27 Solved Questions with Answers
18. Initially Civil Services in India were designed to achieve the goals of neutrality and effectiveness, which seems to be lacking in the present context. Do you agree with the view that drastic reforms are required in Civil Services. Comment. (2017)
The civil service in India regarded as the ‘steel frame’ of administration, is today battling against onslaughts to its relevance. As the primary arm of government, the civil services must reform to keep pace with the changing times in order to meet the aspirations of the people.
There is a need for reforming the civil services as they have fallen short on the goals of neutrality and effectiveness due to the following reasons:
- Career-based civil services coupled with excessive job security have led to a sense of complacency and lack of accountability amongst civil servants.
- Goal displacement due to
emphasison rules rather than results – with rules becoming an end in themselves.
- The current system of training for the civil services does not adequately reflect changes in the socio-economic scenario and the emerging new challenges render conventional approaches and practices of administration obsolete and dysfunctional.
- Ivory-tower approach of civil servants due to disconnect from ground realities is reflected in their ineffective
policy making. There is a marked lack of citizen-centric approach which is essential to understand and redress problems of the poor and the weaker sections.
- Lack of stability of tenure due to government’s inherent right to transfer a civil servant prevents the incumbent to learn on the job, develop his/her own capacity and then contribute in the best possible manner.
- Political interference in the form of arbitrary and whimsical transfers to ensure administrative acquiescence prevents the civil servant from acting neutrally.
Promiseof post-retirement appointments to statutory commissions, quasi-judicial tribunals, constitutional authorities or contesting election for a political office on the ticket of a political party preventthe civil servant from acting impartially.
- Promotions hinge on several factors such as patronage versus merit.
Therefore, the purpose of ‘reform’ is to reorient the civil services into a dynamic, efficient and accountable apparatus for public service delivery built on the ethos and values of impartiality, neutrality
andeffectiveness. Holistic reforms are needed, cutting across dimensions of training (domain competence), promotion (performance related), tenure (stable), and interface with citizens (sensitivity training) etc.
18. The Citizens’ Charter is an ideal instrument of organizational transparency and accountability, but it has its own limitations. Identify the limitations and suggest measures for greater effectiveness of the Citizens’ Charter. (2018)
Citizens’ Charter is a voluntary declaration by a Government agency about its mandate, what to expect by way of services and how to seek a remedy if something goes wrong. In doing so, it aims to realize the principles of transparency, accountability and responsiveness of good governance.
However, its effectiveness has been limited due to reasons mentioned below.
- Devoid of Participatory Approach in consulting stakeholders like the cutting edge staff and end – users in its formulation.
- Absence of critical information. When mentioned, measurable standards of delivery are rarely defined.
- Lack of Public Awareness among end-users about the commitments under Citizens’ Charter.
- Charters are rarely updated.
- Lack of adherence by organisation to their Citizens’ Charter since there is no mechanism to compensate the citizen if the organization defaults.
- Tendency to have a uniform Citizens’ Charter for all offices under the parent organization overlooks local issues.
- Citizens’ Charter has still not been adopted by all Ministries/Departments.
- Concerned staff were not adequately trained and sensitised about its spirit and content.
Measures to Make Citizens’ Charter Effective
- Formulation of Citizens’ Charter should be a decentralized activity with the head office providing only broad guidelines and a wide consultation process with all stakeholders.
- Citizens’ Charter must be precise and make specific commitments of service delivery standards in quantifiable terms.
- Clearly lay down the redressal mechanism which the organization is bound to provide if it has defaulted on the promised standards of delivery.
- Periodic evaluation of Citizens’ Charter through external agency.
- Hold officers accountable for results by fixing responsibility in cases of default.
- Internal restructuring should precede Citizens’ Charter formulation to make them more credible and effective than those designed as mere desk exercises without any system re-engineering.
- Wider Publicity about it in vernacular languages.
Therefore, given the importance of Citizens’ Charters in ensuring good governance, urgent steps including those mentioned above need to be taken to ensure they are effective in achieving their objective.
17. The need for cooperation among various services sectors has been an inherent component of development discourse. Partnership bridges the gap among the sectors. It also sets in motion a culture of ‘collaboration’ and ‘team spirit’. In the light of statements above examine India’s development process.
India continues to remain one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Despite recent slowdown, India’s growth of real GDP has been high with average growth of 7.5% in the last five years. As per Economic Survey 2018-19, the services sector accounts for 54% of India GVA. FDI equity inflows into the services sector account for more than 60% of the total FDI equity inflows into India.
Components of Indian services sector
There are twelve identified sectors where the government wants to give focused attention for promoting their development which are:
- Education Services
- Health & Wealth Services
- Accounting & Finance Services
- Financial services
- Tourism & Hospitality Services
- Transport & Logistics Services
- Legal Services
- Telecommunication Services
- Media & Entertainment services
- IT & IT enabled services
- Consultation & Related engineering services
- Environmental services
Cooperation among various services sub-sectors
- Initiative of Bharatmala project not only provide connectivity through better transportation services but also creates employment in construction sector thereby promoting tourism in remote areas.
- UDAAN scheme to boost air connectivity not only promotes regional development but also leads to growth in housing and real estate sector, construction, building materials, tourism, etc.
- ISRO’s technology of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries for electric vehicles (EV) is being used in the automobile sector.
- Increasing digital connectivity through BharatNet project benefitted education and health services in rural areas.
- e-Commerce services reaching the rural areas through increased mobile internet connectivity.
- Initiatives like Start-up India giving boost to start-ups in multiple domains like health care, inter-city cab services, online food delivery businesses, etc.
- Investment in higher education produces high quality IT professionals needed for the fast growing IT services sector.
Hence, different sectors have functional inter-linkages and investment in one sector creates multiplier effect benefitting the entire economy.
Cooperation at leadership level
The fastest growing Indian economy provides vast opportunity for collaboration among different departments of the government and with businesses as well. This can be seen in India’s development process through the following examples:
- Government initiative to provide focused attention to 12 identified Champion services sectors through partnership at different levels.
- Introduction of GST required collaboration among centre, states, and with business groups.
