20 Solved Questions with Answers
1. ‘Constitutional Morality’ is rooted in the Constitution itself and is founded on its essential facets. Explain the doctrine of ‘Constitutional Morality’ with the help of relevant judicial decisions.
Constitutional Morality is defined as the adherence to the principles of the constitutional values. It includes commitment to inclusive and democratic political process. According to Dr. Ambedkar, the concept of constitutional morality implied the harmonious interaction between the governing and governed.
Though the term ‘Constitutional Morality’ is not found in the Constitution, nevertheless it is rooted in various facets of the Constitution, such as in:
- Preamble (values like justice, liberty, equality and fraternity)
- Fundamental Rights
- Fundamental Duties
- Directive Principles of State Policy
The doctrine of constitutional morality safeguards and upholds the enforcement of rule of law in the country. It recognizes this distinction and non-homogeneity and promotes diversity, helping to make the society more inclusive. It also promotes people to be an active participant of the system and fight the inequalities and non-constitutional elements.
The Supreme Court has been vocal about constitutional morality. To illustrate:
- In the Krishnamoorthy case (2015), the Court held that democracy expects prevalence of genuine orderliness, positive propriety, dedicated discipline and sanguine sanctity by constant affirmance of constitutional morality which is the pillar stone of good governance.
- In Justice K.S. Puttaswamy case (2018), the SC held that constitutional morality ensures that courts must neutralise the excesses of power by the executive and strike down any legislation or even executive action if it is unconstitutional.
- In the Government of NCT of Delhi case (2018), the Court equated constitutional morality to a ‘second basic structure doctrine’. It said that constitutional morality acts as a check on arbitrary use of power as it implies strict and complete adherence to the constitutional principles.
- In the Indian Young Lawyer’s Association case (2018), commonly known as the Sabrimala case, the Supreme Court bypassed the doctrine of essentiality (the principle protecting the ‘integral’ religious practices of a community) to uphold the supremacy of constitutional morality.
Constitutional morality is crucial for constitutional laws to be effective. Without constitutional morality, the operation of the constitution tends to become arbitrary. However, the concept of constitutional morality need not be determined by the Supreme Court at every given instance. It is a sentiment that needs to be cultivated in the minds of citizens.
2. Discuss the desirability of greater representation to women in the higher judiciary to ensure diversity, equity and inclusiveness.
In the recent instances concerning women in judiciary, the Chief Justice of India, N.V. Ramana called for 50% representation of women in the judiciary.
According to the latest data on the gender gap in judiciary, it is highlighted that the Supreme Court only has 2 women judges and there has never been a female Chief Justice of India. There are only around 80 women judges out of the total sanctioned strength of around 1100 judges in the higher judiciary.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 5 and SDG 16, in particular), address the global responsibility of having gender equality and women’s representation in public institutions such as the judiciary. Achieving equality for women judges, in terms of representation at all levels of the judiciary, should be the ultimate goal.
Being a woman does not limit her critical thinking and capability to render justice. Judicial benches having representation of women give either a new dimension or broader acceptance to legal principle/interpretation.
By their mere presence, women judges enhance the legitimacy of courts, sending a powerful signal that they are open and accessible to those who seek recourse to justice. The legal profession, as a gatekeeper of equality and as an institution committed to the preservation of rights, should be emblematic of gender equality.
Improving the representation of women in the judiciary is of crucial importance and has to go a long way towards a more balanced and empathetic approach in cases involving sexual violence. Changing the long-established demographics of a court can make the institution more amenable to consider itself in a new light, and potentially lead to further modernization and reform.
3. How have the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission of India enabled the States to improve their fiscal position?
The Fourteenth Finance Commission was constituted by the President under Article 280 of the Constitution in 2013 to make recommendations for the period 2015-20. Dr. Y. V. Reddy was appointed the Chairman of the Commission. Finance Commission is a constitutional body created to address issues of vertical and horizontal imbalances of federal finances in India.
