Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Let us start with the basics. I am Aditi Rindani, have always believed in freedom and self reliance. I was born and brought up in a small town called Jamnagar – the town that  I quit before ten years. Hopping between cities, first for my education and then for my career – here I am, doing what I love. I hosted a three-hour mid-morning show on the radio, am the co-founder of a music band and have acted in a couple of short films and plays. I also write for a TV show and have handled the CSR initiative that involved working for the Visually Challenged, for my radio station. I have been a part of a magazine called Care4Nature that took me closer to Mother Nature. During this journey, I have been fortunate enough to work with different groups of people and add various colorful experiences to my life. The most recent one was being selected as one of the only four Indians representing the country in the US.

If asked what are the environmental challenges that my country is facing, I would, without a second thought, state these:

  1. Population: This is harmful not only with an environmental perspective, but by all other means as well. A population of over thousands of millions is growing at 2.11% every year. It puts pressure on its natural resources and reduces the gains of development.
  2. Poverty and Dependence: Majority of the poor people in India are directly dependent on the natural resources of the country for their basic needs of food, fuel shelter and fodder.
  3. Growth: Growth is generally referred to as a positive term but here it seems to be dangerous! Agricultural growth has degraded the soil, industrial growth has polluted the surface water and increasing demand for water has shrunk our forest area and ground water levels. Urbanization and industrialization has given birth to a great number of environmental problems that need urgent attention.

These are the major problem areas according to me. But then, where is the solution? What should be done to stop further damage to our precious environment?

Here are some quick viewpoints:

  • The change has to be brought after keeping in view India’s traditions for resources
  • Change should be brought in education, in attitudes, in administrative procedures and in institutions
  • Acts are in place in India, but their implementation is neither easy nor strict. The reason is their implementation needs great resources, technical expertise, political and social will. Again the people are to be made aware of these rules
  • The mass communication mediums should be used to spread more messages and awareness campaigns (That is where my role as a media person comes in)
  • Reduce (the use), Recycle and Reuse should be the rule
  • Last but not the least, prevention is better than cure!

GOVERNMENT’S CONSCIENCE, PUBLIC’S CONFIDENCE: LOKAYUKTALokayukta is the anti-corruption hero, an ombudsman constituted at state level. It is responsible to deal with the public grievances against corruption and mal-administration against public servants.

ORIGIN

The Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) headed by Morarji Desai submitted a special interim report on ‘Problems of Redressal of Citizens’ Grievances’ in 1966. In this report, the ARC recommended the setting up of two special authorities designated as ‘Lokpal’ and ‘Lokayukta’ for the redressal of citizens’ complaints.  

A WATCHDOG WITHOUT TEETH!

A Lokayukta can conduct raids amongst the alleged politicians and officers in the Government service. But, it does not have binding powers to punish anyone. The Lokayukta Act takes within its sphere the Ministers including the Chief Minister, Members of the Legislative Assembly, Municipal Councilors and the Chairman, Vice Chairman, Managing Director and Members of Boards which are subject to the control of the Government. 

The mission of the Lokayukta is: To eradicate the vice of corruption, favoritism, abuse of position and power among the public functionaries. To improve efficiency and to present cleaner image of the top public functionaries. To promote fairness and honesty.

THE PERSON

The Lokayukta is independent and impartial in its functions and works for a fixed tenure. The person appointed is usually a former High Court Chief Justice or former Supreme Court Judge. The public can approach him directly, with their complaints.

Legal experts claim that the success or the failure of a Lokayukta depends solely on the “personal qualities such as the image, caliber, drive, persuasive power, dynamism, perception of his role and institution of the individual Lokayukta”.

A brief note on the legal Latin term ‘Amicus Curiae’, meaning ‘Friend of the Court’

Time and again welcomed by the Indian Courts, Amicus Curaie is a party or an organization, who is not a litigant in a particular case, but volunteers to offer information to assist a court in deciding a matter before it. The decision whether to admit the information, however, lies with the discretion of the court.