- Introduction of Government e-Marketplace as a technology driven platform to facilitate procurement of goods and services by various ministries and agencies of the government.
- NITI Aayog facilitating implementation of programmes and focus on technology upgradation and capacity building, fostering better inter-ministry coordination and better centre-state coordination.
Services sector not only promotes economic growth but also creates opportunity for development in human capital. Thus, India’s huge demographic dividend can only be productively utilized if there is a culture of ‘collaboration’ and ‘team spirit’ at all levels of governance architecture.
16. ‘The emergence of Self Help Groups(SHGs) in contemporary times points to the slow but steady withdrawal of the state from developmental activities’. Examine the role of the SHGs in developmental activities and the measures taken by the Government of India to promote the SHGs. (2017)
Self-Help Groups (SHGs) are informal associations of people who choose to come together to find ways to improve their living conditions. Such groups work as a collective guarantee system for members who propose to borrow from organized sources. The poor collect their savings and save it in banks. In
returnthey receive easy access to loans with a small rate of interest to start their micro unit enterprise.
Role of SHGs in Development Activities
- SHGs ensure financial inclusion of the poor and marginalized by operating as a mechanism for delivery of micro-finance services to them.
- By encouraging and providing opportunities for self-employment, SHGs play a critical role in poverty alleviation.
- SHGs build social capital among the poor, especially women and marginalized sections like SCs and STs. Most of the beneficiaries of government schemes have been women from weaker and marginalized communities.
- Participating households spend more on education than non-client households.
- Better income levels due to participation in SHGs have led to improvement
takenby Government to promote SHGs:
- As part of the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) or Ajeevika, government facilitates women-led self-help groups (SHGs) by giving them bank loans at easy interest rates. This interest subvention provision has been further extended to more districts.
- The government has promoted the Self-Help Group (SHG)-Bank Linkage Programme to be implemented by commercial banks, regional rural banks
andcooperative banks for providing micro-finance to SHGs.
- NABARD promotes SHGs by providing grant support for training, capacity building, skill
upgradation, exposure visits etc.
- Scheme for promotion and financing of Women Self Help Groups (WSHG) is being implemented by NABARD across backward and Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected districts.
- A fund called “Women SHGs Development Fund” with a corpus of Rs.500 crore to empower women led SHGs has been set-up. It is to be operated by NABARD.
MahilaKoshprovides loans to intermediary organizations which further lend it to SHGs.
Given the important role SHGs play in development activities, the government should continue to act as a facilitator and promoter by providing a supportive environment for SHGs to operate vibrantly.
16. “Demographic Dividend in India will remain only theoretical unless our manpower becomes more educated, aware, skilled and creative.” What measures have been taken by the government to enhance the capacity of our population to be more productive and employable? (2016)
If India has to reap the benefits of ‘demographic dividend’ in the years ahead, it is imperative that investments in social infrastructure by way of education, skill development, training and provision of health care facilities are made to enhance productivity of workforce and welfare of the population. Some of the measures taken by the government to achieve this are as follows:
- Setting up of National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana to offer meaningful, industry-relevant, skill based training to the Indian youth as well as a government certification on successful completion of training to help them secure a job in future.
- Along with the Right to Education Act, a number of Scholarship schemes are in operation to encourage enrolment and learning levels among different groups.
- Initiated the National Literacy Mission to raise the literacy rate to 80 percent and reduce the gender gap to less than 10 percent.
- The National Policy on Education, 1986 emphasises is on removal of disparity among different social classes by ensuring equality of educational opportunities.
- To take full advantage of the demographic dividend, India not only needs an educated but also a healthy population. For this, India has started the National Health Mission (NHM) encompassing its two sub-missions. National Rural Health Mission and National Urban Health Mission, to achieve universal access to equitable, affordable and quality healthcare services.
Though India has initiated all pertinent programmes and policies, to make the dream of demographic dividend a reality the key lies in their effective and efficient implementation.
16. Multiplicity of various commissions for the vulnerable sections of the society leads to problems of overlapping jurisdiction & duplication of functions. Is it better to merge all commissions into an umbrella human rights commission? Argue your case. (2018)
Vulnerable sections like women, children, SC/STs, minorities, OBCs and differently abled are facing multiple socio-economic disadvantages in terms of health, education, mobility, economic opportunity, etc., in India. To redress it, the constitution or the legislations have provided for National Commissions for SCs and STs, Minorities, Women and Children.
The prime intention is to protect their constitutional rights, coordination in socio-economic and educational development, and address atrocities related matters. However, there are certain issues with regard to their multiciplity and functions like:
- Overlapping jurisdictions and duplication of efforts in dealing with complaints, and addressing grievances.
- Data duplications lead to narrow implementation and this negatively impacts the intended outcomes.
- Low financial independence and politicization of commissions, absence of checks and balances, etc.
On the other hand, National Human Rights Commission along with its states counterparts, has more pervasive mandate to enquire into complaints, recommend actions, identify vulnerabilities, etc. Besides, National and State Commissions do not trespass their respective jurisdiction.
We can envision to create an umbrella organisation like Human Rights Commission (unified), merging all the existing commissions. It is feasible given the nature of all commissions aiming to secure the dignified living conditions and protection of human rights.
It will remove the multiciplity, data duplication, and will help in more sector specific policy formulation keeping in mind the different vulnerability faced by them. The Human Rights Commission (unified) should have the implementing arms or agencies at state, district and local levels to synchronise its efforts and consolidate the available data.
Establishment of umbrella commission will be more fiscal and policy prudent. Having fiscal independence and power to enforce legal provisions will strengthen its mandate. Technology can be employed to promote more coordination among different sections to promote analysis and policy formulation and implementation.
The Human Rights Commission (unified)needs to be given more teeth in terms of independent powers, functions and finance, to enforce its mandate and realize the socio- economic development of the vulnerable sections of society.
16. ‘In the context of neo-liberal paradigm of development planning, multi-level planning is expected to make operations cost-effective and remove many implementation blockages.” Discuss.
