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UNIVERSAL SERVICE as a concept and funding mechanism is generally used as a part of the policy of “promoting or maintaining “universal” availability of connections by individual households to the public. telecommunications networks.” The progress of the telecom sector in the past few decades has proven that technological advances and market mechanisms supported by enabling regulatory and institutional mechanisms can greatly facilitate access even without public intervention (Eliassen, 2009). However, in spite of efficient market conditions, an access gap may persist on account of reasons such as uneconomic regions or populations which markets will not normally serve at affordable prices (Saabterl, Dymond & Juntenen, 2002). Universal Service Funds (USF) are tools that governments utilise to fund closure of this gap. Thus, universal service interventions address market failures and are not meant to harm effective competition which is an important element of efficient markets.

Universal Service and Competition

The evolution of explicit universal service regulation is itself closely tied to the introduction and growth of competition. Thus, the original notion of universal service evolved from the regulation of monopoly fixed line service providers and imposition of an obligation on them to provide below cost access to local telephone services, especially to underserved regions and populations, while allowing them to fund this activity through crosssubsidies by way of the higher charges for urban/long distance services/ premium rate services. With the onset of competition, this cross subsidization was no longer sustainable as competitors would easily undercut the erstwhile monopolist in liberalised markets where the latter was charging higher tariffs (Hoernig &Valetti, 2002). Thus tariff rebalancing became essential and other means of achieving universal service such as mandatory roll out obligations (as a part of licensing) and Access Deficit Charges (ADC) were resorted to. All these methods are considered ineffective/inefficient /introduce market distortions (Infodev, 2000). This has also been the experience in India where mandatory roll out obligations have been circumvented in various ways (Jain, 2001; Prasad, Singh et al, 2005) and ADCs have progressively been phased out by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in recognition of their relative inefficiency in comparison to USFs. USFs at least in theory represent a minimalist, transparent, targeted and theoretically less distortionary form of intervention. USFs are not intended as a substitute for private market incentives and investments and should not interfere with competitive market forces. Nor are they inconsistent with other market-based measures (privatisation, liberalisation, regulation) to improve universal service/access which may be implemented in parallel with other such measures (ITU, 2002a). It is in fact widely recognised that competition can bring about greater penetration of telecommunication services (Young, 2005). Affordable access to incumbent operators’ infrastructure (such as local loop) and other forms of service or inter-platform competition have been major contributors to especially broadband penetration in developed countries. Existing literature on impact of pro-competitive policies in OECD countries indicates that these are positively related to broadband adoption. (e.g., Ford & Spiwak, 2004; Distaso, (Lupi & Manenti, 2006). India’s draft National Competition Policy 2011 (NCP) defines competition as follows, “Competition refers to a situation in a market place in which firms/entities or sellers independently strive for the patronage of buyers in order to achieve a particular business objective, such as profits,sales, market share, etc. By responding to demand for goods and services with lower prices and higher quality, competing businesses are pressured
to reduce costs, innovate, invest in technology and better managerial practices and increase productivity. This process leads to achievement of static, dynamic as also allocative efficiencies and increased choices and lower prices for consumers”. Minimising competition distortions regardless of public policy objectives has been recognised as one of the important tenets of India’s proposed competition policy which also accepts that “competition is not automatic, and requires to be promoted, protected and nurtured through appropriate regulatory mechanisms, by minimising market restrictions and distortions and access to related productive inputs as markets, capital, technology, infrastructure services, human capital, etc”. (NCP, 2011). The NCP defines competitive neutrality in terms of establishment of a level playing field where government business compete with private sector and vice versa. This is especially important because “…. governments [as owners of public sector entities] also have to play a third [apart from policy maker] role of regulator, balancing the need for financial viability with customer protection through ensuring affordable and reliable services.” (Eberhard, 2006). The focus of this article is ex ante regulatory neutrality in the approach towards US interventions to ensure that these subsidies do not benefit one private/public market player or group of players over another. The ultimate aim is economic efficiency which promotes consumer interest as highlighted by draft NCP.

Importance of ex ante Regulation

In theory, USFs are preferred over roll out obligations, cross subsidies and access deficit charges as being a more transparent, competition neutral and effective mechanism to achieve the aim of universal access to telecommunications facilities. In practice, the working of USFs has often been criticised for being nefficient and not always transparent or competition neutral to the required degree. The design of niversal service interventions apart from the manner of funding universal service can infact potentially “affect the very nature of competition that can be sustained in the sector. It can affect the viability of the existing operators as well as the entry process in the industry.” (Malik & de Silva, 2005). However, it could also be argued that most of these demerits arise from the manner in which universal service is defined and applied rather than the notion of universal service. A comparison of the related legal framework of India and European Union (EU) is made in this context.

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(The Gist of Kurukshetra) Institutional Credit for Small Farmers [FEB-2018]

(The Gist of Kurukshetra) Institutional Credit for Small Farmers


Institutional Credit for Small Farmers

(The Gist of Kurukshetra) Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) [FEB-2018]

(The Gist of Kurukshetra) Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY)


Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY)

The Pradhan Mantri Krishi sinchayee Yojana was launched on 1st July, 2015 with the motto of 'Har Khet Ko Pani' for providing end-to end solutions in irrigation supply chain, viz. water sources, distribution network and farm level applications. PMKSY not only focuses on creating sources for assured irrigation, but also creating protective irrigation by harnessing rainwater at micro level through 'Jal Sanchay' and 'Jal Sinchan'. Government of India is committed to accord high priority to water conservation and its management. To this effect Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana ( PMKSY) has been formulated with the vision of extending the coverage of irrigation 'Har Khet Ko pani' and improving water used efficiency 'Per Drop More crop' in a focused Manner with end to end solution on source creation, distribution, management, field application and extension activities. The cabinet committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Hon'ble Prime Minister has accorded approval of Pradhan Mantri Krishi sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) in its meeting held on 1st July, 2015.

