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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 29th May 2019

  • IASbaba
  • May 29, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 29th May 2019

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(MAINS FOCUS)


INFRASTRUCTURE

TOPIC: General studies 3

  • Economics: Growth and development
  • Inclusive growth
  • Infrastructure: Cities and amenities

Empowering Indian Cities

Background:

The scale of the challenge in fixing Indian cities is massive whether we look at the availability of clean drinking water, unpolluted air, quality of public transport, traffic management and parking, integrated planning of transport and land use, law and order, management and safe disposal of solid waste that is generated, treatment of waste water and effluents, and affordable housing.

In short, the state of public service delivery in our cities is abysmal and the cities are financially broke and cannot address these problems on their own.

UN projections suggest that India’s urban population will increase from 461 million in 2018 to 877 million in 2050, with India contributing the largest share of global urban population growth from 2018 to 2050.

Cities as drivers of economic growth:

  • Rapid economic growth in any country is associated with a decline in the share of agriculture and increase in the shares of manufacturing and services in its GDP, and this involves greater urbanisation.
  • India’s experience in the last two decades has been no different, except that the urbanisation associated with rapid growth has been largely unplanned.
  • Going forward, as we try to achieve rapid growth which is necessary to provide growing employment opportunities for our young work-force, we need to position our cities as drivers of the structural transformation of the Indian economy.

Present system:

  • In our federal system, a state government has the power to notify when an area is to have a statutory urban local government and what form it would take — a municipal corporation, a municipal council or a nagar panchayat (when an area is in transition from rural to urban).
  • The 74th Constitutional Amendment of 1992 gives the state governments the power to transfer a set of 18 legitimate municipal functions to the municipal governments and also devolve finances to them to enable them to perform these functions and organise the delivery of the public services.
  • State governments devolved most, though not all, of the 18 functions to the urban local governments.
  • Action on devolution of funds to urban local governments has been unpredictable and hopelessly inadequate.

Issue:

  • In fiscal devolution, the talk of cooperative federalism stops at the level of the state government. Over the years, the state governments have claimed and successfully obtained a larger share in the joint revenues of the Centre and the states.
    The Fourteenth Finance Commission increased the share of states in the revenue pool from 32 per cent to 42 per cent. By contrast, municipal revenues/expenditures in India have been stagnating at around 1 per cent of GDP for over a decade.
    This is much lower, for example, than the municipal revenues/expenditures in Brazil which account for 7.4 per cent of GDP and 6 per cent in South Africa.
  • A major failing of the national missions (JNNURM, PMAY, AMRUT, Smart Cities Mission, Housing for All) has been that they have not addressed the issues of empowerment and devolution to the third tier.

Following needs to be done:

State governments have the principal responsibility for urban development. But in order to deliver, they can and should ensure that city governments are sufficiently empowered to get the job done.

  • Our cities will have to provide much better quality of life if we want to create a climate which will attract investment. For this, we not only need more and better urban infrastructure but also significantly better institutions, which can manage the infrastructure and deliver public services of high quality.
  • This requires strengthening the finances of city governments, building their capacity to take on the new challenges that urbanisation brings, and providing an enabling environment through legislative and administrative support.

Way ahead:

  • Introducing an incentive grant system whereby states which devolve funds to some desired degree get to top up the financial grant from the Centre. This should be limited to second-tier cities, which are crucial to a new urbanisation thrust.
  • Prime Minister Modi at the present juncture is in a unique position of having to work with a large number of BJP-controlled state governments. It is a valuable opportunity to get the states to go for empowerment of the third tier and also strengthen their finances through assured devolution.

Essentially, co-operative federalism needs to go deeper, below the state level.

Conclusion:

There are no shortcuts to improving the state of our cities. The state governments need to decentralise, devolve and empower the cities.

Connecting the dots:

  • The state of public service delivery in our cities is abysmal and the cities are financially broke and cannot address these problems on their own. The state governments need to decentralise, devolve and empower the cities. Comment.

SOCIAL/WELFARE ISSUE

TOPIC: General studies 2 and 3

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  • Social justice and Empowerment of vulnerable sections of the society.
  • Constitution: Fundamental rights

Caste-based discrimination continues: Tadvi case and Thorat Committee

In news:

  • Recently, a young doctor from Mumbai, Payal Tadvi of the BYL Nair Hospital committed suicide. She was allegedly facing persistent caste-based harassment from her seniors at the hospital. Tadvi had taken admission through the caste-based quota.
  • Tadvi joins a host of underprivileged scholars who have committed suicide for exactly the same reason — Madari Venkatesh, Rohith Vemula, Senthil Kumar and Pulyala Raju to name just a few.

Thorat Committee:

In 2007 a committee was formed under the chairmanship of Sukhadeo Thorat to look into the harassment of Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) students.

The Committee report eventually served as a milestone in efforts to identify caste-based discrimination in higher educational institutes.

  • It revealed that about 69 per cent of the SC/ST students reported that they did not receive adequate support from teachers.
  • About 76 per cent of students mentioned that their papers were not examined properly and 88 per cent mentioned that they got fewer marks than they expected.
  • More than 80% of these students mentioned that evaluation in practical and viva was unfair and they didn’t receive enough time with the examiners, as compared to higher caste students.
  • Besides, a large chunk experienced social isolation and discrimination during their stay in the hostels at AIIMS.
  • The report also delineated the discrimination felt by SC/ST faculty members employed at AIIMS, Delhi.

Recommendations by Thorat Committee:

  • The educational institutions are required to undertake remedial coaching for SC and ST students to improve their language skill and also remedial courses in the basic courses so that they are able to cope up with the regular course.
  • Undertake measures to make the faculty more sensitive towards the problems faced by the SC/ST students and develop cordial relations with them, so that the students regain their confidence in their teachers.
  • It appears to the Committee that at present, there is lack of positive and supportive relationship and a relationship of confidence between the SC/ST students and the faculty.
  • The examination system may be reform in which the component of objective questions may be increased significantly and subjective elements in evaluation be reduced to the minimum. This should be for all examinations.
    Internal evaluation through practical and viva should be done in more transparent and open manner so that there is limited scope for bias.
  • Setting up a joint committee, comprising of students, residents and faculty to examine and study the social atmosphere in campus and understand the reasons and also develop an insight for the social division that has emerged over a period of time.

Conclusion:

Caste continues to be the horrific reality of Indian society. Casteism spills over into our offices, hospitals, factories, business establishments and even educational institutions. Caste-based discrimination in institutions of higher education needs to be addressed urgently.

Educational institutions have been the preserves of the upper caste and the rich. With affirmative action in the form of caste-based reservations, this hegemony has been challenged to a significant extent, and hence the urgency to bring back “order” through harassment, disgrace and coercion.

Connecting the dots:

  • Caste-based discrimination in institutions of higher education needs to be addressed urgently. In this light discuss the recommendations made by Thorat Committee.

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