Current Public Administration Magazine (JULY 2023)

Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine

(JULY 2023)

1.Accountability & Responsibility

  • Bulldozer Justice

Bulldozer justice is a term used to describe the practice of demolishing the homes and properties of people who are accused of rioting or protesting against the government, especially in India. It is seen as a form of extrajudicial punishment and intimidation, often targeting the Muslim minority in the Hindu-majority country.

Some examples of bulldozer justice are:

  • In June 2022, authorities in Uttar Pradesh, a state ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), bulldozed several houses and shops of Muslims who were allegedly involved in violent protests over offensive remarks made by a BJP spokesperson about the Prophet Mohammed.
  • In December 2019, authorities in Uttar Pradesh also demolished the houses of 25 people who were accused of participating in anti-government demonstrations against a controversial citizenship law that critics said discriminated against Muslims.
  • In September 2015, authorities in Gujarat, another BJP-ruled state, razed the houses of 300 Dalits, a marginalized caste group, who were protesting against their eviction from a land they had occupied for decades.
  • Bulldozer justice has been widely condemned by human rights groups, lawyers, and activists as a violation of the constitutional rights of the affected people. They argue that bulldozer justice is arbitrary, disproportionate, and discriminatory, and that it undermines the rule of law and due process. They also point out that bulldozer justice does not address the root causes of social unrest and violence, but rather fuels resentment and alienation among the oppressed communities.

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2. Indian Government and Politics

  • The Governor

The role of the governor in India has been a subject of debate and controversy in recent times, as many instances of governors acting as agents of the central government or interfering in the affairs of the state governments have been reported. The governor is supposed to be a constitutional head of the state, bound by the advice of the council of ministers, and a vital link between the union government and the state government. However, the governor also enjoys some discretionary powers that can be used to influence the political situation in the state, such as:

  • Appointing or dismissing the chief minister and other ministers
  • Giving or withholding assent to bills passed by the state legislature
  • Reserving bills for the consideration of the president
  • Dissolving or proroguing the state assembly
  • Recommending the imposition of president's rule under Article 356
  • Promulgating ordinances when the assembly is not in session

These powers have been often misused by some governors to favour or undermine certain political parties or leaders, especially those who are opposed to the ruling party at the centre. This has led to accusations of bias, partisanship, and violation of constitutional norms and federal principles. Some examples of such controversial actions by governors are:

In 2023, the governor of Kerala refused to convene a special session of the state assembly that was intended to discuss the ongoing farmer protest in New Delhi. The governor cited that there was no emergency situation that warranted such a session, and that it was against the parliamentary norms and procedures.The state government, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), criticized the governor's decision as unconstitutional and undemocratic.

In 2022, the governor of West Bengal delayed giving assent to a bill passed by the state assembly that sought to create a legislative council in the state. The governor claimed that he needed more time to study the bill and its implications, and that he had sought legal opinion from experts on the matter. The state government, led by the All India Trinamool Congress, accused the governor of stalling the bill deliberately and acting as a mouthpiece of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which was in power at the centre.

 In 2019, the governor of Maharashtra invited the BJP to form a government in the state after a hung verdict in the assembly elections. The governor gave only 24 hours to the BJP to prove its majority on the floor of the house, which was later reduced to 11 hours by a midnight order. The BJP formed an alliance with a faction of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and swore in DevendraFadnavis as the chief minister and AjitPawar as his deputy. However, this arrangement collapsed within four days, as most of the NCP MLAs withdrew their support from the BJP. The governor then recommended president's rule in Maharashtra, which was later revoked after a post-poll alliance between Shiv Sena, NCP, and Congress proved its majority and formed a government.

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3. Economic Administration

  • Quota Based Reservations

Quota based reservations are a system of affirmative action in India that aims to provide representation and opportunities for historically disadvantaged groups in education, employment, and politics. The groups that benefit from quota based reservations are the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward Classes (OBCs), and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of the society.

The quota based reservations are based on the provisions of the Indian Constitution, which allows the Union Government and the States and Territories of India to set reserved quotas or seats, at particular percentage, for these groups. The current percentage of reservation for SCs, STs, OBCs, and EWS are 15%, 7.5%, 27%, and 10%, respectively, in case of direct recruitment on all India basis by open competition.

However, some states have passed laws to exceed the 50% ceiling of reservation fixed by the Supreme Court in 1992. These laws have been challenged in courts and some of them have been struck down as unconstitutional and violative of the right to equality.