Structure of the Scheme:

PMKSY has been conceived amalgamating ongoing schemes viz. Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) of the Ministry of water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR,RD&GR), integrated Watershed Management Programme(IWMP) of Department of Land Resources (DoLR) and the On Farm Water Management (OFWM) of Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC). The scheme is being implemented by Ministries of Agriculture, Water Resources and Rural Development. Ministry of Rural Development mainly undertakes watershed development, under which rain water conservation, construction of farm pond, water harvesting structures, small check dams and contour bunding etc. are taken up. MoWR, RD & GR, undertakes construction major & minor (AIBP) for creation of assured irrigation source, command area development and minor irrigation (HKKP) ministry of Agriculture will promote efficient water conveyance and precision water application devices like drips, sprinklers, pivots, rain-guns in the farm "(Jal Sinchan)", construction of micro-irrigation structures to supplement source creation activities, extension activities for promotion of scientific moisture conservation and agronomic measures.

PMKSY Components:

The Major Components of PMKSY are:

1. Accelerated Benefits Programme (AIBP)
2. Har Khet Ko Pani
3. Per Drop More Crop
4. Watershed Development

PMKSY Mission:

Union Cabinet in its meeting dates 26.07.2016, has approved for Mission mode implementation of the programme with the Mission being headed by MoWR, RD&GR with an objective for completion of the identified 99 medium/major irrigation projects including development of their command area By Dec.2019 and to promoted pressurized pipe system wherever feasible, drip/sprinklers, water use efficiency,
participatory irrigation management formation of water user association (WUA), involvement of NGOs to Promote convergence under various schemes and Provide platform to share best practices.

Per Drop More Crop:

Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Department of Agriculture Cooperation & Farmers Welfare is implementing 'Per Drop More Crop component of PMKSY. Per Drop More Crop mainly focuses on water use efficiency at farm level through precision/micro irrigation (Drip and Sprinkler Irrigation). Besides promoting precision irrigation and better on-farm water management practices to optimize the use of available water resources, this component also supports gap filling interventions like micro level water storage or water
conservation,/ management activities as to complement and supplement the works undertaken through various national/state level programmes for drought proofing measures. Significant Growth in adoption of Micro Irrigation in last 6-7 years from 2010-11 to 2016-17, Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of Micro Irrigation , coverage is 12.7 % During 2016-17, an area of around 8.4 lakh ha brought under Micro Irrigation, which is the was highest coverage achieved in a calendar year Under Centrally sponsored scheme Micro Irrigation scheme, an area of 6.2 mha has been covered. Under PMKSY-PDMC other Intervention scheme 97359 number of water harvesting having potential for protective rrigation of 1.8 lakh ha has been created since 2015-16.

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(The Gist of Kurukshetra) Doubling Farmers Income [FEB-2018]

(The Gist of Kurukshetra) Doubling Farmers Income


Doubling Farmers Income

Agriculture is very important for Indian economy and society both. It is the means of livelihood for half of the population, if we also count in the ancillary activities. Apart from meeting the food security requirements of the country as well as providing additional produce for export, it also provides most of the raw material for the industry sectors. According to the Socio- Economics and Caste Census, SECC in 2011,
out of 24.39 crore households in the country, 17.9 million households live in villages and are mostly dependent on agriculture.

Shri Narendra Modi is the first Prime Minister of the country whose economic policy has the farmer at its core. Until now, our economic policies revolved around agriculture and industrial production rather than the farmer as the focal point. Prime Minister has declared the goal of doubling the farmer’s income instead of increasing the agriculture production. With the increase in farmer’s income, the society around him will be benefited first. The announcement of the Prime Minister should not be considered merely as a government announcement. Prime minister is the head of the country and his declaration should be taken as a national resolution. In fulfilling this resolution, not only should our entire government system be mobilized but all the citizens of the country including the farmers should be made partners. Prime Minister has made this announcement quite some time back but it does not seem that we have been able to make any headway in respect of farmer-centric agriculture.

This is the second time after independence when there is going to be a big transformation in the system in respect to agriculture and farmers. Looking at the current scenario of agriculture in India, 69% of the farmer families have less land than one hectare land. 17% of the families have land between one to two hectares. According to the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), 36 percent of the farmers are landless. Economic Survey of 2015-16 states that 48.9 percent of the total workforce population is contributing only 17 percent to GDP (Gross Domestic Product ). And in the current financial year, the growth rate of agriculture and allied sectors is expected at 2.1 percent.

The Prime Minister’s goal of doubling the income of farmers by 2022 is commendable and full of challenges but not impossible. Before taking steps towards the goal of doubling the income, it is essential to know the income of the farmer in the current fiscal 2016-17, as according to the available NSSO data for 2012-13, the average monthly income of the country’s farmer is Rs. 6426. In the resolution of doubling the earnings, it also needs to be clarified whether we want to double the amount of the minimum income or actual income.

