SYNOPSIS: IASbaba’s TLP – 2018: UPSC Mains General Studies Questions [11th December 2017]- Day 16
1. With so many young leaders taking centre stage in the regional electoral discourse, the time has come to reduce the minimum age to 22 for contesting elections in India. Do you agree? Examine the pros and cons.
Under Article 84(b) and article 173(b) no one below 25 years of age can become candidate for Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly elections. However, with youngsters like Hardik Patel, Kanahiya Kumar and Shehila Rashid gaining the limelight much before their attainment of the requisite age for election as MP/MLA, the issue has come to the forefront.
- It will encourage Politics as a career among the youth.
- India is a young country with average age around 27 years while currently of Parliament members is 63. Reduction of age will help in plugging this generation gap and to be in sync with the present generation and addressing their issues.
- Young leaders can connect more to the problems of youth, their involvement in politics would lead to greater presentation of youth issues at the policy making level.
- With more youth in the politics, the influence of money power and muscle power would be reduced and real issues on the ground would take the centre stage in the political process
- Young politicians are more energetic, enthusiastic and passionate which puts them in better position to dedicate themselves for the nation.
- They possess the capacity of resilience and so they govern their constituency in a systematic way.
- 50% of the population is below the age of 25. Reducing the minimum age will widen the pool for the electors.
- Many democracies have a younger age limit for the contesters like Germany (18), UK (18), Israel(21) etc.
- The Gen Next is much well connected in terms of technology and hence can have better access to the people.
- Youth at the age of 22 are somewhat inexperienced and may lack the political wherewithal to understand real issues pertaining to various sections of the society.
- It might wean away the mind of the youth from their academic goals which would be a loss.
- The issue of political funding might be a problem for these candidates.
- Conflict may arise between the old and young politicians.
- Also, the youth may be too naïve to deal with the older bureaucracy. This would lead to inefficiency in administration.
Lowering the minimum age to 22 makes more sense atleast in regional elections to encourage better democracy. An innovative solution could be reserving some seats for the people of age lower than 25 and having the rest of the seats only for candidates above age of 25.
Best answer: Shobhit
2. Should the CAG question policy decisions? Give your views. If the CAG were ‘merely’ an auditor, why should Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, during the debates in the Constituent Assembly, describe the CAG as the most important functionary in the Constitution, more important than even the judiciary? Comment.
Background: From the appointment of new CAG to report on reliability of an indigenously developed surface to air Aakash missile slamming Indian Railways, saying ‘food unfit for consumption’ being sold at stations CAG has been in news again
- Start by writing about CAG, constitutional provisions and powers
- Discus, should it be given policy review power you should discuss both possible aspects
- Later part, write about Dr. Ambedkars views on CAG and provide reasons
- Comment on the present position and what was thought by constitution makers
Introduction: CAG is mentioned in the constitution under article 148-151.CAG is a constitutional body which has the one of the most important functions to audit and keep a check on the public expenditure and keep the Parliament abreast of the same.
The idea of the CAG questioning the policy decision is a welcome step as
- It will bring in the stricter financial controls on the executive.
- Rather than post mortem approach, a more proactive approach will result in reduction of the wasteful expenditure.
- The policy decisions when questioned will bring in more transparency.
- It will also entail the deliberate policy making and may reduce the delegated legislation.
Dr. Ambedkar, during debates in the constituent assembly, described th CAG as the most important functionary in the constitution. The importance of CAG cannot be undermined:
1) The CAG ensures financial propriety of the public exchequer, thus making sure the hard earned money of taxpayer is not embezzled and spent properly
2) The CAG is an important pillar in the system of legislative check on the executive in the financial domain
3) CAG reports have unearthed huge scandals and have been a basis for ordering of investigations and courts taking suo moto notices
However there has been friction between the CAG and the executive over its jurisdiction and mandate. Various people in the executive have questioned the CAG reports on the basis that they have commented on policy decisions and not performed an audit which is its core job. Questions have also been raised about the figures of so called presumptive losses. The mandate of the CAG must certainly be widened:
1) Since CAG is one of the most important helping hands of the Parliament, its report must be more comprehensive than just merely an audit. They must also go into alternate routes of spending if any which could have saved money
2) Policy decisions and financial propriety cannot be separated, hence the CAG has to inevitably also venture into the policy space
3) CAG mostly does a post facto exercise which sometimes is of no use, hence the CAG must be enabled to even do a preliminary check on some of the vital expenditure streams of the government
Conclusion: The importance of CAG cannot be stated more than what Dr. Ambedkar had mentioned. However, the CAG must not function as merely an auditor but its mandate must also include aspects of a comptroller.
Connecting the dots: Be prepared to answer any aspect asked on CAG, be it extending its power of CAG to reforms in appointment or Time limit to take actions on the reports.