THE FORM OF INFORMATION

The friend of the court can file the information regarding a point of law or something else relevant to the case that they feel may help the court in the said ways:

  • A legal opinion in the form of a brief called Amicus Brief
  • A testimony that neither party solicited
  • A learned treatise on a matter that bears on the case

Amici Curiae that do not file briefs often present an academic perspective on the case. For example, if the law gives justice to a history of legislation of a certain topic, a historian may choose to evaluate the claim using their expertise. An economist, statistician, or sociologist may choose to do the same.

ORIGIN: ALL THE WAY BACK TO ROMAN LAW

Around the 9th century, British law incorporated Amicus Curiae which then had many other common law systems following suit. Later, it was introduced to the international law, with many cases concerning human rights calling on the term. With the most recent being the civil law systems, Argentina integrated the same.

AMICUS CURIAE IS NOT AN INTERVENER

An intervener is someone who has a direct interest in the outcome of the lawsuit.  While, the role of an Amicus Curiae as stated by Salmon LJ in Allen V Sir Alfred Mc Alpine & Sons Ltd. (1968) is as stated: “I had always understood that the role of an amicus curiae was to help the court by expounding the law impartially, or if one of the parties were unrepresented, by advancing the legal argument on his behalf.”
This often happens in an appellate court as well. They often argue based on factual data and information from lower courts. Many prominent cases see Amicus Curiae come from nonprofit groups that have a budget big enough to support a legal counsel.

FRIENDS OF THE INDIAN COURTS

India has been welcoming Amicus Curiae, especially in the cases that have involved major public interest. By doing so, the court is guided not only by the academic perspective required for the particular case, but also gets an understanding which would allow them to do justice in its entirety. The person who is usually allowed by the courts, in India, to act as Amicus Curiae is someone who represents the unbiased will and opinion of the society.
A perfect example is of the rather infamous BMW Case which had been in the news due to the fact that both the defense and the prosecution lawyers had been suspended by the Delhi High Court on charge of driving the witnesses to turn hostile. In the said case, Advocate Arvind Nigam who was appointed as the Amicus Curiae by the Delhi High Court played a crucial part in securing justice.
Apart from civil and public importance matters, if the accused is unrepresented, then, an advocate is appointed as Amicus Curiae by the Indian court to defend and argue the case of the accused.

SUBJECTED TO RULES

Unlike other friendships, this one is subjected to a certain set of rules and regulations. In order to be used in a court proceeding, an Amicus Brief needs to be provided in order to prove the facts that neither of the concerned parties have mentioned before the court. On the other hand, if it is felt that an Amicus Curiae Brief doesn’t bring new and helpful information, it’s considered to be a burden to the court and will not be used.

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=Har%20Ek%20Friend%20Legal%20Hota%20Hai!_728

The Cabinet of India: the ultimate, collective decision-making authority comprised of the Prime Minister and 35 Cabinet Ministers

Officially termed as the Union Council of Ministers of India, the Cabinet of India is a body of high-ranking, senior-most Government ministers, typically belonging to the executive branch. The Cabinet includes the Prime Minister, followed by the Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of State and the Deputy Ministers. The Cabinet may be contracted or expanded. However, the number of members is stated by the Constitution of India. The council is supposed to report to the Indian Parliament.

Originally, Cabinets were born as small groups named as ‘Cabinet Counsel’ that referred to the advice given to the monarch in private.

THE MEMBERS

Cabinet Secretary: India’s most powerful bureaucrat and the right hand of the PM

  • Heads the Cabinet after the President of India
  • Comes under the direct charge of the Prime Minister
  • Administrative head
  • Also the ex-officio Chairman of the Civil Services Board, and thus the head of the Indian Administrative Service
  • Generally, he is the senior most civil servant
  • Provides assistance to the Ministers, PM and Cabinet Committees
  • Lends an element of stability and continuity in the administration
  • No fixed tenure, though the average is less than 3 years, can be extended
  • Heads all the civil services under the constitution like IAS, IPS, IRS, IFS, PCS, PPS et al
  • Ranks eleventh in the Table of Precedence of India

The Cabinet Secretariat has 3 wings: Civil, Military and Intelligence.