The life of the Indian farmer is full of uncertainties and plight. The crop which remains intact after the onslaughts of rising costs, bad weather, pest attacks, is his biggest hope. But the transmission from the fields to markets is also not easy. Country to the expectations of farmers, the basic structure of moneylenders, middlemen and government procurement centres is exploitative. It serves the interest of middlemen rather than farmers and consumers. The Central Government had sent a proposal to the State Governments in 2003 to implements the Model APMC Act. Its objective was to do away with the regulations and control of mandis, assist in direct purchasing, eliminate the nexus of local traders in the market, and infuse competition and investment in agriculture markets.

The Ministry issued a Model Marketing Act on 24t h April, 2017, which was named “Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing(Facilitation and Promotion Act 2017)”. After adoption by the states, this Act will provide diverse marketing channels and the APMC’s monopoly. Its purpose is to increase competition and provide options to farmers so that they can take advantage of the competitive price of their produce. In such a situation, the reform in the agricultural marketing system would provide increased purchase price to the farmers. Along with reforming the domestic marketing system, there is a need to set right the import-export policy as the changes brought about in policies after liberalization have neglected the interests of the farmers of the country. Therefore, during the harvesting of the crops, such agriculture commodities should not be imported and it should also be ensured that they should not be imported at the prices below minimum support price declared by the government. Apart from this, agriculture exports should also be promoted so that the price of agriculture commodities will not go down in the local markets and farmers will continue to get remunerative prices.

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(GIST OF YOJANA) Impact of GST on Textile Sector [FEB-2018]

(GIST OF YOJANA) Impact of GST on Textile Sector


Impact of GST on Textile Sector

Textile sector contributes 13.5 per cent to manufacturing and 2.1 per cent to GDP in India. Textile exports accounted for 14 per cent of total exports in 206-17. It is the largest employer after agriculture (105 million estimated employment) (2011 Census). Significantly, women constitute 70 percent of the workforce in the garmentmanufacturing sector.

The Textile industry was perpetually demanding for uniform, lower tax structure. Meanwhile, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was introduced w.e.f. 1st of July, 2017 pursuant to 122nd amendment of the Constitution. It is a single tax system on the supply of goods and services right from the manufacturer to the consumer. All the indirect taxes of Central and State Governments have been subsumed under the GST. Credits of input taxes (ITC) paid at each stage will be available in the subsequent stage of value addition - tax only on value addition at each stage. GST Council headed by Union Finance Minister comprising of State Finance Ministers of States/UTs as Members, finalise/recommend rates of tax on supply of goods and services.

GST rate for Textiles

GST has been imposed on all textile items except silk and jute. The GST rate initially was fixed on (i) Cotton and other natural fibers (5 per cent); (ii) Natural Yarn (5 per cent); (iii) 8 per cent on man-made yarn; 5 per cent on all fabric including knitted or crocheted and woven; 5 per cent on apparel and made-ups below value of Rs. 1,000 and 12 per cent on its value above Rs. 1,000. 5 per cent GST for job works (reduced from 18 percent); and 12 per cent for carpets and other textile floor coverings, etc.

Impact of GST on Textiles

Whether there was any impact of GST on textile sector may be assessed, based on data of prices, production, export-import of textiles, employment, etc. The Textile Industry Associations claimed that GST on the textile sector particularly the inverted tax i.e.18 per cent GST on MMF yarn and 5 per cent GST on fabric, 5 per cent/18 per cent GST on job works, reduction of import duty (from 29 per cent to 15 per cent) led to escalation/uncompetitive prices, low production, export, closure of industries, unemployment, etc.

Impact of GST on Prices of Textile Items

Price of major textile items like cotton hosiery, viscose, polyester, etc has increased by 15 per cent from June to July, 2017 and it has declined during September, 2017 i.e. 8 per cent below the price of June, 2017. Whereas, price of MMF items have increased between 5 to 15 per cent during the said period.

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Current Public Administration Magazine (FEBRUARY 2018) The New Front

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Information Technology

::The New Front::