The 14th Finance Commission enabled the States to improve their fiscal position in the following ways:
- Share in Centre’s Divisible Pool: The commission recommended an increase in the share of States in the Center’s divisible tax pool to 42% from 32% at present. This will enhance the states autonomy in deciding their expenditure priorities.
- Centrally Sponsored Schemes: The Commission also recommended eight centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) to be delinked from support from the Centre. Thus, States will be sharing a higher fiscal responsibility and autonomy to implement development initiatives.
- Taxation: The Commission has recommended that tax devolution should be the primary source of transfer of funds to States. This would increase the flow of unconditional transfers and give States more flexibility in their spending.
- Grants: Transfers were proposed including grants to rural and urban local bodies, a performance grant along with grants for disaster relief and revenue deficit. These transfers total to approximately 5.3 lakh crore for the period 2015-20.
- Compensation: The commission recommended compensating States fully for three years in case of revenue loss after GST implementation. The Commission suggested that 100% compensation be paid to the States in the first, second and third years, 75% compensation in the fourth year and 50% compensation in the fifth and final year. It also recommended the creation of an autonomous and independent GST compensation fund through legislative actions
The Finance Commission recommendations will reform the State finances which will assume greater significance for macroeconomic management as the fiscal deficit of State governments reached unsustainable levels. After the recommendations, States will get autonomy in deciding their expenditure priority, which will enhance the spirit of “balancing wheel of fiscal federalism”.
4. To what extent, in your view, the Parliament is able to ensure accountability of the executive in India?
The Constitution of India provides for a parliamentary form of government, where the Executive is responsible to the Parliament for its policies and acts. The parliamentary democracy provides for a daily assessment of accountability of the executive to the legislature.
The Parliament ensures the accountability of the Executive in the following ways:
- Question-hour, zero hour, calling attention motion, adjournment motion, no-confidence motion, censure motion, and other discussions.
- MPs may pose questions to ministers related to the implementation of laws and policies by the government.
- Budgetary control for appropriation of grants and post-budgetary control through committees like Public Accounts Committees.
- The system of committees – such as standing committees, select committees and ad hoc committees etc. – facilitate scrutiny of the actions and activities of the executive.
Nevertheless, there have been some recent instances wherein the Parliament was found to be unable to ensure accountability of the executive:
- Evading route of debates/discussions/checks, such in the cases of Aadhaar Act (money bill route), farm laws (use of voice vote mechanism), etc.
- The Parliament side-lined the parliamentary institutions as lesser bills were referred to parliamentary committees.
- Due to lack in coordination and decorum, there were disruptions during the sessions and question hour registered low productivity.
Thus, though the Parliament seems to be quite empowered to hold the political executive to account, there are several limitations and constrains over this power in practice. Some such constraints may be enumerated as follows:
- Dominance of the majority party or majority coalition in the parliament.
- The compulsions of anti-defection law and the role of party whips.
- Complex and technically complicated presentation of policies, laws and the budgets.
- Frequent use of exceptional provisions of the Constitution like ordinance making power.
To ensure complete accountability of the Executive to the Parliament, some steps need to be taken. One can accommodate the 15-point reform charter as suggested by the Vice President. It is also required to make the committee system function effectively and efficaciously by ensuring that the members of the committee are nominated on the basis of domain knowledge and for a longer assured term.
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.
6. “Besides being a moral imperative of a Welfare State, primary health structure is a necessary precondition for sustainable development.” Analyse.
Primary health care is a term used to describe the first contact a person has with the health system when they have a health problem. The Welfare State is a concept of government in which the State plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens.
Primary health structure is a moral imperative of a Welfare State:
- Right to Health is a part and parcel of Right to Life and therefore right to health is a fundamental right guaranteed to every citizen of India under Article 21 of the Constitution.
- As a Directive Principle of State Policy, Article 47 talks about raising the level of nutrition and the standard of living of people and to improve public health. It provides an obligation on the state to provide primary health facilities.
