Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine
1.Accountability & Responsibility
What happens before the opposition disappears?
Before the opposition disappears, there are usually some signs and symptoms that indicate the erosion of democracy and the rise of authoritarianism in a country. Some of these signs and symptoms are:
- The ruling party or leader tries to undermine or manipulate the electoral system, the judiciary, the media, and other institutions that are supposed to provide checks and balances on their power. For example, they may change the rules or laws to favor themselves, interfere with the independence or integrity of the courts or the press, or use state resources or propaganda to influence public opinion.
- The ruling party or leader tries to suppress or eliminate any dissenting voices or alternative sources of information that challenge their legitimacy or policies. For example, they may harass, arrest, exile, or kill opposition leaders, activists, journalists, academics, etc., or censor, block, or shut down opposition parties, media outlets, civil society groups, etc.
- The ruling party or leader tries to create or exploit a sense of crisis, threat, or emergency that justifies their use of extraordinary measures or powers. For example, they may declare a state of emergency or martial law, suspend civil liberties or human rights, mobilize security forces or militias, or invoke nationalism or religion to rally support.
- The ruling party or leader tries to cultivate a personality cult or a populist appeal that portrays them as the only true representative or protector of the people. For example, they may claim to have a special mandate or charisma, appeal to emotions or prejudices, demonize their opponents or enemies, or promise unrealistic solutions.
These are some of the common ways that the opposition can be weakened or wiped out before it disappears completely. However, this does not mean that the opposition is powerless or hopeless. There are also many examples of how the opposition can resist or challenge authoritarianism by using various forms of protest, mobilization, organization, communication, etc., to demand democracy and justice. You can read more about these examples in the article you have linked, as well as in some of the sources I have provided for you in my previous response.
- The Global State of Democracy 2019: Addressing the Ills, Reviving the Promise - This is a report by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) that analyzes the trends and challenges of democracy around the world. The report identifies four main ills that affect democracy: polarization, corruption, exclusion, and violence. The report also provides recommendations and examples of how to revive the promise of democracy through civic engagement, social justice, and innovation.
- The Rise of Populism and Its Implications for Democracy- This is an article by YaschaMounk that examines the causes and consequences of populism, which is defined as a political movement that claims to represent the true will of the people against a corrupt elite. The article argues that populism poses a threat to democracy by undermining pluralism, tolerance, and checks and balances. The article also suggests some ways to counter populism by strengthening democratic institutions, norms, and values.
- Opposition Matters: Democracies, Authoritarianism, and Governance - This is a book by Jennifer Gandhi that explores the role and function of opposition parties in different types of regimes. The book argues that opposition parties can have positive effects on governance by providing accountability, representation, and policy alternatives. The book also shows how opposition parties can adapt to different political contexts and constraints.
2. Indian Government and Politics
Why does 43% of Parliament still have criminal taint?
Criminalization of politics is the phenomenon of politicians having criminal records or being involved in criminal activities. It is a serious problem that affects the quality and credibility of democracy and governance in many countries, especially in India.
According to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), 43% of the members of the 17th Lok Sabha have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits. This is an increase from 34% in the 16th Lok Sabha and 30% in the 15th Lok Sabha. The report also states that 29% of the current MPs have serious criminal cases, such as murder, rape, kidnapping, etc., against them.
Some of the reasons why criminalization of politics persists in India are:
- The lack of effective and timely judicial process that allows the accused politicians to contest and win elections without being convicted or acquitted. The Supreme Court has directed that all criminal cases against MPs and MLAs should be completed within a year, but this has not been implemented properly.
- The use of money and muscle power by the candidates and parties to influence the voters and the electoral machinery. The candidates with criminal backgrounds often have access to more resources and networks than the clean candidates, and they can use them to bribe, threaten, or manipulate the voters, the media, the police, etc.
- The demand and supply gap between the voters and the representatives. The voters often have low awareness, high expectations, or limited choices when it comes to selecting their representatives. They may vote for the candidates with criminal backgrounds because they perceive them as more effective, responsive, or loyal than the clean candidates, or because they belong to their caste, community, or party.
These are some of the factors that contribute to the persistence of criminalization of politics in India. This is a serious problem that undermines the quality and credibility of democracy and governance in India. There is a need for reforms and measures to prevent and punish the candidates with criminal backgrounds, and to empower and educate the voters to choose their representatives wisely.
3. Economic Administration
A caste survey is a census or a study that collects and analyzes data on the caste system in India. The caste system is a form of social stratification that divides people into hierarchical groups based on their birth, occupation, religion, and region. The caste system has been a source of discrimination, oppression, and violence for many people, especially the lower castes and the outcastes, who are also known as Dalits or Scheduled Castes (SCs).
The caste survey for reservation policy is a proposal to conduct a census or a study that collects and analyzes data on the caste system in India, and to use that data to determine the criteria and quota for reservation or affirmative action for different castes in education, employment, and politics. Reservation or affirmative action is a system of providing representation and opportunities for historically disadvantaged groups in India, such as the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward Classes (OBCs), and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS).