  • In October 2014, the US Department of Defense constituted a task force under the Defense Science Board to “consider the requirements for effective deterrence of cyber attacks”. The report, submitted in February 2107, has this to say in its introduction: “The unfortunate reality is that, for at least the next decade, the offensive cyber capabilities of our most capable adversaries are likely to far exceed the United States’ capability to defend key critical infrastructure.”
  • Coming from a country which is today the best prepared to deal with all aspects of cyber warfare, this statement should serve as a grim reminder of the seriousness of this threat. As “Digital India” grows, vulnerabilities will only increase. A 2017 study conducted by Symantec found that India ranked fourth in online security breaches, accounting for over 5 per cent of global threat detections.
  • Cyber threats can manifest in many ways but what is visible on an almost daily basis are cyber crimes, cyber theft, cyber espionage, cyber intrusions etc. These are relatively low-end threats but seem to occupy all our attention. It is for this reason that we hear official statements about how initiatives like the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) and the appointment of a National Cyber Security Coordinator have improved our ability to deal with cyber attacks. This is only the tip of the iceberg and is lulling us into a false sense of complacency.
  • Criminal hackers can certainly cause data breaches and financial loss, and countering them is important, but these are not attacks which threaten the security of a country. The real danger to India lies in targeted cyber attacks coming from adversarial nation states. Countries like China can bring immense assets to bear in carrying out sophisticated cyber attacks. The success of Stuxnet, which damaged the Iranian centrifuge facility at Natanz, lay in the fact that it was an international operation involving the CIA, NSA and Israel’s Unit 8200. The highly sophisticated malware used an unprecedented five zero-day exploits and was tested on a dummy set of centrifuges built for this purpose. Such capability is not available with groups of hackers.
  • If, and it appears increasingly likely, cyber warfare is going to become a regular part of the arsenal of nations, there is a need to visualise how this war will be fought and under whose responsibility. Let me attempt to decode this briefly.
  • The three main components of any national strategy to counter cyber threats are defence, deterrence and exploitation. Critical cyber infrastructure needs to be defended and the establishment of the NCIIPC is a good step in this direction but individual ministries and private companies must also put procedures in place to honestly report breaches. It is only then that the NCIIPC can provide the requisite tools to secure these networks. This partnership must be transparent and not mired in the usual secrecy of intelligence organisations.
  • However, as brought out at the beginning of this article, there are limits to defending as the dice are loaded in favour of offensive capabilities. Therefore, deterrence and exploitation become critically important. Deterrence in cyberspace is a hugely complex issue. Nuclear deterrence worked because there was clarity on the capability of adversaries and the horrific cost of a nuclear conflict. Cyber warfare is characterised by an absence of clarity. We can never be certain about the capability of the other side (there are no missiles to be counted) and also the chances of success if we launch a cyber counterstrike.
  • It is for these reasons that deterrence cannot be limited only to the cyberspace. The 2017 Defense Science Board report, in talking about “deterrence by cost imposition”, states, “While offensive cyber responses are an essential part of the toolkit, the full range of military responses (symmetric or asymmetric) — as well as diplomatic, law enforcement and economic responses — must also be considered.”
    And finally, the exploitation of cyberspace to achieve national security objectives. Again, cyber operations cannot be a standalone activity but integrated with land, sea and air operations, and a part of information warfare. The preparation for this will have to start with the Indian military gathering intelligence, evaluating targets and preparing the specific tools for cyber attacks. This will then be meshed with the war-fighting plans of the three services.
  • Looked at in its entirety, the most serious manifestation of cyber attacks is when an external state threatens the national security of India by exploiting the cyberspace. If this is clear, then the danger cannot be countered by an intelligence agency like the NTRO or a research organisation like the DRDO. The lead agency to deal with this will have to be the defence services, which are responsible for protecting India. It is here that we are completely ill-prepared.
  • India is one of the few countries which still does not have a dedicated cyber component in its military. The setting up of a Defence Cyber Agency has been announced but this is a typical half-hearted step which characterises our strategic planning process. The upgrading of this agency to a Cyber Command must be implemented at the soonest.
  • What will also be important is the authority and mandate given to the Cyber Agency. If it is hobbled by limited mandates and roles, as often happens due to inter-agency rivalries, India will never achieve the full capability of fighting and defending in the cyberspace. It would be instructive to take a leaf out of the US Cyber Command, which has one of its focus areas as “strengthening (the) nation’s ability to withstand and respond to cyber attack”.
  • In 2012, US Defense Secretary Leon E Panetta warned that the country was facing the possibility of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor”. Many strategic experts like Martin Libicki, Joseph Nye and Thomas Rid have argued that the fears of such catastrophic cyber attacks are overblown. We are still unclear about how a future cyber war will play out but capabilities definitely exist, particularly with China. It would be absurd not to prepare, and the military must be at the forefront of this preparation.

(Published in The Indian Express Written by D.S. Hooda)

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(GIST OF YOJANA) Role of Behaviour Change Communication in Achieving A Swachh Bharat [FEB-2018]

(GIST OF YOJANA) Role of Behaviour Change Communication in Achieving A Swachh Bharat


Role of Behaviour Change Communication in Achieving A Swachh Bharat

For the past four decades several rural sanitation programmes have been introduced in the country by different governments over the years. From one of India's safe sanitation in rural areas with the Central Rural Sanitation Programme in 1981 to the reconstructed Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) in 1999, to the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, we have seldom seen the kind of mass mobilization created by the Swachh Bharat Mission in the country. The largest sanitation programme in the world, the Swachh Bharat Mission has left its construction driven counterparts behind, and moved towards a community-based mass first efforts to provide movement.

Making his landmark announcement on October 2,2014 from the Red Fort the Prime Minister called for a Swachh Bharat and successfully
guided India towards an exceptional adventure Since 2014, we have witnessed a near doubling of percentage of households with toilets, with a whopping 6 crore toilets having come up at the household level in just 3 years, going from 39 percent in 2014 to over 76 per cent today. On the sanitation front, India has achieved in three years what we have not achieved in 67 years post independence! This has resulted in rural areas of seven States (Sikkim, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh Uttarakhand, Haryana, Gujarat, and Arunachal Pradesh) and two Union Territories (Chandigarh and Daman & Diu) having become Open Defecation Free (ODF)

The Swachhagrahis adopt a direct approach to trigger public sentiments during village meetings. Surveys and meetings are conducted through master trainers in all districts, in the Community Approaches to Sanitation (CAS) Programme. This is where villagers are made to realise that the toilet is critical by evoking emotions and engaging different drivers of human behaviour, such as love for one's family, care for one's children, pride in one's social status, esteem in society etc. From evoking emotions of disgust or maternal instincts to pressing upon dignity, safety and health, villagers are encouraged to build toilets themselves, and use them continually.