Primary health care is the most efficient and effective way to achieve health for all. Primary health structure is a necessary precondition for sustainable development in the following ways:
- Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 talks about ‘Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages’. Access to quality health care would not be possible without an effective primary health structure.
- Lack of availability of subsidised and timely treatment leads to affordability issues and creates a vicious cycle of poverty and heightens the out of pocket expenditure of people.
- Health conditions, disabilities, and unhealthy behaviors can all have an effect on educational outcomes and can also lead to social exclusion.
- At a societal level, poor population health is associated with lower savings rates, lower rates of return on capital, and lower levels investment; all of these factors can and do contribute to reductions in economic growth.
As recognized in the 2018 Astana Declaration, the Primary Health Care approach is the most effective way to sustainably solve today’s health challenges. The National Health Policy 2017 envisages providing a larger package of assured comprehensive primary health care through the Health and Wellness Centers’ and advocates allocating major proportion of resources to primary care.
7. “Earn while you learn scheme needs to be strengthened to make vocational education and skill training meaningful.” Comment.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.” ‘Earn while you learn’ scheme provides opportunities to the students to earn while they are learning through part-time jobs. It is a great combination of working & learning and is usually called vocational education.
The Ministry of Tourism runs a Scheme titled ‘Earn While You Learn’ with a view to inculcate appropriate tourism travel traits and knowledge amongst trainees to enable them to work as ‘student volunteers’.
Features/Benefits of the scheme:
- Provides opportunity to students to earn some extra pocket money during college days.
- Chance to get work experience and hands-on training while studying.
- College drop-out rate due to financial issues will come down considerably.
- It will prepare the students to take up jobs in future and expose them to the outside world.
Need of the scheme to be strengthened:
- It is expected to facilitate the ease of doing business by providing a steady supply of skilled workforce to the industry and services.
- It will lead to improvement in quality and market relevance of manpower.
- It helps students to recognise and understand their choices and preferences and help them build their career.
More awareness about this kind of initiatives by the government should be generated. The success of this scheme will help India reap its demographic dividend to its fullest.
8. Can the vicious cycle of gender inequality, poverty and malnutrition be broken through microfinancing of women SHGs? Explain with examples.
The Global Gender Gap Report 2021 ranks India at 140 among 156 countries. This gender inequality is the outcome of unequal opportunity, education, health economic participation and empowerment, which results in pushing women into a vicious cycle of poverty and malnutrition.
Self-Help Groups (SHGs) are informal associations of people who choose to come together to find ways to improve their living conditions. Microfinance is a type of banking service provided to unemployed or low-income individuals or groups who otherwise would have no other access to financial services.
Microfinancing of women SHGs can help uplift even the most vulnerable and marginalised section of women in the following ways:
- By mobilising poor rural women and building community institutions of the poor, SHGs are aimed at reducing poverty. To this, microfinancing acts as a catalyst because it can help channel the savings and funding of the SGH members.
- Credit flow will make women work and interact with the outside world. This will help in reducing the gender inequality and promote community involvement.
- Microfinancing of women SHGs improves the decision-making ability of its members. With greater say in the matters of resource utilization, family planning etc., it results in better nutritional values among their families.
Though microfinancing of women SHGs can help overcome challenges like malnutrition, poverty and gender equality, it is not alone enough to change the grim situation. Additionally, there needs to be a change of patriarchal mindset, spread of awareness about SHGs and penetration of rural banking facilities.
9. “If the last few decades were of Asia’s growth story, the next few are expected to be of Africa’s.” In the light of this statement, examine India’s influence in Africa in recent years.
The last few decades saw extraordinary growth of Asian countries mainly driven by China, South Korea, Japan, India and others. Now the paradigm is tilting towards Africa. Since 2000, at least half of the world’s fastest-growing economies have been in Africa. And by 2030, Africa will be home to 1.7 billion people, whose combined consumer and business spending will total $6.7 trillion. A surplus of workers is something which is turning the heads of everyone towards Africa.
India’s influence in Africa in recent years:
- Political Engagement: In the last few years, Africa has been the focus of India’s development assistance and also diplomatic outreach, as evident in plans to open 18 new embassies.