India underwent a transition in its developmental planning from macro policy planning to neo-liberal policies in the 1990s. There has also been a gradual shift towards Multi Level Planning in recent times. Multilevel planning integrates decision-makers at all spatial levels in the planning process through negotiations, deliberations, and consultations. This makes policies relevant and need-based. It also sets up process mechanisms/institutions for affecting such cooperation at each required stage.
Cost-effectiveness operations and better Implementation
- Tackling Corruption: Through empowerment and involvement of local bodies, various discrepancies in developmental implementation can be solved. This can help enormously in increasing the effectiveness of poverty alleviation programmes as could be seen through the stellar example of MGNREGA.
- Simplification of the implementation process: This is done by ensuring appropriate role clarity, removing overlapping jurisdictions and establishing necessary linkages across sectoral departments. This will reduce the red-tapism in the administrative setup.
- Reducing Planning-Implementation Mismatch: The planning process will access the capacity of administration and local institutions to implement the objectives of the macro-plan on the ground. Thus it would help in need better outcome and reduce mismatch.
- Active people’s participation: It incorporates a mechanism to intensively engage with people to make more relevant policies. This helps to access the needs and interests of people who are intended to be the beneficiaries of the developmental process.
- Deepen democratic traditions: Multi-Level planning would create a sense of ownership among various administrative units. This would also empower the district level planning committee to contribute to overall policymaking. It deepens the democratic tradition in policymaking and its implementation.
- Reducing Regional disparities: Decentralised planning will help suitability of the implementation strategies and resource allocation for desired outcomes. It would increase the effectiveness of government schemes.
- Better supervision and monitoring: Multi-level planning help in making people and lower administration an active stakeholder in the developmental process. Such planning improves the supervision and monitoring of scarce government resources.
- Promote competitive and cooperative federalism: Strong emphasis is given on participatory development action from the local level upwards.
- Promoting Evidence-based planning: It harnesses the knowledge gained from data and information and using it to optimize our planning process and improve results.
- Training of Local Government officials in policy making: This would enable their active participation in the policymaking process and its implementation.
- Revamping District Planning Committee: This is an essential component in the process of decentralised planning as they hold consultation, debate and deliberation and integrates consensus-based choices.
Niti Aayog has taken various initiatives to develop mechanisms to formulate credible plans at the village level and aggregate these progressively at higher levels of government. Similarly, Aspirational District Scheme is also an innovative step in the direction of multi-level planning and implementation. Going further, more such steps should be taken to usher good governance in the country.
16. Has digital illiteracy, particularly in rural areas, coupled with lack of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) accessibility hindered socio-economic development? Examine with justification.
Digital literacy is the ability to navigate the digital world. It focuses on using technology – like a smartphone, PC, e-reader, etc. – to find, evaluate, and communicate information. Digital literacy can play a powerful role in helping people connect, learn, engage with their community, and create more promising futures.
It has been reported that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in rural areas have slow uptake due to the low to no income, lack of ICT infrastructures, cultural differences, and many other reasons.
Digital illiteracy in the present time of the pandemic has hindered socio-economic development to a great extent in rural areas. It can be concluded so by:
- Children are not able to access quality education or attend virtual classrooms due to issues with internet connectivity coupled with frequent internet/electricity outages.
- Lack of digital knowledge among rural youth kept them away from capitalising on myriad of employment and income generation opportunities. For example, e-commerce, IT services, etc.
- Emphasis on digitisation and computerisation, while ignoring digital literacy, led to inaccessibility of government benefits and schemes to the vulnerable sections.
- Digital illiteracy among women and girl-child in rural areas has increased the gender imbalance. Social, cultural, and institutional barriers influence digital inclusion.
The digital divide is more than just an access issue and cannot be alleviated merely by providing the necessary equipment. The Standing Committee on Information Technology in January, 2019 concluded that the digital literacy efforts of the government are far from satisfactory.
The government needs to focus on information accessibility, information utilisation and information receptiveness. Various initiatives such as Digital India, Internet Saathi Program, DIKSHA, etc. are commendable steps that are leading to positive socio-economic development in rural areas.
15. Assess the importance of the Panchayat system in India as a part of local government. Apart from government grants, what sources the Panchayats can look out for financing development projects? (2018)
Local self-governance means a system of governance where the local people or village people take decisions for their own governance and development through their representatives or direct participation. Realising the importance that the all-round development of the country is possible only through the development of rural India, Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) were constitutionalized under the 73rd Amendment Act of the Constitution of India in 1992.
Plan documents of both the central and state governments and various committees have emphasized the importance of these bodies in the polity. Five-year plans have also laid special emphasis on the role of Panchayats in rural developments.
Rural Development includes measures to strengthen the democratic structure of society through the PRIs. PRIs have been used to improve the rural infrastructure, income of rural households and delivery systems pertaining to education, health and safety mechanisms. These institutions are to be galvanized to become effective instruments of social and economic change at the local level.
Sources of Money
Apart from the tax sharing and grants-in-aid from the state and the centre, the PRIs enjoy powers to levy various kinds of taxes and duties in rural areas.
Major tax powers include land tax; house building tax; vehicle tax; water, drainage and sanitation taxes; tax on profession, trade; tax on fairs and other entertainments; octroi on animals or goods or both brought for sale; tax for construction and public works; street cleaning fee; and pilgrimage fee. Fees for the use of panchayat shelter; user charges for hospitals and schools; fee for use of common resources like grazing land etc.; fee on markets and weekly bazaars are also the source of income. New powers recommended by SFCs (State Finance Commissions) include house tax; tax on pumps and tractors; tax on highway services; tax on village produce sold in regulated markets; tax on telephones and cable T.V.
However, the decisions as to which taxes, duties, tolls and fees should be assigned to local governments and which should be shared by the State with them, continue to be with the state legislatures. Therefore, more devolution of financial powers to the PRIs is the need of the hour to make them as viable institutions to effect change in the socio-economic development of the rural India.
14. “Traditional bureaucratic structure and culture have hampered the process of socio-economic development in India.” Comment. (2016)
Traditional bureaucratic structure and culture is primarily identified with the maintenance of law and order, collection of revenues and regulation of national life. In this sense, it is status-quoist and regulatory in nature.
