote information management. Software applications should be developed so that they are installed in all the offices of government so that real time service can be provided. This application should assist in improving productivity in disposal of cases, drafting of orders and ease administration burden on many officers.

  7. In all Information Commissions at state level, central level and at district level video conferencing infrastructure should be installed so that State/Central Information Commissioners can hear the cases from this office and any person can go to district level instead of going all the way to state and central level to hear his cases. This reduces cost and saves time.

  8. Training should be imparted to all Pas, Appropriate governments and the ICs and by conducting separate training courses for PIOs/FAAs and other officers, a module on RTI should be incorporated all training programmes, considering every government employee is subject to the RTI.

  9. Since each State has its own set of rules while implementing in different departments, there is a need to have uniformity in the rules of all departments of all the states so that RTI applicant can apply using same form format in all the places.

  10. If any RTI applicant is threatened then his complaint must be passed on to police officials and there should be amendments made in Act accordingly.

  11. To ensure better service delivery by authorities and officials, third party audits should be institutionalized to support the Information Commission in carrying out responsibilities under Section 19(8)(a), 25(1), 25(2), 25(3f), 25(3g) and 25(5). Institutionalising regular audits would facilitate the Public Authorities’ compliance with the RTI Act (through the audit findings made available by Information Commission). In this context it is recommended to have a third party audit (at least annually) to support the Information Commissions and RTI Implementation Cell to monitor the performance of Public Authorities and to take appropriate action in case of any deviation. • Moreover, it is also suggested that the SIC website should have a list of all the Public Authorities within the jurisdiction of the Information Commission. The website should have a feature for citizens to report noncompliance (through tick-mark options) for a Public Authority. The reports generated through this application, would be helpful for a Public Authority and the Information Commission to take appropriate actions.

  12. In section 2 of RTI Act should remove the difficulty in ascertaining whether particular NGO should be treated as a public authority or not.

  13. The sections 12 and 15 don’t have any provision about giving current change of the post of Chief Information Commissioner to any Commissioner and thus should be amended.

  14. Section 29 A doesn’t have has power to empower the Commissions to make regulations and thus should be amended.

References

  1. Sowmya , “Right to know right to live”
  2. P Sampat, Nikhil DeY ,“Bare Acts and Collective Explorations ,The MKSS Experience with the Right to Information”,.
  3. Bare Acts and Collective Explorations ,The MKSS Experience with the Right to Information”, P Sampat, Nikhil DeY.
  4. Institute of Social Sciences Implementing Right To Information Act, 2005 in Urban Governance A Case Study of Lucknow Municipal Corporation, Yogeshwar Ram Mishra
  5. (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/accountability)

  6. http://oaithesis.eur.nl/ir/repub/asset/7269/Yogeshwar%20Ram%20Mishra%20PPM.pdf

    1. Implementing Right To Information Act, 2005 In Urban Governance: A Case Study of Lucknow Municipal Corporation.
  7. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/compliance)

  8. Accounts and Accountability by Rob Jenkins and Anne Marie Goetz.
  9. Understanding the “Key Issues and Constraints” in implementing the RTI Act, June 2009, PWC
  10. RIGHT TO INFORMATION – 2006, Compiled By K. Samu, Human Rights Documentation.
  11. By RTI Assessment & Analysis Group (RaaG) and National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI). October 2009
  12. Beyond Information: Breaching the Wall of State Inaction by Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan
  1. SAFEGUARDING THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION, Report of the People’s RTI Assessment 2008.
  2. http://www.timesofindia.com/

Fundamental Duties as an Indian way of life

Fundamental Duties as an Indian way of life

Historical Background

  • The Swaran Singh Committee was appointed to review of the Constitution had recommended that certain Fundamental Duties which every citizen owed the nation and it should be included in the Constitution.

  • These recommendations were implemented with the incorporation of the new article 51A in the Constitution.