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Current Public Administration Magazine (FEBRUARY 2018) Death and Deterrence

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Law and Order Administration

::Death and Deterrence::

Haryana and Rajasthan joined Madhya Pradesh in introducing the death penalty for rape of a child below the age of 12 years. Maharashtra and Karnataka too are considering it. These amendments provide a judge with the option of imposing the death penalty, and also increase the mandatory minimum sentence from 10 to 14 years.

These amendments are primarily triggered by the concern over increasing incidences of sexual assault against young children, which is undoubtedly significant. However, the response must be thoughtfully curated based on what works. In order to provide an effective response, it is imperative to analyse the present system and understand why it has failed.

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) was enacted in 2012 to address the growing sexual violence against children and the inability of the Indian Penal Code to deal with this concern. The Act provides a graded classification of sexual offences against children, prescribes higher mandatory minimum sentences for such crimes, mandates several processes and safeguards to ensure a child-friendly trial such as the designation of “special courts”, child-friendly process of recording victim testimony, provision of compensation, protection of the identity of the child, etc. The Act also contains extensive mandates for procedures to be followed by the police, magistrates and medical personnel handling victims of child sexual abuse. Although more than five years have elapsed since it came into force, the system is replete with failures and shortcomings. Crime in India, 2016 revealed that 19,920 children were allegedly victims of child rape in 2016 alone. However, the conviction in 2016 for such crimes stood at an abysmal 28.2 per cent while a majority of cases (89.6 per cent) are still pending for disposal.

One of the reasons for low conviction rates is the vast majority of victims turning hostile. A recent five-state study by the Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University (CCL-NLSIU) on the functioning of the special courts under the POCSO Act in Delhi, Assam, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh found that in 59 per cent of cases, children turned hostile. The complex and sensitive nature of sexual abuse, coupled with the fact that in a large number of cases (94.6 per cent) the rapist is known to offender, result in victims turning hostile.

The studies also find that the likelihood of the victim turning hostile is extremely high in cases of abuse within the family due to the pressure to “settle” or compromise the matter, lack of support systems, and other socio-economic factors which hinder the victims from effectively and confidently testifying against the accused. Higher penalties will only lead to aggravating this concern, particularly with regard to cases of incest. The study also finds that where children do testify against the accused, several systemic gaps such as lapses in investigation, lack of child-friendly procedures, challenges related to age-determination, poor appreciation of the testimony of the child adversely affect the conviction rate.

Further aggravating the situation is the concern that a majority of child sexual abuse goes unreported. A Ministry of Women and Child Development study (2007) surveying 17,220 children from 13 states found that an alarming 53.22 per cent of them had faced some form of sexual abuse amongst which 52.94 per cent constituted boys. The CCL study, however, shows that only 2.5 per cent of the victims in the five states studied were boys. Thus, only a fraction of the incidences of sexual abuse against children enter the criminal justice system, amongst which only a minuscule fraction end in a conviction.

Without effective implementation of the law, a penalty — no matter how severe — will not work in reducing crime. The mandatory minimum sentences for sexual offences was already increased by the POCSO Act and the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013 specifically to address growing sexual crimes. These penalties are rendered meaningless in the face of thousands of crimes that go acquitted, or worse, undetected.

While death penalty is being flaunted as the solution that will scare away future predators, our low rates of conviction do not even have the effect of creating a fear of accountability in the first place. Instead of pursuing drastic remedies, we need to urgently devise ways to bolster the existing criminal justice and child protection systems and ensure higher convictions, higher reporting of offences, put in place preventive strategies, and address a large number of systemic and operational gaps.

(Published in The Indian Express Written by Shruthi Ramakrishnan)

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Right to Information (RTI) Right to Information is a part of fundamental rights under Article 19(1) at the Constitution. Article 19l) says that every citizen has freedom of speech and expression as early as in 1976, the Supreme Court said in the case Raj Narain vs State of UP, that people cannot speak or express themselves unless they know. Therefore, right to information is embedded in article 19. In the same case, Supreme Court further said that India is a democracy and people are the masters. As masters they have every right to know how the
government is functioning Every citizen pays taxes at least in the form of goods and services tax if t all he or she is not covered in the purview of Income tax.

Right to information Act 2005 mandates timely response to citizen requests for government information. The basic object of the Right to
Information Act is to empower the citizens, promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government, contain corruption,
and make our democracy work for the people in real sense. It goes without saying that an informed citizen is better equipped to keep necessary vigil on the instruments of governance and make the government more accountable to the governed. The Act is a big step towards making the citizens informed about the activities of the Government.

The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions had provided a web portal for the facilitation of citizens and this RTI Portal works as a Gateway to them for quick search of information on the details of first Appellate Authorities, Principal Information Officer PIOs etc. amongst others, besides access to RTI related information / disclosures published on the web by various Public Authorities under the government of India as well as the State Governments.

Further, every public authority is obligated to maintain computerized versions of all records in such a way that it can be accessed over a
network anywhere in the country and issued to the person who has requested for information.Every public authority should provide essential information to the public through various channels of formation (including internet) at frequent intervals that the use of the RTI Act to obtain information can be kept to a bare minimum.

Any person who desires to obtain information shall submit a written or electronic request in English or Hindi or is the official language of the
area to the Central Public Information Officer or his/her counterpart at the state level. No applicant will be required to give any reason for
application for request or to provide any personal information except for contact details where it is necessary for the authorities to contact the applicant.

