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30 September 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The article explains the ‘Surgical strike’ conducted by Indian army in the Pak occupied Kashmir.

  • A surgical strike is a military attack intended to inflict damage on a specific target, with minimal or no collateral damage to surrounding areas.
  • After running through a variety of non-military responses to the September 18 terrorist strike at an Army camp in Uri, the Centre on Thursday announced that Indian forces had carried out “surgical strikes” across the Line of Control.
  • With this, India’s next steps, post-Uri, are in uncharted terrain, with New Delhi abandoning the self-proclaimed policy of “strategic restraint” adopted in the face of earlier provocations by terrorists believed to be backed by Pakistan.
  • The operation, that began and concluded in the early hours of Thursday, was claimed to be a military success, with no injuries to the Indian para-commandos who went across the LoC into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to attack several locations.
  • The decision to strike in this manner was evidently taken after specific intelligence that terrorist groups were planning attacks in India.
  • This may not be the first time India has undertaken quick cross-LoC operations, but it has never before chosen to share information so publicly.
  • The terms “surgical strike” and “pre-emptive strike” used by the Centre were intended to convey that this was not an attack on Pakistan’s defence forces, but a targeted action against terrorists poised to wreak damage in India.
  • Pakistan of course has played down the Indian operation, characterising it as an act of habitual cross-border shelling. It is welcome that New Delhi declared the strikes complete shortly after the operation, with the DGMO calling his Pakistani counterpart to convey that India would not escalate the conflict beyond this.
  • This, along with the briefings held in New Delhi for envoys of various countries, indicates that the Centre wants to end hostilities with Pakistan for the moment.
  • This strengthens the view that the operation was the result of pressure on the Modi government to manufacture a strong response to Uri. Over the past few days there has been a cascade of moves to underline that such provocations cannot be followed with business as usual.
  • The government reviewed the working of the Indus Waters Treaty, declared it is flirting with the idea of reviewing Pakistan’s Most Favoured Nation status, and pulled out of the SAARC heads’ meet to be held in Islamabad.
  • 29 September 2016 marks a turning point, with India sending out an unambiguous message: it can no longer be business as usual. There are four reasons for that:
  • Surgical strike by India is a paradigm shift in India’s approach to external threats. It is exactly how an advanced, modern nation would respond to such challenges. The singular message is that it can no longer be business as usual; the message is that India is willing to give and take in its international relations and that it can no longer be taken for granted.
  • Second, the Modi government has demonstrated that nothing is off the table in a negotiation or dialogue. In the build-up to the surgical strikes last night, it unambiguously signalled as much: including its review of a seven-decade-old Indus Water Treaty.
  • Third, India has demonstrated its willingness to undertake risky manoeuvres, albeit calculated ones. This is a dramatic shift from the past, when India’s response was often defensive; countries like Pakistan and China often interpreted this pacifism for the lack of a stomach for a fight.
  • Fourth, like it did in Myanmar—when it chased down an outlawed Naga terrorist outfit—it has signalled that India has the right nous for measured but effective retribution. While war as an option is extremely difficult to exercise and entails huge economic and social costs, surgical strikes, though risky, are relatively easier to undertake swiftly.
  • In the final analysis, it is clear that the Modi government has signalled a change in tack. It will be very difficult to retrace the steps from here. Presumably, it has worked this out in its calculations.
  • Pakistan reaction on surgical strike is somewhat surprising as it has not endorsed that India has conducted any Surgical Strike in Pak Occupied Kashmir.
  • World powers including Britain and China are trying to reduce tensions between India and Pakistan and asked both countries to exercise restraint in the wake of surgical strikes by Indian troops across the Line of Control.
  • Pak media ridiculed and denied surgical strike by Indian troops across the Line of Control. Chinese media has shown expressions of hope and said that all the issues between the two countries can be resolved through meaningful dialogue. British as well as US media do not play down the surgical strike and deem it to be paradigm shift in India’s approach to deal with external threats.
  • If International Relations Experts are to be believed, surgical strike by India will definitely curb Pakistan sponsored terrorism.

Question:

Recent surgical strikes conducted by Indian forces highlights abandoning the self proclaimed policy of ‘strategic restraint’ adopted earlier in the face of provocations by terrorist groups. Discuss. Do you think these operations violate the sovereignty of the nation on whose territory these strikes are conducted.

Suggested Approach:

  • India’s earlier policy of ‘strategic restraint’.
  • Why this shift now and is this sustainable for long term.
  • These operations are conducted against terrorists outfits, which does not have national identities, so these strikes can be justified in this context.

