NOTE: Please remember that following ‘answers’ are NOT ‘model answers’. They are NOT synopsis too if we go by definition of the term. What we are providing is content that both meets demand of the question and at the same time gives you extra points in the form of background information.
Q1. Explain the importance of parliamentary committees in ensuring the accountability of the government. Is it high time to throw open the proceedings of the committees to public scrutiny? Analyze. 15M
Parliamentary Committees are an essential component of the parliamentary form of governance in India. They provide valuable support to the legislature in the discharge of its duties and share a substantial amount of their workload. Their support includes supervision, control, and vigilance besides reducing the workload of the legislature. The committees also provide a better insight into the issues in discussion and conduct detailed scrutiny and analysis; they are a form of aid to the Parliament
According to data by PRS Legislative Research, while 60% of the Bills in the 14th Lok Sabha and 71% in the 15th Lok Sabha were referred to Department related standing committees concerned, this proportion came down to 27% in the 16th Lok Sabha.
Parliamentary Committees system in Indian Parliament:
- Indian Constitution mentions two kinds of Parliamentary Committees – Standing Committees and Ad Hoc Committees. Any subject related to these committees is dealt with Article 118 (1)of the Indian Constitution.
Fig : parliamentary committees
Significance of Parliamentary Standing Committees:
- Parliament is the embodiment of the people’s will. Committees are an instrument of Parliament for its own effective functioning.
- Inter-Ministerial Coordination: They are envisaged to be the face of Parliament in a set of interrelated departments and ministries.
- They are assigned the task of looking into the demands for grants of the ministries/departments concerned, to examine Bills pertaining to them, to consider their annual reports, and to look into their long-term plans and report to Parliament.
- Not bound by party whips
- Which allows them the latitude for a more meaningful exchange of views as against discussions in full and open Houses where grandstanding and party positions invariably take precedence?
- Instrument for Detailed Scrutiny: Committee reports are usually exhaustive and provide authentic information on matters related to governance.
- Bills that are referred to committees are returned to the House with significant value addition.
- Besides the standing committees, the Houses of Parliament set up ad hoc committees to enquire and report on specific subjects that are assigned the task of studying a Bill closely and reporting back to the House.
- Also, in the discharge of their mandate, they can solicit expert advice and elicit public opinion.
- Assistance of experts
- Members of Parliament may have great acumen but they would require the assistance of experts in dealing with such situations. It is through committees that such expertise is drawn into law-making.
- Help in Economic growth:
- The Estimates Committee do a detailed examination of the budget estimates. It suggest alternative policies to bring about efficiency and economy in administration.
- Ensure answerability:
- The Committee on Government Assurances committee scrutinise the various assurances, promises, undertakings, etc., given by ministers, from time to time report on the extent to which such assurances have been implemented.
Opening the proceedings of the committees to public scrutiny:
- Right direction: It has numerous merits and can help nudge our country in the right direction.
- Citizen centric: Given how diverse this nation is, it is crucial that we have a means for citizens to get directly involved in the formulation of policy decisions, especially those that have a direct stake in the bill and its nature.
- Inclusive governance: It has the capacity to make historically marginalized groups feel more included and cared for.
- International practice: Countries like Britain and South Africa and even the state of Kerala already have already set up effective scrutiny processes.
Why is implementation difficult?
- Absence of statutory rights: Though it is required that the mandates of an approved policy be heeded by all Government departments, the absence of a statutory or constitutional right has watered down its effect.
- Amendments needed: The effective implementation of the policy requires subsequent amendments in executive procedural guidelines like the Manual of Parliamentary Procedures and Handbook on Writing Cabinet Notes.
Although parliamentary and cabinet committees are not a part of the Constitution they ensure healthy democracy and governance through scrutiny and better policies. They enable the cabinet and Parliament to take difficult decisions.
Q2. Discuss the reasons for the non-implementation of the citizen’s charter in the spirit despite many charters intending to bring accountability to the delivery of civic services. 10M
Citizen’s Charter is a document which represents a systematic effort to focus on the commitment of the Organisation towards its Citizens in respects of Standard of Services, Information, Choice and Consultation, Nondiscrimination and Accessibility, Grievance Redress, Courtesy and Value for Money. This also includes expectations of the Organisation from the Citizen for fulfilling the commitment of the Organisation.
Problems faced in implementation of Citizen’s charter in spirit:
- One size fits all:
- Tendency to have a uniform Citizen charter for all offices under the parent organization. Citizen charter have still not been adopted by all Ministries/Departments.
- Silo operations:
- Devoid of participative mechanisms in a majority of cases, not formulated through a consultative process with cutting edge staff.