Under normal circumstances, the information requested for will be provided in the form sought for-ifa citizen asks for some information in the form of an email attachment, it will be provided unless it causes damage to the original document itself.

The authority will be under no obligation to provide such information that might hurt the sovereignty and integrity of India, information that
has been for hidden to be shared by any court of law, information received under confidence by a foreign Government and cabinet papers.

Here are FAQs related to RTI Act (

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Current Public Administration Magazine (FEBRUARY 2018) Rules of the Court

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Accountability and Control

::Rules of the Court::

Making public the Supreme Court’s “roster”, the allocation of case categories to different judges of the SC, is a welcome step, as any step promoting greater transparency should be. It is, however, by no means necessary or sufficient in any real way to address the ongoing crisis of credibility in the Supreme Court of India. In making the roster public, the SC is a relatively late mover. At least four large high courts — those of Allahabad, Bombay, Delhi and Karnataka — also make their rosters available on their websites. A litigant in any of these courts, or a lawyer practising here, has already known for a while how cases are being allocated to various judges on the basis of subject matter. This level of transparency is only necessary. It is unfortunate that not all high courts have followed this lead and one hopes that the SC’s move spurs them to do so.

It is worth recalling that the ongoing crisis in the higher judiciary, which came to light when four senior-most judges of the SC held an unprecedented press conference indicating their loss of faith in Chief Justice of India (CJI) 07, relates precisely to the manner of allocation of cases. The manner in which sensitive cases were being allocated by the CJI to certain judges suggested that it was totally arbitrary and designed to ensure a certain outcome, in some cases favouring the Union government. That a roster existed (even prior to the one made public and taking effect February 5) and was largely being followed was not in issue. The crux lay, and continues to lie, in the absence of any norms or transparency in the manner in which the CJI exercised his discretionary power — to go beyond the roster and allocate specific cases to specific benches. This continues to be a bone of contention and won’t be resolved unless clear and specific norms are laid down guiding the CJI’s exercise of discretion. This is precisely the demand that is being made by the four senior-most judges who have asked for a panel, instead of the roster being determined by the CJI alone.

The fact that the CJI’s court will be the only one to hear Public Interest Litigations is also problematic. To be fair, PILs constitute a very small number of the total cases in the SC. Even including appeals from judgements of high courts in PIL cases and PILs filed in the SC itself, no more than 1 per cent of cases in the SC are PILs. But PILs are also more likely than most other case types to raise important issues, and spark confrontation between the judiciary and executive. Per se, having only the CJI hear PILs is not in a bad move. But in the present context, where questions over his integrity and independence have been raised, this allocation is unlikely to inspire much confidence.

As much as it is important as to who decides the roster and what process is followed, it is also necessary to ensure that the outcome is one that furthers an independent and efficient judiciary.

The SC’s roster allocation is far less detailed when compared to those of the four high courts mentioned above. In the Delhi High Court, cases are divided between benches on the basis of not just subject matter but also by date, with some types of cases being divided between different benches depending on when they were filed. In the Allahabad High Court, writ petitions are divided among the benches based on which local law they are concerned with. It is quite clear that the high courts have taken the task of roster management a bit more seriously thus far than the SC has, trying to fine-tune the way in which cases are heard.

The SC’s roster on the other hand is just a list of case categories allocated to certain judges. Some categories are allocated across the benches. For instance, no fewer than 11 benches hear “criminal matters” — a classification that includes everything from bail cases to death penalty appeals. No inter se classification or division has been made between the benches suggesting that not a lot of thought has gone into this exercise. Likewise, the wide residuary category of “ordinary civil matters” has been allocated to 11 benches.

A fine-tuned roster serves two very important purposes. One, it will prevent two different benches from hearing the same kind of case and taking divergent views at the same time. This happens far more often than it should, needlessly unsettles the law and forces the SC to set up larger benches to resolve the conflicting interpretations. This was seen a few years ago when different benches of the SC took different approaches to interpreting the Karnataka and the Gujarat Lokayukta laws as regards appointment of Lokayuktas within two weeks of each other. No third case has come up but high courts (outside Karnataka and Gujarat) will be left in a quandary should a similar question arrive before them.

Two, it will allow for effective case management within the SC. Though judges in India are not specialists in any specific areas of the law, they will be in a better position to dispose of cases the more they handle the same kind of case. This is borne out by the testimony of retired judges themselves, and the SC’s own experience with a dedicated tax bench constituted for about one year. Even with the constraints of a relatively shorter tenure for judges, there is no reason the SC cannot fine-tune causelists to allow for specific types of cases to be heard continuously by certain benches.

In putting in place the procedures and norms for the preparation of the roster, the SC has to ensure that the task is not left to each individual CJI but carried on through an internal mechanism that has some level of continuity and consistency. To that end, the release of the roster only highlights why a roster reform panel is much needed, and one hopes that the CJI heeds the request of his fellow judges.

(Published in The Indian Express Written by Alok Prasanna Kumar)

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(GIST OF YOJANA) e-Governance: Grievance Redress for a New India 2022 [FEB-2018]

(GIST OF YOJANA) e-Governance: Grievance Redress for a New India 2022


e-Governance: Grievance Redress for a New India 2022

Public redress of grievances as a cornerstone of ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’ is a key aspect of New India 2022. Closely related to this is the growth of e-Governance through unique and cutting edge initiatives in India especially in the last few years With advancements in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), it has become possible to provide many public services through online modes. In accordance with the estimates made by the National e-Governance Division (NeGD) of the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), there are more than 3500 different e-services being offered by various Central Ministries and State Governments.

