Text and Subtext of the NRC (Vol. 53, Issue No. 32, 11 Aug, 2018)
Idea of getting rid of the outsiders-has two implications:
- Adoption of the draft would lead to chucking out of the illegal migrants
- Those in the draft get the stamp of identity from what is considered a “due and impartial” process
Issues with the concept of the “outsider” in NRC:
The idea that the State, government and citizens in order to create fair conditions only owe to one another and not outsiders. The act of “othering” of the outsider by the “son of the soil” harms not only their legal identity but also dignity and sense of autonomy, thereby questioning their place in the larger world.
Rights and legality may be followed but the larger question of morality and humanity with regard to NRC remains unresolved. The boastful tone adopted by throwing out the “other” is something that needs to problematised.
Question of “who is the outsider?”- Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 lets those from the other side in based on their religion. E.g. of Israeli government only rescuing Ethipian jews during the Sudanese civil war
National Register of Citizens and the Supreme Court by Alok Prasanna Kumar (Vol. 53, Issue No. 29, 21 Jul, 2018)
The Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 declares Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians fleeing religious persecution from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan as not being “illegal migrants” for the purposes of the Citizenship Act, 1955, and also reduces the time required for such persons from these countries to obtain citizenship by naturalisation from 11 years to six years.
It has met with fierce resistance in the north-eastern states, especially Assam, is likely to be shelved by the union government and not introduced in this session of Parliament.
Tries to remake the notion of Indian citizenship, from a secular conception to a religious one and goes against Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.
If the union government was genuine about sheltering vulnerable minorities, it would have included Baha’is, Shias, and Ahmadiyyas, among others, who face persecution in Sunni-Muslim-majority countries for being insufficiently or improperly Islamic.
Even Tamil-speaking Hindus of Sri Lanka fleeing persecution at the hands of Sinhala Buddhists have been deemed unworthy of inclusion in the bill.
Right from its introduction, the bill faced severe opposition in Assam on the belief that it would enable “illegal migrants” from Bangladesh, that is Bangladeshi Hindus, to seek citizenship and, therefore, permanent residency in Assam. There was spread of the opposition in other north-eastern states as well, like Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland.
The idea of withdrawal is also problematic as a better solution would have been to make the bill inclusive and not discriminative, keeping in touch with the secular constitutional morality.
Role of Supreme Court:
Supreme Court has decided that it will judicially oversee the process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is supposed to help identify Indian citizens residing in Assam in accordance with the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Assam Accord.
A “first draft” published in December 2017 included only 1.9 crore names (less than 60% of the state’s population), causing panic among masses but averted on the promise that more names were to come.
Process of selection is not without problems as well. Considered it non-transparent and questioned the neutrality of presiding judge, Justice Ranjan Gogoi who himself hails from Assam.
Anuj Bhuwania -it has led to a court that has discarded procedure, caused grievous injury to vulnerable communities and diminished its own credibility through its overreach on matters.
NRC should be made public and create an orderly mechanism for those aggrieved by exclusion to exhaust judicial remedies in accordance with law, without prejudicing their rights by prejudging any matter.
Naga Tribal Councils- A Formidable Political Force by G Kanato Chophy and Avitoli G Zhimo (Vol. 53, Issue No. 32, 11 Aug, 2018)
The Naga Tribal Councils have a long history. The origin of Naga tribal organisations has roots in colonial experience, and it heralds the onset of modernity in Naga society.
The history of modern Naga tribal organisations can be traced to the formation of the Naga Club in 1918 followed by the formation of the National Naga Council, which were based on the idea of a common Naga identity.
The formation of the Naga Hills District Tribal Council (NHDTC) in April 1945 gave a platform to the tribal apex bodies like the Lotha and Ao tribal councils formed in 1923 and 1928, respectively.
In 1946, NHDTC changed its name to NNC, there was Naga plebiscite of 1951 and the boycotting of the general elections in 1952 was largely successful because of the tribal councils working at the grass roots.
The NNC was blacklisted as a secessionist group, and consequently the different Naga tribal councils and courts were dissolved on 12 August 1953, due to their political involvement and remained out of the public space until the 1970s and 1980s.
There is currently the issue regarding the conservative nature of these councils and controversy about reservations for women in Nagaland’s urban governance bodies. Contemporary Naga organisations are themselves a product of new circumstances in which Naga society finds itself, and these developments point to new emerging trends in Naga identity politics.
Special case of Nagaland in the Indian Constitution:
Article 371A makes special provision with respect to the State of Nagaland to protect the Nagas.
Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, no Act of Parliament in respect of-
- religious or social practices of the Nagas,
- Naga customary law and procedure,
- administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law,
- ownership and transfer of land and its resources,
shall apply to the State of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides;
The Governor of Nagaland shall have special responsibility with respect to law and order in the State of Nagaland for so long as in his opinion internal disturbances occurring in the Naga Hills-Tuensang Area immediately before the formation of that State continue therein or in any part thereof and in the discharge of his functions in relation thereto the Governor shall, after consulting the Council of Ministers, exercise his individual judgment as to the action to be taken.
Significance of Tribal Bodies
The formation of tribal bodies and organisations is a consolidation of tribal identity in a society that is becoming more politically conscious due to the influence of modernity.
Tribal bodies to assume an important role in the society, since they are perceived to be representing the community interests at a larger platform. They also behave as cultural custodians and, in the context of a fast-changing society.
The tribal bodies also play a crucial role in resolving ethnic and inter-tribal conflicts. They also assume a mediatory role when it comes to the Indian State thereby garnering political mileage as well as mass appeal.
However the divided ethnic and tribal identities also lead to a constant tug of war for supremacy hampering the cause of a pan Naga identity. Even the state politics is divided along tribal lines with politically more powerful tribes having precedence in decision-making.
However, organisations like the Naga Hoho, the Nagaland Tribes Council (NTC), the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) and the Central Nagaland Tribes Council (CNTC) are all constituted based on identity construction that transcends individual tribes. There are also issue-based organisations are tribal coalitions involving two or more tribes such as the ENPO comprising the Chang, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Phom, Sangtam and Yimchunger tribes.
Clash of Civil Societies:
These Councils are extremely bureaucratic both in their structure as well as functioning yet retaining the traditional model of ascriptive membership.
With regards to the controversy over women’s reservation in urban local body (ULB) elections in the beginning of 2017, some of the tribal apex bodies directed women’s tribal bodies to sever ties with the Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA).
The NMA maintained that women reservation in ULBs does not infringe on the Naga customary law since the power vested in the town and municipal councils pertains to urban development. The tribal bodies argued that they were not against reservation for women, but against the constitutional amendment, which will debilitate Article 371(A).
Nagaland Village and Area Councils Act, 1978, which has enacted 25% reservation for women in the management committee of the village development board (VDB), makes the issue more complex. This means that the village customary laws have been made amenable to modification with changing times.
Meanwhile, in towns the traditional customary practices over lands and resources blur the urban–rural divide as most townships were established on land purchased from the surrounding villages.
Further, Article 371 (A) rakes up issues of unique history and identity that need to be protected. There are apprehensions of further digressions in the name of reservation for women.
A Struggle Far from Over- Kisan Long March in Maharashtra by Amit Narkar (Vol. 53, Issue No. 32, 11 Aug, 2018)
Maharashtra continues to top the list of states with the highest number of farmers’ suicides in the country (NCRB).
The state faces rural distress and a lot of agitations on agriculture issues. The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana became a formidable political force in the state’s polity, thanks to the massive organised struggles it waged for fair prices for farm produce, particularly sugar cane.
The Kisan March:
The kisan long march under the banner of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) in March 2018, is the recent, most noteworthy struggle by the farmers of Maharashtra.
The march covered a distance of 180 kilometres, from Nashik to Mumbai, drawing around 50,000 farmers and agricultural labourers, with a massive participation of Adivasis from the Nashik and Thane districts.
The march was planned with demands such as implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, commonly known as the Forest Rights Act (FRA), provision of irrigation facilities, loan waivers, land titles for the toiling masses, implementation of social security schemes for the rural poor and homeless, prohibiting acquisition of land belonging to Adivasis in the name of development, and recognition of and respect for the powers guaranteed by the Provision of Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) to the gram sabhas in matters of land use in tribal areas.
Issues in agriculture and allied sectors:
Maharashtra ranks first with the highest gross state domestic product (GSDP) and the highest per capita income. But the state’s majority population still depends on the agriculture and allied sector for their livelihood which has been facing a negative growth rate, decline in the production of cereals and pulses and absence of sufficient protective irrigation in the state.
There is also the issue of preference for sugarcane over other crops which is also much more water intensive which has been promoted by the political class of the state.
The fate of cereals and pulses are left to the market forces, with very little state support in the form of MSP, procurement and risk covers. The fact that the state’s majority landowners are small and marginal (having operational holding size of up to 2 hectares [ha]), protective irrigation and state support for food crops become essential for their survival. However, this is completely neglected in the state’s agriculture policy.