- Economic Engagement: India’s duty-free tariff preferential scheme for Least Developed Nation (LDCs) launched in 2008 has benefited 33 African states. India was the fourth largest importing partner and the fifth largest export destination for South Africa in 2017-18.
- Grants in Aid: After South Asia, Africa is the second-largest recipient of Indian overseas assistance with Lines of Credit (LoC) worth billions of dollars.
- Capacity Building: India is investing in capacity building providing more than $1 billion in technical assistance and training to personnel under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) program.
- Security Cooperation: Approximately 6,000 Indian soldiers are deployed in UN peace-keeping missions in conflict zones in Africa.
- Cooperation on Multiple Fronts: This includes solar energy development (International Solar Alliance), information technology, cybersecurity, maritime security, disaster relief, counter-terrorism and military training.
- Medical Diplomacy: Under the e-ITEC initiative, India has shared COVID-19 management strategies, training webinars exclusively aimed at training health-care professionals from Africa by Indian health experts.
India and Africa offer a lot of opportunities for each other in coming times like addressing the food security problem, becoming the voice of the developing world, preventing global rivalries, and maintaining diplomatic ties. India-Africa (Gandhi-Mandela) friendship in a longer will benefit both mutually.
10. “The USA is facing an existential threat in the form of China, that is much more challenging than the erstwhile Soviet Union.” Explain.
The last few decades have seen an exponential rise of China as a competitor of the US on the global stage. In the present scenario, the experts are debating on the cold war conditions prevailing between the two biggest economies of the world (US-China).
After the Second World War, the US faced a challenge from the erstwhile USSR. While today the US is facing the same threat from China, it is not same as the erstwhile USSR:
- In the last few decades China has become the manufacturing hub of the world. Its economy has grown at a rapid pace and forms a special knot in the global supply chain. This is opposed to the USSR, which had a crippled economy and could not compete with the US over the period.
- The Soviet Union and the United States were hardly interdependent either economically or politically. Although there are divergences and disputes, China and the United States are the two largest economies in the world and share a wide range of interests, especially in the economic sphere. To illustrate, the US and China have a trade of over 500 billion with each other.
- Today’s global economy is more integrated as compared to the cold war era. Even after two countries are not on good terms with each other, they are still dependent on each other.
- In the face of internal and external problems, the Soviet Union often repelled, but China has constantly reformed. China outpaced the USSR in governance models and is now challenging the US as a global power.
Given the high degree of interdependence and the prevalence of globalisation, the so called cold war situation between the US and China may not result in a full-fledged war. Nevertheless, both the countries, in particular, and the global community, in general, must strive to keep the conflicts at minimum and avoid any situation that may precipitate into violent clashes.
11. The jurisdiction of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) regarding lodging an FIR and conducting probe within a particular State is being questioned by various States. However, the power of the States to withhold consent to the CBI is not absolute. Explain with special reference to the federal character of India.
Federalism is a system of government in which the power is divided between a central authority and various constituent units of the country. The Constitution clearly provided a threefold distribution of powers between the Union Government and the State Governments.
Known as India’s premier investigation agency, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) deals with matters of corruption and major criminal matter. It investigates cases connected to infringement of economic and fiscal laws. The CBI derives its power from the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946.
According to Section 6 of the DSPE Act, the State’s consent is required to extend CBI investigation beyond Union Territories. There are two types of consent for a probe by the CBI:
- General Consent: When a State gives a general consent to the CBI, the agency is not required to seek fresh permission every time it enters that State in connection with investigation.
- Specific Consent: When a general consent is withdrawn, CBI needs to seek case-wise consent for investigation from the concerned State government. If specific consent is not granted, the CBI officials will not have the power of police personnel when they enter that State.
However, the power of the States to withhold consent to the CBI is not absolute. The CBI can be ordered by the Supreme Court and the high court to investigate a crime without the consent of the State. Moreover, the withdrawal of general consent does not affect pending investigation (Kazi Lendhup Dorji case, 1994) or the cases registered in another State in relation to which investigation leads into the territory of the State which has withdrawn general consent.
