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The article talks about the need of Panchayati Raj ministry and present analysis of its 25 years journey.
- The news of closing down of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj will be a big setback for grassroot democracy for grassroot development.
- A de-democratising move
- The 73rd amendment, now incorporated as part IX of the Constitution, is the joint responsibility of the Union and the States, calling for high-level coordination to promote and protect the grassroot democracy.
- It was passed virtually unanimously in December 1992 as representing the consensus among Central and Statestakeholders.
- The key activities of PRI Ministry are:
- Bringing State ministers together;
- Convening academic experts and field-level NGOs;
- Promoting feedback from and best practices among elected panchayat representatives; Monitoring the special interests of women representatives, Dalits and tribals;
- Maintaining and updating data-banks on all aspects of panchayat raj;
- Commissioning expert studies and preparing periodic reports such as the biannual State of the Panchayats reports.
- Providing such an all-India perspective will be seriously diluted or even entirely lost without an independent Ministry for the subject.
- The constitutional mandate
- Merging or subordinating panchayat raj under rural development amounts to a grossly inadequate reading of the Constitution, in particular the Eleventh Schedule that lists the proposed jurisdiction (“powers, authority and responsibilities”) of national-level panchayati raj.
- The 73rd amendment sought to do was a radical reorganisation of last-mile delivery of public goods and services to the panchayats by devolving “such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government” (Article 243G).
- This was to be achieved by endowing these “institutions of self-government” with the required functions, finances and functionaries (the three Fs).
Overlapping of 11th schedule entries with other ministries:
Agriculture, including agricultural extension
Animal husbandry, dairying and poultry
Minor irrigation, water management and watershed development”
Ministry of Water Resources
Social forestry and farm forestry”
Minor forest produce
Jointly concern the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs
Sanitation, including the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation
Small scale industries, including food processing industries” and “khadi, village and cottage industries”
Fall respectively under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries and the Ministry of Textiles.
Health, including hospitals, primary health centres and dispensaries
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
Integrated Child Development Services programme falls under “women and child development”
Women and child development Ministry
Education, including primary and secondary schools Technical training and vocational education
Adult and non-formal education
Ministry of Human Resource Development and Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship
Ministry of Culture
- Twenty-five years of progress
- Clearly such a revolution in political relations between elected local government authorities and the State political set-up requires time and patient experimentation to play out.
- The Ministry of Panchayati Raj, set up in 2004, has over the past 12 years or so been advocating and incentivising this. It is the primary duty of the Ministry to perform these delicate advisory functions. Panchayati raj remains on the State list but, in view of the 73rd constitutional amendment, the Centre becomes responsible to work with the States to fulfil in letter and spirit the aims and objects of the constitutional legislation.
- We have about 28 lakh rural and about 4 lakh urban representatives, with about 14 lakh rural and urban women, making ours also the “world’s most representative democracy”.
- There are more elected women in India alone than in the rest of the world put together. We have also guaranteed equitable representation for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.
- Notwithstanding the hurdles, real and imagined, thrown in the way of such empowerment, virtually the whole country is moving forward, at different speeds and with considerable diversity but, nevertheless, in the desired direction.
- Quietly, considerable progress has been made in the last 25 years. Panchayati raj has been made ineluctable, irremovable and irreversible, but much remains to be accomplished.
- To disrupt the process by downgrading the Ministry of Panchayati Raj and making it an adjunct of some other Ministry would be the most retrograde step in democratic decentralisation in over a quarter century.
Question:What the 73rd amendment sought to do was a radical reorganisation of last-mile delivery of public goods and services to the panchayats by devolving “such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-government”. In the light of this statement, critically analyse the journey of Panchayati Raj in India.
- The need of PRI and reluctance of some sections to bring it.
- Achievements of PRI.
- Shortcomings which led to underperformance of this institution.
- The way forward.
The article analyses our textile sector and suggests further measures to be taken to improve its health in the wake of China’s exit.
- India’s textile industry has a long history of being a mainstay of the economy’s global trade linkages.
- It was, after all, the English East India Company’s focus on trade of cotton and silk from India that made it one of the richest and most powerful corporations in the 18th century.
- Today, India has the second largest manufacturing capacity in textiles globally and accounts for 13% of the world’s production of textile, fibre and yarn. However, it lags in terms of competitiveness and productivity.
- China, which gained highly in textiles and apparel sector by getting access to the markets of developed countries in the post-Uruguay Round is beginning to exit due to rising domestic wages.
- This will create a huge supply gap and the government has announced a special package of Rs. 6000 cr to make use of the opportunity.
- The Agreement of Textiles and Clothing under the World Trade Organisation vouches for equal treatment to be meted out to all nations.
- But Vietnam and Bangladesh are already securing better terms for themselves via free trade agreements with major markets. That underlines the urgency of the reforms the sector needs in India.
- When the Multi Fibre Agreement imposed by developed countries on the developing world was phased out, it was expected that India would benefit from it too.
