Posts Tagged ‘Government’


India was a free country since 15th August, 1947. However, it did not have the leisure of owning a permanent Constitution. A Drafting Committee was made and after many discussions and modifications, the Assembly signed two hand-written copies of the document (one each in Hindi and English) on 24th January, 1950. And thus, the Constitution of India was born two days later, on 26th January, 1950; 10.18 AM IST. Ever since, the day is celebrated nationally as the Republic Day when the country became a sovereign democratic republic with a written constitution and an elected parliament.

26th January, 2011 will mark India’s 61st Republic Day celebrations. It comes as a disgrace that even today, the meaning of the word is vague in the minds of the people. A state in which the final power lies with its people, who elect their representatives to exercise this power, is called a Republic. Also, a Republic has a President as its head, and not a Monarch or any other hereditary head.

The word ‘Republic’ comes from a Latin phrase meaning ‘Res Publica’ which means ‘a public affair’. The idea behind this concept is Italian, mostly appearing in the writings of the scholar named Machiavelli. He supposedly divided the Governments into two types: principalities ruled by a monarch and republics ruled by people.

In most common terms, the word republic means a system of Government which derives its power from the people rather than from another basis, such as heredity or divine right. And the Republic Day reminds us of the fulfillment of the pledge that was made on the midnight of Independence as a ‘tryst with destiny’. It is future-oriented, a vision of India that we nourish, an acceptance of responsibility and making of promises as well as review of the achievements.

The term Republic has a sense of unity, freedom and strength attached to it. However, India continues its fight for real freedom and unity!

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With a billion people, the Republic of India is the world’s largest democracy. The form of Government in which supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation, usually involving periodic free elections is termed as a Democracy. The power may be derived from the people, by consensus (consensus democracy), by direct referendum (direct democracy), or by means of elected representatives of the people (representative democracy).
In simple terms, democracy is a system of Government with four key elements:
• A political system for choosing and replacing the Government through free and fair elections.
• The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life.
• Protection of the human rights of all citizens.
• A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.
The word democracy is derived from the Greek word ‘demos’ meaning people. In the memorable phrase of President Abraham Lincoln, democracy is a Government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Democracy is not just a political system, but a way of life. Freedom and democracy are often used interchangeably, but the two are not synonymous. Democracy is indeed a set of ideas and principles about freedom, but it also consists of practices and procedures that have been molded through a long history. Democracy is the institutionalization of freedom. If democracy is to work, citizens must not only participate and exercise their rights but also observe certain principles and rules of democratic conduct. They must respect the law and reject violence.India’s democratic system has been working successfully for the last half a century. But this democratization has also been facing several challenges.
• Divisive Tendencies
• Extremism / Terrorism
• Unemployment
• Political instability
• Parochialism (Provincial Tendencies)
• Growing Illiteracy
• Corruption and Nepotism
But the ultimate power lies with the people and they must serve as the final guardians of their own freedom and must build their own path toward the ideals set forth in the preamble to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.”

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Department of Telecom has continuously remained a matter of discussion since the inception of 2G scam. Though the talks regarding 2G scam have submerged a bit, again DoT has became an issue of discussion. It has decided to extend the existing dual process being followed for security clearance of telecom equipment while promising closure on the contentious telecom equipment security issue by February. Though DoT is not yet firm about the new norms, it will announce its position within the next two weeks. “We will then have a consultation with security agencies after which the new template will replace the existing dispensation,” said DoT secretary R Chandrashekhar.

There are certain portions that violate the security agendas that companies find difficult to comply with and that do not match the global norms. These agendas will be revisited by DoT. The entire issue will be discussed internally with DoT and security agencies and externally with key associations. Hence the final verdict will be brought out by the end of February.

Considering the views will be a difficult task as there are mixed reviews. There are some who wish to work on an improved version of the template whereas the others believe that a fresh start should be made to address specific concerns of the Indian Government.

Another major concern is that many of the affected parties are international firms. These firms are required to follow a standard protocol not just in India but in over 100 countries around the world. It’s said they fear that what India does will become a precedent for other countries.

The Government had inducted new procedures for purchase of telecom equipment in January 2010. While the aim was to secure networks and enhance national security, the manner in which it was implemented left most equipment/software providers and service providers in despair. This saw a wide opposition from all the sides. Many felt that the rules were burdensome, outdated and did not match the international standards. Some companies alleged that discrimination was carried out between Chinese firms and other vendors.

By the middle of the year, the Government considered the views of the largest service providers and equipment manufacturers and incorporated them. This proved to be a wrong step and the industry got severely divided into two group with GSM and dual technology operators on one hand and Chinese, European and American equipment providers on the other. A further divide emerged between core telecom equipment providers like Nokia-Siemens and Ericsson, on one hand, and American Cisco, IBM, Intel and Microsoft, on the other. All this happened because of the use of two methods -self certification or the use of signing of a security template for the purpose of telecom equipment purchase.