In context of federal structure, Police is exclusively a State subject. However, the establishment of CBI under the DSPE Act is an exception as it encroaches upon the State jurisdiction. Federal issues are caused recurrently with the jurisdiction of CBI often coming into direct confrontation with the State police. The existence of different political parties at the State and Central level often leads to a more prominent conflict between the State and Centre over CBI.
12. Though the Human Rights Commissions have contributed immensely to the protection of human rights in India, yet they have failed to assert themselves against the mighty and powerful. Analysing their structural and practical limitations, suggest remedial measures.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India was established on 12th October, 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993. The NHRC is an embodiment of India’s concern for the promotion and protection of human rights.
Functions of NHRC:
- Complaints and redressal mechanism.
- Awareness raising, human rights education, training and research.
- Cooperation with civil society, NGOs and human rights defenders.
- Coordination with all State Human Rights Commissions.
- Engagement at international and regional bodies and mechanisms.
Contributions of NHRC:
- The Commission took cognizance of many individual cases of displacement on account of mega projects, disasters and conflicts.
- In the aftermath of Godhra riots in Gujarat, the Commission filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court and ensured that guilty persons were brought to book.
- With respect to the high suicide rates by debt-ridden farmers, the Commission took suo motu cognizance of the reports about suicide by farmers.
- NHRC can only make recommendations without the power to enforce decisions. It does not have any mechanism of investigation. In majority cases, it asks the concerned Central and State governments to investigate the cases of the violation of human rights.
- It has been termed as ‘India’s teasing illusion’ by Soli Sorabjee (former Attorney-General of India) due to its incapacity to render any practical relief to the aggrieved party.
- A large number of grievances go unaddressed because NHRC cannot investigate the complaint registered after one year of incident.
- State Human Rights Commissions cannot call for information from the Central government which means that they are implicitly denied the power to investigate armed forces under the control of the Union government.
Possible Remedial Measures:
- NHRC efficacy can be enhanced by government if the decisions of the Commission are made enforceable.
- There is need to change in composition of the Commission by including members from civil society and activists.
- NHRC should have its autonomous investigating staff recruited by itself instead of the present practice of deputation.
- To improve and strengthen the human rights situation in India, state and non-state actors need to work in tandem.
Manifold challenges are presented by the situation of persistent human rights violations across the country. There is an urgent requirement to improve and strengthen the human rights situation. It is necessary to empower NHRC to make it work more efficiently and independently.
13. Analyse the distinguishing features of the notion of Right to Equality in the Constitutions of the USA and India.
Both the United States and India are the largest democratic countries in the world, based on federalism, in their political structure. Democracy can only thrive and flourish where the individuals in society are treated equally and without discrimination. Thus, it was necessary to incorporate provisions in the Constitution to remove the hurdle of existing social and economic inequalities and enable the diverse communities to enjoy the rights and liberties guaranteed under the Constitution.
The right to equality means the absence of legal discrimination on grounds of caste, race, religion, sex, and place of birth and ensures equal rights to all citizens.
- Right to Equality in India: In India, Chapter III named as “Fundamental Rights” was added in the Constitution by the Constituent Assembly. The Constitution follows both the British model of ‘Equality before Law’ and American model of ‘equal protection of law’ (Article 14). It also provides for both civil-legal as well as socio-economic equality. It also highlights substantive equality. The Constitution also provides for affirmative action to ensure equality (Article 16). It focuses on ensuring equality of outcomes along with equality of opportunity. The right also prevents discrimination and abolishes untouchability (Article 17).
- Right to Equality in the US: The original Constitution did not prevent discrimination. The US derived Right to Equality from Declaration of Rights and the Bill of Rights. It was inserted in the Bill of Rights through fourteenth Amendment in year 1868. The US follows the concept of ‘equal protection of law’ which highlights the equal treatment under equal circumstances. The right majorly emphasises on civil and legal equality.