Sevottam and CPGRAMS

The DARPG has developed a framework called 'Sevottam', which essentially means Excellence in Public Service. Under this scheme, every Government Department must have a Citizens Charter outlining the main services with service standards and timelines,a Public Grievance Redress Mechanism, and a system with assessment and improvement of public service delivery standards.

DARPG has put in place a Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System' (CPGRAMS) since 2007. It is a flagship initiative by the Government of India to address and monitor the resolution to redress public grievances in a centralised, transparent, accountable and efficient manner. It is a standardized web based solution and an integrated application to register and to redress the grievances received online, by post and by hand.

Public Service Delivery Act

The Government of India had proposed the Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011 in the Lok Sabha in December 2011. The Bill provided for right to time bound delivery of goods and services to every citizen, mandatory publication of citizen's charter, grievance redressal mechanism for non-compliance of Citizen's Charter and penalty on defaulting officer and compensation up to the same amount to the applicant. However, the Bill lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha. It is understood that a new law is being contemplated. Meanwhile, it is expected to be launched in the form of a scheme and experiences from there would be helpful in framing the revised Act.


As mobile phones are becoming increasingly important in e-governance, the government has recently launched a Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance (UMANG) Developed by Ministry of Electroniés and Information Technology and National e-Governance Division, UMANG provides a single platform for all Indian Citizens to access pan India e-Gov services ranging from Central to Local Government bodie and other citizen centric services These services cut across Central and State Government Departments, local bodies and other utility services from private organizations, It provides a unified approach where citizens can install one application to avail multiple government services. It can be accessed through smartphones tablets as well as desktops.

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(GIST OF YOJANA) 1st PIO-Parliamentarian Conference [FEB-2018]

(GIST OF YOJANA) 1st PIO-Parliamentarian Conference


1st PIO-Parliamentarian Conference

The First PIO Parliamentarian Conference was inaugurated by the Prime Minister in New Delhi on January 9, 2018. 141 Members of Parliament and Mayors of Indian descent were invited to attend the conference At a media briefing, the Secretary CPA & OIA, Ministry of External Affairs said that people of Indian Origin (PIO) have contributed considerably to the economy and social upliftment of the countries in which they lived. Languages like Hindi, Bhojpuri, folklore such as Ramayana, literature from India traditional cuisine etc, have not only survived but are flourishing in these countries as Indian migrants in these countries were determined to preserve their traditions, norms and customs. By a rough calculation there are over 270 people of Indian descent sitting in various parliaments and occupying various positions starting from the Head of Government, Head of State, Ministers as well as the Speakers and then the Members of Parliament. The conference was organized in keeping with the Prime Minister's endeavours to persuade PIOs to connect with India and avail of any opportunities India offered them Highlights of the Prime Minister's speech at the inaugural session of the PIO-Parliamentarian Conference.

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(GIST OF YOJANA) Public Grievance Mechanism in India [FEB-2018]

(GIST OF YOJANA) Public Grievance Mechanism in India


Public Grievance Mechanism in India

The Public Grievance Mechanism of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), the President's Secretariat, the Directorate of Public Grievances
(Cabinet Secretariat), Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG) as well as the Pensioners' portal have been integrated through the CPGRAMS. This enables grievances lodged at any of these entities to be transferred to the Central Ministries /Departments and State Governments online through CPGRAMS. The DARPG is the policy making, monitoring and coordinating department for public grievances. Its mandate arises from the Allocation of Business Rules 1961. These rules have allocated the work relating to (a) redress of public grievances in general and (b) grievances pertaining to Central Government agencies to DARPG Further, grievances are required to be redressed in a decentralized manner by the Ministries/Departments concerned under the Rules.

Disposal Rate

In order to have a single pan India Public Grievance Redressal System, and to ensure that the citizen's experience is satisfactorily uniform, it is necessary that the State Public Grievance Redressal Systems also need to be integrated with CPGRAMS The State related grievances lodged on CPGRAMS can then be handled in an integrated and effective manner because, while many States are using CPGRAMS, some States have their individual grievance redressal mechanisms. The CPGRAMS is nationally linked to all the State Governments. It is important to note that State Government related grievances received in CPGRAMS are only forwarded to the concerned State Government for redress, but are not monitored by the Centre. The CPGRAMS with local language interface, has so far been launched in 9 State Governments/Union Territories, namely, Haryana, Odisha, Rajasthan, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Punjab and Puducherry.

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(GIST OF YOJANA) Effective Grievance Redressal: Heart of Good Governance [FEB-2018]

(GIST OF YOJANA) Effective Grievance Redressal: Heart of Good Governance [FEB-2018]

Effective Grievance Redressal: Heart of Good Governance

Amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Bill, 2015 : Civil Services Mentor Magazine: FEBRUARY - 2018

::Amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Bill, 2015::

The amendments to this Bill are based on the Law Commission’s recommendations and suggestions received from stakeholders. Law Commission of India (LCI) in its 246th Report had recommended various amendments in Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 in order to pave way for India to become a hub of International Commercial Arbitration.

Law commision observed in its 246th report that the Act the enacted withanaim to consolidate and amend the law relating to domestic arbitration and international commercial arbitration. Statement of objects and reasons in the Arbitration and conciliation bill, 1995 are as follows.

