1. A government which operates in secrecy is more prone to corruption as compared to a government which operates in greater openness. Discuss. What are the tools to ensure transparency in India? Are the effective?
Transparency and accountability is one of the features of democratic government. The government which operates in secrecy is more prone to corruption and mismanagement than which operates in openness and transparent manner.
· Mismanagement of finance: Since it is not transparent, easier for mismanagement of finance.
· Information: Public doesn’t have information of what’s going. So more chances.
· Power: With power in hand, any gross violations can be covered up.
Tools to ensure transparency:
· Constitutional bodies: CAG and CIC.
· Laws: RTI, Ombudsman, Citizens charters, whistleblowers act etc.
· Parliamentary control: Questioning sessions, PAC, estimates committee etc.
· Digital: E-governance, Pragati etc.
· Media: They play very important role in keep government under control.
· RTI: Has become very successful in bringing transparency and keeping government in check.
· Whistleblowers: Has been successful in bringing many scams out like vyapam, chikki etc.
· CAG: Has also been very successful in bringing scams like 2G, Coal etc.
· Non-disclosure: Many documents are classified and no covered under disclosure.
· CAG: It is just a postmortem body but powers to make it proactive body is needed.
The present government has taken transparency and openness seriously, it has taken proactive initiative to keep citizens informed about its day to day activities through social media and news report. This automatically enhances the public image about government and helps in smooth functioning of administration.
2. The RTI law is not merely a tool for financial oversight of the expenditure of the taxpayers’ money by various government agencies. Rather it is the harbinger of the philosophy of transparent and accountable governance. Discuss.
Right to Information Act was introduced in 2005 to bring out transparency and accountability of government. It has been a historic step in bringing empowerment of common man about the affairs of government and increase confidence in public.
Tax money: Citizens gets to know where there tax money is being spent and how.
Irregularities: If there are any irregularities in spending, it is shown in RTI.
Exposure: Scams are easy to get exposed because of this.
Public domain: All information is available to public through RTI. Anything can be obtained except classified files.
Government affairs: Most of the information is put by government itself without public request under RTI column.
Openness: This has reduced secrecy in government affairs and increased openness.
Public scrutiny: Information disclosed is available for public scrutiny. So decisions are taken keeping them in mind.
Decision making: Decision is taken for proper results as they are pulled up in case of misappropriation or maladministration.
Efficiency: This has increased efficiency in working.
RTI has been a turnaround event in the recent decades of government functioning. But due to political considerations, the act has not been able to explore its full potential due to much information being put under non-disclosure list or classified files.
3. Red tapism is as much a product of rule books written by the government as its interpretation and application by the bureaucrats. Critically comment.
Red tape is an idiom that refers to excessive regulation or rigid conformity to formal rules that is considered redundant or bureaucratic and hinders or prevents action or decision-making. It results into inefficiency, stalling of projects leading to economic inefficiency, delays hurting the overall governance system of a country.
How rules contribute to red tapism?
Vague terms used in legislation without defining the scope.
Redundant laws from the British era.
Multitudes of rules and regulations.
How bureaucratic actions results into red tapism?
Lack of clarity among the bureaucrats.
Bureaucrats not showing extra efforts and being empathetic to the group they are dealing with, strict following of rules results into over-regulation.
Lack of coordination among different departments.
Attitudinal issues- sticking to rules more than required. The changing dynamics on the other hand required bureaucrats to be dynamic at the same time.
Fear of getting maligned- because of not following rules hinder bureaucrats from taking steps beyond what rules outlines.
Rules are required:
At the same time rules/laws and regulations are required for systematic functioning of the government and for checking arbitrariness.
Given the importance of rules and yet at the same time its usage in true spirit, its required that rules are simplified, redundant ones be taken off book. Some steps like single window clearance and e-governance initiatives like PRAGATI, e-Samiksha are already being taken by government. These including others like citizen charter needs to be implemented in true spirit.