- But the textile industry hasn’t been able to scale up accordingly due to following reasons:
- Rigidities in the labour market.
- Import restrictions on competing man-made fibres.
- Export quotas on cotton and logistics costs.
- To counter these problems and the problem of negative protectionism which hampers the smooth provisioning of imported inputs required for the industry the government has announced this package.
- It is expected that this step will boost exports, increase investment and make the textile industry an integral part of the Make in India programme.
- The textile industry is the second largest employer in the country after agriculture; any allocation to it has a multiplier effect on the economy at large.
- The government’s decision to incentivize textile and apparel firms to absorb more labour by offering to pay a portion of the Employees’ Provident Fund for new employees will further enhance employment.
- Female labour force participation rate is also expected to increase from a boost to the textile industry
- Further suggestions to improve competitiveness:
- The issues of productivity suffered by an industry largely restricted to the small scale and unorganized sectors needs to be addressed.
- Emphasis should be laid on promotion and marketing of textiles and designs that are indigenous to India.
- Fabindia’s success in branding and marketing Indian designs and textiles in the global apparel market, for instance, is worth studying here.
- Geographical indications could prove to be an effective means of securing a niche market for Indian handloom in foreign markets. India’s muga silk used for Japanese kimonos is a case in point.
- Given rising Internet penetration in the country, e-commerce could also be used to the advantage of the textile industry—to eliminate layers of middlemen and improve access. The example of the Taobao model in China where an entire village specializes in the production of a commodity and sells it at competitive prices online is relevant.
Question: Promoting traditional industries does not mean creating a protective shield against the emerging competition through tariffs. If an industry has to successfully progress and provide network effects, it must be allowed to grow to its full potential. Discuss the statement with reference to our textile sector and suggest measures to improve its health.
- Reasons for bad health of textile sector, mainly protectionist policies.
- Need to open up the sector and support innovations.
- Suggest further measures.
National AYUSH Mission Background
- AYUSH stands for Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy
- Currently, the gaps in India’s healthcare sector are huge with a large proportion of the population virtually denied healthcare access
- To address these gaps, the Government has been supporting AYUSH care and education, particularly in vulnerable and far flung areas.
- The traditional medicine sector has a huge potential to solve the various health problems in the world. Promotion of these medicine systems is the need of the hour as they offer numerous benefits and multiplier effects in the form of employment etc.
- While all conventional allopathic and surgical procedures focus on the treatment of a disease, AYUSH systems focus on an overall healthy lifestyle and a healthy mind and body as the key to health.
- As the world celebrated the 2nd International Yoga Day on 21st June, let us examine the ways in which government has been promoting these traditional medicinal techniques.
Benefits of AYUSH
- The AYUSH systems offer certain benefits which make them more sought after, compared even to conventional medicine
- AYUSH healthcare is generally cheap and affordable
- Lesser side effects
- Have proven to effective even in chronic cases and terminal stages of diseases
- Very effective towards lifestyle related disorders – especially yoga
- Overall focus of health – body and mind; Hence it is focussed on prevention, being true to the fact that "prevention is better than cure"
About the Scheme
- Vision of the scheme
- To provide cost effective and equitable AYUSH health care throughout the country by improving access to the services.
- To revitalize and strengthen the AYUSH systems making them as prominent medical streams in addressing the health care of the society.
- To improve educational institutions capable of imparting quality AYUSH education
- To promote the adoption of Quality standards of AYUSH drugs and making available the sustained supply of AYUSH raw-materials.
- Objectives of the scheme
- Providing Universal access to AYUSH : through upgrading AYUSH Hospitals and Dispensaries, co-location of AYUSH facilities at Primary Health Centres (PHCs), Community Health Centres (CHCs) and District Hospitals (DHs).
- Strengthening institutional capacity at the state level : through upgrading AYUSH educational institutions, State Govt. ASU&H Pharmacies, Drug Testing Laboratories and ASU & H enforcement mechanism.
- Sustained supply of raw material and maintenance of quality standards : Support cultivation of medicinal plants by adopting Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) so as to provide sustained supply of quality raw-materials and support certification mechanism for quality standards, Good Agricultural/Collection/Storage Practices.
- Building a Supply chain: Support setting up of clusters through convergence of cultivation, warehousing, value addition and marketing and development of infrastructure for entrepreneurs
- Basic mission components are
- AYUSH Services
- AYUSH Educational Institutions
- Quality Control of ASU & H Drugs
- Medicinal Plants
Other government interventions to promote AYUSH
- The department of AYUSH was elevated to a separate ministry for AYUSH in 2014.
- Recently, the government released guidelines to control quality and licensing of drugs to build credibility of AYUSH systems
- Regulation and promotion of AYUSH Education under Central council of Indian medicine
- Mainstreaming of AYUSH into National Rural Health Mission ; availability of AYUSH facilities at PHCs, CHCs and District Hospitals
- National health policy 2015- emphasizes on the need to promote equity in health care
- Attributes an important role to AYUSH; emphasizes on enhancing its outreach and acceptability
- The Indian Government was successful in initiating and getting passed a proposal to observe June 21st as International Yoga Day
- The doubts regarding the efficacy and safety of AYUSH systems need to be addressed via scientific research, publishing and development of good practices in the area.