The telecom companies were all ready to launch their 3G services by the end of this year. Airtel, Tata and Reliance Communications have already started offering 3G services. DoT has asked these companies to put their video calling services on hold until interception facilities are cleared by law enforcement agencies. Security agencies pointed out that outgoing and incoming video calls after eight minutes could not be intercepted and displayed. “A conference call is not distinctly labeled. On the other hand, it is displayed as two different outgoing calls,” the DoT note said, adding that the service providers should be directed to make provisions for proper tagging.

The private players are agitated by the Government’s order to stop their 3G services. If state-owned telcos BSNL and MTNL could offer video calls over the 3G platform for more than a year now, why is the Government stopping private telcos from doing so, the Association of Unified Service Providers of India (Auspi) has asked the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). According to Auspi, BSNL and MTNL do not have better LIM (lawful interception monitoring) capability than its members (Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices). The lawful interception monitoring system put up by the operators is as per global standards and the “current standards do not have a provision for real/near time video call content to be available,” Auspi has told the Government. It has requested DOT to allow its member operators to commission the 3G video calls with the currently available capability of providing the content immediately at the end of the call.

Moreover, DoT has become stricter in terms of environment as well. It will impose a fine of Rs 5 lakh on infrastructure firms if their base transceiver stations (BTS) have not received environmental clearance by November 15. There are 560,000 BTS operational in the country, of which 416,000 systems have so far been self-certified. DoT had extended the deadline for self-certificates to the Telecom Engineering and Resource Monitoring (TERM) Cells of DoT to November 15 from May 15. DoT has taken this step considering the effects of radiation on human body. It has been found that radiation levels in Delhi are much below the international safety standards which is a measure of concern.

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A controversy that has ignited a very important debate – WikiLeaks – has created nothing short of a storm worldwide. WikiLeaks and potential imitators could be game changers for the relationships between journalists and the Governments and companies they cover. The merits or dangers of those changes are, however, big points of conflict for both the organizations that have experienced leaks and the journalists who cover them. Multiple stories on the issue do exist, but the first million-dollar question to be addressed is:


Within a year of its launch, the site claimed a database that had grown to more than 1.2 million documents. WikiLeaks is a website that posts formerly secret documents online, in the search of accountability and transparency. Its release of more than 75,000 US Army and Marine Corps documents recording six years of events in Afghanistan, has angered officials in Washington, Britain and Pakistan. It has created serious controversy over the inherent conflict between national security interests and Government transparency. At the center of the WikiLeaks controversy is US Army Private First Class Bradley Manning, the man suspected of having passed the whistle-blower website a massive collection of US embassy cables.

The post is an infamous video shot from a US helicopter, which shows suspected militants being gunned down in Iraq. In the video, a group of men alleged to be militants are shot at for over an hour until most of them are dead or wounded, when a rescue van arrives, unarmed men are shot down as well. Recorded by the US Defense Department in 2007, the video has reignited a debate about leaks, the responsibilities of those who publicize them, and the ways the Internet is changing the nature of keeping secrets.
Apart from these, WikiLeaks is supposed to have leaked many other controversial documents:

– Extrajudicial killings in Kenya
– Report on Toxic Waste Dumping on the African coast
– Church of Scientology manuals
– Guantanamo Bay procedures

The process is this: The website is set up to allow completely anonymous submissions from whistleblowers around the world via a supposedly secure online form, although questions have been raised lately about its reliability. Assange and company then leaf through these confidential submissions, repackage them into multimedia presentations and publish them on the Web, still guaranteeing their sources complete anonymity.

As for the recent controversy of US secret cables, it has been said that the US military had recently introduced an information-sharing initiative called Net-Centric Diplomacy which allowed insiders to gain access to classified information. Under the new initiative, a subset of State Department documents are published through a Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, or SIPRNet, which is supposed to be Pentagon’s Secret-level global network. The information available on this network is accessible to authorized American military service personnel. Manning is believed to have downloaded a cache of documents and passed them on to WikiLeaks.
Needless to mention, Governments around the world would like to take down WikiLeaks for once and for all, but it is not that easy. They are only able to block the website. But it can be bypassed using separate URL’s maintained by WikiLeaks. This is because: WikiLeaks hosts itself by PRQ, a Sweden-based company providing “highly secure, no-questions-asked hosting services”.

The US Government has solemnly warned that WikiLeaks is endangering the lives of American diplomats, soldiers and spooks. “Such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world that come to the US for assistance in promoting democracy and open Government,” the White House declared. “By releasing stolen and classified documents, WikiLeaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights but also the lives and work of these individuals.”