4. The general decline in the effectiveness of the institutions of acceptability has given the space to the civil society to raise issues connected with financial probity and administrative responsibility. Discuss.
An institution as a system of action possesses certain indispensable qualities must have ability to perform the duties for which it was created; the institution must be effective in accomplishing its purpose and must have qualities of capability, public acceptance, and survival capacity, it declines if it fails to perform any of these functions.
DECLINE IN INSTITUTIONS OF FINANCIAL PROBITY:
The constitution designates CAG along with Parliamentary committees to ensure financial probity but non compliance of CAG reports in the recent times and parliamentary committees acting as bodies of mere token approval e.g.: In 2G spectrum allocation scam the reports of the CAG were brushed aside similarly statutory bodies like RBI were not consulted and not allowed to their duty in Demonetization fiasco and RBI orders on NPA are regularly brushed aside to dole out farm waivers with political gains in mind which hurts public exchequer.
It is in this connection that civil society organizations use tools like RTI, PIL , use of media to ensure that the issue is highlighted and the institutions are answerable it is the relentless pressure from civil society that RBI accepted in it s report that demonetization was a failure and the PIL on 2G spectrum and mining allowances revealed loss of 1 lakh crore to the exchequer.
DECLINE IN INSTITUTIONS OF ADMINISTRATIVE RESPONSIBILITY:
The constitution envisages Political executive and Permanent executive to carry out administrative responsibility of the Nation vide various constitutional and statutory bodies like ECI, CVC, CBI, etc but allegations of misuse of power, laxity and political affiliations have removed the sheen of such esteemed institutions and caused their decline
Eg: Supreme court calling CBI as caged parrot, delay in appointments to the bodies like CVC, no clarity on the institution of Lokpal have caused the civil society and NGOs like India against corruption to put pressure of the government by organizing rallies,.
A PIL by retired IG (part of civil society) has resulted in Supreme Court ordering police reforms, similar laxity in Decriminalization of sec 377 has forced civil society to take action can be taken as examples.
There is an urgent need for these organizations to reassert their independence and ensure compliance in functioning and fulfill constitutional mandate.
5. In India E-governance is more about the ‘E’ and less about ‘governance’. Examine the statement in the light of the initiatives taken by the government since the beginning of the National E-governance Plan (NeGP).
NeGP plan was started with the objective to improve governance through use of technology. It was felt that digitization would help in reducing interface, making process faster, and more transparent. This would help in upholding norms of good governance via rule of law, transparency, accountability, participation of the citizenry and ease of doing business.
However, E- Governance has shown mixed success
National judicial data grid ( NJDG ) has not led to reduction in pendency of cases.
While people can complain in online platforms but there is not deadline to redress them.
RTI can be accessed online, but understaffed manpower leads to delays.
Megh raj initiative has not been able to meet the expectation with which it was created.
eNAM aimed at creating an unified e-mandi, which though operational, hardly have any trickledown effect to farmers.
Broadband connectivity to gram sabhas and panchayat is still developing with absence of proper infrastructure and spectrum.
NeGP misses out on important issue of digital literacy.
We need to understand that technology can only help in providing faster access but is not panacea to structural problems. For eg. in the absence of judicial reforms, periodic updating of citizen charter, administrative reforms in terms of business process restructuring ( 2nd ARC ), the E-governance will merely remain “E” without governance.
It has been found that wherever enabling infrastructure has been provided E-governance has shown good results for eg. Telangana government right to clearance act, Shram Suvidha portal ( labour reforms ), PRAGATI platform ( for cooperative federalism ), India.gov.in ( participatory governance ). CSCs (Common Service Centers) are hugely popular in states like Madhya Pradesh, and have made E-Governance true in character.
Simultaneous efforts for digital literacy, bridging digital divide need to be undertaken actively so that E-governance is more inclusive and participative. By plugging in the loopholes with approach to bring in change in lives of people,”E-governance” assures us a promising future.