The debate on quota based reservations is a contentious and complex one, as it involves various social, economic, political, and legal aspects. Some of the arguments in favor of quota based reservations are:

  • Quota based reservations are necessary to correct the historical injustices and discrimination faced by the marginalized groups in India.
  • Quota based reservations are a means of ensuring social justice and empowerment for the oppressed sections of the society.
  • Quota based reservations are a way of promoting diversity and inclusion in various spheres of life.
  • Quota based reservations are a tool for reducing poverty and inequality among the disadvantaged groups.

Some of the arguments against quota based reservations are:

  • Quota based reservations are a form of reverse discrimination that violates the right to equality and merit of the general category candidates.
  • Quota based reservations are a source of division and resentment among different communities and castes in India.
  • Quota based reservations are a political gimmick that is used by parties to appease their vote banks and gain power.
  • Quota based reservations are ineffective and inefficient in addressing the real issues and challenges faced by the backward groups.

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4. Current Topics

  • Blasphemy Law

Blasphemy law is a term that refers to the legal prohibition of insulting or showing disrespect to a deity, a sacred object, or something considered sacred by a religion. Blasphemy laws are found in many countries around the world, especially in those with a dominant or official religion. Blasphemy laws are often used to protect the religious sentiments of a majority or a minority group, and to prevent violence or riots that may result from religious offense. However, blasphemy laws are also criticized for violating the freedom of expression, the right to equality, and the principle of secularism.

Some examples of blasphemy laws in different countries are:

  • In India, Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code criminalizes any deliberate and malicious act that outrages the religious feelings of any class of citizens by words, signs, or visible representations. The punishment for this offense is imprisonment for up to three years and a fine.
  • This law was introduced in 1927 by the British colonial government after a series of violent protests by Muslims against a book that allegedly insulted Prophet Muhammad. Since then, this law has been used to prosecute people for various acts of blasphemy against different religions, such as burning religious scriptures, depicting Hindu gods in an offensive manner, or making critical remarks about religious leaders.
  • In Pakistan, Section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code imposes the death penalty or life imprisonment for anyone who defiles the name of Prophet Muhammad by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo or insinuation, directly or indirectly.
  • This law was enacted in 1986 by the military dictator Zia-ul-Haq as part of his Islamization policy. Since then, this law has been widely abused to persecute religious minorities, especially Christians and Ahmadis, as well as dissenting Muslims and critics of the government.
  • In Denmark, Section 140 of the Danish Penal Code states that anyone who publicly insults or mocks any legally existing religious community's doctrines or worship shall be punished with a fine or imprisonment for up to four months.
  • This law was adopted in 1866 and was rarely used until 2017, when a man was convicted and fined for burning a copy of the Quran and posting a video of it online.

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5. Indian Administration

  • Public Discourse

Public discourse is the exchange of ideas, opinions, and arguments on matters of public interest and concern. Public discourse can take place in various forms and platforms, such as speeches, debates, media, social media, protests, etc. Public discourse can influence public opinion, policy making, social movements, and democratic participation. Public discourse can also reflect the values, norms, and diversity of a society.

Public discourse in India and outside India can vary in terms of the topics, participants, styles, and outcomes of the communication. Some of the factors that can shape public discourse in different contexts are:

  • The political system and culture of the country: Different countries have different forms and degrees of democracy, authoritarianism, federalism, secularism, etc. These can affect the freedom, diversity, and quality of public discourse. For example, in India, public discourse is often influenced by the multiparty system, the electoral politics, the regional and linguistic diversity, the religious and caste issues, etc. In China, public discourse is largely controlled by the Communist Party and the state media, and dissenting voices are often censored or suppressed.
  • The media landscape and regulation: Different countries have different types and levels of media ownership, diversity, independence, professionalism, etc. These can affect the access, credibility, and impact of public discourse. For example, in India, public discourse is often dominated by mainstream media outlets that are owned by corporate or political interests, and that tend to sensationalize or polarize issues. In Denmark, public discourse is often facilitated by public service media that are funded by taxes and that aim to provide balanced and informative coverage.
  • The social and cultural context: Different countries have different histories, identities, values, beliefs, traditions, etc. These can affect the content, tone, and purpose of public discourse. For example, in India, public discourse is often influenced by the colonial legacy, the nationalist movement, the Gandhian philosophy, the post-independence challenges, etc. In Pakistan, public discourse is often influenced by the Islamic ideology, the military rule, the Kashmir conflict, the terrorism threat, etc.

These are just some of the aspects that can differentiate public discourse in India and outside India. Public discourse is a dynamic and complex phenomenon that can change over time and space. Public discourse can also be influenced by global issues and events that transcend national boundaries. Therefore, it is important to understand the context and perspective of public discourse in different countries and regions.

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