  • During the period of emergency many of our constitutional values were questions and some of the amendments had crippled the powers of the High Court and the Supreme Court.

  • Hence the need for Fundamental duties arose.

Concept of Duty

  • Rights and duties are the two sides of the same coin.  For every right, there is a corresponding duty.  Rights flow only from duties well performed.  Duty is an inalienable part of right

  • If everyone performs his/her duty, everybody’s rights would be naturally be protected.  Gandhiji while emphasizing the economic and social responsibilities of all citizens said:

 

           “The true source of right is duty.  If we all discharge our duties, rights will not be far to seek.  If leaving duties unperformed we run after rights, they will escape us like will-o-the-wist, the more we pursue them, the farther they will fly”.

 

I learned from my illiterate but wise mother that all rights to be deserved and preserved come from my duty well done.  Thus the very right to live accrues to us when we do the duty of citizenship of the world.  From this one fundamental statement, perhaps it is easy enough to define duties of man and women and correlate every right to some corresponding duty to be first performed.  Every other right can be shown to be a usurpation hardly worth fighting for”.

It is very true that Fundamental Duties have actually been created from the wide culture present in India & hence it is actually a codification of the Indian way of life as explained below

 

  1. Clause (a) of article 51A

TO ABIDE BY THE CONSTITUTION AND RESPECT ITS  IDEALS AND INSTITUTIONS, THE NATIONAL FLAG AND THE NATIONAL ANTHEM.

  

  1. These are the very physical foundations of our citizenship. Ours is a vast country with many languages, sub-cultures and religious and ethnic diversities, but the essential unit of the country is epitomized in the one Constitution, one flag, one people and one citizenship

  2. National Flag and the National Anthem are symbols of our historical freedom struggle fought by many freedom fighters. It is also symbol of our sovereignty, unity and pride and thus it is an Indian way of life.

  3. If anyone shows disregard to the Constitution, the National Anthem or the National Flag it would be disastrous to all our rights and very existence as citizens of a sovereign nation.

  4. Each citizen must therefore not only refrain from any such activity of showing disrespect to our national symbols.

 

  1. Clause (b)

TO CHERISH AND FOLLOW THE NOBLE IDEALS WHICH INSPIRED OUR NATIONAL STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM.

Some of the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom were:

  1. to achieve freedom from foreign rule so that the people of India have self-government which would establish a society where there will be no exploitation of man by man, no poverty, no disease, no illiteracy.

  2. The above objective can be achieved only when  all citizens have opportunities for all round development of their personality.

  3.  For all round development of personality, man-making education is required.

  4. Such education can be inculcated when precept is coupled with practice and thus Right to education is given to all children.

 

  • The citizens of India must cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired the national struggle for freedom. The battle of freedom was a long one where thousands of people sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

  • It was not a struggle merely for political  freedom of India, but it was for the social and economic emancipation of the people all over the world. Its ideals were those of building a just society and a united nation of freedom equality, non-violence, brotherhood and world peace to rise above fissiparous tendencies in societies which are foundational principles of Indian way of life.

  1. Clause (c)

TO UPHOLD AND PROTECT THE SOVEREIGNTY, UNITY AND INTEGRITY OF INDIA.

 

  1. To protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India is a paramount commitment of all citizens of India. In a democratic system of governance, sovereignty lies with the people and if the freedom and unity of the country are jeopardized, the nation ceases to exist.

  2. If liberty resides in the minds of men and women, the same is true of unity.

  1. Clause (d) of article 51A

TO DEFEND THE COUNTRY AND RENDER NATIONAL SERVICE WHEN CALLED UPON TO DO SO.

 

  1. The primeval origins of the State are said to be in the need to defend ourselves against external enemies. In modern nation-States, it is considered obvious that every citizen is bound to be ready to defend the country against war or external aggression. 

