The ONLY Comprehensive Module available for GS 2 Paper in Delhi !!!
About the Faculty – M.Karthikeyan has a vast teaching experience of 12 years and has authored 3 books for UPSC Aspirants.
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M.Karthikeyan Author of ‘GOVERNANCE IN INDIA’
Lectures are planned in a manner to give conceptual clarity to aspirants in a most simplified manner. The subject matter is been designed for a quick revision and is been updated constantly to make aspirants better off.
This is a must do for all aspirants who are targeting CSE MAINS – 2020
Electoral reforms should look beyond “anonymity of donors” to make a real difference.
Election Expenditure in India
Over the past six decades, election expenditure skyrocketed almost 274 times from ₹ 0.26 million to ₹ 71.38 million per constituency between 1952 and 2014.
A recent survey of some 2,577 politicians across Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand shows that the preponderance of inscrutable sources of income reaches the zenith for high-level incumbents like a member of Parliament or a lower house in the stateassembly (constituting almost 44% and 47% of their respective incomes).
Electoral Bonds: the Issues
Political financing in India is an economy in which the state will keep exerting a heavy hand to incentivise clandestine funding. Electoral bond scheme does not break through this opacity.
The electoral bonds have lent the political parties the statutory immunity for denting, rather than simply circumventing, these regulations.
The most disconcerting aspect of such sanctions is that these make the electoral system potentially an apparatus for legitimising the black income of both the “benefactor” and the “beneficiary.”
For instance, relaxing the definition of “foreign source” companies has opened up the route for legalising the political donations even from shell companies.
While the amendment in the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010 has removed the embargo on foreign funding for Indian elections, its application with retrospective effect for 42 years has enabled political parties to emerge clear of sub judice inquiries on “illicit” foreign donations in all previous elections.
There are amendments in the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and the Income Tax Act, 1961 that have legally reinstated the case for anonymous donations, though for amounts below ₹ 20,000. Yet, there remains an absence of clarity regarding the maximum number of times that donations of this magnitude can be made by any particular contributor.
If money is the distorting factor for an ethically integrated polling process, why did the ECI raise the expenditure limit for individual candidates from ₹ 40 lakh to ₹ 70 lakh? And, that too, when the (self-declared) audit reports of key contestants from the dominant political parties showed only 15%–20% utilisation of the erstwhile prescribed expenditure limit.
In fact, how does the ECI even determine how much money is “enough” for a candidate to contest an election?
By raising the expenditure limit for candidates despite their (self) reported underutilisation, is the ECI silently admitting the deliberate under-reporting of incomes and expenditures by political parties and candidates, and in turn the porosity of its own monitoring mechanisms to prevent such manipulations?
The Institutional Paralysis
Despite the plethora of commissions and recommendations, the failure to contain the costs of elections and the impropriety of their funding, suggests that the institutional ecosystem in this country is orchestrated to safeguard the state-driven laissez-faire attitude towards political funding.
Regulatory institutions, be it the ECI or the Supreme Court are deliberating on the interests of the (relatively few) donors, rather than the 850 million voters, notwithstanding that the identity linkage between the political parties and their donors can dictate the degree of the voter-centricity of state policies.
The fundamental issues—such as the codification of election expenditures, monitoring beyond the period of the model code of conduct, and the very structure of the electoral system—can make a real impact on electoral reforms.
The Election Commission must be unfailingly strict in ensuring a fair election.
Why has this Issue been Raised?
Recently, after the criticism of the Supreme Court, the Election Commission of India stirred from slumber amid repeated violations of the law and transgressions of the Model Code of Conduct in the ongoing election campaign.
What Action did EC Take?
The EC had appeared to be willing itself into inaction amid a flurry of abusive and divisive speeches by pleading powerlessness to act.
After, the Supreme Court came down heavily on the EC for its lack of initiative in enforcing the law, it cracked the barred four leaders accused of intemperate speeches from campaigning for varying durations of time.
What are the Powers of EC?
Article 324 of the Constitution gives the commission the powers of “superintendence, direction and control” of elections.
Through the Representation of the People Act, other rules and orders, by the apex court and the EC, the system governing the Indian electoral process has evolved, and continues to do so.
The EC has powers to deal with newer challenges that crop up, such as the easy dissemination of misinformation with the help of technological tools in recent years.