Civil: Provides help and advice to the Union Cabinet
Military: Provides secretarial assistance to the Defense Committee of the Cabinet, the Military Affairs Committee, the National Defense Council and other committees dealing with defense matters
Intelligence: Deals with matters pertaining to the Joint Intelligence Committee of the Union Cabinet

Council of Ministers:

In a Cabinet, apart from collective responsibilities, the members are also individually responsible for the functioning of their respective departments. They are given the title of ‘Minister’ and each holds a different portfolio of Government duties (E.g. ‘Minister for the Environment’). Also, the Constitution has made it mandatory for the Council Ministers to be the members of either House of the Parliament.
Apart from this, the Council

  • Prepares and introduces bills in the Parliament
  • Assists the President to execute his functions
  • Determines policies and administers the same
  • Implements all the decisions adopted by the Parliament of India

There are three categories of Ministers:

  • Union Cabinet Minister: Senior Minister in-charge of any ministry
  • Minister of State (Independent Charge): Handles a portfolio that no other Union Minister oversees
  • Minister of State (MoS): Junior Ministerusually looks after a specific responsibility in any ministry

Together, the Cabinet forms the big wheel of the Government that runs the Republic of India.

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=The%20Big%20Wheel%20Of%20The%20Government_677

• Vishwanath Pratap Singh (1990)
• H. D. Deve Gowda (1997)
• Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1999)

What is common amongst the three? These all were defeated Prime Ministers of India – defeated by a parliamentary motion of no confidence.

WHAT IS A MOTION OF NO CONFIDENCE?

It is alternatively known as vote of no confidence, censure motion or no-confidence motion. It is a parliamentary vote that represents the parliament’s lack of confidence in the ruling party’s ability to lead the country. The elected members of the parliament vote for this motion. A passed motion of no confidence usually results in the Government’s fall and the calling of a general election.

RESPONSE TO THE MOTION

In an existing Government, when a motion of no confidence is passed, the head of state replies in either of the two ways:
• Ask another individual, who he believes will command the confidence of parliament, to try to form a Government
• Dissolve the elected parliament and call a general election to elect a new parliament
To determine whether an individual can gain the confidence of the parliament or not, the head of state examines whether that individual has the backing of a parliamentary party or a coalition of parties and MPs. He may also be selected based on an agreement of support with enough parliamentary seats to withstand any confidence challenges against them. If this cannot be done, parliament is dissolved and a general election is called.

EXAMPLES

The first record of a motion of no confidence occurred in the United Kingdom in 1782 immediately after the British defeat in the American colonies at Yorktown. The then Prime Minister Lord North presented his resignation to King George III. In the United Kingdom, there have been 11 Prime Ministers defeated through a no-confidence motion. There has been only one (against James Callaghan) since 1925.

Unlike the British system, in Germany the Chancellor is not required to resign if he or she receives a motion of no confidence.

MOTION OF NO CONFIDENCE IS NOT IMPEACHMENT

Many people mistakenly associate a motion of no confidence with the term ‘impeachment’. The two words mean different things. Impeachment implies that a crime has been committed by a Government official. It is a rare political process. However, politicians may receive motion of no confidence. And that doesn’t imply that the person under the vote has committed a crime.
It should be noted that in modern times, votes of no confidence are relatively rare occurrences in democracies. Parties typically handle tiffs among their members without resorting to the motion of no confidence.

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=The%20Right%20To%20Say%20%20No%20_648

India is a collection of small and big villages. In addition, Panchayats have been the backbone of Indian villages since the beginning of recorded history. Gandhiji, the father of the nation, in 1946 had aptly remarked that the Indian Independence must begin at the bottom. He wished that every village should be a Republic or Panchayat having powers. He named this as ‘Gram Swaraj’ (Village Self-rule).
On 15th May 1989, the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had introduced a constitutional amendment bill in the Lok Sabha. This was initiated to make Panchayati Raj a truly representative and effective system in India. The bill could not become a law, as it was not passed by the Rajya Sabha. It was reintroduced in the new parliament by the Narasimha Rao Government.
And the wish of Gandhiji came true, when through the 73rd Amendment in 1992; on April 23, 1993 the Institution of Panchayati Raj was accorded the constitutional status.

