Current Public Administration Magazine (DECEMBER 2019)

Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine

1. Accountability and Control

Supreme Court and Executive Excesses

The Supreme Court of India enjoys an extraordinary status in the hearts and minds of Indians. They look up to it when it comes to keeping the essence of the nation intact and insulated from attacks by the executive of the day. The Court has created for itself an exalted position over the last seven decades by assuming the role of a sentinel on the Qui Vive (“on the alert” or “vigilant”).

Part III of the Constitution of India contains Fundamental Rights and Article 13(2) thereof mandates that, “The State shall not make any Law which takes away or abridges the rights conferred by this part and any Law made in contravention of this Clause shall to the extent of contravention be void.” Thus, there is a twofold provision — prohibiting the state from making an unconstitutional law, and simultaneously declaring that such a law would be void. Article 14 contains a positive injunction against the state: “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the Law or the Equal Protection of the Laws within the territory of India”.

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2. Indian Government and Politics

Public Order and Freedom

Communication shutdowns and curfews have rained on us thick and fast this week. There have been reports of shutdowns — as SMS blacks, social media blocks, suspension of mobile internet or suspension of internet access — across Assam, districts of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal in the wake of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Curfew was declared for three days in Bengaluru in anticipation of similar protests, even though all preceding protests in the city had been entirely peaceful. The most egregious version of a shutdown, as a curfew alongside a blanket suspension of landline, cellular line, mobile and broadband internet, was imposed in the Kashmir Valley with no evidence of likely violence on August 4. This shutdown continues to subsist as a prepaid SMS and internet shutdown 137 days later — the longest ever in a democracy.

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3. Significant Issues in Indian Administration

New Citizenship Law

The principle that every Indian is equal before the law — enshrined in the Indian Constitution — is an ideal Mahatma Gandhi fought for all his life. Gandhi is not alive to criticise supporters of the new citizenship law and condemn the violence that followed demonstrations in Delhi and elsewhere. But we can recall what he taught us. Gandhi was convinced that despite many social and political contradictions, and the tragedy of Partition, India would become a secular, democratic republic. That it did, though with flaws, is because of the civic and empathetic nationalism Gandhi advocated and practised. A striking feature of Gandhi’s civic nationalism was his insistence that India is not an exclusively Hindu civilisation. His political genius lay in reconciling the complex social and religious fabric of traditional Indian society with the modern phenomenon of nationalism and the struggle for independence. As such, more than being the “father of the Indian nation” he could be remembered as the architect of an inter-faith, inter-cultural India. What Gandhi did was to give different religious communities, for the first time, a sense of involvement in the Indian nation’s destiny.

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4. Financial Administration

Politics of Exclusion

With India’s deep political troubles, and protest marches breaking out all over the country, it may seem odd to be writing on economics. Yet, it would also be wrong not to. India’s economy is now spiraling downwards, and there is an urgent need for corrective action. Hence, despite my initial misgivings, I devote this column to India’s economy and what the hard numbers tell. The signs of an economic slowdown were visible from 2017. But, the numbers on the economy that have emerged over the past few months are alarming.

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5. Current Topic

Isolationist View of Progress of Knowledge

While a beautiful thing in itself, knowledge generates many different types of rewards, from productive use of inventions to the creation of new bonds among people. The 17th century French writer Rabutin, Comte de Bussy, famously remarked, “Love comes from blindness, friendship from knowledge”. Love may well result from the inability to see what one is getting into. However, it has certainly enriched the world in many different ways — particularly through the creation of great literature, such as Romeo and Juliet, Abhijnana Shakuntala, and Layla and Majnun. But what does friendship produce — whether or not knowledge generates it (as Bussy-Rabutin claimed)?

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