Way forward of EC
While responding to new situations by changing the legal architecture is essential, the EC needs to build upon a fundamental premise of the rule of law, which is, ‘be you ever so high, the law is always above you.’
The commission has in the past shown the capacity to come up with creative solutions that adhere to both the spirit and the letter of the law. These examples should encourage the EC to find strength in its constitutional mandate and not plead helplessness in the face of challenges to its authority.
The Supreme Court should keep making the EC conscious of its own powers.
The EC needs to do much more to be seen as a fair referee. The EC may end up expending the accumulated trust in the institution if it does not consistently and unfailingly demonstrate efficiency and neutrality in enforcing the law and the MCC.
The Supreme Court must set up more Benches, and disciplinary jurisdiction over lawyers must go back to the judiciary.
Aim of the Justice System
The justice system in any democracy is set up, under the Constitution to serve the public without “fear or favour, affection or ill-will” as far as judges are concerned.
Article 130 of the Constitution
The Central government had proposed that the Supreme Court should sit in other places in the country under Article 130 of the Constitution.
Article 130 of the Constitution says that the Supreme Court shall sit in Delhi or in such other place or places, as the Chief Justice of India may,with the approval of the President, from time to time, appoint.
Should Supreme Court sit in other places as well?
It is feared that the authority of the Supreme Court would get diluted. However, this notion is fallacious.
Many High Courts in this country have different Benches for meting out justice.For example, the Bombay High Court has four Benches — in Mumbai, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Panaji (Goa) — and the quality of its decisions or status have certainly not been diluted thereby.
Negative Consequences of Supreme Court sitting only in Delhi
First, the Supreme Court sitting only in Delhi has resulted in excellent lawyers from other High Courts not appearing before the Supreme Court, possibly because it casts too large a monetary burden on their clients, many of whom are impoverished.
Second, all lawyers, whatever their calibre or competence, who happen to be in Delhi now appear in the Supreme Court. Some of the good lawyers have settled down in Delhi, but they have established a monopoly, and, as a result, charge unconscionable fees even from charitable concerns.
The third fallout of the failure to act under Article 130 is that the Supreme Court in Delhi has been flooded with work and been reduced to a District Court instead of a Court of Final Appeal and Constitutional Court as envisaged under the Constitution.
The fault in actually denying access to justice to citizens is the fault of unethical lawyers.
Lawyers are the middle-men between judges and the litigating public, they act like dishonest brokers.
Some of the lawyers specialising in victim compensation cases take huge money as a percentage of compensation amount awarded towards victim compensation. Such a practice is frustrating the whole purpose of victim compensation.
More than 70% of the delays in the disposal of cases are attributable to lawyers, a major reason being sometimes unjust pleas for adjournments.
Unfortunately the disciplinary powers available to Bar Councils both in Delhi and in States are more often than not ineffective. Some are politically motivated and some States do not have disciplinary committees at all.
The way forward
First, the Supreme Court should reconsider setting up Benches in different States in keeping with the recommendations of the Law Commissions (125th Report and 229th Report).
Second, the Bar Council of India should exercise its powers under the Advocates Act, 1961 more effectively. If not, the disciplinary jurisdiction must be returned to the judiciary as was the position prior to the Advocates Act, 1961 by repealing the 1961 Act.
Third, lawyers should be made irrelevant by referring more cases to trained mediators, as the Supreme Court has done in the Ayodhya dispute.
Whether or not to use EVMs (electronic voting machines) for elections in India has been a raging debate of late. There have been claims of hacking of EVMs and counter-claims of its impossibility.
Can EVMs be hacked?
On the one hand there have been claims that all computer systems can be hacked .
There indeed are computer systems that are provably secure, but sometimes such guarantees are difficult even for many well-designed ones.
The question of whether they can be hacked or not is often “undecidable”.
The fact that a system has not yet been hacked has sometimes been claimed as a proof of its infallibility. That a system has not been hacked provides no guarantee that it cannot be.
Manual ballot vs EVM
Manual ballot has the advantage of not taking away agency from the poll officials, whose understanding of the poll process enables them to improvise on the spot to try and ensure correctness.
In contrast, the obscurity of an EVM makes its correctness analysis absolutely crucial.
Public posturing by the ECI, based on pronouncements by a hand-picked set of experts, does not engender confidence.
Ways to secure voting
Ultimately the onus of establishing trust, either formally through verifiable proofs, or even informally using best practices and due-diligence, must always lie with the designers.
