Current Public Administration Magazine (JULY 2019)

Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine

1. Accountability and Control

When Privacy was made Supreme

The month of August marks a momentous event in the story of our nationhood as we celebrate our independence from colonial rule. The very basis was a constitutional choice, which civil rights lawyer K G Kannabiran put it as the “termination of imposed suzerainty”. Two years ago, this sentiment seemed to be achieved with the historic decision of the Supreme Court in the Puttaswamy Privacy case, in which nine judges unanimously affirmed the fundamental right to privacy. This newspaper reported the apex court’s decision on the front page with the electric headline — Privacy Supreme.

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2. Indian Government and Politics

The Business of Politics and Necessity of Values

Democracy is not just a set of institutions but also a set of values. The institutions are, minimally speaking, free and fair elections, an elected Parliament containing an executive and an Opposition to hold it accountable, an independent judiciary, a nonpartisan bureaucracy, a free media, and security of existence for all citizens. Democratic values include the ability to accommodate a diverse range of viewpoints that requires civility of conduct, a commitment to egalitarian ideals, the idea of universal citizenship — encompassing rights but also duties, allowing all sections of the populace to be heard despite the louder voice of the majority, and, a general commitment to the common good over individual desires.

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3. Indian Administration

Extraneous Factors at Transfers and Postings

The recent transfer of Subhash Chandra Garg as finance secretary heading the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) led to speculation as to its causes. Transfers/postings and superannuation define the life of a public servant. There is nothing unusual in the appointing authority replacing one officer with another by exercising choice within the constitutional scheme for managing governance. However, the displacement of the architect of a core aspect of the Union Budget (the proposal to raise $10 billion from the sale of sovereign bonds overseas), during the Budget Session of Parliament, is definitely not routine

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4. Social Administration

Sexual Violence and Harassment at Work Places

Although India is among the very few erstwhile colonies to have signed the treaty that established the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the country’s Parliament, mass media, and human rights and social movement activists remain too preoccupied with other issues to pay attention to some of the landmark events associated with the agency’s centenary celebrations. Although in a welcome move last year, the Union home minister issued directions to states to ensure that Internal Complaints Committees to examine the issue of sexual harassment at the workplace are constituted, only benign neglect has so far greeted the ILO’s Convention and Recommendation on the human right to freedom from sexual harassment and violence in the “world of work”.

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5. Current Topic

Why Article 370 had to go

It is not always that a writer has to quickly deal with the practical consequences of what he wrote about recently. My last article (‘A New Deal for Kashmir,’ July 5), published in these pages, looked at the difficult choices India faced in Kashmir and suggested that we should have a wider debate about repealing Article 370 as one of the options. Predictably, it caused a furore amongst a section of our intelligentsia for whom Article 370 was more an article of faith than anything else.
Around midnight on August 4, when we received our orders to go on high alert and prepare for some important announcement in Parliament the next day, little did I realise that what I had advocated for debate, had actually been decided. Starting midnight, we began to go into lockdown mode. The communication blackout was total. It would be a few days before one would get access to a mobile phone — voice only, no data. And a few more days before one had limited access to internet at speeds that brought back memories of the dial-up modem era.

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