  2. The present day wars are not fought on the battlefield only nor are they won only by the armed forces; the citizens at large play a most vital role in a variety of ways. Sometimes, civilians may be required also to take up arms in defence of the country; the citizens are fighting only to defend their own liberty and that of their posterity.

  3. It is obviously addressed to all citizens other than those who belong to the army, the navy and the air force, but it also to the common man. This Fundamental Duty has not so far been tested as there has been no occasion when the common man was called upon to render national service and to defend the country from any external aggression. The defence of the country may be needed against external aggression and war mongering armed rebellion within the country. 

 

  1. Clause (e) of article 51A

TO PROMOTE HARMONY AND THE SPIRIT OF COMMON BROTHERHOOD AMONGST ALL THE PEOPLE OF INDIA TRANSCENDING RELIGIOUS, LINGUISTIC AND REGIONAL OR SECTIONAL DIVERSITIES; TO RENOUNCE PRACTICES DEROGATORY TO THE DIGNITY OF WOMEN.

 

  1. The duty to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood among all Indians essentially flows from the basic value our Indian values of fraternity

  2. India is a country of different castes, languages, religions and many cultural streams but we are one people with one Constitution, one flag and one citizenship. This does not mean the elimination of various types of diversities. It is true that diversities will exist but they should be “transcended” and develops a mental outlook that will enable them to go beyond those diversities. They are required to rise above narrow cultural differences and to strive towards excellence in all spheres of collective activity.

  3. Spirit of brotherhood should come very normally among the citizens of a country like India where the norm has been to consider the entire world as one family, the principle of “Vasudeva Kutumbam”.

  4. It also casts upon us the Duty of ensuring that all practices derogatory to the dignity of women are renounced. This again should come normally to a country where it is a saying that Gods reside where women are worshipped. (yatra naryastu pujyante ramante tatra devata).

  5. The Dignity of women was also fought by various socio-religious reforma movements in 18th and 18th Century.

  6. The passing of the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 emphasizes the importance of the duty. Many laws have been passed by the Union Government and the State Governments which punish practices derogatory to the dignity of women.

 

  1. Clause (f) of article 51A

 

TO VALUE AND PRESERVE THE RICH HERITAGE OF OUR COMPOSITE CULTURE.

 

  1. Our cultural heritage is one of the noblest and the richest cultures in world, which we have inherited from the past, we must preserve and pass on to the future generations. In fact, each generation leaves its footprints on the sands of time.

  2. India being one of the most ancient civilizations of the world, India can take legitimate pride in having been a civilizational unity without a break for more than five thousand years.

  3. Our contributions in the field of art, sculpture, architecture, mathematics, science, medicine, etc. are well known.

  4. Some of the oldest, deepest philosophical thoughts and literature were born in India. We have several historical monuments of great archaeological value spread over the entire country. These include forts, palaces, temples, cave paintings, mosques, churches, etc.

  5. India has had the honour of being the birthplace of several great religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Our past has shown us the path of peace, love, non-violence and truth. As citizens of this country, it is the responsibility of all of us to work for the preservation of this rich heritage and its cultural values and live in love and harmony.

  6. We must hold precious and dear what our fore-fathers have created and their successive generations.

  7. Generations to come always draw inspiration from past history which stimulates them to aim at ever greater heights of achievement and excellence.

The divine core of personality is covered by five dimensions :-

 

(i)                   Physical dimension consisting of the body and the senses;

(ii)                 Energy dimension which performs digestion of food, blood circulation, the respiration and every activities within the body;

(iii)                Mental dimension chracterised by the activities of the mind – thinking and feeling;

(iv)                Intellectual dimension chracterised by the determinative faculty and will power; and

(v)                  Psychic dimension experienced as bliss, e.g. during deep sleep.

t theft even if the whole world may, this is higher law (Asteya);

(ii)                 If a citizen causes hurt to another person, he is punished; this is law.  However, if the citizen takes a determined resolve within himself that he shall not cause hurt to anyone; this is higher law (Ahimsa);

(iii)                If a citizen commits cheating he is punished; this is law.  However, if the citizen takes a determined resolve within himself that he shall not cheat or deceive any body; this is higher law (Satya);

(iv)                If a citizen takes a bribe he is punished; this is law.  However, if every citizen takes a determined resolve not to take bribe, and not to give bribe, even if the whole world may; this is higher law (Aprigraha); and

(v)                  If a citizen outrages the modesty of a women he is punished, this is law.  However, if the citizen takes the determined resolve that (except his wife) he shall always look upon women as his mother, sister or daughter; this is higher law (Brahmacharya).