Link:http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/editorial-on-india-targets-terror-launch-pads-across-line-of-control-crossing-the-line-of-control/article9163818.ece

Link:http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/UwhCHgKs6DxGFlJUIBA7rN/Narendra-Modi-walks-the-talk-with-surgical-strikes-against-P.html

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29 September 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

How far has reservation of seats in jobs and educational institutions been able to create equal opportunities for the backward classes after so many years of independence?

Discuss.

Article 14 of the Indian constitution determines the right to equality. Article 15(4) and article 16(4) ensures this right by reserving seats for the ‘socially and educationally backward classes’ in educational and job opportunities, thereby promoting equality in an otherwise unequal society.

  • In the Indra Sawhney v/s U.O.I 1992 case, the Supreme Court has clearly stated that reservation of seats is solely on the basis of social backwardness for those historically discriminated castes.
  • The Supreme Court has also stated that reservation aims at the adequate representation of SCs, STs and OBCs in the government jobs and educational institutions which are otherwise dominated by a few castes only.
  • Economic backwardness is no criteria for reservation of seats. (though statistics show that the number of poor is more among the Dalits)

Here are some statistics to show whether the lower castes after reservation are now adequately represented or not:

  • According to Socio Economic Caste Census- only 4% of SC/ST families have one of its members employed in government services.
  • 62.7% of Dalits are engaged in manual labour. (SECC report)
  • 75% of Dalits are landless or almost without land.
  • According to a survey by the Hindu, 50% of teaching positions for SCs and STs are vacant in the central universities.

Hence, the data clearly indicates that reservation has not been really able to represent the lower castes adequately in jobs.

  • On the socio-economic front, they still remain vulnerable.
  • Moreover, equality cannot be limited only to the educational institutions and services.
  • Reservation has almost lost its effectiveness now. It has created an elite class among the SCs and STs who grab most of the opportunities leaving others under socio economic isolation.

Therefore, no doubt, reservation was instituted to create equal opportunities for the lower castes, but the real concern is that how far this rationale has succeeded. Rather than reservation of seats, many new and radical solutions can be brought about to overcome the inequality problem.

29 September 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

COMMERCIAL SURROGACY

Surrogacy is a term which means that a woman carries a child to term for its intended parents, with the help of different fertility techniques. And in return, the woman is compensated for carrying the child.

There are many issues involved with commercial surrogacy in India:

  • Rights of the child occurring from surrogacy – In the case of baby Manji v/s Union of India, the Japanese parents were separated before the child was conceived. So, issues like who has the right over the child, the status of the surrogate mother, etc., came into limelight.
  • Under-compensation and employment through illegitimate ways to get a child through surrogacy- It is mainly the poor women who are used as surrogates and they are paid very less in comparison to surrogates elsewhere in the world.
  • Ethical issues involved- There was an instance in 2012, in which an Australian couple, who had twins by surrogacy technique, subjectively dismissed one while selecting the other. Such issues concern ethics and need proper focus through a law.In the wake of these issues, a draft Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill has been endorsed recently.

Features of the bill:

Surrogacy is an option for those parents who:

  • are married for five years and cannot produce children naturally.
  • don’t have access to other reproductive techniques.
  • want biological children and can find a willing surrogate mother among their relatives.

The bill is a welcome step as it controls and regulates surrogacy rather than putting a blanket ban on surrogacy. Moreover, surrogacy and adoption laws should be synchronized so that for willing parents, in the absence of surrogacy,adoption can fulfill their parenthood.

29 September 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

INDIAN RAILWAYS PASSENGER TRAVEL INSURANCE SCHEME

The Indian Railways has recently started an insurance scheme for its passengers. It was announced in the railway budget 2016-17. Under the new scheme, the railways provides an insurance cover of up toRs 10 lakhs at a premium of mere 92 paise (even less than a rupee!) which is one of the cheapest in the world.

To whom is the facility available?

The facility is available to all passengers booking e-tickets and travelling by passenger trains except the suburban trains. The facility is available for Indians only, not for foreign passengers. It is also not applicable for children below 5years.

The scheme is applicable for passengers with confirmed, RAC or wait listed tickets.

It is an optional scheme and it is up to you to opt for the insurance cover.

The premium is paid while booking the ticket from the irctc website.

What is the scheme?