- Development of Standard Treatment protocols to build public trust in these systems
- Protection of traditional knowledge of Ayurveda from piracy and misappropriation
- Emphasis on the preventive aspect of these systems especially Yoga is the key. PM Modi led the way when he emphasized that Yoga is akin to health insurance.
- European Union was originally formed with six nations in 1957. Today, it is a gigantic transnational entity of 28 countries, including the U.K., which joined only in 1973.
- UK has a peculiar history with EU. Though part of EU, Britain has traditionally had a 'eurosceptic' stand. It continues to use the Pound as its currency, while most EU nations have moved to Euro. Neither does it participate in the Schengen border-free zone, which allows passport-free travel in EU.
- On June 23rd, UK voted to leave the EU. The following article examines the various aspects of this Brexit.
Sequence of Events
- In January 2013, Prime Minister Cameron announced that a Conservative government would hold an in-out referendum on EU membership before the end of 2017, on a renegotiated package, if elected in 2015
- The Conservative Party won the 2015 general election with a majority. Soon afterwards the European Union Referendum Act 2015 was introduced into Parliament to enable the referendum.
- Despite being in favour of remaining in a reformed European Union himself, Cameron announced that Conservative Ministers and MPs were free to campaign in favour of remaining in the EU or leaving it, according to their conscience.
- This decision came after mounting pressure for a free vote for ministers. In an exception to the usual rule of cabinet collective responsibility, Cameron allowed cabinet ministers to publicly campaign for EU withdrawal
- A referendum was scheduled on June 23rd 2016. Registered voters in UK were to voice their opinions on whether the nation should 'Remain' in or 'Leave' the European Union
- UK voted to leave the European Union. The ‘Leave’ side won decisively with 52 per cent of the vote in the high-turnout vote, which overturned opinion polls that predicted a slender margin for ‘Remain’.
- PM David Cameroon was the architect of the referendum. He supported “Remain”. As a result of the “Leave” verdict, he will be stepping down as PM.
- A stunned EU urged Britain to leave as "soon as possible" amid fears the devastating blow to European unity could spark a chain reaction of further referendum
Reasons behind the result
- The various people campaigning for “Leave” used the following issues to stress on the need for Brexit
- Economy and austerity measures- There was public anger in Britain towards the status quo. Ordinary Britons, hit hard by the economic crisis, feel betrayed by their political leadership. The Conservative government’s austerity policies have further alienated these sections
- Immigration- As EU's membership expanded, more Europeans, especially from poorer EU nations, started migrating to U.K. using the “freedom of movement” clause. The anti-immigration parties argue this puts a severe strain on national resources and add up to welfare expenditure. The pro-EU members argue that EU migrants contribute more to the national economy than they take out.
- Security- The Remain side argues that in the era of international terrorism and criminality, cooperating with the EU will make the U.K. safer, while the other side says that the security risk will in fact increase if the U.K. does not have control over its borders.
- Trade- On trade, the Remain side says that access to the single European market, free of tariffs and border controls, is critical for the U.K. as 45 per cent of its trade is with the EU. The Leave side says that the EU needs British markets and individual trade deals with European countries can be easily negotiated.
- Employment- The Remain side argues that as three million jobs are tied to the EU there could be a jobs crisis if the U.K. leaves the EU; Brexiteers claim that there will be a jobs boom without the fetters that EU regulations impose.
- Negative strategy- The Remain campaign focussed mainly on the dangers of leaving the EU rather than making a case reasons for staying in EU and present a future vision. This alienated the people further, rather than convincing them
- UK is currently in a situation of deep uncertainty post-leave vote. It remains to be seen whether the propositions of how the leave would benefit UK would materialise.
- Turmoil in currency markets- Pound dived to its lowest since 1985; Euro suffered its worst fall against the dollar
- Second Scottish referendum likely- Scotland voted by a margin of 62 per cent to 38 per cent to remain in the EU in the referendum. Scotland sees its future in the European Union despite Britain’s vote to leave. Hence, a second Scottish independence referendum is likely.
- Exports- 45% of UKs exports are to the Eurozone. Hence, the need to negotiate the relationship with EU is immediate.
- Less influence in world politics- The collective bargaining benefits enjoyed by Britain as a part of EU would no longer exist.
- Hamper Joint efforts- May hamper joint counter-terrorism, information sharing especially in context of instability in middle east
For European Union and rest of the world
- The members of EU make monetary contributions towards EU and UK is one the largest contributors.
- A British exit from the European Union would rock the Union — already shaken by differences over migration and the future of the Eurozone — by ripping away its second-largest economy, one of its top two military powers and by far its richest financial centre
- Brexit would give rise more and more nations contemplating to exit the EU. Greece, last year held a referendum in which its citizens overwhelmingly rejected EU's bailout norms.
