SYNOPSIS: IASbaba’s TLP – 2018: UPSC Mains General Studies Questions [4th December 2017]- Day 11
Q.1 There is a visible decline in the parliamentary culture of India. Debates and deliberations have given way to disruptions and indiscipline. What are the factors behind this decline? Shouldn’t there be a legally enforceable code to ensure smooth functioning of the Parliament? Discuss.
Nowadays, the non-functioning of Parliament is making headlines.And rightly so. The 15th Lok Sabha could be termed the least productive in the annals of Indian Parliament. The story is no different in the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Parliament. For the first time in its history, the Upper House returned the budget without any discussion.
- You should start by substantiating the given statement in the question. Here write facts, data and examples for better illustration.
- Write factors responsible for such decline
- Discuss need for legally enforceable code, you should explore both the sides of given topic; need for enforceable code and implication of such steps.
Introduction: In recent times, as highlighted by studies of ADR and PRS, the efficiency of parliament has declined. Parliament is meeting of as little as 70-80 days a year. Its sessions are crippled with disrupt, noise and fruitless discussions. Parliamentary committees have become susceptible to party based politics.
Some reasons for this decline are:
- The ethical standards of legislators have declined. Concern for the country and the sense of responsibility is declining day by day.
- Reduced number of days of sitting often causes insufficient time allocation for many sensitive and worthy issues.
- Controversial actions by ruling party – ordinances, redefining bills as money bills – too invoke ire of opposition.
- 31% of MPs in current Lok Sabha are from criminal background such leaders
erodes the moral authority of the parliament.
- Party whip many times prohibit legislators to express their minds freely.
- Frequent elections motivate parties to do unjustified criticism on the floor.
- Lack of subject expertise to parliamentarians resulting in delegated legislation and bureaucratization.
- Anti-defection and order of whip are preventing from free discussions.
Legal remedies have been sought at times for this issue. Bills were brought in parliament in 2004, 09 and 2016 seeking termination of disrupting members of the house. We also have ethics committees in Lok sabha and Rajya sabha to oversee moral and ethical conduct of parliamentarians.
Legal codification of conduct in the house is a growing need. Along with it, other aspects of working of the parliament should also be addressed.
- Number of days of sittings should be increased.
- Monetary penalties for indiscipline.
- Powers of ethics committees should be increased.
- Speaker and Chairman should be given more teeth to curb indiscipline.
- Adequate session days that the Parliament runs. This can be on the lines of European Nations like UK and Sweden etc.
- Code for effecting attendance of elected representatives. A convention of around 50% of the total strength be legally enforced.
At the same time, certain challenges and risks has to addressed while framing such a law like
- Code of conduct should not come in way of freedom of expression and speech of Parliamentarians.
- Right to dissent to a certain degree is a part and parcel of Indian polity.
- It should not turn into a tool in the hands of ruling party to overcome dissenting voices
- The policy should be backed by sound outlook and vision to cleanse political dynamics in India such as addressing the issue of anonymity in political funding, attracting youth to politics etc
Thus, it can be concluded that evolving a definitive code of conduct for Parliamentarians is a right way ahead but it has to be implemented with at most caution. Further, there exists a need for cleansing wider Indian political landscape to facilitate and strengthen democracy.
Connecting the dots:
Direct question can be asked on related issues of Right to recall of elected representative, Provisions and changes in RPA, and need for broader electoral reforms.
Best Answer: Shobhit
Q.2) Fiscal federalism as envisaged by the Indian Constitution is essentially a borrowed concept. Do you agree? Substantiate.
Most of the people go wrong in this question. The question is not asking about federalism or fiscal federalism but fiscal federalism of Indian constitution as borrowed concept. So u need to mention how fiscal federalism is borrowed concept in India.
In Introduction, write what is Fiscal federalism. Then in Body mention the tax systems borrowed from different countries with examples.
Fiscal Federalism refers to the division of responsibilities with regards to public expenditure and taxation between the different levels of the government. In India it is a reflection of the political federal structure. Many of its features have been borrowed from various countries while many have been an Indian innovation.
