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Governance

14 Solved Questions with Answers
  • 2017

    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.
    • In scrutinising the 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 legal and formal point of view to discover technical irregularities but also from the point of view of economy, prudence, wisdom and propriety 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 true sense because-

    • 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 broader sense.

    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.

  • 2018

    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:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.

  • 2018

    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.

  • 2016

    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.

  • 2016

    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.

  • 2016

    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:

    Legal

    • 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.

    Political

    • 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.

    Economical

    • 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.

    Socio-Cultural

    • 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.

  • 2016

    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.

  • 2016

    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.

  • 2018

    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.

  • 2018

    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.

  • 2016

    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.

  • 2017

    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 return they 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 on health indicators.

    Measures taken by 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 and cooperative 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.
    • Rashtriya MahilaKosh provides 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.

  • 2018

    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.

    Limitations

    • 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.

  • 2017

    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 emphasis on 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.
    • Promise of 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 prevent the 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 and effectiveness. Holistic reforms are needed, cutting across dimensions of training (domain competence), promotion (performance related), tenure (stable), and interface with citizens (sensitivity training) etc. 

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