- World economy- World stocks saw more than $2 trillion wiped off their value as Britain's vote to leave the European Union triggered 5-10 per cent falls across Europe's biggest bourses and a record plunge for sterling.
- Such a body blow to global confidence could prevent the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates as planned this year, and might even provoke a new round of emergency policy easing from all the major central banks.
- Though, Finance minister Jaitley claimed that India is well-prepared to deal with the consequences of the Bexit with strong macroeconomic situation, some issues still remain.
- Volatility in Indian markets triggered by Brexit- BSE Sensex fell by 4%
- Indian companies in UK -There are 800 Indian companies in the UK — more than the combined number in the rest of Europe. Britain's exit from EU may affect Indian companies’ appetite for investing in the U.K., particularly those seeking access to the European market.
- The welfare of a nearly three-million strong diaspora of Indian-origin U.K. citizens is a major concern
- The interests of a large number of Britain bound Indian tourists, business people, professionals, students, spouses, parents and relatives is also a concern.
- India-EU FTA- The FTA talks with EU will have to be modified in the event of Brexit. Much will depend of the future equation between EU and UK
- If Britain gets the same treatment in terms of Free Tariff and Free Movement of persons, not much will change for India. However, if Britain gets the treatment as applicable to a non-member country, it may lead to positive impact on India’s exports to EU as well as to Britain
- Similarly, any restriction on movement of persons from EU to Britain will open opportunity for Indian service providers in wide range of services
- The weakness in the currencies- Pound and Euro, may also lead to increase in imports to India from these countries
- However, the uncertainties brought about by the referendum may benefit India too in some ways-
- The drop in the pound will benefit Indian students bound for UK and Indian tourists
- Buying property in UK will be easier due to weaker pound
Way ahead: options for UK
- The vote doesn’t mean that Britain will be immediately out of the EU.
- Under the Lisbon treaty, a member state wishing to leave the EU should first notify the European Council its decision, triggering Article 50.
- This would set in motion a process by which the member and the EU leadership will negotiate the terms of the departure and reach and agreement in two years.
- This means even if the British government invokes the Article 50 now, the earliest exit of Britain will take place after two years.
- The decision to invoke Article 50 would be with the PM of UK; with PM Cameroon stepping down, it will be the new Prime Minister’s prerogative to decide the same.
- Norway model- Some economists have already suggested that one of the options Britain could follow in the wake of a Brexit vote is the Norway model.
- Norway, along with Liechtenstein and Iceland are members of the European Economic Area (EEA). They have access to the single market while staying out of the EU. They also make contributions to the EU budget. There is separate secretariat in Brussels to manage the relationship between the EU and EEA countries.
- If Britain chooses to leave the EU but join the EEA, it will be a half-in-and-half-out arrangement, and the long-term impact on either side will be minimal.
- If no compromise is reached between EU and UK, then UK move towards the WTO rules under which it will have to pay tariffs for the goods it sells to the EU countries.
The article focus upon the various aspects of Monetary Policy Policy and its rules which have come into force.
- The government recently gave statutory backing to the monetary policy committee (MPC).
- It will make way for a resetting of the monetary policy framework that will shift the responsibility of maintaining inflation targets on a six-member panel, with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor getting a casting vote in case of a tie.
- At present, the RBI governor has the final say on monetary policy decisions.
- According to the monetary policy framework, agreed by RBI and the government last year, the central bank will look to contain inflation within a band of 4% plus/minus 2 percentage points from next year.
- The government has amended the RBI Act regarding constitution of MPC to give it the statutory backing. Those provisions have now come into force.
- Composition of MPC:
- The panel will have three members from RBI:
- The governor as the chairperson.
- Deputy governor of RBI.
- One officer of RBI.
- The other three members will be appointed by the centre based on the recommendations of a panel headed by the cabinet secretary and will be experts in the field of economics, banking, finance or monetary policy.
- Composition of MPC:
- Tenure: These experts will be appointed for four years and will not be reappointed.
- The panel will meet at least four times a year and will publicize its decisions after each meeting.
- As per rules, no member of MPC should have any financial or other interest that prejudicially affects his functions as a member.
- Also, it will be considered that the panel failed in achieving the inflation target if the lower or the upper range of the target is breached for three consecutive quarters. The idea of setting up an MPC was mooted by an RBI-appointed committee led by deputy governor Urjit Patel in February 2014.
- That committee had recommended a five-member committee where three members would be from RBI and two external members would be appointed by the RBI governor and the deputy governor in-charge.
- It was also suggested that the governor would have a casting vote in case of a tie.
- Advantages of setting up MPC:
- It will bring transparency and predictability in inflation targeting.
- The new framework also increases the responsibility of the government to maintain fiscal prudence.
- Coordination between RBI and Government would be better.
- It will bring flexible inflation targeting.
- The new framework makes RBI more accountable as now it will have to explain to the government if it fails to meet the inflation targets.
- This will put India on a par with other nations in terms of flexible inflation targeting.