  1.  Clause (g)

TO PROTECT AND IMPROVE THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT INCLUDING FORESTS, LAKES, RIVERS AND WILD LIFE, AND TO HAVE COMPASSION FOR LIVING CREATURES.

 

  1. Due to increasing pollution and environmental degradation, it is the duty of every citizen to protect  and improve natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life and to have compassion for living creatures.

  2. The growing air, water and noise pollution and large-scale denudation of forest are causing immense harm to all human life on earth. The mindless and wanton deforestation in the name of needs of development is causing havoc in the form of natural calamities and imbalances.

  3. Earth  is the common heritage of man  and animals. Ancient Indian thought talks ofSarvesham Shantir bhavatu (peace unto all living beings and entire environment) or Ahimsa paramodharma. Ahimsa paramo tapah  (non-violence is the greatest duty and the greatest penance).    

 

  1. Clause (h) of article 51A

 TO DEVELOP THE SCIENTIFIC TEMPER, HUMANISM AND THE SPIRIT OF INQUIRY AND REFORM

 

  1. One of our great founding father, Jawaharlal Nehru always  laid great emphasis on the need for Indian citizens developing a scientific temper and a spirit of inquiry

  2. This was particularly necessary because of the most revolutionary scientific advances during this century and in the context of our background of superstitions and obscurantism.

  3. Scientific temper means outlook founded on organised knowledge and experience. Scientific temper is based on reason and rationality in contradistinction to superstition or blind faith. Scientific temper discards obsolete learning. It requires thirst for knowledge and urge for research for facts and a zeal for setting things right.

 

  1. Clause (i)

 TO  SAFEGUARD PUBLIC PROPERTY AND TO ABJURE VIOLENCE.

 Indian values teach us about non-violence and leading a ascetic life to achieve Moksha 

  1. Clause (j)

TO STRIVE TOWARDS EXCELLENCE IN ALL SPHERES OF INDIVIDUAL AND COLLECTIVE ACTIVITY, SO THAT THE NATION CONSTANTLY RISES TO HIGHER LEVELS OF ENDEAVOUR AND ACHIEVEMENT.

  1. The drive for excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity is the demand of times and a basic requirement in a highly competitive world

  2. “Excellence” is the secret of all development and all success. “Excellence” brings about communion with the Divine “Yogah Karmsu Kaushalm”.  

 Significance of Fundamental Duties

  • Reminder: They serve as a reminder to the citizens that while enjoying rights they also have some fundamental duties to follow.
  • Warning: They act as a warning against the anti-national activities and antisocial activities like burning of constitution, etc.
  • Inspiration: They serve as a source of inspiration for the citizens and promote a sense of discipline and commitment among them. They create a feeling that the citizens are not mere spectators but active participants in the realization of national goals.
  • Help to courts: Though non-justiciable in nature, it still helps the court in examining the constitutional validity of the law. If the court finds that a law in question seeks to give effect to a fundamental duty, it may consider such law to be reasonable in relation to Article 14(equality before law) or Article 19 (six freedoms) and thus save such law from unconstitutionality.
  • They are now in a way enforceable by law. Hence the Parliament can provide for the imposition of appropriate penalty or punishment for failure to fulfill any of them.