It is based on centralized decision-making. People are not given participation in administration and the decision-making process. It is known for its rigidity, centralization of power and procedure oriented consequently, the rules and regulations which were supposed to be the means to development have become an end in themselves, resulting in goal displacement. An example of this is the now dismantled Planning Commission which failed to keep pace with the changing socio-economic environment. Centralised state-led planning had been futile and redundant to address specific issues which never received adequate attention in the one-size-fits-all formula. Its replacement, the NITI Aayog is conceptualized to follow a bottoms-up approach supporting formulation. In the era of rolling-back of the state and globalization, there is a need for the bureaucracy to be downsized and confine itself to core functions that cannot be performed by market. There is a need for a result oriented bureaucracy which focuses on outcomes, is people-centric, participatory responsive and focused on effectiveness and equity rather than merely efficiency.
With the opening up of the economy with the 1991 reforms, things have gradually shifted. Bureaucracy now playing the role of an enabler, rather than ‘doer’. Public administration now focuses on good governance. Also, steps such as the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts have been steps in the positive direction for more inclusive development.
13. Has the Indian governmental system responded adequately to the demands of Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization started in 1991? What can the government do to be responsive to this important change? (2016)
The 1991 Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation reforms were a watershed moment in the history of the country. The reforms were calculated, deliberative and piece-meal instead of being knee-jerk. This allowed the progress of the reforms to be modified as per the needs of the economy. For example – the gradual opening up of the economy to FDI continues even till current financial year. This facilitated competition and at the same time allowed domestic industries to grow and mature.
The reforms initially faced opposition and resistance cutting across party line. India therefore had to enforce these reforms within the contours of democracy by accommodating diverse interests. As a result the pace of the reforms was slow. This in contrast to China which being a communist country performed much better within the same span of time. But as and when there was favourable political mandate and support, the reforms were carried forward.
At the same time, the reforms were criticized as being biased towards the rich, reducing employment opportunities in organized sector, benefitting only a few sectors, especially services and therefore resulting in skewed development. The manufacturing and agricultural sectors did not reap much benefit and this continues even till today.
Hence, for the government to be responsive to this important change, it needs to focus on inclusive growth and development. This can be facilitated by carrying out second generation reforms which will be much deeper and all pervasive. The impediments to a speedy enforcement of GST tax reforms like Direct Tax Code and land reforms etc. should be removed at the earliest.
12. In the integrity index of Transparency International, India stands very low. Discuss briefly the legal, political, social and cultural factors that have caused the decline of public morality in India. (2016)
Corruption is a global phenomenon and it is omnipotent. It has progressively increased and is now rampant in our society. As the nation grows, the corrupt also grow to invent new methods of cheating the government and public. India was placed at 76th position out of 168 countries with a score of 38 out of 100 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2015. The causes of corruption are many and complex. Some of them are:
- Lack of enforcement capacity and regulatory complexity are deep causes of India’s institutions. Complex laws and procedures deter common people from seeking help from the Government.
- Many laws and rules have become obsolete and breeds corruption, long delay in judicial proceedings and less severity of punishment, multiple investigative agencies with overlapping jurisdiction such as Lokpal, CVC, CAG etc.
- Those in hierarchy vested with disciplinary powers shirk their duties and so unwillingness to use their powers against corrupt practices.
- Emergence of political elite which believes in interest oriented rather than nation oriented programs and policies.
- Inadequate regulation of political finance.
- At the time of election, corruption reaches its peak. Big industrialists fund political parties to meet high cost of elections and ultimately seek personal favours. In order to get elected, politicians bribe poor, illiterate people.
- Artificial scarcity created by people with mal-intentions wrecks the fabric of the nation’s economy.
- Vast size of population coupled with widespread illiteracy and poor economic infrastructure lead to increasing inequality that causes corruption in public life.
- In a highly inflationary economy, low salaries of government officials compel them to resort to corruption.
- Tolerance of people towards corruption, complete lack of intense public outcry against corruption and the absence of a strong public forum to oppose corruption allows corruption to rein in our society.
- Lack of moral education, decreasing role of family in ethical values and teachings, sanskritization of corruption, social hierarchy, bribery etc. are some other socio-cultural factors.
11. “Effectiveness of the government system at various levels and people’s participation in the governance system are inter-dependent” Discuss their relationship in the context of India. (2016)
One of the components of good governance as stated by UNDP is participation of citizens in decision making. It is important to view them as active participants in governance since they have a legitimate role in influencing decision making processes that affect their lives, businesses and communities.
Their participation in the development process can improve the effectiveness in the following ways:
- Demanding accountability to make the government more responsive, efficient and effective.
- Enabling the poor and marginalized to influence public policy and service delivery to improve their lives.
- Making government programmes and services more effective and sustainable.
Citizens participation in governance contributes to a healthy democracy. In India, this is facilitated at multiple levels through different mechanisms:
- Empowering citizens for their interaction with government by making information available through RTI.
- Listening to the voices of citizens and their suggestions through public hearings, writing to various Parliamentary Committees and commissions when policies are put in public domain, surveys etc.
- Holding service provider and government agencies accountable through mechanisms like social audit.
- Demanding better services through Citizen Charters (CC).
- Participating actively in administration and decision making through panchayati raj institutions and urban local bodies mandates by the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts.
With the help of the above measures, there has been a significant improvement in the governance system in India.
10. “In the Indian governance system, the role of non-state actors has been only marginal.” Critically examine this statement. (2016)
Non-state actors refer to a wide range of development actors - other than government. In practice, it means that participation is open to all kind of actors, such as the private sector, community-based organisations, women's groups, human rights associations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), religious organisations, farmers' cooperatives, trade unions, universities and research institutes, the media, etc. Also included are informal groups such as grassroots organisations, informal private sector associations, etc.
Non-state actors have come to play an important role in the process of governance in India. Today, non-state actors are actively engaged in community mobilisation, economic development and societal transformation. They play different roles like capacity building, asset creation, representation, lobbying, advocacy, service delivery etc. Essentially, they are instruments of people's action and the means of protecting and promoting vital rights of citizens. They aid the process of good governance in several ways such as:
- Policy Formulation and Advocacy: Influencing the decisions of legislators, other elected representatives, and public administrators.