Question:“It is essential to have a modern monetary policy framework to meet the challenge of an increasingly complex economy”. Discuss.
- Challenges of Indian economy.
- Monetary Policy Framework decided by the government.
- How MPC will be helpful in tackling those challenges.
- Negatives, if any, that MPC will bring.
Introduction : The article discuss about the quick finalisation of FTA and exploring possibilities in Commonwealth by India after Brexit.
- European Union and the Britain are likely to be weak in the near term so India must immediately signal strong solidarity with the both.
- The Brexit may make India’s security environment a lot more uncertain than it was before. Hence, strengthening strategic partnerships with Britain and Europe must be central to any new Indian effort to shape the Eurasian balance of power.
- For India, Britain and Europe are among its most important partners. Finding ways to rejuvenate the economic and political ties to both should now be at the top of India’s diplomatic agenda.
- Many British leaders demanding separation from Europe had argued that the loss from the severance of the European market can be easily made up by Britain’s independent economic engagement with the rest of the world, including India.
- Although President Barack Obama had publicly cautioned Britain against leaving the European Union, but still there is considerable support in America.
- Beijing, which has made major inroads into Britain over the last few years and was celebrating the prospect of a “golden decade” in the bilateral relationship, is well poised to become an even stronger partner to London in the coming years.
- New Delhi, which has much goodwill among the Brexiteers, must make its move sooner than later.
- On the economic front, India must signal readiness to negotiate a quick free trade agreement with Britain.
- Although India can in no way substitute for Europe or match the size of American or Chinese resources, it can offer a measure of economic comfort at this difficult juncture.
- India must match economic reassurance with a political exploration of the possibilities for strengthening the Commonwealth as a political institution.
- As a club of globally dispersed states from the South Pacific to the Caribbean and the Southern Africa to the Middle East and Southeast Asia, the Commonwealth was for long ripe for Indian leadership.
- Reviving the Commonwealth at this moment might be lot more demanding than it would have been a few years ago, but it is never too late.
- The first step is to initiate a high-level consultation among key members of the Commonwealth including Britain, Canada, Australia and India.
- The growing populist pressures, hostility towards the European bureaucracy in Brussels, anger against the power of international terrorist groups to target cities with impunity, and the growing resistance to movement of refugees from the South has put great strain on the European political leadership.
- Making matters worse is the European inability to either confront an increasingly assertive Russia or find much needed political accommodation.
Question: The whole world will soon feel the long-term implications of the British vote to leave the European Union for economic globalisation and international security. In the era of high level globalisation, how this vote will impact India. Discuss.
- The economic ties of India with Britain and EU.
- Negative impact on Indian Economy
- Positives for India.
- The political and economic way ahead.
Source: 2015 Mains question paper- 4
Note: this answer has been written for the purposes of explanation; Hence, it may not adhere to word limit. For examination purposes, phrases instead of full sentences could be used.
- The present case illustrates a situation where the community of an area has been debating the pros and cons of girls’ education. They have taken a joint decision not to allow girls to go to school after an incident of molestation. The reasons for the same include concerns over girls safety and high unemployment among male population due to competition over jobs.
- Further, there is an inter-generational divide between the old and the young as well as a divide across genders over the idea of girl education
- 1. The following steps may be taken to ensure girls’ safety without disrupting their education
- Increasing police presence and responsiveness to issues of gender violence and molestation; building an atmosphere of security and trust between police and community.
- Encouraging girls and parents to come up and report any issues they might face.
- Trying to involve the community into any manner of community policing, whereby the people can come together to ensure their security.
- Protecting any good Samaritans who come up and report any incidents
- Sensitising the village community involving elders to understand the importance of girls’ education. Building a community perception would ensure that elements causing any harm to the girls face strict community action in addition to police action.
- 2. The following measures could help mould the patriarchal mind-set of the village elders-
- a. Helping the elders realise the importance of education of girls. Making them realise that when one educates a girl, they educate an entire family. Emphasizing that girls ought to be given a chance to learn and grow.
- b. Using famous persons or persons with substantial goodwill/respect among the community to propagate the same.
- c. Highlighting the examples of famous women and their contributions to community life
- d. Using various innovative techniques like street plays (nukkad nataks), contests like “selfie with daughter” etc
- e. Delinking the ideas of girl education and male unemployment; if the girls in this area do not study, other females from other areas can also compete for jobs.
- f. The various initiatives under Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme to promote girl education can also be used.
- Understanding freedom of speech and expression
- Freedom has been viewed as a basic necessity for human beings to live a full and happy life. It is a cardinal virtue in a democratic nation.
- Freedom in simple words is about the absence of constraints. However, mere absence of external constraints does not help. Freedom is also about expanding the ability of people to freely express themselves and develop their potential.
- Both these aspects, absence of external constraints as well the existence of conditions for people to freely develop their true potential are equally important.
- Freedom of Speech and Expression has been explicitly guaranteed by the Indian Constitution under Article 19. It is a Fundamental Right which all citizens of the country enjoy.