Points to be covered
Features borrowed from various sources:
- List system of taxation: From Government of India Act of 1935 and prevalent British norms e.g. excise duty, customs and corporate tax under union list whereas land revenue, estate duty and agriculture income under state list.
- Concurrent list: From Australia, but it does not include any tax (to avoid tax overlap between Centre and states) power rather other fiscal functions like social insurance and price control.
- Residuary powers: From Canada, functions not included in any list vests with the Centre e.g. Service tax.
- Unitary bias: From Canada, e.g. limited financial resources to states, Centre’s power to levy surcharge and discretion in sharing excise duties with states.
- Royalties: From mining activities borrowed from USA.
- GST: From Canada and Brazil along with modifications to suit Indian requirements.
- Grant in aid: Indian Innovation given the fact the state resources are meager and cannot meet even their budgetary needs.
- Finance Commission (Article 280): Indian Innovation but influenced from Australian Common wealth’s Grant Commission.
Fiscal federalism is thus a borrowed concept, but the modifications have made it appropriate for Indian economy and along with certain checks like FRBM Act, it has ensured the fiscal stability of the country.
Connecting the dots:
- Taxation structure in India
- Finance Commission
Best Answer: No Best answer.
3. The whole system of parliamentary government in India goes against the letter and spirit of the theory of separation of powers. Do you agree? Critically comment.
The statement says Parliamentary government of India goes against ‘letter and spirit’ of Separation of Powers. Now, this is a very strong statement. So you cannot go against it.
In this question first you need to explain the meaning of ‘Separation of Power’ as an idea. In second part you need to explain how is it slightly different in India and the provisions of ‘Checks and balances’ and then in conclusion you need to mention that India upholds the idea of ‘Separation of Power’ but with a balanced approach to check arbitrary use of power in one domain.
Separation of powers is a structural doctrine in political systems where powers are divided between legislature ( to make laws) , executive (to implement laws) and judiciary (to ensure rule of law , resolve disputes). Major utility of this system is to limit powers of each segment and also ensure independent functioning.
The system is not watertight in Indian parliamentary system which involves system of checks and balances. This leads to overlap in power diluting the doctrine of separation
- Check on legislature
- Article 13: laws ultra vires with basic structure of constitution are declared void giving implicit judicial review.
- Article 32 and article 226: writ jurisdiction of SC and HC over violation of Fundamental rights
- Executive forms majority in legislature. Dismissal of executive leads to dissolution of entire house
- Checks on judiciary
- Appointment of CJI by president
- impeachment of a judge require special majority in house
- no. of judges can be increased by legislature through simple amendment
- president has powers to commute, respite , reprieve and pardon punishment given by supreme court.
- Checks on executive
a.Article 142 : judiciary can order executive to act in public welfare.
b.Ordinance under article 123 and financial bill under 110 require approval of legislature.
c.Article 75: executive is responsible to legislature. No confidence motion leads to dissolution of government.
Hence indian parliamentary system is based on supremacy of constitution.
Note: You can add many more points to this. But remember that you need to frame your answer according to the need of the question. And tell that Indian system is not against SoP but it strengthens it with check.
Also, there is no need to mention abuse of checks and balances in India as that is not part of the domain of this question.
Best Answer: Sataka Gintoki
Note: In this answer the word limit has been crossed by miles. But it is selected as it is very comprehensive. Do not make a mistake of writing such a long answer in exam.
Q.4) Holding the General and State Assembly Elections simultaneously will ensure smooth functioning of the Parliament and the government would be able to focus more on governance than electoral campaigns. Critically analyse.
It is straight forward question, analyse the simultaneous elections will ensure smooth functioning of parliament and will it be able government to focus more on governance than electoral campaigns.
Former deputy Prime Minister of India LK Advani long back floated the idea of simultaneous elections. In Recent times, the idea got support from President and Prime Minister. President Pranab Mukherjee has endorsed the idea by mentioning it in his address to the joint session of the parliament ahead of the budget session. Reports of Law commission and the Parliamentary standing committee have also favored simultaneous elections.
What is simultaneous elections:
- It refers to holding elections to Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies simultaneously, once in a five year.
- At present, elections to Lok Sabha and to all State Legislative Assemblies are not being held simultaneously.