- Watchdog role: Play a crucial role in evaluating the policies and actions of the Government
- Welfare Service Delivery: Can provide the necessary institutional basis for service delivery
- Reform and Social Change: Serve as an instrument for reform and social change.
They have played an instrumental role in the enactment of crucial legislations like the Right to Information Act, the National Food Security Act, Right to Education, MNREGA etc.
At the same time, their contribution to the governance domain is limited by lack of funds, inadequate trained personnel, lack of culture of volunteering etc. Multiplicity of laws and regulations add to their problems. This prevents the non-state actors from reaching their full potential in enforcing good governance. Considering that India has over 2 million registered NGOs, the scope and extent of their contribution has been below par.
8. E-governance is not only about utilization of the power of new technology, but also much about critical importance of the ‘use value’ of information. Explain. (2018)
E-governance is application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at all the level of the Government in order to provide services to the citizens, interaction with business enterprises and communication and exchange of information between different agencies of the Government in a speedy, convenient efficient and transparent manner.
Although e-governance is about utilization of the power of new technology like satellite technology, GPS, computer, internet, mobile, biometrics etc. in an efficient manner, it is also very much about how the information collected is utilised to better cater to the needs of the citizens. The information collected should help in ‘clarity’ in the objective setting, not only in ICT terms (computers, networks etc.) but also the process outcomes and the measurements post implementation. Information should be used for data mining and for supporting the management decisions and not merely for word processing. By knowing the value of information and its foundation, information can be improved and can provide better support in decision making and better assessment can be made.
Therefore, the focus of e- governance should not only be limited to efficiently utilising new technologies but it should also be oriented toward ensuring good governance using the information gathered.
8. Implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) based projects/programmes usually suffers in terms of certain vital factors. Identify these factors and suggest measures for their effective implementation.
Misgovernance has been a major issue that have marred the effective implementation of government schemes and policies. Therefore, the government has been spearheading radical digitisation to induce economic inclusiveness and social transformation, through initiatives like, ‘Digital India’, ‘Make in India’ and Skill India.
However, implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) based programmes usually faces another set of complex challenges.
Challenges in implementation of ICT based programmes
- Low digital literacy: Illiteracy rate in India is more than 25-30% and digital literacy is almost non-existent among more than 90% of India’s population.
- Poor internet connectivity: Rural India suffers from poor internet penetration due to lack of electricity and poor network quality. This has led to difficulties in Aadhaar Enabled Payment Services (AEPS) and last mile delivery of services.
- Problems in Common Service Centres: Lack of proper infrastructure facilities, unavailability of skilled workforce, huge population to serve, unavailability of last mile connectivity are some common issues faced by CSCs in India.
- Errors and Omissions in technology implemented: Issues related to identity mismatch and denial of services to beneficiaries. For ex: cases where senior citizens have been denied ration via PDS shops due to fingerprints mismatch.
- Non-inclusive nature of technology used: Problems faced by senior citizens, differently-abled, illiterate persons due to complex design of ICT based solutions.
- Privacy concerns: Programme implementation using digital technology requires authorization for collection and usage of public information at large scale. Since, privacy being a fundamental right, there are concerns related to mishandling and misuse of user information.
- Data theft and online security: Cyber security issues like cyber attacks, data theft can cripple sensitive government digital infrastructure like servers, power supply, communication links, etc.
- Geographical and weather related problems: Population residing in difficult terrains like North Eastern hilly region, islands of Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep are difficult to reach. Extreme weather events like cyclones, tsunamis, etc can hamper key communication and mobile internet services.
Measures for effective implementation
- Creating suitable infrastructure: Increasing the number of Common Services Centres and addressing the connectivity issues should be the first priority.
- Increasing investment in human capital formation: Improving digital literacy among the rural youth. Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA) that envisages making one individual digitally literate in every rural household is a step in the right direction.
- Changes in design and structure of technological solutions: Government websites should be made user friendly so that they can be used by differently abled and senior citizens.
- Mandating digital literacy in school curriculum and co-curricular activities on the lines of IT Club ‘e-Kidz’ formed by students of the Government Upper Primary School at Koothattukulam in Kerala.
- Involving Private sector organizations: Corporates can be asked to spend their CSR funds in digital training and providing technological solutions for societal needs.
- Role of NGOs and civil society groups: Akshaya Patra Foundation digitized their kitchen and enabling realtime data collection for serving food to more than 1.76 million children across 12 states in India.
Even though there are several challenges in the effective implementation of such programmes but the benefits of ICT based solutions cannot be neglected. It helped to save revenue for exchequer by plugging leakages, weeding out ghost beneficiaries, targeted delivery of services in real time etc. It has improved transparency, accountability and last mile delivery of basic services to the citizens.
Hence, if the challenges and lacunae of ICT based programmes are effectively tackled, e-governance can prove to be an effective tool in bringing social transformation thereby realising the dream of inclusive and prosperous India.
8. “The emergence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Digital Revolution) hasinitiated e-Governance as an integral part of government”. Discuss.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a way of describing the blurring of boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological worlds. It’s a fusion of advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), quantum computing, and other technologies. It is about more than just technology-driven change; it is an opportunity to help everyone, including government, policy-makers and people to harness converging technologies in order to create an inclusive, human-centred future.
The recent technological changes have fundamentally altered the way states govern and people respond. The growth of computers, digital technologies and telecommunications has drastically changed the way the state conducts its functions.
Electronic governance or e-governance is one of them. E-governance is about a process of reform in the way governments work, share information and deliver services. Specifically, e-government harnesses information and communication technologies (ICT) to deliver information and services to citizens and businesses.
Some positive examples of the e-governance that have promoted effectiveness of government at the national level include:
- Digital India: Itstrivesto bring inclusive growth and bridge the digital divide by leveraging technology solutions that are low cost, developmental, transformative and designed to empower ordinary Indians.
- BharatNet: One of the largest digital infrastructures of the world was conceived to connect all the 250,000 gram panchayats by a high-speed optical fibre network.