Correctness demands that all votes are accurately counted and there are no false or duplicate votes.
Secrecy demands that it should be impossible to determine who an individual voted for, provided the voting is not completely lopsided for any candidate or any social or political groups.
Anonymity — indistinguishability from a specified number of other voters — follows from secrecy. Secrecy and anonymity are necessary conditions for coercion-free voting.
Sufficient conditions for coercion-free voting will require methods and processes beyond an EVM.
Verifiability demands that it should be possible to prove to every voter individually that their vote has been accounted for correctly in the aggregate without revealing, or even determining, the vote.
Verifiability also implies non-repudiability — that is, if a voter falsely claims to have voted differently from what she actually did, it should be possible to prove that the claim is false without determining who she voted for.
Identity verification must be certified by the polling officer and can either be offline or online, and must have its own guarantees.
Un-hackability demands that the EVM should be tamper-proof, through any direct or even side-channel attacks.
Fault tolerance demands that the system should be resilient to network and component failures. In particular, there should never be any data loss.
Consistency demands that the design and implementation of all EVMs must be identical, and provably so at all stages of the election.
Finally, auditability and self-certifiability demand that it should be possible to verify the above invariant conditions at all stages of voting.
The EVM should be able to self-certify and provide proofs of all the above invariants at any stage.
It is imperative that the complete design, analysis and the hardware synthesis specifications be made public at the earliest so that the EVM may be subjected to rigorous scrutiny by the general public, institutions, political party representatives and experts.
The governance structure is in need of a drastic remake.
Notwithstanding the importance of the rural sector, it is the cities and towns, that extensively impact the public’s perception of a government’s performance.
Governance issues in urban areas
annual inundation of cities,
daily loss of lives on roads,
frequent infernos highlight,
plethora of elected and other agencies
migration has steadily risen over the decades.
with people pouring into the city and cars on to roads, the outlook for the environment looks grim
large number of homeless people
large number of population is in slums and unauthorised colonies.
High wages with little accountability for actual service delivery make public sector agencies an obvious target for patronage hiring.
In most cities, municipalities are viewed as dens of corruption and inaction. Inspectors do not inspect, they only extort
Councillors and commissioners don’t regularly move around their wards; they remain inaccessible to people.
Cities are in need of duly empowered municipalities and institutional systems and processes for closely coordinated and accountable agencies that can deliver in areas such as sanitation, health, education, mobility and housing.
We need privatisation of civic delivery services like cleaning of roads and drains.
Conservancy services deserve a senior-level exclusive administration.
Waste management demands professionalism and technology.
The use of biotechnology should help in the treatment and disposal of waste
information technology in city planning and service delivery options;
energy saving and cleaner technologies in urban transport;
high-tech, low-cost materials in building and housing.
Economies of scale can be achieved by sharing service areas such as billing and tariff collections, cable laying and maintenance.
Common Economic Zone, with a rationalised inter-State tax structure, uniform financial/banking services, telecom facilities and power supply, an integrated education and health policy, rail and road transport network, water supply and drainage system.
The city needs to first address its basic problems before it dreams of striding towards the goal of being really swachh and ‘smart’.
States must quickly determine if procedural lapses deprived forest-dwellers of their rights.
Why has this issue cropped up?
The Supreme Court’s order to evict, over the next five months, occupants of forest lands who failed to make a successful claim for tenure under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, has once again highlighted the dilemma of reconciling inalienable tribal rights with biodiversity conservation.
Non-establishment of claims
The Forest Rights Act protected possession and conferred heritability of land to over 23 lakh out of 44 lakh claimants who are either specified Scheduled Tribes, or people who have lived in forests traditionally, relying on forest produce for at least 75 years prior to the cut-off year of 2005.
But over 20 lakh other applicants who could not establish their claim through gram sabhas and appellate authorities have now been ordered to be evicted by July 12.
When the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act was passed, it was with the wholly welfarist goal of making these communities partners in conservation. They would be stewards of forests that have shrunk and become fragmented over the decades
The answer in many areas may lie in resettlement.
In some well-documented cases, such as in the Western Ghats, alternative land and cash compensation are needed to convince tribals to move out of core areas. s
States must quickly determine if procedural lapses deprived forest-dwellers of their rights
State governments need to pursue such programmes in a humane and vigorous fashion.
They must also come forward to declare critical wildlife habitats under the Act. This will aid in formulating resettlement schemes for tribal residents.
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