The insurance company will pay the nominee a sum of

  • Rs. 10 lakhs in case of death or total disability.
  • Rs. 7.5 lakhs in case of partial disability.
  • Upto Rs. 2 lakhs for hospitalization expenses.
  • Rs.10,000 for transportation of mortal remains from the place of a train accident or where an untoward incident including terrorist attack, dacoity, rioting, shootout or arson, occurs.

Statistics: According to the National Crime records Bureau, in 2014, 28,360 rail accidents were reported, in which 3882 were injured and 25,006 lost their lives.

Is there a refund of the premium?

No. The premium will not be refunded in case of cancellation of the ticket.

29 September 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

INTEGRATION OF DRIVING LICENSE AND VEHICLE REGISTRATION CERTIFICATE WITH DIGILOCKER

It is one of the key initiatives of government of India under the Digital India Programme. It was launched by DeITY (Department of Electronics and Information Technology).

What is it?

Residents can upload their own electronic documents and digitally sign them using the e-sign facility. These digitally signed documents can be shared with government organizations or other entities.

Recent initiative of the government:

Advantages

  • It is in line with the digital indiaprogramme.
  • It is aimed at minimizing the usage of physical documents and enable sharing of e-documents across agencies.
  • A part of paperless governance
  • No need to carry physical documents.
29 September 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The monsoon is to arrive shortly. You are the contractor of a major civil works company with a good reputation. You have just completed a major bridge connecting two parts of a city which will decrease the congestion in the city and save a lot of time for the transport. The inauguration of the bridge is planned for the next week. One of your juniors approached you today and mentioned about some major cracks in the bridge which are beyond repair right now. The major cracks seem to be due to the use of some substandard material by some employees of your company. There is a huge pressure by the government to start the bridge soon as the elections as well as the monsoon is approaching.

Analyze the possible actions based on their merits and demerits:

  • Ask the junior not to tell about the cracks to anyone and proceed with the inauguration as planned.
  • Undertake a scientific analysis regarding the cracks and mend if possible.
  • Resign from the post and let your follower take the action.
  • Not to go ahead with the inauguration and launch an inquiry into the substandard use of material and legally punish those found guilty.

Answer:

The merits and demerits of the possible actions are as follows:

  • This course of action of not telling anyone about the problem might gain the contractor a good reputation in the short term. But in this case he is endangering the lives of so many innocent people. Later on, if something goes wrong with the bridge, then his career, reputation, reputation of the company will be spoiled. Moreover, he sets a wrong example to his junior. There also might be a heavy legal punishment for hiding facts.
  • Undertaking a scientific analysis is indeed a very good step. But there is a time constraint here. So at this point of time, it is not the right option. And this option also does not punish the guilty, which might encourage them to commit such mistakes in the future too.
  • Resigning from the post is no solution. It shows an escapist tendency. Even after knowing the issue the contractor did not protest. Moreover, the follower might ignore the issue and carry on with the inauguration which can be dangerous.
  • This seems to be the best option. Not proceeding with the inauguration might cause a lot of difficulty in the present time, but at least it will not put lives in danger. Human life is of utmost priority and its safety should never ever be compromised. A proper inquiry into the matter is a correct step in order to punish those guilty so that such acts are not repeated in the future. As a moral responsibility the contractor can resign as it was due to his lack of leadership that such a thing happened.
29 September 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The article analysis the present situation of SAARC and the need for India to go with other regional forums.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to skip the South Asian summit in Islamabad next month is, in essence, about the deteriorating relationship with Pakistan.
  • It also underlines the growing irrelevance of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation for India’s regionalism. Irrespective of India’s future relations with Pakistan, the Modi government’s search for alternatives to SAARC will now acquire a new momentum.
  • For too long, India had conflated its regionalism with SAARC that was established three decades ago at the initiative of Bangladesh. While Delhi and Islamabad were both wary of the move in the mid-1980s, it was the inward economic orientation of the Subcontinent that limited possibilities for regional cooperation.
  • As India launched economic reforms in the 1990s, regional integration appeared a natural consequence waiting to happen. As the South Asian states opened up to the world, it seemed sensible to connect with each other. But that was not how it turned out.
  • India, on its part, inched towards accepting regionalism as an economic and political necessity. The SAARC, in turn, began to emphasise trade liberalisation, regional connectivity and trans-border economic projects.
  • South Asia sought to evolve, much in the manner that the Association of South East Asian Nations had stitched itself together two decades earlier.
  • As SAARC developed new proposals and agreements in favour of preferential trade, free trade, road and rail connectivity and cross-border energy projects, it became clear that Pakistan was the camel that slowed down the pace of the South Asian caravan.
  • More accurately, it was the Pakistan Army headquartered in Rawalpindi that exercised the veto.
  • It was not that the Pakistan army was against the idea of regional cooperation. At a moment when SAARC was being formed in the mid-1980s, Pakistan set up the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) with Iran and Turkey. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Central Asian states joined the ECO.
  • More recently, Rawalpindi has become the champion and guardian of the trans-border China-Pakistan economic corridor.
  • Rawalpindi’s problem was with the idea of economic integration with India. Neither the initiatives of SAARC, nor the Indian appeals, were capable of changing this.
  • In the past, Delhi simply shrugged its shoulders. Although it was clear that the SAARC caravan was going nowhere with Pakistan, it seemed there was little that India could do.
  • PM Modi, however, took a different track. At the Kathmandu summit, he called for a two-speed SAARC. Rather than let one country take the entire region hostage, Modi suggested, those who are ready for integration should move ahead.
  • As a result, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal got together soon after the Kathmandu summit to implement the motor vehicle agreement.
  • The BBIN framework was seen by many as heralding the era of ‘SAARC Minus One’ and hostile to Pakistan. The BBIN, however, was very much part of the SAARC framework.
  • The SAARC charter allows two or more countries of the forum to embark on what is called ‘sub-regional cooperation’. It was a policy instrument that was long available to policymakers in Delhi but remained unutilised.
  • Delhi could also complement its sub-regional initiative with trans-regional outreach. If the Look East Policy aimed to integrate India with Asia, Delhi also helped create a regional forum called the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation).
  • Although it dates back to 1997, the forum that brings five South Asian countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka) together with two south east Asian countries (Burma and Thailand) has remained dormant.
  • The Modi government is now eager to re-energise the BIMSTEC forum. As part of that commitment, it has invited the BIMSTEC leaders to join the BRICS leaders at the Goa summit next week.
  • Modi’s meetings with the BIMSTEC leaders present a major opportunity to demonstrate that the meltdown of SAARC does not mean India is giving up the ambitions of its neighbourhood first strategy.
  • The turn to the east, however, does not resolve India’s Pakistan problem in promoting economic cooperation with Afghanistan. With no physical access to Afghanistan, Delhi needs to find creative ways to deepen bilateral economic engagement with Kabul bilaterally and through trilateral cooperation with other partners like Tehran.