- India isseeing a dramatic growth in the number of online transactionsinvolving citizens and the government. It proves that citizens are quick to adopt these technologies. The onus lies on the government to provide the relevant infrastructure and policies to enable effective digitization of the economy.
- Umang: It is a platform that enables access to services offered by the Government, such as EPF, Ayushman Bharat, on mobile phone.
- Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT): Under this inititative subsidies and scholarsips are directly credited in the bank account of the beneficiary. It has immensly helped in targeted delivery of benefits and reducing corruption.
Industrial Revolution 4.0 brings with it immense potential to improve governance. Its right use will result in improving accountability, access to services, and strengthening of democracy.
8. Reforming the government delivery system through the Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme is a progressive step, but it has its limitations too. Comment.
Aiming greater transparency and accountability, the Government under its welfare programs has introduced the direct benefit transfer scheme. In 2011, Nandan Nilekani committee recommended the DBT scheme concept. Under DBT, transferring subsidies directly into the accounts of beneficiaries can minimize the duplication frauds and leakages. Some examples of DBT scheme are PM KISAN YOJANA, M GNREGA Scheme, PAHAL YOJANA etc.
In the field of Government delivery system, DBT is a progressive step in many ways such as-
- It prevents duplication fraud of beneficiaries.
- It provides targeted delivery and reduces the delay time of payments.
- DBT wipes out intermediaries or middleman culture. It reduces the window for corruption and exploitation of poor beneficiaries.
- It includes the faster flow of targeted funds and services. By this way, it fulfils the positive aspirations of citizen charter.
There is no doubt that DBT is a positive milestone in the government delivery system but it has some limitations which need to be addressed. Some of limitations are as follows-
- Many beneficiaries are excluded due to not having access to banking services.
- Due to lack of financial literacy among the masses, DBT cannot achieve its true potential.
- Aadhaar card data and biometric data mismatch creates ruckus in service delivery system.
- There are some networking issues in remote areas and rural areas. These led to a delay in services delivery.
- There is a need for robust technical infrastructure and capacity building.
- Collaboration and coordination among various government departments is very much needed for swift delivery of services to targeted beneficiaries.
- Government should run the financial literacy awareness program for harnessing the true potential of Direct Benefit Scheme.
- There should be a provision of single window redressal platform for all glitches and issues related to direct benefit transfers.
7. “Institutional quality is a crucial driver of economic performance”. In this context suggest reforms in the Civil Service for strengthening democracy.
Institutional quality in a democracy determines how successful the government machinery adheres to the principles of public service, rule of law, and social justice. One such institution is the Civil Services, which acts as a link between the government and citizenry strengthening democracy and furthering economic objectives such as sustainable growth and development.
Challenges Faced By Civil Services in India
- Status Quoist: As instruments of public service, civil servants have to be ready for change. The common experience, however, is that they resist changes as they are wedded to their privileges and prospects and thereby, have become ends in themselves.
- For example, the 73rd and 74thAmendmentsto the Constitution have envisaged democratic decentralization.
- However, due to the reluctance on the part of the civil servants to accept the changes in control and accountability, the intended vision has not been achieved.
- Rule-Book Bureaucracy: It means following the rules and laws, in words and not in spirit, without taking care of the actual needs of the people. Due to rule book bureaucracy, some civil servants have developed the attitude of ‘bureaucratic behaviour’ which brings issues like red-tapism and poor responses to the needs of the people.
- Political Interference: The political representatives for the sake of fulfilling the populist demand, often influence the functioning of administrative officials. This leads to issues like corruption and arbitrary transfers of honest civil servants, an important reason for inefficient implentation of policies.
Civil Services Reforms
- Prompt Delivery of Services: Every department should seek to simplify their processes to cut administrative delays and ensure participatory feedback mechanisms for efficient service delivery.
- Reducing Discretion & Enhancing Accountability Mechanism: There is aninherent need to set key responsibility/ focus areas and progressively reduce discretionary aspects to evaluate civil servants.
- Online Smart Performance Appraisal Report Recording Online Window (SPARROW) should be instituted in all central and state cadres.
- Also, as suggested by many committees, there is a need to develop benchmarks to assess the performance of officers and compulsorily retire those deemed unable to meet the benchmarks.
- Incorporation of Code of Ethics: As suggested by 2nd ARC, along with streamlining of code of conduct rules, there is a need to inculcate ethical underpinning in the civil servants by implementing the Code of Ethics. This will sensitize civil servants to the problems of people.
Sardar Patel considered the civil service “the steel frame of government machinery”. However, without adequate reforms, this steel frame may start to get corroded and may collapse.
- Status Quoist: As instruments of public service, civil servants have to be ready for change. The common experience, however, is that they resist changes as they are wedded to their privileges and prospects and thereby, have become ends in themselves.
7. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 remains only a legal document without intense sensitisation of government functionaries and citizens regarding disability. Comment.
The Right to Persons with Disability Act came into force on 19th April 2017 to give an effect to the United Nations Conventions on Rights with Persons with Disability. With this the focus on disabilities has been shifted from the individual to society, i.e., from a medical model of disability to a social or human rights model of disability.
Challenges Associated with RPD Act, 2016
- Lax Implementation: Most buildings in India are not disability-friendly, despite the Accessible India Campaign. quota of reservation but the majority of these posts are vacant.
- Health, Education and Employment: Lack of awareness, care, and accessible medical facilities. Lack of availability of special schools and lower employment rates than others.
- Discrimination and Problem of Dual Burden: Stigma attached, compounded by a lack of understanding of their rights, makes it difficult for them to attain their valued ‘functioning’.
- Political Participation: Lack of live aggregate data, Inaccessibility of the voting process, Barriers to participation in Party Politics.
Need for Sensitisation
- To lessen institutional hindrances and upheld the judicial pronouncements.
- To process schemes and initiatives launched by the governments, thoroughly and speedily.
- People should treat disabled with empathy and institution focus on providing livelihood.
- Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy and freedom to make one's own choices.
- To ensure Non-discrimination, Accessibility and Equality of opportunity
- Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of humanity
- Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Approach and societal awareness.
- Increasing Public Awareness and Understanding of Disability to change attitude.
