Current Public Administration Magazine (DECEMBER 2022)

Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine


1.Accountability & Responsibility

  • I wish that our police would spend more energy enforcing traffic rules to stem the carnage on our roads

If I was a contestant in the Miss World beauty pageant, I would obviously wish for world peace in 2023. But neither am I a candidate for that illustrious event (take one look at my caricature accompanying this article and you will know why), and nor are the odds on world peace any better than those of New Delhi’s air becoming safe to breathe. What else might I wish for that wasn’t completely improbable yet meaningful?

Let’s see, the wishlist in my mind is long. I might begin with the wish that our country be more inclusive in acknowledging our rich and diverse heritage, for example, by celebrating Allama Iqbal and Faiz Ahmed Faiz — both born in undivided India and both great poets. I could wish that our legislators stick to the political party they won the elections for (not least in my state of Goa, where the ruling party mostly comprises legislators who would fight elections wearing the Opposition’s symbol).

I could wish that our government embrace the media and civil society organisations that champion environmental and human rights concerns as essential to our fledgling democracy. I could wish our government practice science-based policy-making, for example, by addressing the challenge of problem drinking through well-established public health principles rather than the blunt tool of prohibition.

I could wish that our medical profession live by its mission of serving the sick rather than profiting shamelessly off of them by colluding with the pharmaceutical, medical devices, and corporate hospital industry. I could wish that my fellow passengers in the airport security check queue patiently await their turn to reach the baggage belt instead of contributing to the chaos we have witnessed recently. I could wish that same-sex partnerships enjoy the same civil rights as heterosexual partnerships and that romance between castes and communities be celebrated as a symbol of a mature multi-cultural civilisation.

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2. Indian Government and Politics

  • ‘The Teacher’ shows that when it comes to gender justice, Kerala’s reality is not as progressive as its image 

The Teacher (2022), directed by Vivek, which was released this month, shows a Kerala that has always, despite its claims of being a progressive state, fared poorly when it comes to issues around gender. Unquestionably, the state has come a long way in recognising women’s power, but how freely women can make choices and live their lives without being under constant scrutiny is still determined by the obstacles presented by political parties, conservative court judgments and other structural issues.

The Teacher is about a strong-willed woman, a PT teacher, who is gang-raped, and who then plots her revenge. After the video of the rape is circulated widely, she defies society, her family and even her husband, to take on the perpetrators with brute physical force. The survivor has many women in her corner throughout the movie, including her mother, sister and mother-in-law. On the other hand, the men, including her husband, are weak, and more worried about what society thinks than about her well-being. Her husband confides in a friend who then advises him to “control” his woman and keep her “within limits”. He suggests that she has “too much freedom” because she teaches physical education, that modern-day kids can behave in unexpected ways (the perpetrators are boys who study in her school), and that she is the one who should have been more careful.

It’s evident that Kerala, in many ways, remains a deeply patriarchal state. In August this year, in a hearing for anticipatory bail in a sexual harassment case, a Kerala court made observations, later expunged, that effectively blamed the complainant for her ordeal. This prompted the state government to move the high court against the lower court’s verdict. Using a woman’s clothing choices as admissible evidence in a place where people come seeking justice is deplorable. It highlights the urgency with which we need to address such discrimination, especially in state bodies. The court’s observation was in bad taste even as the PinarayiVijayan-led government was attempting to introduce gender-sensitive policies in state schools.

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3. Social Administration

  • A nurse writes: I dream of an India with fewer patients

For 35 years , I have been working in the nursing field, presently as an Assistant Commandant (matron). I started my work first in Kerala in 1986. Since then, I have worked all around the country, including Jammu and Kashmir, Dehradun and Delhi.

After a year and half of service in Kerala in government and private hospitals, I got selected for deployment in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. I was stationed in Dehradun. My first deployment was the most challenging assignment I have had to face to this day. Even though I was employed as a staff nurse, I was juggling multiple roles owing to an acute shortage in manpower. My roles ranged from patient care to supervision and administration. There, I first started noticing the gaps in medical care that plague our field. Despite the leaps and bounds I was able to make in my career due to the range of responsibilities I was entrusted with, the risks of being understaffed were glaring.