The Right to Equality is considered a basic feature of both the Constitutions and plays a key role in achieving social and economic justice in our society where upliftment of certain classes is considered necessary for our country to flourish. The emphasis is on the fundamental unity of individuals by providing equal opportunities and treatment to all.
14. Explain the constitutional provisions under which Legislative Councils are established. Review the working and current status of Legislative Councils with suitable illustrations.
India follows a bicameral system at both the Centre and State level. Under this system, the State’s legislature is divided into two parts - Legislative Assembly or Vidhan Sabha and Legislative Council or Vidhan Parishad.
The Legislative Council is the upper house of the State. Its institution is outlined in Article 169 of the Constitution. Presently, only Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Maharashtra, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh have Legislative Councils.
- As per Article 169, the Parliament can abolish a Legislative Council (where it already exists) or create it (where it does not exist) by a simple majority, if the Legislative Assembly of the concerned State, by a special majority, passes a resolution to that effect.
- As per Article 171 of the Indian Constitution, the total number of members in the Legislative Council of a State shall not exceed one-third of the total number of members in the Legislative Assembly.
- The members of the Council are either nominated by the Governor of the state or are indirectly elected. Of the total number of members of the Legislative Council:
- 1/3 of members are elected by electorates consisting of the members of local authorities,
- 1/12 are elected by electorates consisting of graduates residing in the state,
- 1/12 are elected by electorates consisting of persons engaged in teaching,
- 1/3 are elected by the members of Legislative Assembly and
- the remaining are nominated by the Governor.
- 1/3 of the members of Legislative Council retire every 2 years.
- Legislative: Non-money bills can be introduced in the Legislative Council. When a non-money bill, passed by the Legislative Assembly, comes to the Legislative Council, the latter can pass it or can send it back with amendments to the Legislative Assembly for its reconsideration.
- Financial: The Legislative Council has only limited powers in financial matters. A money bill cannot be introduced in the Legislative Council. It can be introduced only in the Legislative Assembly.
- Control over Executive: The Legislative Council does not have much control over the executive. The Council of Ministers is responsible to the Legislative Assembly. Even if the government is defeated in the Legislative Council, it is not bound to resign.
- Miscellaneous: The Legislative Council elects its own Chairman and Deputy Chairman. The Council discusses technical matters as there are experts as its members.
The legislative power of the Councils is limited. They lack a constitutional mandate to shape non-financial legislation. Besides, the Assemblies can override suggestions/amendments made to legislation by the Council. Critics of Legislative Councils state that the Councils act as a burden on the State budget and are used to park leaders who have not been able to win an election.
Nevertheless, the Legislative Councils serve some useful purposes. They act as a check against hasty legislation passed by the Assemblies. They also accommodate election shy talent. That is, the elderly, experienced and sober individuals, who cannot-bear the ordeal of electioneering get onboarded to the Council. For example, Bihar Chief Minister is a member of the Legislative Council.
15. Do Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees keep the administration on its toes and inspire reverence for parliamentary control? Evaluate the working of such committees with suitable examples.
Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committees comprise 31 members (21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha) to be nominated by the Speaker, Lok Sabha and the Chairman, Rajya Sabha respectively. The term of office of these Committees is not more than one year.
The Committees have often been found keeping the administration on its toes thereby setting a benchmark of parliamentary control. This can be ascertained from the functions of such Committees, viz.:
- They examine the demands for grants of the related ministries/departments and report thereon.
- They verify bills, belonging to the related ministries/departments, referred by the Chairman or the Speaker.
- Laying importance on the long-term plans and policies guiding the working of the executive, these committees give necessary direction, guidance and inputs for broad policy formulations.
- They facilitate input from experts and those who may be directly affected by a policy or legislation.
Nevertheless, the functioning of the Committees is marred with several issues, such as:
- The meetings happen behind closed doors leading to the issue of transparency.
- The Committees’ suggestions are not enforceable in nature.
- It is not necessary to route all the bills to the Committees. Thus, proper scrutiny of all the bills is not guaranteed.