Best Answer: No best Answer (All missed some or the other aspect while answering)
3. As an independent body having the responsibility of conducting fair elections in the largest democracy of the world, the Election Commission has to face many challenges. Elucidate. How these challenges are being met by the Commission? Are any reforms needed? Comment.
In introduction, mention what is Election commission and its function in 2-3 lines. In this question, Body has 3 parts. 1st part, mention about challenges faced by commission. 2nd part, how they are met and final part what reforms are needed.
Constitution of India under article 324 has established Election Commission, whose primary role is to conduct election to Parliament, state legislatures, Presidential and Vice-presidential posts.
Points to be covered
Challenges faced by Election commission:
- Both Administrative and Financial Independence.
- Booth rigging, booth capturing, bogus votes.
- Security of voting machines and counting of votes.
- Role played by Money, muscle and criminal elements.
- Polarization on various grounds.
- Human resources.
Various challenges are met through:
- Armed and reserve police forces for security.
- VVPAT, EVM machines for voting purpose.
- Model code of conduct.
- Re-polling in case of booth capturing.
- Public awareness.
- Bureaucracy involvement to supply man power.
- Judicial powers.
- Statutory powers to Model code of conduct.
- Autonomy on lines of Judiciary.
- Fixed budgetary allocation.
- Political parties under RTI.
Note: 3-4 points from each part can be picked and explained for a line or two. Total of minimum 10 points are required. Equal weightage should be given to all parts.
Election commission places a crucial role as custodian of democracy. To perform this function, they should be backed with enough powers and autonomy in absence of which they will be just like any other department of ministry under executive. As per changing situations, they should also implement speedy reforms to safeguard the democracy as established by Constitution.
Connecting the dots:
- Role of Election commission in India.
Best Answer: Jyoti Singh
Q.4 Don’t you think politicians must also have certain minimum educational qualification? Discuss. In absence of such criteria, examine the need to have ‘political eligibility test’ for politicians in India.
The question has got two parts. In first part you need to justify the need for a minimum educational qualification (only if you think so.) And in the second part you need to write about a possibility of a political eligibility test.
This answer can have two aspects – for and against. Since most of you have written an answer in favour of minimum educational qualification, in the synopsis we are covering the points, why it should not be there.
When India got independence, hardly 13% of India was literate. Majority of them were just literates i.e. they knew how to read and write atleast one language. This was the biggest reason why the entire world questioned the feasibility of a democracy and direct election based on Adult franchise. But the constitution makers and leaders of India knew, that maturity comes with experience too and not just with a college degree. The experiment was successful and India is now the biggest democracy of the world.
Same is the case with political leadership. A leader is not made, it becomes. Many of the leaders of our freedom struggle were illiterate but that does not mean that they lacked leadership skills or they were not aware of the problems faced by the people. The biggest quality of a leader is to understand the need of the public and take actions accordingly. And for this one needs to be close to ground realities and people he/she is serving. Many a times it is seen that highly educated people did not turn out to be good policy makers because they were too theoretical and far from ground realities.
This doesn’t mean that education is not important. Educated leaders can analyse a situation and understand matters of economy and polity in a much better way. But it cannot be a mandatory condition in country as large as India. The true power in India is with the people. If they don’t want an uneducated person to represent them, they shouldn’t vote for such people. But everyone should have a right to contest in election.
Political Eligibility Test:
Political acumen is inculcated with experience and education. But there are no specific guidelines as to what should be a curriculum to make a good political leader. It cannot be tested by an eligibility test. A leader is not made, a leader becomes. Political leadership is different from bureaucracy. A bureaucrat has to see the workability, law and constitutional technicalities of policy that is to be design. But what type of policy is required by the public is told by a political leader. He is the one who is accountable by the people for all decisions of the government. He/she is elected not selected. And if people don’t think a candidate is suitable, they should not elect him/her.
All said and done, it is a right of a person to contest into election but education should be promoted and appreciated. People should be united to elect educated political leaders.
Note: You can have your opinion about this issue but do not completely go against the idea of uneducated leaders. We have had many brilliant leaders who did not have formal education but worked for the development of the country. So your answer should be balanced.
Best Answer : Buzz Lightyear
Indian political setup holds up legislature in high regards. The sovereignty of people is transferred by due process to the legislators. While the Constitution prescribes only age eligibility especially for various positions, no other eligibility criteria is prescribed.
Whether the politicians should have minimum educational qualifications can be viewed in terms of its positive and negative implications.
- Will help in better understanding of issues of their constituencies and related parameters such as frequency of diseases, facilities that are available to patients etc
- Will help the politicians to grasp changes in modus operandi as e- governance.
- Will help to establish better accountability over bureaucracy.
- Will help to create better policies.
- Not feasible till absolute literacy and minimum education is achieved by all as the right to political equality is established already by constitution.
- We need accountable and dedicated politicians over professional politicians.