Arguments against of holding simultaneous elections:
- Continuous elections will keep political parties and leaders in continuous scrutiny.
- The concept of federalism might affect, Center and States are equal and sovereign within their jurisdiction. Simultaneous elections may reduce the importance of state elections.
- Simultaneous elections with fixed tenure of five years curtail people’s right to express their confidence or displeasure on the government, as elections is a part of their electoral democracy.
- Simultaneous elections will demote local issues or issues of state importance to the background. This completely ignores the diversity of the country.
- Simultaneous elections may negate the concept of no-confidence motion, which only works for those parties who can stay in power for continuously and minority government may face problems.
Arguments for holding simultaneous elections:
- It will reduce the election expenditure drastically due to elimination of duplication process.
- It will reduce the diversion of government machinery and human resources, as large number of government employees and public buildings are diverted from their regular responsibilities for election duties.
- MCC is an obstacle to the government service delivery mechanism, as MCC comes into operation during the elections. Simultaneous elections may reduce such disruption.
- To lure voters, political parties will do undue promises during election campaign without considering public interest.
- The simultaneous election once in five years provides stability to the governments. It allows the government to take difficult and harsh decision in larger public interest.
Some issues for holding simultaneous elections, constitutional impediments are there:
Article 83(2) and Article 172 of the Constitution requires that the Lok Sabha and State legislatures be in existence for five years from the date of its first meeting, “unless dissolved earlier”. This makes it clear that constitution does not guarantee fixed terms to the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies. Simultaneous elections are not possible without fixed tenure.
To address this problem, former vice-president B S Shekhawat suggested that no-confidence motion must mandatorily be accompanied by an alternative government formation plan. This prevents premature dissolution of Lok Sabha on account of political instability.
India need to prepare the ground to formulate a Constitutional Amendment to face the issues emanating from such a decision. Moreover, such an Amendment would not require the consent of half the state legislatures in terms of the proviso to Article 368(2) of the Constitution of India. There will, of course, be other constitutional issues and administrative problems, which need to be sorted out, in consultation with the stakeholders – political parties and all others.
Best Answer: Sandhya
5. Women in India haven’t got a fair deal from either the government or the judiciary as far as protection of their individual liberties are concerned. Comment. Also examine the ways in which women are changing the traditional gender discourse in India by taking suitable examples.
- Poor protection of individual liberties of women- this section will have two parts- how legislative has failed to protect women rights and how judiciary has done the same.
- Ways in which women are changing their traditional discourse- This should be substantiated with enough examples.
India’s ranking at 108 in Global Gender Gap Index, rising crime against women as per NCRB data 2016, women feeling unsafe when outside home, prevalence of glass ceiling effect even after twenty-seven years of economic reforms reflects the fact that women haven’t got a fair deal when it comes to their individual rights in our country.
Poor protection of individual liberties of women:
- Partial usage of Nirbhaya fund.
- Poor political participation of women. The Women reservation bill guaranteeing 33% reservation to women in Parliament is long pending.
- Rising rates of crimes against women reflects the lack of sensitivity of our government towards women issues.
- Marital rape still not considered a crime in India.
- Low conviction rates for those committing crimes against women. Lack of speedy justice.
- Controversial judgments like that on Section 498a (domestic violence) which diluted its provisions.
- A single women judge (out of 25 judges) in the Supreme Court.
Ways in which women are changing their traditional discourse:
- Usage of social media to highlight harassment. #MeToo camapign is an example.
- Greater participation in sports, events etc. With women like Sashi Mallik, Mary Kom, P. Sindhu in sports and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chandra Kochhar, Indra Nooyi in corporate world, bring lauds to India from across the globe.
- Rise in literacy rate.
- Women asserting their rights as seen in BHU molestation case.
Various steps have been taken by the government as well as the judiciary in recent past- StandUp India scheme, Government budgeting, National Housing Mission and Ujjwala yojana providing assets in the name of women, Induction of women in army, Triple talaq verdict by the Supreme court, the Bombay HC upheld women’s temple entry rights. etc to give women their fair due.
However, there is much more that needs to be done and in this light, the way women themselves are asserting their rights is a welcome change.
Best answer: disha