The caste survey in India is a controversial and complex issue, as it involves various political, legal, social, and economic aspects. Some of the arguments in favor of conducting a caste survey are:
- A caste survey can provide accurate and reliable data on the population, distribution, and socio-economic status of different castes in India. This can help in designing and implementing policies and programs that address the needs and rights of the marginalized and disadvantaged groups.
- A caste survey can help in identifying and eliminating the practices and structures that perpetuate caste discrimination and atrocities. This can help in promoting social justice and equality for all citizens.
- A caste survey can help in recognizing and celebrating the diversity and plurality of Indian society. This can help in fostering a sense of identity and belonging among different castes and communities.
Some of the arguments against conducting a caste survey are:
- A caste survey can reinforce and legitimize the caste system, which is an outdated and oppressive institution that violates the constitutional values and principles of India. This can hamper the efforts to create a casteless and inclusive society.
- A caste survey can create or aggravate social conflicts and tensions among different castes and communities. This can undermine the national unity and harmony of India.
- A caste survey can be misused or manipulated by political parties or groups to gain electoral or ideological advantages. This can distort the democratic process and governance of India.
4. Current Topics
Can there be politics beyond elections?
That is an interesting question. Politics is usually understood as the process of making decisions and exercising power in a society, especially through elections and government. However, politics can also be seen as a broader and more diverse phenomenon that involves various forms of participation, representation, and action by different actors and groups in the public sphere.
In that sense, there can be politics beyond elections, and there are many examples of such politics in India and other countries.
One example of politics beyond elections is the politics of social movements, which are collective and organized efforts by people who share common grievances, interests, or identities to challenge or change the existing social order. Social movements can use various strategies and tactics, such as protests, campaigns, petitions, strikes, boycotts, civil disobedience, etc., to voice their demands and influence public opinion and policy making. Some of the recent social movements in India that have shown the potential of politics beyond elections are:
- The farmer protest movement that has been ongoing since November 2020 against three farm laws passed by the central government that the farmers fear will harm their livelihoods and rights. The movement has mobilized millions of farmers from different states and regions, who have staged peaceful sit-ins at the borders of Delhi and other places. The movement has also received support from various sections of the society, such as trade unions, civil society groups, celebrities, etc. The movement has put pressure on the government to repeal the laws and engage in dialogue with the farmers.
- The anti-CAA movement that erupted in December 2019 against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed by the central government that grants citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. The movement was led by students, women, Muslims, and other marginalized groups who opposed the law as discriminatory and unconstitutional. The movement also opposed the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) that would require people to prove their citizenship status. The movement used various forms of protest, such as rallies, marches, sit-ins, human chains, etc., to express their dissent and solidarity.
- The MeToo movement that emerged in October 2018 as part of a global wave of women speaking out against sexual harassment and abuse in various sectors and fields. The movement was triggered by a series of allegations against prominent men in media, entertainment, politics, academia, etc., who were accused of misconduct by women who shared their stories on social media platforms. The movement sparked a public debate on gender equality and justice, and led to some legal and institutional reforms to address the issue.
These are just some of the examples of politics beyond elections that show how people can engage in political action without relying on formal institutions or parties. Politics beyond elections can also take other forms, such as community organizing, civic education, cultural activism, alternative media, etc., that aim to create awareness, empowerment, and change in society. Politics beyond elections can be seen as a way of expanding and deepening democracy by involving more people and issues in the political process. However, politics beyond elections also faces many challenges and limitations, such as repression, co-optation, fragmentation, etc., that can undermine its effectiveness and sustainability.
5. Indian Administration
Can courts be asked to remove governors?
The courts can be asked to remove governors, but only under certain conditions and with limited success. The Constitution of India does not provide any specific grounds or procedure for the removal of governors, except that they hold office at the pleasure of the president, who can remove them at any time. However, the president acts on the advice of the council of ministers, which means that the central government has the power to appoint and dismiss governors as per its political convenience.
The courts can intervene in the matter of removal of governors only if they find that the decision of the president or the council of ministers is arbitrary, mala fide, or unconstitutional. The courts cannot question the merits or wisdom of the decision, but only examine whether it is based on relevant and reasonable grounds. The courts can also examine whether the governor was given a fair opportunity to defend himself or herself before being removed.
There have been several cases where the courts have been asked to remove governors or to quash their removal by the central government. Some of these cases are:
- In 2004, the Supreme Court quashed the removal of four governors by the newly elected United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, which had replaced the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. The court held that the removal was arbitrary and based on political considerations, and that the governors were not given a chance to explain their conduct.
- In 2010, the Bombay High Court dismissed a petition seeking the removal of Maharashtra Governor S.C. Jamir for allegedly interfering in the functioning of the state government and favoring a particular political party. The court held that the petition was based on vague and unsubstantiated allegations, and that the governor had acted within his constitutional powers.
- In 2015, the Uttarakhand High Court quashed the removal of Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi by the NDA government, which had replaced the UPA government. The court held that the removal was unconstitutional and violated the doctrine of pleasure, and that the governor was not given any reason or opportunity to defend himself.