- At the same time, the Constitution imposes certain reasonable restrictions on free speech as well. These are in the form of threats to sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign state, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence
- Defence of freedom of speech and examination of extent of censorship
- Many great thinkers and writers have presented detailed arguments justifying the need for freedom in thought and expression
- Essay on liberty by John Stuart Mill- The author offers reasons why freedom of expression is essential
- No idea is completely false- if we ban false ideas, we would lose the element of truth in them
- Only via a conflict of opposing views does the truth emerge.
- We cannot be sure about truth. Ideas that seem false today, may turn out to be true in future.
- John Stuart Mills Harm Principle- gives criteria on when freedom could be curtailed.
- Freedom of speech must only be curtailed to prevent undue harm to others.
- The harm must be serious in nature. In case of minor harm, only milder tools such as social disapproval must be used and not the force of the law. Eg playing loud music.
- Only in serious cases of major harm must freedom be restrained. Else society must bear the inconvenience in the spirit of protecting freedom
- The importance of Freedom of speech and expression is particularly immense in Indian context where various gagging acts were in place under British rule and the freedom to express has been won after a long struggle.
- Further, the various social reforms of 19th century such as abolition of sati, widow remarriage etc would not be have been possible if we had resorted to hurt cries.
- Free Expression, Cinema and Censorship
- Cinema has been a classic means of expression. Therefore, it has been looked at from the same lens of freedom of speech and expression. Ability to make and release films is akin to an expression of creativity, guaranteed by Article 19.
- However, the very nature of cinema as a mass media, with tremendous outreach, has led to increased responsibility and increased restrictions on the ability to express.
- The Central Board for Film Certification in India is tasked with certifying films for public viewing. It examines the suitability of movies for public viewing and suggests changes/deletions if it includes threats to sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign state, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence
- Shyam Benegal Committee
- Amidst great dissatisfaction among filmmakers over allegedly excessive censorship by CBFC, Shyam Benegal Committee was set up to lay down a holistic framework for certification of films.
- The committee was tasked to
- lay down norms for film certification that take note of best practices in various parts of the world and give sufficient and adequate space for artistic and creative expression
- lay down procedures and guidelines for the benefit of the CBFC Board to follow and
- examine staffing patterns with a view to recommending a framework that would provide efficient and transparent user friendly services
- The recommendations of the committee are:
- Film certification process
- CBFC should only be a film certification body whose scope should be restricted to categorizing the suitability of the film to audience groups on the basis of age and maturity except in the following instances to refuse certification –
- The applicant must specify the category of certification being sought and the target audience.
- More specific categorisation: the committee recommends that categorisation should be more specific and apart from U category, the UA Category can be broken up into further sub-categories – UA12+ & UA15+. The A category should also be sub-divided into A and AC (Adult with Caution) categories.
- Regarding CBFC
- the Board, including Chairman, should only play the role of a guiding mechanism for the CBFC, and not be involved in the day-to-day affairs of certification of films.
- The functions of the Board shall be confined to the duties defined in the existing CBFC rules
- Given these limited functions, the size of the Board should be compact with one member representing each Regional Office. Therefore, the total composition of the Board should not be more than nine members and one Chairman.
- Other recommendations:
- Online submission of applications as well as simplification of forms and accompanying documentation.
- Recertification of a film for purposes of telecast on television or for any other purpose should be permitted.
- Recent incidences of censorship/restrictions/violation of rights of media
- A number of incidences have occurred in India and world over sparking a debate about a balance between free expression and reasonable restraints on the same, especially in the context of media. Each case presents different intricacies and a one size fits all approach is not valid.
- Charlie Hebdo Case- attack on office of Charlie Hebdo magazine by radical islamists for publication of objectionable cartoons of Prophet Mohammed.
- Perumal Murugan Case- Novelist Perumal Murugan’s work Madhurobhagan offended the sensibilities of many sections in Tamil Nadu. He had to give up writing altogether amidst threats to his life and safety of his family.
- The killings of bloggers in Bangladesh to curb the new ideas put forward by these bloggers challenging religion and faith.
- BBC Documentary- India’s Daughter- documentary over Delhi rape case was banned by Government of India as it allegedly incited violence against women and showed India in poor light
- numerous arrests under Section 66 of IT Act
- 12th class boy arrested over comments made on social media against politician Azam Khan
- 2 girls in Maharashtra arrested for comments made over holiday due to Bal Thakeray’s death
- Controversies over censorship of movies- PK Movie controversy, Udta Punjab Controversy
- Udta Punjab Controversy and legal opinions over censorship
- The film Udta Punjab has been the new scene of a controversy. The case is clearly drawn between the need to censor movies vs the manner in which excessive censorship stifles creativity and freedom of expression.
- The movie had been under the censor’s scrutiny due to use of cuss words, references to drug trafficking and state of Punjab etc. The review committee of the CBFC had passed the movie with 13 deletions. However, the film-makers challenged the same in Bombay High court.