CRITICISM OF FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES

  • Not exhaustive: The list of fundamental duties is not exhaustive i.e. it doesn’t contain other important duties like casting vote, paying taxes, etc.
  • Meaning: Some of the duties mentioned are ambiguous & difficult to understand for the common man like the “composite culture” mentioned in the Fundamental Duties.
  • Non-justiciable: It can’t be questioned in the court of law for enforcement. So, it is of no use even if it is included in the constitution. But still various other acts have been formulated by the government which gives effect to these Fundamental Duties & help to punish if not practiced.
  • Unnecessary: Some critics argue that these duties are so general that they will be performed by any citizen of India. There was no need for them to be added in the constitution.
  • Place in the constitution: It has been added in the Part IVA i.e. after Part IV (Which belongs to the Directive Principles of State Policy which are nonenforceable  even with the court of law). It has given the Fundamental Duties a nature of non-obligation. Instead it should have been placed as the Part IIIA i.e. after Part III (it belongs to the Fundamental Rights). It should have been given power at par with Fundamental Rights.

 VERMA COMMITTEE OBSERVATIONS

  • The Verma Committee on Fundamental Duties of the Citizens appointed in 1999 identifies the existence of legal provisions for the implementation of some of the Fundamental Duties. They are mentioned below:
  •  The prevention of insults to national honour act (1971) prevents disrespect to the Constitution of India, the National Flag and the National Anthem.
  • The various criminal laws in force provide for punishments for encouraging enmity between different sections of people on grounds of language, race, place of birth, religion and so on.
  • The Protection of Civil Rights Act (1955) provides for punishments for offences related to caste and religion.
  • The Indian Penal Code (IPC) declares the imputations and assertions prejudicial to national integration as punishable offences.
  • The unlawful activities (Prevention) act of 1976 provides for the declaration of a communal organization as an unlawful association.
  •  The Representation of People Act (1951) provides for the disqualification of members of the Parliament or a state legislature for indulging in corrupt practices, that is, soliciting votes on the ground of religion or promoting enmity between different sections.
  • The Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, prohibits trade in rare and endangered species.
  • The Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 checks indiscriminate deforestation and diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes.

SOURCES

  1. http://polityo.blogspot.in/2013/03/fundamental-duties.html
  2. http://www.erewise.com/current-affairs/fundamental-duties_art52ca7c700c7e5.html#.VCPT_2eSxng
  3. NATIONAL COMMISSION TO REVIEW THE WORKING OF THE CONSTITUTION: A Consultation Paper on EFFECTUATION OF FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES OF CITIZENS

Green Benches

Green Benches

Why need Green Benches are needed in India?

  1. Advocacy for Environmental Courts can be traced in the arguments proposed by the proponents of specialised courts in the debates of generalist versus specialised courts.
  2. Specialised forums, it is argued that they are able to evolve superior procedural norms and develop better quality of jurisprudence through expert judges who have greater exposure to a homogeneous legal policy regime.
  3. They bring uniformity, consistency and predictability in decision making which enhances public confidence and helps in development of a rich body of jurisprudence. Incidental benefits include time and cost savings as the requirement of massive documentation for understanding technical points of law in the special field is averted and streamlined procedures make litigation easier and quicker
  4. In the field of environmental law has produced two excellent examples of successful forums in Australia and New Zealand
  5. The objective of securing ‘environmental justice through adoption of flexible and people oriented procedures offers another justification for such forums.
  6. Part IV-A was added to the Constitution by the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976 and Article 51-A(g) thereof specifically says that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures.
  7. Therefore to enforce these directive principles and fundamental duties, the need for Green benches in Supreme Court arose.