- The Committees can hardly be considered a specialised body as their tenure is just of one year.
Thus, though it is comparatively less difficult to examine an issue in depth by a committee of 30 than by an assembly of 700, the issues faced by these Committees limits their scope.
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.
17. “Though women in post-Independent India have excelled in various fields, the social attitude towards women and feminist movement has been patriarchal.” Apart from women education and women empowerment schemes, what interventions can help change this milieu?
Patriarchy is a social system in which men hold primary power, moral authority, special privilege, and control over property. Despite the prevalence of patriarchy in India, the status of women in post-Independent India has continuously changed with changing socio-economic and political realities. This change has been a result of external agents and catalysts like government initiatives and women-led movements.
Women have been empowered by spread of education, communication, media, political parties, and general awakening. Women like Kalpana Chawla, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and Late Sushma Swaraj represent diverse fields of social work and professional life. But issues like the Sabarimala controversy, Triple Talaq, Madhya Pradesh HC judgement in POCSO Act, etc. highlight that patriarchal barriers to women empowerment remain deeply entrenched in society.
Apart from special focus on women education and women empowerment schemes, collective interventions are the need of the hour to change the conception that India is a patriarchal society. This can be done through:
- Imbibing gender equality ideas needs to start within homes, in attitudes of parents, spouse and siblings.
- Women must have the freedom to take important decisions of life such as which career to pursue, when to marry, etc.
- Setting up of specially designed courts (Fast Track Courts) for trying cases of violence against women. These courts could be mandated to finalise the case within a stipulated period.
- The cause of gender equality at work will be helped by balancing maternity leaves with paternity leaves.
- Administrative reforms need to factor in gender inclusion, especially in police. It can help de-emphasise the culture of violence in public life.
- Concepts like 24×7 cities can combine urbanisation, needs of public safety, and promote greater participation of women in economy and public life.
Thus, education and empowerment schemes are necessary to support the feminist movement, but issues hindering gender equality in India require more fundamental and practical approach.
18. Can Civil Society and Non-Governmental Organisations present an alternative model of public service delivery to benefit the common citizen? Discuss the challenges of this alternative model.
Civil society refers to the communities and groups that function outside of government to provide support and advocacy for certain people and/or issues in society. A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) is a non-profit group organised on community, national and international levels to serve a social or political goal such as humanitarian causes or the environment.
Role of Civil societies and NGOs as an alternative model of public service delivery:
- Civil society and NGOs can provide a ready pool of volunteers and resources that the government can tap into.
- Issues of inclusion-exclusion errors can be addressed through grass-root verification by the volunteers.
- Skill enhancement and livelihood support schemes like National Rural Livelihood Mission can be made more effective through involvement of civil society and NGOs.
- The last-mile delivery of public services can be addressed. For example, during the COVID-19 lockdown, several voluntary groups distributed food, ration, and vegetables for the homeless and the migrants.
- Civil society and NGOs can play the role of effectively communicating the needs of people to the government. For example, the PM Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan was launched in response to Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan’s petitioning to distribute food grains to everyone.
Civil societies and NGOs can have a positive influence on the state and the market. But there are various challenges such as:
- Ad-hocism and lack of continuity in the delivery process.
- The issue of misappropriation of funds is highlighted every now and then. There are issues where the civil society or an NGO is accused of using foreign funds for provoking protests and stall governmental projects.
- There have also been reports of NGOs lobbying parliamentarians and using the media to manipulate issues in their favour.
- The ‘big brother attitude’ of the government officials and their mindset of construing NGOs simply as contractors fulfilling staffing requirements.
Civil society and NGOs can be made an integral part of the development process but, given the prevalent situation, they cannot completely substitute the administrative channels for the delivery of public service delivery. Nevertheless, the civil society/NGOs and the administrative channels need to coordinate to carry out the public service delivery efficiently and effectively.