In 1993, at the height of insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, I was stationed in Srinagar. While there, I would assist in the treatment of injured soldiers and civilians. The hospital I worked was a basic level hospital making it impossible to deal with any serious cases. For any cases requiring specialised treatment, we had to take patients to an army hospital about 10 kilometres away. In a particularly challenging delivery in a jawaan’s home, the baby was born with his intestines outside his body. I had to render emergency care on the spot and take him to the base hospital in Srinagar. Every minute is crucial in a job that deals with lives. Not having access to life-saving care is a reality nobody should have to deal with, regardless of where they are from. At 100, I want an India that has room for every patient in the country.

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4. Current Topics

  • Demonetisation verdict: PM Modi’s visionary move has been vindicated by Supreme Court

There was a time not long ago when India’s financial centre, Mumbai, was under regular terror attacks. Who can forget the serial bomb blasts of 1993 or the synchronised bomb explosions in commuter trains in 2006. Ten Pakistanis launching a sustained 60-hour-long deadly assault on the city in November 2008 is still fresh in our memory. Pakistan-sponsored terror sleeper cells were often busted in Mumbai and elsewhere in the country.

India is a safe place now. Since the Narendra Modi-led government has assumed power in Delhi, terrorists and their masterminds are on the run, more so since the introduction of demonetisation. Demonetisation was done keeping in mind the national interest. Terror networks have now been starved of freely available hawala money or back channel transactions. Stone pelting was a weekly affair in Srinagar. Today, you do not hear of them because, due to the impact of demonetisation, their sources of funding from across the Line of Control have been massively disrupted.

Ordinary mortals cannot see what visionaries want to do. Demonetisation was Modi’s masterstroke. He had a vision. He knew what he was doing. There were temporary pains but permanent gains. He was abused and heckled but he stood steadfast because he could see the impact of his decision in the near future. It is against this background that the success of demonetisation should be applauded.

The nation has welcomed Monday’s Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the legality of the government’s decision to demonetise. Thus, in one stroke, all the 58 pleas challenging the legality of the 2016 demonetisation decision taken by the Modi government in November 2016 have been duly consigned to dustbin. A Constitution Bench of the Court upheld the Union government’s decision by a 4-1 margin. While four judges on the bench delivered the majority opinion upholding demonetisation, Justice B V Nagarathna held it unlawful.

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5. Indian Administration

  • 20 years of Delhi Metro: The train that arrived with the promise of liberating women

The Delhi Metro completed 20 years of service in Delhi NCR recently. This is not just a celebration for the DMRC, but one for an entire generation of women who have found liberation through the train services.

Delhi is a huge city, constantly expanding and creating new opportunities for the millions that seek their fortunes here. But it also creates spaces for chaos — often the first thing new inhabitants become familiar with.

There is no better manifestation of this chaos than Delhi’s roads. There is noise everywhere, from cars blaring obnoxiously loud music to fights breaking out in the middle of traffic to the infamous horns (seriously, how have people not realised that honking will not make the traffic go any faster?).

All too often, especially for women, it feels like the city is trying to break its residents down. Landlords who won’t take single women as tenants, men staring and coming too close in the street, and areas without adequate lighting — the women in this city have much to be wary about. Then of course, there is Delhi’s reputation as India’s “rape capital”. Many of my friends are scared of moving to Delhi owing to this (one of them has a mother who is scared of even a short visit). And as much as I love Delhi, I see the hesitation.

In this mix, entered the Delhi Metro 20 years ago, offering not just a break from the traffic and the chaos, but a promise of accessible connectivity. For many women, the train services came with an independence so far unavailable to them.

The Metro offers one entire coach just for women, allowing many families to get comfortable with letting women step outside. Assured of affordability and safety (relative, of course— it would be a bit too much to expect that fear would entirely exit our lives at metro stations), many more women in Delhi are seeking educational and professional opportunities beyond the confines of their immediate neighbourhoods.

For my generation, the Metro has become synonymous with leisure pursuits — most of us have explored the city via the colours of the Metro lines. Meeting friends for lunch, having winter picnics, visiting historical places across the city, and partying: The Metro opened up a whole new world for us.

This is why it is the first thing we miss when we leave the city. It speaks to what a well-functioning public transport system can do for women’s mobility. Lack of access to public transport and no provisions for safety have a debilitating effect on women’s freedoms, especially in conservative societies. Laws guaranteeing equality and equal access to employment and resources mean nothing if there is no infrastructure to uphold them.

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