Evolution of Green Courts In India

  1. The shortcomings of the executive in coping with the pressures on the environment brought about by change in the country’s economic policies had thrust the responsibility of environmental protection upon the judiciary.
  2. This has meant that in India, the Judiciary in some instances has had to not only exercise its role as an interpreter of the law but has also had to take upon itself the role of constant monitoring and implementation necessitated through a series of public interest litigations that have been initiated in various courts.
  3. A series of cases were filed before the Supreme Court in 1980’s and there was a dynamic change in the whole approach of the courts in matters concerning environment.
  4. The Supreme Court of India interpreted Article 21 which guarantees the fundamental right to life and personal liberty, to include the right to a wholesome environment and held that a litigant may assert his or her right to a healthy environment against the State by a writ petition to the Supreme Court or a High Court.
  5. By the second half of 1970s, the public interest litigation became a model litigation relaxing the standard of standing. The public interest litigation altered the landscape and the role of the higher judiciary in India and the outcome was Green benches in Supreme courts.

Unique features for the need of Green Benches

  1. It has also been argued that environmental law has grown as a specialised area of law requiring separate adjudication due to certain unique features
  1. existence of complex technical/scientific questions;
  2. overlapping of civil and criminal remedies as well as public and private interests in any environmental adjudication;
  3. Rapid evolution of a substantial body of international environmental instruments spanning across a gamut of issues like trade in endangered species, ocean and marine pollution , transnational shipments of hazardous wastes and global climate change; and
  4. development of fundamental environmental principles such as the precautionary approach, polluter-pays, sustainable development, prevention at source, and procedural transparency

Composition of the ‘Green’ Court

The Court shall consist of

  1. three Judicial Members, who are either

(a) sitting or retired Judges of a High Court or

(b) experienced Members of the Bar with not less than 20 years standing.

  • In the appointment process, it is proposed to provide preference to those who have had experience in environmental matters as judges or lawyers.
  • judges will be appointed by the Central Government in consultation with the State Government, the Chief Justice of the State/Union Territory concerned and the Chief Justice of India
  1. assisted by three environmental experts, to be known as the ‘Commissioners. Each Commissioner must have

(1) a degree in environmental sciences together with at least five years experience as an environmental scientist or engineer; or

(2) adequate knowledge of and experience to deal with various aspects of problems relating to environment, and in particular the scientific or technical aspects of environmental problems, including the protection of environment and environment impact assessment

Jurisdiction and Powers of ‘Green’ Court

a) protection of the right to safe drinking water and the right to an environment that

is not harmful to one’s health or well being; and

b) power to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future

generations so as to:

i) prevent environmental pollution and ecological degradation;

ii) promote conservation; and

iii) secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development. Such jurisdiction shall specifically extend to the following matter

a) the protection of natural environment,forests, wild life, sea, lakes, rivers, streams,

fauna and flora;

b) preservation of natural resources of the earth;

c) prevention, abatement and control of environmental pollution including water,

air and noise pollution;

d) enforcement of any legal or constitutional rights relating to environment and pollution under the Constitution of India or under an other law for the time being in force; and

e) protection of monuments and places, objects of artistic or historical interest of

national importance as declared by the law made by Parliament.

Principles followed by the Indian Judiciary to protect the environment

  • public trust doctrine
  • precautionary principle
  • polluter pays principle
  • the doctrine of strict and absolute liability
  • the exemplary damages principle
  • the pollution fine principle
  • Inter-generational equity principle apart from the existing law of the land
  • adopting a model of sustainable development.
  • The most significant facets of environmental justice are ‘equal justice’ and ‘social inclusion
  • development and proper utilization of our natural resources for the betterment of our society not at the expense of the environment.
  • Access to justice to those who are socially excluded

Benefits of having Green Benches

  1. Decrease in multiple proceedings arising out of the same environmental dispute
  2. Reduced litigation with consequent savings to the community
  3. A single combined jurisdiction is administratively cheaper than multiple separate tribunals
  4. A greater degree of certainty in development projects
  5. Reduction in costs and delays may lead to cheaper project development and cost for consumers

SOURCES:

http://www.lead-journal.org/content/08050.pdf

http://supremecourtofindia.nic.in/speeches/speeches_2007/manila%20speech-2007.pdf

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