19. Critically examine the aims and objectives of SCO. What importance does it hold for India?
Created in 2001, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a Eurasian political, economic, and military organisation aiming to maintain peace, security, and stability in the region. India became a permanent member of the SCO in 2017.
SCO aims to strengthen relations among member states. But India-Pakistan-Russia-China relations create a complex matrix of diverging and conflicting interests. To illustrate, China has shown little respect to an international rule-based order. ‘Chequebook’ and ‘wolf warrior’ diplomacy, human rights violations, etc. raise fundamental questions on Chinese commitments to aims and objectives of SCO. Moreover, under the guise of economic co-operation, China has pushed its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects through SCO.
Likewise, SCO seeks to safeguard regional peace, security, and stability. But, China (in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Ladakh), Russia (in Ukraine) and Pakistan (in Jammu & Kashmir) are accused of destabilising the regional peace, security, and stability.
Importance of SCO for India:
- SCO is part of India’s stated policy of pursuing “multi-alignments” and “strategic autonomy”.
- The challenges of terrorism, radicalism, and instability pose a grave threat to Indian sovereignty and integrity. SCO’s counter-terrorism body, the Regional Anti-Terror Structure (RATS), may prove useful for India in this context.
- SCO allows India to deepen its strategic reach in Central Asia. India already has substantial soft power potential in Central Asia. India’s membership of SCO can boost energy security by providing access to mineral and energy resources of the Central Asian countries.
- India’s presence in the SCO will help in India’s aim to link itself to the larger Eurasian region, and to Europe via INSTC.
- SCO membership will also help India, which is currently boxed in the South Asian region, to become a major pan-Asian player.
- SCO can play a vital role in deepening people-to-people engagement through cooperation in the field of education, medicine, tourism, etc.
India’s relations with countries in the region have enormous potential for enhancing ties in areas such as economy, security, policy, investment, trade, connectivity, energy, and capacity building. However, India’s benefits from the SCO will be limited due to the role of China and Pakistan in the organisation. Positive outcomes will depend on how Indian diplomacy deals with its rivals.
20. The new tri-nation partnership AUKUS is aimed at countering China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region. Is it going to supersede the existing partnerships in the region? Discuss the strength and impact of AUKUS in the present scenario.
AUKUS is a trilateral security partnership between the United States of America, Australia and the United Kingdom in the Indo-Pacific region. Under the AUKUS alliance, the UK, the US and Australia seek to increase the development of joint capabilities and technology sharing.
Creation of the AUKUS is an attempt to send a stronger message to China as it will give its members a credible deterrence powers towards China by deepening military capabilities. It will also enhance the patrolling and surveillance power of the members in Indo-Pacific, thus restoring the sanctity of norms and rules-based order in the region. By providing nuclear submarines to Australia, it will enhance its capabilities to project power in the Indo-Pacific.
However, critics allege that AUKUS is also likely to supersede the existing partnership in the region. For example, the Quadrilateral Dialogue (QUAD) comprising India, Japan, Australia and the US may get lesser importance as the US might be obliged to share its strength and competence to AUKUS and QUAD both. AUKUS may also weaken the Five Eyes alliance group and the ASEAN centrality in the region.
On the stronger side, the focus of AUKUS will be on integrating all defence and security-related science, supply chains, industrial bases, and technology. The partnership would also involve a new architecture of meetings and engagements between the three countries and cooperation across emerging technologies like AI, quantum technologies, and undersea capabilities.
With respect to India, AUKUS may instigate a nuclear/conventional arms race in the Indo-Pacific region. It may lead to China and Russia supplying sensitive defence technologies to other states. With its exclusionary vision, AUKUS may also run contrary to India’s vision of an inclusive Indo-Pacific. AUKUS was formulated ignoring France, which may increase trust deficit between the like-minded democratic countries on other matters of global importance.
Thus, though AUKUS offers the advantage of balance of power, strategic autonomy, and a check on Chinese aggression, it also has significant challenges as it has been termed as Indo-Pacific NATO. India’s diverse relationships with the West must be deployed in full measure to prevent a split in the Indo-Pacific coalition.