Current Public Administration Magazine (MAY 2021)

Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine

1. Accountability and Responsibility

  • Why universities should consider UGC’s proposal to recognise NCC

On April 15, the University Grants Commission (UGC) forwarded for consideration to all vice-chancellors of universities across India a proposal of the Directorate General, National Cadet Corps (NCC), aimed at including NCC as an elective subject in curricula. If this is implemented, NCC will become a part of the Choice-Based Credit System (CBCS) envisioned in the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. It will permit students enrolled as NCC cadets to receive academic credits for NCC training, and avail employment incentives offered under various central and state government schemes.

NCC is the world’s largest uniformed youth volunteer organisation. With a footprint covering thousands of educational institutions across the country, it has a better gender ratio than any other uniformed organisation in the country with girl cadets accounting for one-third of the total. As in the Indian armed forces, the NCC’s army wing dwarfs the navy and air force wings in terms of numbers.

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2. Indian Government and Politics

  • Judiciary must uphold rights of citizens without sacrificing sobriety

The recent judgment of the Supreme Court in the Election Commission of India case is an example of judicial statesmanship. During the hearing of a matter, the Madras High Court felt that in the state elections, the EC had failed to enforce Covid safety guidelines, resulting in the spread of the pandemic. Oral observations from the bench stated that the “EC is the institution that is singularly responsible for the second wave of Covid-19” and “EC should be put up for murder charges”. This was widely reported in the media. 

The EC approached the SC. The SC has beautifully dissolved the conflict between EC and the HC, avoiding a positive pronouncement either way. However, the SC has done what it wanted to do.
The judgment protects the media’s right to report accurately the court’s proceedings even if not made a part of the record; it has also recorded an appreciation of the performance of the EC and nullified the effect of oral observations stating that “observations during the course of hearing do not constitute a judgment or binding decision”.

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3. Social Administration

  • Moving towards universal vaccination

On January 5, the the BBC published an article titled “Covaxin: What was the rush to approve India’s homegrown vaccine?” This was just after the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) had approved Covaxin and Covishield through a restricted Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) against COVID-19 on January 3.

The DCGI approval was based on the recommendation of the Subject Expert Committee of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO).

The article went on to quote a prominent Member of Parliament from the opposition and a minister in the erstwhile UPA government who stated that the approval for Covaxin was given due to “the chest-thumping ‘vaccine nationalism’ — combined with the PM’s ‘self-reliant India campaigning’, [that] trumped common sense and a generation of established scientific protocols.”

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4. Current Topic

  • Why the Supreme Court order on school fee relief misses the big picture

The Supreme Court judgment in Indian School Jodhpur v State of Rajasthan (May 3, 2021) dealt with a set of appeals concerning the validity of a circular issued by the Director of Secondary Education, State of Rajasthan. This circular reduced school fees for the academic year 2020-21 for schools affiliated with the Central Board of Secondary Education by 30 per cent, and for schools affiliated with the Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education by 40 per cent.

The reduction was commensurate to the reduction in the syllabus, and aimed to provide some respite to parents who may be dealing with the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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4. Current Topic

  • National Archives of India

The National Archives of India (NAI) complex is slated for major changes under the Central Vista Project. Conflicting reports indicate that the heritage structure that is part of the National Archives complex will be retained but that additions to the original plot will be demolished later in the project. The lack of clarity around the plans for preservation, transfer and access of these national records is a cause for concern. While the Minister of Culture stated on Thursday that the government will “continue to keep the records safely,” his statement focuses on the retention of the heritage building, and does not mention the demolition of the Annexe building, which reportedly houses several public records, private papers, departmental records etc. This further highlights the need for public scrutiny.

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5.  Indian Administration

  • Unfair to the Election Commission

On April 26, the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court (MHC) made extremely disconcerting remarks against the Election Commission of India (ECI), attributing the ongoing spread of Covid-19 to the ECI’s alleged mismanagement and inaction in the conduct of elections. The MHC orally remarked that the ECI is “singularly responsible for the second wave of Covid-19” and it “should be put up for murder charges”. What is more disconcerting is that these disparaging remarks were not recorded in the order, so it is unclear exactly which state the Bench was referring to. This aspect assumes importance because the spread of Covid-19 in Tamil Nadu was under control when the elections were announced. It also assumes importance in light of the legal position that high courts do not have extraterritorial jurisdiction. Thus, any observations not relatable to events unfolding in Tamil Nadu would violate well-settled principles of judicial propriety and overreach.

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