Flawed design and unsatisfactory implementation of rural employment guarantee programmes have led to failure in creating alternate livelihood opportunities in rural parts of the state.
Issues for the marginalised:
Maharashtra is home to 10% of the country’s ST population and the dismal application of FRA has led to rejection of their rightful claims.
The dilution of PESA in Maharashtra has also led to land alienation among the tribals with land being acquired in the name of development, without the consent of the gram sabhas or gram panchayats e.g. Delhi–Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) or the Samruddhi Highway.
Land reforms and distribution for the landless and the needy have been extremely unsuccessful in Maharashtra and the rest of the country.
The decline in prospects of a better life in agriculture and other areas in rural Maharashtra is coupled with the rising costs of living, which add fuel to the fire.
The state has not adequately invested in social security with Maharashtra faring poorly on public health, nutrition, food security, education and continuously declining social sector expenditure.
The budgetary support for agriculture and rural development has seen substantial decline under the present Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)–Shiv Sena government in the state. The budget allocation reduced for the agriculture and allied sector by 14.64%, and for irrigation by 16.75%.
The comprehensive demands raised during the march transcended the class bias. The march was the product of a conscious effort on the part of the organisers to mobilise agrarian, rural, and tribal peoples, and build bridges across classes and communities.
The demands are based on a sound understanding of achievable short-term demands and long-term policy suggestions. This can provide a solid base for developing pro-people manifestos, at least for the rural constituencies of the state in the upcoming elections.
India’s Bold Maternity Benefit Act Can Become a Game Changer if it Addresses Current Limitations by Jean D’Cunha (Vol. 53, Issue No. 31, 04 Aug, 2018)
At a time of increasing education and economic growth, Indian women’s participation in the organised labour force declined from 34.1% in 1999–2000 to 27.4% in 2015–16
This contributes to women’s multidimensional relative poverty, adversely impacting their families and communities, and pegs women’s contribution to India’s gross domestic product (GDP) at 17% compared to the global average of 37%.
A number of reasons are responsible for this, including the very definition of work, methodological concerns in its measurement and shifts from recognised to unpaid work that are not counted as work.
Many Indian women quit employment after marriage and childbirth. This reflects a gendered division of labour, wherein motherhood—the dominant marker of femininity—returns women in paid public employment to full-time domesticity to fulfil their “primary” roles.
In India, maternity leave funding is an investment in gender diversity mandated by many companies.
Resource-access to Women:The Maternity Act amendment may increase the numbers of post maternity returnees and retention of women employees over time, enhancing their right to decent work and access to material and non-material resources.
Multiplier Effects:Women’s incomes and public-sphere learning have multiplier effects on development as they tend to invest these in families and communities, creating social and economic capital (World Bank 2014).
GDP:Further, $2.9 trillion additional annual GDP could be added in India in 2025 by fully bridging gender gaps in employment which is 60% higher than business-as-usual GDP in 2025 (McKinsey Global Institute 2015).
Companies’ Performance:Top quartile companies on executive-level gender diversity worldwide had a 21% and 27% likelihood of outperforming fourth quartile industry peers on profitability and longer value creation
Its challenges relate to coverage, inadequate provisions and guidelines which could undermine uptake, reinforcing discrimination in employment especially for poor women.
Heteronormative definitions reinforced:
It conflates maternity benefits with women as mothers, and is framed within the heteronormative paradigm, overlooking the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community, and their motherhood or parenting. This reinforces conventional gender-based divisions of labour, identities and relations.
Informal sector not included:
Contrary to the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission, 2008 and the Law Commission of India, 2015, the amendment excludes informal sector women workers, who constitute 93% of India’s workforce.
Their children Suffer:With poor childcare support, these women cope by leaving children alone at home, enlisting an older sibling’s assistance and taking children with them to work.
This compromises the quality of care, health and security of young children. It negatively affects educational and employment opportunities of the caregiver, often a girl child, withdrawn from school to provide care, reinforcing the vicious cycle of poverty and gender inequality.
Children at the mother’s worksite bereft of crèches can reduce time and effort that women may invest in paid work, diminishing productivity
It exposes children to multiple hazards such as toxic environments, extreme weather conditions, animal and insect bites, traffic or other accidents in fields, at construction sites, markets.
In the case of women in the sex sector, it exposes children to sex too early in child debilitating environments. These children tend to join the army of child labour as they grow, incrementally assuming tasks at these worksites
Creches not regulated:
It also does not define common facilities or have guidelines governing crèche accessibility, infrastructure design standards, child enrolment and retention ages, competence standards for personnel and care.
