Current Public Administration Magazine (AUGUST 2021)

Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine

1.Accountability and Responsibility

  • Whose Law, Whose Order?

The words ring loud and clear, lofty, almost dramatic: We, The People of India……. Give to Ourselves This Constitution. And we gave to ourselves the Constitution in order to secure to all, among other objectives, Liberty and Fraternity.

The Preamble to the Constitution of India must be made compulsory reading for every Officer, Minister, Chief Minister and Prime Minister. Each one took an oath under the Constitution. His/her first obligation must be to secure Liberty and promote Fraternity. To enable them to do so, we created a Parliament (for India) and a Legislature (for each state). We tasked the state Legislature to make laws on ‘public order’ and ‘police’ and tasked both Parliament and the Legislature to make laws on ‘criminal law’, criminal procedure’ and ‘preventive detention’.

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2. Indian Government and Politics

  • India needs a refugee Law

Every year, millions of people are forced to abandon their homes in search of safer places to rebuild their lives. According to the UN, over 82.4 million people were forced to leave their homes in 2020 and more than 20 million of them are refugees. Over 200,000 of these refugees are currently in India.

Through its history, India has hosted people fleeing war, conflict and persecution many times — Zoroastrians from Iran, Sri Lankans in the 1980s or Afghans during varied waves of displacement, including the current one. The country also has the experience of rehabilitating Partition refugees.

Welcoming refugees lies at the core of India’s secular, spiritual and cultural values. India has taken part in 49 peacekeeping missions, in which more than 195,000 troops and a significant number of police personnel assisted the UN and international NGOs in conflict-ridden lands. The paradox, therefore, of such a welcoming country not having its own homegrown national refugee framework requires a rethink.

3.  Social Administration

  • Carbon Policy for Agriculture

The Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group – 1 has literally issued a “code red” to humanity as we rush towards a 1.5 degree Celsius hotter planet by 2040. The UK is set to host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (CoP26) in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12 with a view to accelerate action towards the Paris Agreement’s goals. Union minister for environment, forest and climate change, Bhupender Yadav, says that the focus should be on climate finance and transfer of green technologies at low cost.

Despite developed countries having collectively emitted more than their estimated emission allowances and keeping the arguments of climate justice in mind, the action on the ground is already too late. Nations are still quibbling about historical global emitters and who should take the blame and fix it. But the fact that 22 of the 30 most polluted cities in the world are in India is a major cause of concern. We know well that Delhi is the world’s most polluted capital as per the World Air Quality Report, 2020. For those of us residing in Delhi, the winter months become a challenge as stubble burning in adjoining states and low wind speeds take the AQI beyond 300 on average, with some days going as high as 600 to 800, while the safe limit is below 50.

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4.  Current Topics

  • Social Media business model and public good

No one at Facebook is malevolent, but the incentives are misaligned.” Frances Haugen — the Facebook whistleblower who provided documents to The Wall Street Journal as well as US government agencies about the degree to which the social media giant is aware of, and consciously exploits, the harm its applications cause — hasn’t revealed anything that most people aren’t already aware of. But her interview to 60 Minutes underlines the challenge: There appears to be a fundamental contradiction between how social media is designed and the public good.

The documents leaked by Haugen, and her recent interview, indicate that Facebook’s much-touted “safeguards” against hate speech, incitement to violence as well as content harmful to the mental well-being of young people are, at best, window dressing. For example, under political pressure, the company tweaked its algorithm and gave lower priority to polarising political content ahead of the 2020 US presidential election. But, as soon as the polls were over, it removed these safeguards, an action Haugen believes was at least partially responsible for the riots at the Capitol in Washington on January 6. The company also seems aware of the role it has played in inciting ethnic violence in certain parts of the world. There are documents detailing how Instagram, one of its most prolific products, increases notions of shame around the body and depression among teenage girls. But, according to Haugen, since teenagers suffering from these issues tend to fall deeper into social media, little is done to address them.

5.  Indian  Administration

  • India needs an urbanization policy

Cities are drivers of economic growth. As India urbanises, it must ensure that its cities offer a decent quality of life and facilitate job creation. These imperatives are fundamental to India’s ambitions of becoming a five trillion-dollar economy by 2025 and a 10 trillion-dollar economy by 2030.

From a population of 377 million in 2011, Indian cities are projected to house 870 million people by 2050, according to the UN’s projections — by far the highest among all nations. Delhi is likely to become the world’s most populous urban agglomeration by 2030, surpassing Tokyo. Clearly, a major demographic transformation is taking place.

Notwithstanding their criticality, cities face several challenges today. Inadequate affordable housing has meant that almost one-sixth of the urban population lives in slums. Water supply is unreliable. Mountains of solid waste sit on the fringes of our cities. Poor drainage, congested roads and deteriorating air quality are other challenges. For our growth ambitions to succeed, not only do these gaps have to be filled, but even greater needs, necessitated by the growing population, have to be accommodated. Estimates by a high-powered expert committee and by the McKinsey Global Institute indicated in 2011-12 that nearly Rs 39-60 lakh crore are to be invested in urban infrastructure in the next 30 years.

These amounts are outside the range of what the public budget can support.

The need is for a well-thought-out urbanisation policy to guide the planning and management of cities towards accommodating and enabling India’s growth ambitions and also assuring its residents a good quality of life, in a sustainable manner. In this piece, we highlight some of the key issues that such a policy should address.

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