Question:

India must devote itself to bilateral, sub-regional and trans-regional cooperation with our neighbours, who wants regional economic integration. SAARC may be headed to the mortuary. But India can work on other regional forums.

Suggested Points:

  • Current position of SAARC.
  • Future of SAARC.
  • Other regional forums.
  • Government’s strategy to bring cooperation with other nations.

Link:http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/saarc-islamabad-summit-india-pakistan-regional-cooperation-3055070/

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28 September 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The Cauvery water is shared among three states and one union territory- Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Pondicherry. The water dispute had started back in the year 1892. Once again the dispute had arisen in the year 1924 (between Madras and Mysore). The Cauvery water Dispute tribunal was set up in the year 1990. But it gave its award in the year 2007, that is, after a period of 17years.

There are several reasons as to why the dispute has been there for such a long time and why has there not been any effective solution to the problem?

  • First of all, the river boards are only advisory in nature. And the interstate councils and the zonal councils are ignored while solving the water disputes.
  • As recommended by the Punchhi Commission, the tribunals should also include members from the civil society. It is often seen that the civil society protests to the maximum. Therefore their opinion should also be considered.
  • The time taken for solving the disputes has been too long. And even after the awards are announced, there is a lack of their proper implementation.

Possible solutions

Water is a scarce resource and therefore must be utilized very efficiently.

  • Water-intensive cropping should be avoided in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. In fact, the cropping patterns should be changed, with a switch over to new and scientific methods of cropping which utilize minimal water.
  • Methods of rain water harvesting, new techniques of water conservation and storage should be included in the priority tasks of these states. It is high time for new innovations and technologies to be applied in the water scarcity problems, so as to avoid the long pending disputes.
  • The international water policies also should be adhered to. And in the distress years, when the available water is low, the states should prepare beforehand with the necessary techniques to conserve water.
  • Even urbanization should go hand in hand with conservation and efficient water use.

These were some possible solutions to the river Cauvery water dispute. A little stronger will and stronger implementation of policies can solve the water problem to a great extent.

28 September 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The article discuss about the multi-stakeholder approach to tackle the menace of growing solid waste in cities.