Its crèche provisions overlook childcare in middle-class Indian families where working women may receive childcare support from extended families and/or domestic workers in the comfort of home.
It also overlooks the physical and monetary costs of transporting children to and from worksites, and does not provide for crèches in residential areas or subsidies for childcare support by domestic workers. This can negatively impact women’s uptake.
If crèche design and implementation guidelines do not include employees of all genders and socio-economic groupings, usage may be limited and discrimination reinforced.
Small and Medium Enterprises:
Employers have been made fully responsible for providing maternity benefits. This is feasible for large corporations but start-ups, and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that employ around 40% of India’s workforce, grapple with operating costs. Maternity benefits would impose further cost pressures, risk of litigation, penalties for non-compliance and threatening viability.
The amendment’s provision of maternity benefits to women associates childcare solely with women, thus reinforcing a gendered division of labour.
Ninety four of 170 countries in the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) 2015 data base, provided paternity leave for fathers. But, paid paternity leave has an average time frame of seven days versus 106 days for mothers.
Can Lateral Entry in the IAS Ensure Good Governance? By L N Venkataraman (Vol. 53, Issue No. 32, 11 Aug, 2018)
The New Public Management (NPM) is a paradigm of hybrid administration that calls for the integration of diverse actors in governance. These actors include the state, market, and civil society where the government is strengthening the political line of command through the privatisation of bureaucracy. The LE decision is being presented as a mini-reform considering the government’s disenchantment with the old public administration.
Lateral entry into administrative services offers to open the corridors of power for the non-state actors.
Challenges that remain:
- The LE system cannot be expected to bring about desired solutions. It overlooks the need to assist the respective ministries in developing their team of experts and could prove to be detrimental in the long run.
- The LE appointees would have to navigate institutional inertia and learn the practicalities of governance within the few years of the contract period which makes it quite challenging.
- Given the systemic constraints, the eligibility criteria for candidates in the advertisement for LE are vague.
- The LEs are visualised as the spoil system to establish pliant public services because the current disposition is obsessed with the presidential form of governance.
- The patronage system has been appointing non-academic party-men to educational institutions for some time. Recent instances are those of the Indian Council of Social Science Research and the Film and Television Institute of India. These precedents of patronage signal that there is a higher chance that the government might use plum postings in the bureaucracy as backdoor entry for its political gains.
- The work culture and environment may be unconducive for outsiders as one often requires patience to survive in the archaic system.
- Regarding the procedural labyrinth, there is a higher chance that the lateral entrants could even become generalists in their struggles to fit into the system.
- Furthermore, the system of LE may create a new ivory tower within the administration bypassing the established procedures of governance.
- Since most of the LEs would come from non-state domains only for a period of five years, it is not clear how the Official Secrets Act would be applicable to them and how the government would prevent them from using system-related information after their stint as joint secretary is over.
- There will be concerns and challenges to ensure that a lateral entrant does not use the position as a revolving door between public and private institutions and go against the state exchequer
- The absence of institutional mechanisms to monitor the potential conflict of interests complicates matters.
- In a globalising world, the development deficits of market capitalism are overlooked and there is a higher chance that LEs will have a pro-market bias if they come from a corporate background.
- The private sector professionals may push their own agendas and this, in turn, will subvert the public institutions. In a possible extrapolation, one can even expect that the state governments will also take a similar route in creating wholesale openings for contractual hiring.
- The LE process will not ensure a level-playing field for serving officers. The seniority list-in-waiting could be disturbed as the LEs will slow down the cadre progression. It would unjustly deprive the serving officers of those coveted posts at the culmination of their respective careers.
- It is unclear how the instant preference for specialisation can replace the decades-long experience that a bureaucrat brings to the position.
- Politics often prevents the generalists from specialising like domain experts even if they want to as closeness to political leaders is the determining factor for plum postings. There is no correlation between the postings and their area of specialisation because appointments and transfers are almost random.
- The LE processmay enfeeble the ailing bureaucracy as well as demotivate new entrants.
- There could be collateral exits from the career bureaucrats to the corporate sector. In consequence, this would mean a death knell for governance.
- If any of the decisions by the government exclude the existing bureaucracy, there is a higher chance that the system may pave the way for its slow shelving by the officialdom.
If the intention is to enhance administrative reform, the specialists must be recruited from within the system. This could be done through systemic coordination with the UPSC.