On 20 August 2010, an investigation was opened against Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks and an arrest warrant issued in Sweden in connection with sexual encounters with two women, aged 26 and 31, one in Enkoping and the other in Stockholm. Assange’s defense lawyer, Mark Stephens, says the sexual assault allegations against his client are part of a conspiracy. Julian Assange, too, dismissed the allegations made against him in Sweden and vowed to fight against extradition. Hinting at a conspiracy,

Assange’s lawyer described the accusations as a “political stunt” and “political motivations that appear to be behind this.”
Assange was arrested on 7 December, 2010 and WikiLeaks appealed to its supporters to make up Assange’s bail in the days before his arrest. Journalist John Pilger, film director Ken Loach and sister of Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, Jemima Khan offered to put up sureties. However, this proved to be unnecessary. The City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court refused Julian Assange bail because of the risk of him fleeing.

Weighing the merits of publishing against the risks of making sensitive information known, experts claim the authority to decide which materials to make public. Needless to say, the Government disagrees. From a journalistic point of view, the ethical problem that arises is determining who decides what is at risk and what it is worth. There are also serious question marks with regard to the verification of the documents and the motives of those who sent them.
As the most basic level, though, the question results from the simple fact being: good facts are necessary for good ethics and we don’t have all the facts needed to fully assess how much harm the leaks will cause. The possible consequences of the leaks have been
the subject of intense disagreement. Predictions have ranged from the leaks having no serious consequences to their undermining “the functional integrity of the whole Western security machinery on which its very survival depends”.

In considering the ethics of WikiLeaks, a point to be kept in mind is that what is and isn’t ethical can differ at different levels of analysis. These levels are the individual (micro), institutional (meso), societal (macro), and global (mega). All of them are relevant in the case of WikiLeaks. Something that might pass ethical muster at one level might not do so at another. For instance, freedom of speech might justify disclosure of certain information at the level of individual rights. The harm that disclosure would cause at all the other levels would make it unethical at those levels, however.

While there are questions over whether he would get a fair trial, Assange himself has no choice but to believe in the system. He has invoked the values of the system to commit some of his other acts. He has admitted at various points of time that he is only the messenger and that there is an attempt to shoot the messenger. The self-styled defender of freedom of speech continues his war with his enemies – the corporations that attacked WikiLeaks. He is supported by a lot of followers who believe in him and his only weapon – his laptop!

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After the amendment in the Indian Constitution in 1976, India was declared a socialist state, along with being sovereign secular democratic republic. Being a socialist state, India implies social and economic equality. Social equality means that there cannot be any discrimination based on caste, creed, color, sex, language or religion. Every citizen has equal rights, status and opportunities. Whereas, economic equality means that the Government will strive for equal distribution of wealth and provide a decent standard of living for all.

The theory of socialism advocates common ownership and cooperative management of the means of production and allocation of resources. It is an economic and political system in which the production and distribution of goods are controlled substantially by the Government rather than the private players.

There are different types of socialist states. Some do not tolerate capitalism at all, while some allow it as far as the Government maintains its dominance. It is interesting to note that all communists are socialists, but all socialists are not communists. The term socialist state differs as defined by various theories. According to Marxism, a socialist state is a state that has abolished capitalism and is moving towards communism. But, there are some countries, including India that use the term ‘socialist’ in their Constitution without claiming to follow communism or any of its derivatives.

India has adopted a socialistic and mixed economy and the Government has framed many laws to achieve the aim. Because there are several branches of socialism, the view has been so-far-unsuccessfully challenged since 1994 in the many courts in India.

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Coalition Government is a cabinet of a Parliamentary Government in which several parties cooperate. They are usually formed as no party can individually achieve a majority in the parliament. However, a Coalition Government may also be created during the times of national difficulty or crisis. For e.g. during wartime, high level of political authority is desired and also there cannot be any room for internal political discord. So, in such times, examples of parties having formed all-party coalitions are observed.

To deal with a situation in which no clear majorities appear through general elections, parties either form coalition cabinets, supported by a parliamentary majority, or minority cabinets which may consist of one or more parties. Generally, the majority based coalitions as well as majority Governments are more stable and long lived. Coalition cabinets are common in countries in which a parliament is proportionally representative, with several organized political parties represented.

India has had coalition governments at the Centre as well as in individual states since the last two decades. Due to the diversity in India, the benefit that a coalition has is that it leads to more agreement based politics and reflects the popular opinion of the electorate. The current UPA-Left arrangement had been formed after parliamentary elections in 2004. It consists of 13 separate parties. Though they have main adversaries in three states, this Government was still a stable one till Left withdrew support on matters of nuclear deal.

If a coalition collapses, a confidence vote is held or a motion of no confidence is taken.

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