  • We refer to garbage generated in our cities as “municipal solid waste” and we talk of its “management”— collection, segregation, recycling, processing to recover value and scientific disposal.
  • It seems to have little to do with us personally. When we take a technocratic approach, we psychologically distance ourselves from the menace. And yet garbage is a personal threat to all of us and the challenge will only become greater in future as more people move to the cities as urbanisation and rising incomes bring changing lifestyles which usually means more waste.
  • In cities like Tokyo, San Francisco and Singapore reduction of waste and recycling of waste received as much emphasis in their scheme of things as resource recovery from waste and its scientific disposal.
  • They carried out intense campaigns to win people’s support in reducing the waste generated and also in segregating waste at its source of generation into categories such as wet (biodegradable) waste, dry waste, plastic, paper, glass, etc., to facilitate recycling.
  • Waste of different types is collected, recycled/processed by the municipal governments using a range of technological options for resource recovery. Finally, what remains is scientifically disposed of in landfills.
  • Engagement of the community in segregation of waste at the source along with well-functioning drainage and sewerage networks facilitate a smooth process of solid waste management in these cities.
  • In India too, solid waste management needs to be planned and implemented alongside well-maintained drainage and sewerage networks and with the active participation of the communities.
  • JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission) made a long overdue start in addressing the challenges of water and sanitation in Indian cities, and this agenda is being carried forward by Swachh Bharat (Clean India) and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT).
  • Swachh Bharat addresses one-half of the problem—solid waste management, freedom from open defecation, and street cleaning. The other half—drainage and sewerage networks and waste water treatment—comes under AMRUT.
  • While the outreach campaign on Swachh Bharat must continue to seek active participation of the communities in cleaning up our cities, it is extremely important to plan and implement Swachh Bharat and AMRUT within the framework of a city development plan as two arms of one mission which will deliver Swasth Bharat.
  • The solid waste management component of the Smart Cities Mission should be viewed as a bonus.
  • Many people understand that we need more toilets, including community toilets, to ensure that there is no open defecation.
  • But there is not an adequate realisation that we need connectivity to sewerage networks and sewage treatment and/or decentralised septage management to ensure proper sanitary conditions for Clean India. Swacch Bharat and AMRUT together must address this challenge.
  • Many people understand the connection between solid waste management and health in terms of the consequences of unattended heaps of dry garbage which become a home for flies and other vermin.
  • However, there is another aspect that is not well understood, that is what happens when unscientific solid waste management combines with poor drainage and dumping of untreated sewage into drains which are meant to carry storm water during rains.
  • The result is choked drains which are full of stagnant water breeding mosquitoes and resulting in the spread of water-borne diseases like malaria, dengue, chikungunya, etc.
  • This is why we need integrated planning and implementation of solid waste management, drainage, sewerage and decentralised septage management networks for Clean India.
  • A special challenge is posed by plastic waste which has been increasing very rapidly in Indian cities.
  • When plastic is present in exposed garbage dumps, rains create little pools of stagnant water which get caught in the plastic waste, which breeds mosquitoes and spread disease.
  • The problem is compounded when garbage and/or street sweepings including plastic are swept into municipal storm water drains, again choking the drainage system.
  • It is therefore not enough to sweep the streets clean with brooms but also ensure that the waste is not dumped into the drains.
  • We need to strengthen our institutions of service delivery if the funds are to be utilised properly. But all of this will not amount to much if we, as a community, treat this as someone else’s problem to solve for us.
  • Resident welfare associations have a major role to play in creating awareness of the damaging impact of our approach to domestic waste.
  • They can help in changing mindsets of residents towards segregating garbage at the household level, discouraging throwing of plastic waste on the streets and reporting cases of monsoon drains clogged with garbage.
  • The municipal authorities should supply to each resident welfare association a list of dos and don’ts which the association could disseminate among its members.
  • In India, we have a valuable tradition of recycling paper, glass, metals, etc. which needs to be preserved. We also need to inculcate a culture which encourages reuse and discourages disposable products if a reusable substitute is available.
  • There are a number of good practices on waste management in Indian cities but the challenge lies in gearing up for change and being part of the change.

Question:

Garbage is a personal threat to all of us and the challenge will only become greater in future as more people move to the cities as urbanisation. Making various programmes is not enough to tackle this growing menace. Discuss.

Suggested Points:

  • Challenges from growing waste.
  • Government programmes to tackle it.
  • Need of multi-stakeholder approach.
  • Other measures/suggestions.

Link:http://www.financialexpress.com/fe-columnist/cities-at-crossroads-discourage-disposable-products-plan-solid-waste-management-system/394685/

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27 September 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

The article analysis the idea of simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.

