Current Public Administration Magazine (OCTOBER 2019)

Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine

1. Accountability and Control

Research in elite institutions must focus on the problems of their surrounding environment

As a developing country, India faces many challenges. The systematic study of such problems and their solutions will lead not only to better development outcomes, but also new science, enterprises and jobs. The writer is with Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas, IIT Bombay. He is currently on deputation to IIT Goa. There should be better alignment of research and development with existing programmes at the national and state level (Illustration: C R Sasikumar) It is good to hear that the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of the Government of India has engaged in a review of its State Science and Technology Councils (SSTC) Programme. The SSTCs were formed to spearhead the use of science and technology (S&T) for regional problems and to foster “scientific temper” within states, and the DST programme was mandated “to provide core support”.

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2. Indian Government and Politics

Is Parliament sovereign in India or not? We need to know.

The crisis in the UK yields an interesting contrast concerning the question ‘Who Rules?’ In March 1975, Indira Gandhi, the then prime minister with a large majority in Parliament, suffered a defeat in the courts. Instead of obeying a mild decision of the court (‘refrain from voting in the Lok Sabha’), she imposed Emergency, signed into law by then-president Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed. The shocking thing about the Emergency was that it was perfectly constitutional. Obviously, it is not ‘We the People’ who rule India. It is the elected majority party acting as the Executive. The crisis in the UK yields an interesting contrast concerning the question ‘Who Rules?’ Boris Johnson as Prime Minister chose to prorogue Parliament, truncating the number of days it could meet. Parliament broke for summer holidays on Thursday, July 25, and was to reconvene on September 3. Then Parliament was to break for party conferences and meet again on October 4. It was not unusual to prorogue a Parliament but it requires the assent of the Head of the State.

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3. Indian Administration

Our Lokpal movement to schools, water, power

What makes Gandhi especially relevant in the times we live in is his unflinching commitment to democracy and the wisdom of the people. As a product of the Gandhian Jan Lokpal movement against corruption in high places, I have witnessed the power of Gandhian methods of resistance and protest. Mass movements throughout independent India’s history as well as around the world have taken inspiration from the original mobiliser of the masses, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. In this context, as long as there is injustice in the world, Gandhi will remain relevant.

What makes Gandhi especially relevant in the times we live in is his unflinching commitment to democracy and the wisdom of the people. The idea of decentralising power from the hands of a few to the hands of many was a romanticised utopia for many of us as activists. “True democracy cannot be worked by twenty men sitting at the centre. It has to be worked from below by the people of every village,” Gandhi wrote in Harijan.

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4. Law & Order Administration

Have the courage to remove or at least reform the IPC

English laws were to be used to keep Indians in order. The British rulers never understood their subjects — the mob as they called it. They needed someone to fashion tools for keeping Indians in order. A group of eminent Indians had written an open letter to the Prime Minister pointing out the problem of vigilante attacks. Such attacks have been occurring for a while now and the main victims are Muslims. The attacks occur mainly in the Hindi belt. The authors were not revealing a dark secret or a vital aspect of India’s defences. Even so, a citizen filed an FIR with the police, and a local magistrate in Bihar then filed a case for sedition under the Indian Penal Code. The case has now been closed.

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5. Current Topic

Citizenship Amendment Bill

This is the fearful tempest that threatens to engulf India in the coming months, one which will destroy in its wake this country as it was imagined and promised. There was, for a while now, the ominous rumbling of distant thunder. Today, this is fast gathering into a menacing storm, one which can ultimately destroy India as we know it. Many had hoped that the idea of amending citizenship laws in ways which exclude from citizenship people of just one religious identity would be abandoned in the face of vehement opposition in the states of India’s Northeast. They also expected that talk during the communally-surcharged summer election campaign of 2019, of extending the National Register of Citizenship (NRC) to states outside Assam, was just electoral provocation, which would be stilled after the polarised election accomplished its objectives.

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