- Collaboration With States and proper scrutiny and tracking of allocated funds.
While the government and the judiciary have adopted a right based approach with respect to disabled people, the implementation of the Act would require regular monitoring to ensure that the provisions of the Act are implemented in their letter and spirit.
6. “Policy Contradictions among various competing sectors and stakeholders have resulted in inadequate ‘protection and prevention of degradation’ to environment.” Comment with relevant illustrations. (2018)
Public Policy involves balancing the interest of various competing stakeholders and sectors. This at times leads to policy contradiction among various sectors and stake holders causing inadequate ‘protection and prevention of degradation’ to environment.
Following illustrations clearly illustrate this:
- Sardar Sarovar Project - While farmers in arid areas of Gujarat and Rajasthan as well as the industrial sector welcomed this project, there was strong resistance from the tribals who were displaced and were critical of the inadequate rehabilitation process. This project has been criticised for environmental damage like loss of forests and terrestrial biological diversity – thus displaying the contradictions between two imperatives of environmental protections and developmental needs.
- In Ken Betwa link project - This project is immensely beneficial meeting the irrigation and drinking water need of the Bundhelkahnd region. However, project is criticised due to its adverse impact on the ecology of both the rivers and damaging biodiversity - by submerging parts of Panna National Park.
- Bt cotton - The seed manufacturer, Monsanto, wants to enhance its revenue by increasing the area under cultivation of BT Cotton crop. Similarly, farmers also prefer to use these seeds for increasing production and hence their income. There is also arguement that GM crops can fulfil India’s nutritional needs. However there are various reported environmental consequences of Genetically Modified (GM) crop – such as possibility of emergence of super pest; super weeds as well as potential health hazards of GM crops.
Given the above examples, various sectors and their stake holders need to work in coordination - keeping in mind the developmental and environmental issues for present as well as future generations.
6. The Gati-Shakti Yojana needs meticulous co-ordination between the government and the private sector to achieve the goal of connectivity. Discuss.
PM Gati-Shakti is a transformative approach for economic growth and sustainable development. The approach is driven by 7 engines, namely: Railways, Roads, Ports, Waterways, Airports, Mass Transport, Logistics Infrastructure.
The approach is powered by Clean Energy and Sabka Prayas - the efforts of the Central Government, the state governments, and the private sector together - Leading to huge jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for all.
Need for the Government and the Private sector coordination:
- Improving quality and efficiency of services delivery.
- Exchange of expertise and managerial competence.
- Driving investments and Finance availability.
- Mobilisation of additional resources for activities.
- Fostering entrepreneurship and innovation and technology development.
- Ensuring optimal utilization of government investment and infrastructure.
- Cost-effectiveness and competitiveness.
- Addressing structural issues and environmental issues
- Promote co-ordination, collaboration and cooperative development.
- Feasibility mapping of the project needs strengthening.
- Utilization of viability gap funds to ensure financial viability of the project
- Prudent fiscal reporting and monitoring of risk allocations with all stakeholders.
- Move the PPP model to the next level of maturity with redesigning.
The projects pertaining to these 7 engines in the “National Infrastructure Pipeline” will be aligned with PM Gati-Shakti framework. It will ensure Indian infrastructure’s embrace of digital technology, which will improve overall project execution and efficiency.
5. Discuss the role of Public Accounts Committee in establishing accountability of the government to the people. (2017)
Public Accounts Committee is considered the most important financial Committee of Parliament in the financial accountability process. It comprises of 22 members of parliament (15 members from Lok Sabha and 7 from Rajya Sabha).
It establishes the accountability of the government by:
- Examining the budgetary appropriations and accounts of the government and Reports of Comptroller and Auditor General (under article 151) on the execution of the projects and programmes by the various ministries.
- Examining the demand for excess grants before they are presented to the Parliament for regularisation.
scrutinisingthe appropriation accounts and the audit report of CAG on it, the Committee has to satisfy itself that:
- the money that has been disbursed was legally available for the applied service or purpose;
- the expenditure conforms to the authority that governs it; and
- every reappropriation has been made in accordance with the related rules.
The committee examines public expenditure not only from
legaland formal point of view to discover technical irregularities but also from the point of view of economy, prudence, wisdom andpropriety to bring out the cases of waste, loss, corruption, extravagance, inefficiency and nugatory expenses.
Demerits: PAC in India is not able to enforce the accountability of the government to the people in
- Even if it brings out the irregularities in the public expenditure there are no mechanisms to enforce the corrective measures.
- It examines the expenditure which has already been done by the government.
- Its recommendations are only advisory in nature and are not binding on the ministry of the day.
- PAC has got no mandate to examine the policy in
However PAC at times, through its criticism of the inefficient public expenditure of the government, creates a strong public opinion against the government. The incumbent government to remain in power tries to rectify the inefficiency in its public expenditure and
policy making. Thus the committee helps in enforcing accountability of the executive to the people.
- Examining the budgetary appropriations and accounts of the government and Reports of Comptroller and Auditor General (under article 151) on the execution of the projects and programmes by the various ministries.
5. “Pressure groups play a vital role in influencing public policy making in India.” Explain how the business associations contribute to public policies.
A pressure group is a group of people who are organised actively for promoting and defending their common interest. They are different from the political parties. Their activities are confined to the protection and promotion of the interests of their members by influencing the government.
The pressure groups influence the policymaking and policy implementation in the government through methods like lobbying, correspondence, publicity, propagandising, petitioning, public debating, and so forth.
A business association refers to membership organisations that are engaged in and supportive of the promotion of the business interests of their members. Since businesses are strongly affected by public policies, it is in their best interest to stay informed about public policies and to try to influence governmental decision making and public policy.
In India, examples of business association include Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), Federation of All India Food Grain Dealers Association (FAIFDA), etc.
Contribution of business associations to public policies:
- They engage with the policy makers and communicate the grievances of the industries to the government. They, thus, influence the policies by way of articulating the views and suggestions of the industry.
- They provide a potent platform for consensus-building on key issues. In this regard, they often conduct workshops, seminars and business meets to discuss various policies.