  • Though spoken about for quite a few years, simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies seem to be fast on their way to becoming a matter of national concern.
  • The Central government is seeking inputs from ordinary citizens through a website about its desirability and related questions.
  • It is likely that there will be overwhelming support for this proposal because of the argument put forward in favour of it: simultaneous elections will save a lot of money and will help the government carry forward the developmental project without many hindrances.
  • The real question, however, is not of desirability; it is one of feasibility.

The question of cost

  • A huge amount of money is spent in conducting elections in India, both by the candidates themselves and political parties as well as the government (the Election Commission of India).
  • However, the argument in favour of simultaneous elections does not seem to be based on saving the money spent by political parties and candidates, but by the Election Commission.
  • There is hardly any doubt that the fewer the number of elections, the lesser would be the expenses. But then, elections are the lifeblood of democracy.
  • If Lok Sabha and Assembly elections happen to coincide, it is a natural process. But if it is imposed only to reduce the number of elections and cut costs, it is highly undesirable, because it privileges monetary concerns over democratic principles.

Better governance:

  • The contention is that with multiple elections, the Model Code of Conduct is in force for much of the time, which prevents the government from initiating new projects and ultimately slows down development work.
  • While this is true, in order to overcome this problem, it may be more useful to make changes in the Model Code of Conduct to allow the government to initiate projects and programmes till a reasonable period (maybe till the notification of elections) instead of the existing scenario where the code comes into force the day the elections are announced.
  • One should not also forget that there is a provision in the Model Code of Conduct that the government can consult the Election Commission about policy decisions and if the decisions are not likely to have any implications for the electoral outcome, the Commission can permit the government to take those decisions.
  • Also, in the normal course, the code should apply only to the State where Assembly elections are to be held. There is no logical reason why governance in the rest of the country, and at the Centre, should come to a standstill, unless the so-called policy decisions are intended to be taken to influence the electoral outcome in the State where elections are to be held.
  • In this case, it is not the holding of the election that stops governance, but the suspect intentions of those who are supposed to govern.

Undermining the federal structure

  • The argument, or slogan, of “one country, one election” is misleading. What this label overlooks is that while India is undoubtedly one country, the Constitution also recognises the existence of 29 States which have a constitutional status of their own in matters of elections and government formation.
  • “One country” does have “one election”, and that is for the Lok Sabha. The seeming intention to force all States, and sometimes it has even been mentioned all panchayats, not only seems impractical but also a step in the direction of moving the country towards becoming a unitary state rather than a federal one that the Constitution envisages.
  • India has a federal structure and a multi-party democracy where elections are held for State Assemblies and the Lok Sabha separately; the voters are better placed to express their voting choices keeping in mind the two different governments which they would be electing by exercising their franchise.
  • This distinction gets blurred somewhat when voters are made to vote for electing two types of government at the same time, at the same polling booth, and on the same day.
  • There is a tendency among the voters to vote for the same party both for electing the State government as well as the Central government. This is a rule rather than an exception, not based on assumption but on evidence.

The empirical evidence

  • If we consider elections from the 1989 general election onwards, there have been 31 instances of holding simultaneous elections for State Assemblies and the Lok Sabha in different States.
  • When simultaneous elections for the Assembly and the Lok Sabha were held in these States, in 24 elections the major political parties polled almost a similar proportion of votes both for the Assembly and the Lok Sabha, while only in seven instances was the choice of voters somewhat different.
  • During the same period, when in many States the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections were held at different times, the electoral outcome (votes polled by different parties) of the two elections has been different.
  • While there are various ifs and buts before this may be finally implemented :
    • The feasibility of constitutional amendments of the kind which this may require,
    • State governments agreeing to the untimely dissolution of the Assemblies,
    • The question of what happens if a government falls without completing its term.
    • If simultaneous elections were to become a reality, it would go against the political diversity which is essential for addressing the social diversity of India.

Question:

Can simultaneous elections for both the Central and State legislatures be implemented given the federal nature of Indian democracy guaranteed by the Constitution? Critically analyse.

Suggested Points:

  • Need and benefits of simultaneous elections.
  • Counter arguments.
  • Suggestions to tackle problem of growing cost and development issues due to recurring elections.

LInk:http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/jagdeep-s-chhokar-and-sanjay-kumar-write-on-concurrent-elections-to-state-and-lok-sabha-elections-the-case-against-simultaneous-polls/article9150753.ece

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