  • Comprehensively cover international commercial arbitration and domestic arbitration;
  • Minimise the supervisory role of courts in the arbitral process;
  • ensure that final arbitral award is enforced in the same manner as the decree of court.

Aggrieved party from the arbitration decision has the power to go to court under the section 34 of the act. Law commission believes that the power given under this section to the courts should not be excessively used otherwise it undermines the whole process of arbitration.

Award from arbitration should be set aside only in the following cases.

  • if it is against the fundamental policy of India;
  • against the justice and morality;
  • if the award is illegal, illegality should not be mere a technical illegality;

In light of this government has come up with the changes to the Arbitration and conciliation act. The salient features of the amendments are as under:

(i) In order to ensure neutrality of arbitrators, it is proposed to amend Section 12 to the effect that when a person is approached in connection with possible appointment of arbitrator, he shall disclose in writing about existence of any relationship or interest of any kind, which is likely to give rise to justifiable doubts. Further, if a person is having specified relationship, he shall be ineligible to be appointed as an arbitrator.

(ii) Insertion of a new provision that the Arbitral Tribunal shall make its award within a period of 12 months. Parties may extend such period up to six months. Thereafter, it can only be extended by the Court, on sufficient cause. The Court while extending the period may also order reduction of fees of arbitrator(s) not exceeding five percent for each month of delay, if the court finds that the proceedings have been delayed for reasons attributable to the arbitral tribunal. If the award is made within a period of six months, arbitrator may get additional fees if the parties may agree.

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TRIPLE TALAQ BILL : Civil Services Mentor Magazine: FEBRUARY - 2018


The Supreme Court in the matter of Shayara Bano Vs. Union of India and others and other connected matters, on 22nd August, 2017, in a majority judgement of 3:2, set aside the practice of talaq-e-biddat (three pronouncements of talaq, at one and the same time) practiced by certain Muslim husbands to divorce their wives. This judgement gave a boost to liberate Indian Muslim women from the age-old practice of capricious and whimsical method of divorce, by some Muslim men, leaving no room for reconciliation. The petitioner in the above said case challenged, inter alia, talaq-e-biddat on the ground that the said practice is discriminatory and against dignity of women. The judgement vindicated the position taken by the Government that talaq-e-biddat is against constitutional morality, dignity of women and the principles of gender equality, as also against gender equity guaranteed under the Constitution.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), which was the 7th respondent in the above case, in their affidavit, inter alia, contended that it was not for the judiciary to decide matters of religious practices such as talaq-e-biddat, but for the legislature to make any law on the same. They had also submitted in the Supreme Court that they would issue advisories to the members of the community against this practice.

In spite of the Supreme Court setting aside talaq-e-biddat, and the assurance of AIMPLB, there have been reports of divorce by way of talaq-e-biddat from different parts of the country. It is seen that setting aside talaq-e-biddat by the Supreme Court has not worked as any deterrent in bringing down the number of divorces by this practice among certain Muslims. It is, therefore, felt that there is a need for State action to give effect to the order of the Supreme Court and to redress the grievances of victims of illegal divorce.

In order to prevent the continued harassment being meted out to the hapless married Muslim women due to talaq-e-biddat, urgent suitable legislation is necessary to give some relief to them. The Bill proposes to declare pronouncement of talaq-e-biddat by Muslim husbands void and illegal in view of the Supreme Court verdict. Further, the illegal act of pronouncing talaq-e-biddat shall be a punishable offence. This is essential to prevent this form of divorce, wherein the wife does not have any say in severing the marital relationship. It is also proposed to provide for matters such as subsistence allowance from the husband for the livelihood and daily supporting needs of the wife, in the event of husband pronouncing talaq-e-biddat, and, also of the dependent children. The wife would also be entitled to custody of minor children.

The legislation would help in ensuring the larger Constitutional goals of gender justice and gender equality of married Muslim women and help subserve their fundamental rights of non-discrimination and empowerment.

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The Age of Crypto-Economics : Civil Services Mentor Magazine: FEBRUARY - 2018

::The Age of Crypto-Economics::

  • Promotion of Digital economy is in integral part of Government’s strategy to clean the system and weed out corruption and black money. The earlier initiatives of the Government to promote financial inclusion and the Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM) trinity were important precursor. However, RBI has cautioned the users, holders and traders of Virtual Currencies (VCs), including Bitcoins about the potential financial, operational, legal customer protection and security related risks that they are exposing themselves to. The creation, trading or usage of VCs including Bitcoins, as a medium for payment have not been authorised by the Reserve Bank of India.
  • There has been a phenomenal increase in recent times in the price of Virtual ‘Currencies’ (VCs) including Bitcoin, in India and globally. The VCs don’t have any intrinsic value and are not backed by any kind of assets. The price of Bitcoin and other VCs therefore is entirely a matter of mere speculation resulting in spurt and volatility in their prices. There is a real and heightened risk of investment bubble of the type seen in ponzi schemes which can result in sudden and prolonged crash exposing investors, especially retail consumers losing their hard-earned money. Consumers need to be alert and extremely cautious as to avoid getting trapped in such Ponzi schemes. VCs are stored in digital/electronic format, making them vulnerable to hacking, loss of password, malware attack etc. which may also result in permanent loss of money. As transactions of VCs are encrypted they are also likely being used to carry out illegal/subversive activities, such as, terror-funding, smuggling, drug trafficking and other money-laundering Acts.

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