THE FOUNDATION

Panchayati Raj is a system of governance in which Gram (village) Panchayats are the basic units of administration. It is a decentralized system of self-government, where each village is responsible for its own affairs.
The concept comes from the traditional assemblies that settled individual and village disputes. ‘Panchayat’ literally means assembly (yat) of five (panch) wise and respected elders chosen and accepted by the village community.
The main aim of Panchayati Raj is to see that the community at large participates in strengthening of the systems and in the development journey along with the Government. This aim has been translated into reality with the introduction of the three-tier system viz.

  • Gram Panchayat
  • Taluka Panchayat
  • District Panchayat

In Gujarat, there are 26 District Panchayats, 224 Taluka Panchayats and 13,693 Gram Panchayats, while the revenue villages are 18,356.
The Panchayati Raj system exists in all the states of India except Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram.

THE 73RD AMENDMENT

The Amendment Act of 1992 contains provision for devolution of powers and responsibilities to the Panchayats. These are delegated to Panchayats at the appropriate level:

  • Preparation of plan for economic development and social justice
  • Implementation of schemes for economic development and social justice in relation to 29 subjects given in 11th schedule of the Constitution
  • To levy, collect and appropriate taxes, duties, tolls and fees

The provisions of the Act are as follows:

  • Establishment of a three-tier structure
  • Establishment of Gram Sabhas at the village level
  • Regular elections to Panchayats every five years
  • Proportionate seat reservation for SCs/STs
  • Reservation of not less than 1/3 seats for women
  • Constitution of State Finance Commissions to recommended measures to improve the finances of Panchayats
  • Constitution of State Election Commission
  • Others

To support this Act and to look after all the matters related to the Panchayati Raj, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj was formed on 27th May 2004. The Ministry advocates the working and implementation of this Act and ensures systematic function of the Panchayati Raj.
Panchayati raj is indeed the grassroots of any self-government. It ensures greater participation of people and more effective implementation of rural development programs. Freedom and development can be sustained only when it begins from the bottom. And thus, every village has to be self-sustained and capable of managing its affairs even to the extent of defending itself against the whole world. What can be a better system than Panchayati Raj for achieving this goal?

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=GrassRoots%20Of%20Self-Government_622

In the times of recession, when most of the organizations suffered, banks were also one of them. But one bank that is always cared for and is on the upward slide in India, is the Vote Bank.

Vote Bank is a loyal group of voters who belong to a single community. The quality of such voters is that they always support one particular candidate or a party in the democratic elections. This practice is more common in India due to the existence of caste-based social structure that constrains the individual choice while voting. Often, the votes are driven by the expectation of real or imagined benefits from the political formations. This is ultimately considered harmful for a democracy.

The practice of creating and maintaining such Vote banks is called Vote Bank Politics. This term has no actual, universal definition and is exclusively Indian. However, an understanding of the phrase can be articulated – Vote Bank Politics is a political strategy in which a politician or a party concentrates on the well-being of just one particular group of people to win the elections and doesn’t really focus on other groups, or the country/society as a whole.

COINED BY:

The term Vote Bank was first coined by the Indian sociologist MN Srinivas, in his 1955 paper entitled ‘The Social System of a Mysore Village’. The term talked about the political influence exerted by a patron over a client. The phrase was re-used by FG Bailey, an anthropology professor at the University of California, in 1959, in a book entitled ‘Politics and Social Change’. It referred to the caste based politics and electoral influences.

Since then, the term has been used popularly throughout Asian countries and soon expanded to describe Vote Bank Politics based on other community characteristics as well, like religion and language.

Apart from the diversity in social structure in India, one more reason exists why Vote Bank Politics here is rampant. Any election in which people cast their votes, the party or candidate with the maximum votes is the winner. In India, there are several parties and candidates, each representing a group. So among them, whoever gets the maximum votes win. These ‘maximum votes’ may even be as less as 10%. So if the electorate is as diverse as it is in India, all one needs to ensure is to keep one’s ‘Vote Bank’ happy. And be assured of an election win!

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=The%20Most%20Cared%20For%20Bank:%20Vote%20Bank_606