- The Bombay High Court ordered that Udta Punjab be granted a certificate in the ‘Adult’ category and allowed to be screened with one cut and a disclaimer.
- The court has passed a landmark judgement, clearing clarifying the role of CBFC. The court served a reminder that certification, and not censorship, is the real job of the CBFC.
- The power to order changes and cuts must be exercised only in line with provisions of the Constitution and Supreme Court orders
- CBFCs mandate is not to interfere with the film-maker’s creative process and freedom of expression; Clearly, suggesting that all references to Punjab be removed was an overreach of its mandate
- The CBFC has been advised to move with the time and view cinema in the context of the age represented and the maturity of the current audience
- It has reminded the Board that a film should be seen as one whole and its scenes and dialogues be not taken out of context.
- The reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2) were never meant to be invoked when people, in power or otherwise, found something in poor taste, offensive or against the grain of social or political opinion.
- Way ahead
- Clearly, cinema is a wonderful tool of expression with an immense outreach. Hence, regulating/certification is a necessary evil. The need here is to strike a balance and draw the line between regulation and over-regulation
- Excessive censorship must clearly be checked. Using the rationale of hurt sentiments to curb creative freedom is must be avoided in our country, where tolerance and accommodation have been cardinal virtues.
- The Shyam Benegal Committee had recommended that the CBFC should be nothing more than a certification body. It has suggested that films be classified on the basis of their suitability to different age groups. This could be a reform in the right direction.
- The other side of the coin, the film-makers must also exhibit a level of self-regulation and refrain from unwanted elements such as excessive violence, objectification of women etc.
- Together, the film-makers and the CBFC must work to create a fabric of a free, open and creative society.
Introduction : The article traces the evolution of European Union after the second World War.
- The idea of a “United States of Europe” was first proposed by Winston Churchill, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1946. However, the move towards a supranational European organisation began on May 9, 1950 with the Schuman Declaration.
- Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister, set in motion the formation of a pan-European union by proposing a joint “High Authority” that would control coal and steel production in France and Germany.
- He proposed that the organisation would be open to other European countries as well.
- The Schuman Declaration was built upon the idea of Franco-German reconciliation to prevent the two nations from starting another World War.
- European Coal and Steel Community
- The Treaty of Paris, signed in 1951, set up the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the forerunner to the modern European Union.
- It consisted of the six nations: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany.
- The idea behind this economic union was that war would be far less likely between countries that are economically interdependent. The ECSC eventually led to the creation of the European Economic Community in 1957.
- European Economic Community
- The Treaties of Rome set up the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) that led to the creation of a ‘Common Market.’
- The six member-nations of the EEC promised to reduce trade barriers and come out with common policies in areas such as transportation and agriculture.
- This eventually created a system that allowed labour and goods to move freely between the member-nations. In 1957, Great Britain declined an invitation to join the EEC. In 1963, Great Britain tried to join the Common Market, but the then French President vetoed its application believing that the Britain “was not serious about European integration,”.
- Merger Treaty
- The Merger Treaty streamlined the European organisations (ECSC, EEC AND EURATOM) as the European Communities with the creation of a single Commission and a single Council to serve the three communities.
- First Enlargement
- In 1973, the European Communities, which consisted of the original six members, was finally expanded to include Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
- In 1979, the European Parliament conducted the first pan-European elections, where its citizens elected the Members of the European Parliament directly.
- Greece joined the European Communities in 1981, followed by Spain and Portugal in 1986.
- The Single European Act
- The Single European Act came into force on July 1, 1987. It created a single European market and reformed its institutions to prepare for the accession of the Spain and Portugal to the European Communities.
- The Act also helped set into motion a vast six-year programme to reduce the restrictions on trade flow for European nations, setting up the single market. It allows for the free movement of people, goods, and money.
- The Treaty of Maastricht
- Treaty of Maastricht or the Treaty on European Union came into force on November 1, 1993. This treaty gave more decision-making power to the European Parliament and created the European Union.
- It also created new avenues for European cooperation in fields such as Justice and Home Affairs and a Common Foreign and Security Policy. It also set the framework for a common currency policy, which in 1995, was renamed as the Euro.
- The Schengen Agreement
- Beginning in 1995, the Schengen Agreement came into force, allowing for a Europe without border controls for its member states.
- The Treaty of Amsterdam
- It came into force in 1999 and consolidated the numerous treaties which made up the EEC and EU. It also created room for greater transparency within the Union.
- The Euro
- In 2002, the Euro came into force for member countries of the Eurozone. Today, 19 members of the European Union have adopted the Euro as their official currency.
- Treaty of Nice
- In 2003, the Treaty of Nice came into force which streamlined the numerous mechanisms of EU governance as well as increased the number of seats in the European Parliament to 732, in the hope of an Eastern expansion.
- Enlargement of the European Union
- The largest enlargement of the European Union occurred on May 1, 2004. Ten countries: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia became its members taking the member-nations count to 25.
- Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU on January 1, 2007, followed by Croatia, which became its 28 member on July 1, 2013.
- Treaty of Lisbon
- The Treaty of Lisbon came into force on December 1, 2009 and created a permanent President of the European Council and increased the legislative powers of the European Parliament.
- This treaty amended the Treaty of Maastricht and the Treaty of Amsterdam that formed the constitutional basis for the EU. The
- Treaty of Lisbon made the European Central Bank and the European Council official institutions of the EU.
- Nobel Peace Prize
- On December 10, 2012, the European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to stabilise Europe and to turn the continent into one of peace.
Question: The idea behind the creation of united states of Europe and economic union was that war would be far less likely between countries that are economically interdependent. In the light of this statement, highlight the evolution of this supra national institution and analyse how far it has been successful in achieving its targets..
- Timeline and events that led to present European Union.
- Analyses of its work with respect to its stated objectives.
- The future of this community after present exit of Britain.
Mission Indradhanush for Banks
Mission Indradhanush is a 7 pronged plan launched by Government of India to resolve issues faced by Public Sector banks. It aims to revamp their functioning to enable them to compete with Private Sector banks.
Problems faced by Indian banks
- According to Economic Survey 2015, Indian banks face problems on both the policy and structural sides.
- Policy issues- Banks face what has been termed as ‘double financial repression’- issues with policies of Statuary Liquidity Ratio and Private Sector Lending policies
- Structural issues- Governance issues, rising stressed assets (Non- Performing Assets) and lack of diverse funding sources for infrastructure
Problem of NPAs
- high percentage of NPAs in bank due to following reasons
- overleveraged balance sheets- overenthusiastic borrowing and lending
- stalled projects leading to stressed assets for banks
- faulty reporting mechanisms leading to worsening of situation before NPAs are reported
- nexus between bankers and corporates- deliberate defaulting
- ways out
- Government has allowed loans to be converted into equity
- better reporting mechanisms for stressed assets leading to early detection and resolution
- re-capitalisation of banks in short term but within a transparent framework
- recovery of companies and writing off of bad loans to be done checking financial viability of companies and after ensuring efficient corporate governance
- stalled projects- can be tackled via re-negotiation; removal of bottlenecks; ensuring better financial viability of projects; long-term-development of a corporate bond market
Components of Mission Indradhanush
- Mission Indradhanush is a 7-pronged plan to address the challenges faced by public sector banks (PSBs). Many of the measures taken were suggested by P J Nayak committee on Banking sector reforms as indicated.
- The 7 parts include appointments, Banks board bureau, capitalisation, de-stressing, empowerment, framework of accountability and governance reforms (ABCDEFG)
- Appointments - separation of posts of CEO and MD to check excess concentration of power and smoothen the functioning of banks; also induction of talent from private sector ( recommendation of P J Nayak Committee)
- Bank Boards Bureau - will replace the appointments board of PSBs.
- It will advise the banks on how to raise funds and how to go ahead with mergers and acquisitions.
- It will also hold bad assets of public sector banks.
- It will be a step into eventual transition of the bureau into a bank holding company. It will separate the functioning of the banks from the government by acting as a middle link.
- The bureau will have three ex-officio members and three expert members, in addition to the Chairman.
- Capitalisation of the banks by inducing Rs 70,000 crore into the banks in the next 4 years
- Banks are in need of capitalisation due to high NPAs and due to need to meet the new BASEL- III norms
- Solve issues in the infrastructure sector to check the problem of stressed assets in banks
- Greater autonomy for banks; more flexibility for hiring manpower
- Framework of accountability
- The banks will be assessed on the basis of new key performance indicators. These quantitative parameters such as NPA management, return on capital, growth and diversification of business and financial inclusion as well as qualitative parameters such as human resource initiatives and strategic steps to improve assets quality.
- Governance Reforms
- GyanSangam conferences between government officials and bankers for resolving issues in banking sector and chalking out future policy.
An assessment and success so far
- The key performance indicators devised for PSBs if implemented well would establish a credible system of holding PSBs accountable just like present in any MNC or private sector organisation.
- Mission Indradhanush focuses on setting up a transparent a quick-paced hiring mechanism which can allow smooth functioning of the PSB.
- Opening up the top positions in PSBs to private sector candidates can bring in the much-needed fresh outlook
- De- stressing bank assets is very much needed in view of the rising NPAs
- Bank Board Bureau has been formed with former Comptroller and Auditor-General of India Vinod Rai as its first Chairman
- It will select the heads of public sector banks (even from the private sector, if need be) and aid them in formulating strategies to raise additional capital. It will select and appoint non-executive chairmen and non-official directors.
Way ahead- issues and challenges
- A Comparison with recommendations of P J Nayak Committee report suggests that the extent of capitalisation into the public sector banks is not sufficient to overcome the problem of NPAs and to achieve Basel –III levels of tier-I capital.
- The measures involved in Mission Indradhanush have already been around for some time. Thus, the real reform would be in proper implementation of the suggested measures.