Need for Political Eligibility Test( PET) –
1.To create minimum basic standards in politics as workable know how of technology, policies etc
- To give people filtered options by filtering out Ineffective people. It will also help in reducing criminalisation of politics.
- The politicians should have knowledge about basic requirements of their position once elected, this will help in performing their duties efficiently.
4.Will help in dealing with dynasty politics and nepotism.
But PET from immediate effect is not possible as-
- All are not equipped with minimum education and literacy.
- People gather experience about their constituencies while canvassing and while working, not necessarily through examination.
- Level of awareness is not equal all over India a common PET may deter lesser fortunate candidates from contesting.
- Ethics cannot be solely determined by a test.
- PET would not take into account the lifelong credentials of the person and his work for the society.
Thus while PET is a good option, it should take off after sufficient consideration on awareness levels, education etc keeping in mind that our constitution provides for a democracy based on equal opportunities to elect and be elected. The levels of merit, transparency and accountability should improve in politics but not at the cost of cutting off somebody’s genuine opportunities.
Best Answer : Jupiter
In the constitution only age criteria has been laid down under article 73(b) and 173[b] however their is no educational criteria either in constitution or in Representation of people act, 1951 also their is no such need of having any educational qualification because:
- A leader most important criterion is full dedication toward people and country welfare
- A leader is required to have ground level understanding of the issues, keeping this in mind that 91st amendment has been introduced which created the local institution
- Financial empowerment of the local bodies are demanded because they can solve the issues of their areas better than any highly qualified person
- A leader is required to have empathy, integrity, sense of accountability and responsibility
- He must have passion to protect the rights and liberties of the individual
- He must be politically impartial and cooperative and should hear the voice of everyone
Election commission has made it mandatory for candidate to declare their educational qualification but it remained ineffective in determining the voter behavior. However looking at less educated one as not fit for politics is a backward thinking and also it will lead to the enforcement of newer form of inequality as it will make politics privilege of educated people who are most of time rich therefore the question of holding any ‘political eligibility test’ doesn’t arise.
Instead of enforcing any qualification we can persuade the educated people to fight election if their ideas are accepted by people than they will be send by them to legislatures after all democracy is the fight between ideas.
Q.5) Electronic voting machines have come into news with certain parties alleging that EVM’s can be rigged. Certain quarters have even suggested to introduce the old system of voting that took place with ballot papers. What are your views on this issue? Discuss.
- Issues with EVM’s and ECI reaction for that allegation
- How far EVM’s can be tampered
- Way forward
The most precious gift the Indian democracy gave us is universal suffrage. On the one hand ‘equality of voting right’ gave us freedom to choose a party to govern the nation, states and local bodies, on the other, and more importantly, made us equal citizens, in an utterly unequal society. In the past, there have been many efforts to subvert the right to vote freely. Physical intimidation and Booth Capturing were the most common methods that were used during the paper ballot era.
Issues with EVM’s:
EVM rigging concept is sparking because in recent election certain parties are getting maximum or minimum seats. One series criticism of EVM is that it does not impart transparency in conducting elections and It cannot be denied that EVM is technologically vulnerable. Ireland, Netherlands, Venezuela, US and many European countries in the past had controversies regarding rigging of EVM. The IEEE journal published an article suggesting 9 safeguards for protecting the outcome of EVM. None of these 9 safeguard, is in place in Indian EVM. Therefore, uncertainty has been raised among voters and political parties but old ballot system is not a solution.
Though as written above there could be faults in EVM as well but that doesn’t means we should go back to the ballet box election procedure as:
- They are very time-consuming
- A lot of man power required for conducting elections
- More Security forces required to safe and transfer ballot boxes
- Booth capturing and violence
- Lot of cancellation and re-elections
- Mal-practice during counting
The real issue behind the allegations of tampering is that though the machine’s behaviour can be altered with if perpetrators get their hands on an authentic machine, and even if it is done so by the near impossible way of getting one without the help of those involved in the electoral process, there is absolute no way that after the machines are returned back to the commission, it would not know about such a tampering.
ECI reaction for those allegations:
Election Commission of India (ECI) to hold an exercise termed as an EVM hackathon, where it challenged political parties to try and prove allegations that the machine could be tampered with to get the votes cast for one party to be registered to another.
Solutions for those elections:
A combination of safeguards ensures that these machines are fully tamper-proof. Broadly, these can be summed up in four categories: Software and technical, administrative, independent technical watchdog oversight, and judicial scrutiny.
The EC’s biggest challenge is to conduct the 2019 general election with VVPAT. It must speed up the production of the requisite number of machines. Funds must not be a constraint. Remember, it’s the “direction” of the Supreme Court.
Public faith and trust in the electoral system is of paramount importance. It must not be allowed to be shaken. The people and political parties have a right to question and the EC a duty to give convincing answers. It must become more vocal.
Best Answer: shobit