- The business associations provide useful and credible research on existing and newer developments in areas such as industrial operations, infrastructure and technology. Likewise, they provide valuable information on new developments in foreign trade. All these go a long way in influencing the public policies.
Besides, in a system of representative democracy, the business groups influence the political process through several ways such as funding election expenses of the parties, mobilising the support of the voters, etc. The more organised the group is, the more influential it is in the political process, and so in public policymaking.
3. What are the methods used by the farmers’ organisation to influence the policy-makers in India and how effective are these methods?
Farmers’ organizations are seen as a useful organizational mechanism for mobilizing farmers’ collective self-help action aimed at improving their own economic and social situation and that of their communities. Such organizations are perceived to have the ability to generate resources, mobilise support and exert pressure with the help of their members. They operate at different levels from the local to the national.
Methods used by organizations
- Awareness generation: They try to gain public support and sympathy for their goals and their activities by carrying out information campaigns, organising meetings, filing petitions, etc. Most of these groups try to influence the media into giving more attention to these issues.
- Lobbying: Powerful farmers groups like sugarcane farmers of Maharashtra and UP try to influence policy making in their favour like getting favourable MSP and payment of arrears.
- Protest: They often organise protest activities like strikes or disrupting general administration. These protests of late have centred around issues like loan waiver, higher MSP, free electricity, etc. The recent farmers’ march to Delhi under the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh banner was such an example.
- Activism: This method includes publicizing important issues, petitioning courts, preparing draft legislation and gaining public attention in matters related to farmers like issues pertaining to GM crops.
- Recent trends: Farmers organisations recently have also employed innovative ways like spilling milk and vegetables on highways or appearing to consume dead rats, soil and urine at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar etc.
However, these moves have hardly bore the desired results:
- In a situation of impending unrest the government often takes to populist measures instead of employing a solution which is good for the nation and the farmers in the longer run.
- The government often takes short term respite such as farm loan waiver, higher MSP, cash transfers in farmers’ accounts, etc.
- Even if the government resorts to such populist measures its effective implementation is often absent. For example, rise in MSP is of no use if there lack of infrastructure to procure grains from the hinterland or if the masses are unaware of such a scheme.
- Moreover, several policy recommendations have not been implemented as the government is not fully aligned with the suggestions. For example, the Swaminathan Committee recommendations is yet to be fully implemented.
Thus, although organising the protest and mobilising support help in gaining the attention of the public and the government, it can be argued that they have resulted in little on the ground.
3. To what extent, in your opinion, has the decentralisation of power in India changed the governance landscape at the grassroots?
The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment to the Indian Constitution formally recognised a third tier of government at the grassroot level, thereby creating the legal conditions for local self-rule i.e. Panchayati Raj and Municipalities. Under the Article 40 of the Indian Constitution, the States shall take steps to organise Village Panchayats and endow them powers and authority to function as unit of self-government.
Achievement of Decentralisation of Power
- Decision-making: The local people can participate in decision-making at local-level issues.
- Women representation: 33% reservation for women has helped to increase women’s voice and representation in our democracy.
- Swachh Bharat Abhiyan: In 2019, India became open-defecation free because of ground level work by local bodies.
- Literacy campaign: Arati Devi, sarpanch in a village in Ganjam district in Odisha is credited with starting a literacy campaign for women and reviving traditional folk art in Ganjam.
- Self-help Groups: Meena Behen, sarpanch from a village in Gujarat, has worked for inculcating leadership skills to the self-help group (SHG).
Some Issues Which Halt the Decentralisation of Power in Letter and Spirit
- Inadequate Finances: Limited power to impose cesses and taxes.
- Unscientific Distribution of Functions: Panchayat and the Panchayat Samiti functions overlap, leading to confusion, duplication of efforts.
- Lack of Coordination: Government officials do not coordinate with local representatives.
- No real Functions: Functions like education, health, sanitation and water are remain concentrated with State Governments.
For Local bodies and Panchayats to play a bigger role in human capital interventions, there is need for adequate fiscal resources along with functions and functionaries. The kind of autonomy for governance is provided to 5th and 6th Schedule States needs to be extended to all the States.
2. The central administrative tribunal which was established for redressal of grievances and complaints by or against central government employees nowadays is exercising its power as an independent judicial authority. Explain.
A new Part XIV-A was added to the Constitution by the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976. This part is titled as ‘Tribunals’ and consists of Article 323A which empowers the Parliament to provide for the establishment of administrative tribunals for the adjudication of disputes relating to recruitment and conditions of service of public servants.
Consequently, the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) was established by an Act of 1985. The Principal seat of CAT is at New Delhi with additional benches in different states. The CAT has been given original jurisdiction in relation to recruitment and all service matters of public servants covered by it.
The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) acts as an independent judicial authority i.e. it performs the duties free of influence or control by other actors.
- Article 323A enables the Parliament to take out the adjudication of disputes relating to service matters from the civil courts and the high courts and place it before the administrative tribunals.
- CAT is of statutory origin, as opposed to Supreme Court and high courts which have direct origin from the Constitution. Nevertheless, the 1985 Act, by establishing CAT, has opened a new chapter in the sphere of providing speedy and inexpensive justice to the aggrieved public servants.
- The members of CAT are drawn both from judicial as well as administrative streams so as to give the Tribunal the benefit of expertise both in legal and administrative spheres.
- CAT is free from technical rules of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and procedural shackles of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 but it has been vested with the powers of Civil Court in respect of some matters including the review of their own decisions and are bound by the principles of natural justice.
- Recently, the Delhi High Court has held that the CAT can exercise the same jurisdiction and powers, as a High Court, in respect of its contempt proceedings. Thus, it gave more power to act as an independent judicial authority.
- In another case, the CAT has taken a swipe at Delhi High Court because during June vacations the High Court has heard briefly a case which was originally pending before the tribunal.
However, the Central Administrative Tribunal still cannot be called truly independent judicial body because
- the Tribunal members do not enjoy powers like other judges who hold constitutional posts, and
- it is dependent on the executive for appointing members of the tribunal and their funding.
Thus, it can be fairly argued that the tribunal which was formed for grievance and complaints redressal has although evolved into a judicial body but it cannot be called entirely independent.