- Charters are rarely updated making it a one-time exercise, frozen in time.
- Poor design and content:
- Lack of meaningful and succinct Citizen’s Charter, absence of critical information that end-users need to hold agencies accountable.
- Lack of public awareness:
- Only a small percentage of end-users are aware of the commitments made in the Citizen’s Charters since effective efforts of communicating and educating the public about the standards of delivery promise have not been undertaken.
- Stakeholders not consulted:
- End-users, Civil society organizations and NGOs are not consulted when CCs are drafted. Since a CC’s primary purpose is to make public service delivery more citizen-centric, consultation with stakeholders is a must.
- Measurable standards of delivery are rarely defined:
- Making it difficult to assess whether the desired level of service has been achieved or not.
- Poor adherence:
- Little interest shown by the organizations in adhering to their CC. Since, there is no citizen friendly mechanism to compensate the citizen if the organization defaults.
Reforms for Citizen Charter to make them Effective
- Not fits in the same mold:
- Citizen Charter should be formulated as a decentralized activity with only providing the broad guidelines.
- Wide consultation process:
- Formulation of Citizen Charter should be done after extensive consultations within the organization followed by meaningful dialogue with civil society.
- Commitments of the firms should be made:
- Citizen Charter should be precise and must make firm commitments of service delivery standards to the citizens or consumers in quantifiable terms wherever possible.
- Provide redressal mechanism in case of default:
- Citizen charter should clearly lay down the relief which the organization is bound to provide if it has defaulted on the promised standards of delivery.
- Periodic evaluation:
- A citizen charter should be evaluated from time to time preferably through an external agency.
- Officers to be held accountable for results:
- In cases, where there is a default in adhering to the Citizen Charter, fix specific responsibility.
- Society should be a part of it:
- To help in improvement in the contents of the Charter, Civil Society should be included in it. They should be a part of the process, its adherence as well as in educating the citizens about the importance of the vital mechanism of the Citizen Charter.
Recommendations of Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) and 2nd ARC:
- Consultation: Need for citizens and staff to be consulted at every stage of formulation.
- Orientation of staff about the salient features and goals/ objectives of the Charter.
- Database: Need for creation of database on consumer grievances and redressal.
- Publicity: Need for wider publicity of the Charter.
- Earmarking of specific budgets for awareness generation.
- Feedback: Benchmark using end-user feedback, Hold officers accountable for results.
- Charter Mark Scheme and recognition and honouring of individuals for their excellence and meritorious performance, introduction of group incentives scheme and monetary incentives will help achievement of goals of Citizens’ Charter.
A Citizens’ Charter denotes the promise of an Organisation towards standard, quality and time frame of service delivery, grievance redressal mechanism, clearness and accountability. Based on the foreseen expectations and aspirations of public, Citizens’ Charters are to be drawn-up with care and concern for the concerned service users.
Importance of Citizen’s Charter
- To make administration accountable and citizen friendly.
- To ensure transparency.
- To take measures to improve customer service.
- To adopt a stakeholder approach.
- To save time of both Administration and the citizen
Fig : objective of citizen charter
Q3. How can emotional intelligence help a civil servant to be a better administrator? Substantiate with examples. 10M
Emotional intelligence is about recognizing, and understanding not only one’s emotions but also of others and using those emotions to facilitate thought processes and act accordingly. It also involves regulating emotions in a socially desirable way.
Civil servants form a link pin between government and citizens. They are the one who implements policies. But due to increasing political pressure, workload, demand for good governance, and increasing regional, and socio-economic divide there has been a rampant increase in unethical practices like corruption, nepotism, favouritism etc.
In this situation, Emotional Intelligence (EI) helps civil servants to be better administrators and avoid these unethical practices.
- Challenging the system: An emotionally intelligent civil servant strives for change. She/he looks for opportunities to improve and grow and also to experiment, take risks and face new challenges without fear like frequent transfers.
- Karnataka IPS officer D.Roopa showcased Irregularities in VIP treatment for criminals. Being an honest officer, she has been transferred over 40 times in 20 years.
- Better administration: Civil servants need to adhere to rules, regulations, responsibility, and their duty at the same time they have to be emotionally and ethically competent to people. Thus EI ensures neutrality, efficiency and compassion for people etc.
- IAS officer Divya Devarajan learnt the tribal language Gondi, in an attempt to effectively communicate with tribals. Also, she changed the lives of people in tribal conflict in Adilabad village, Telangana by appointing special tribal coordinators, and language translators in government hospitals, giving prime importance to education etc.
- Solving societal problems – EI civil servants develop leadership, innovative, responsible behaviour qualities while addressing various social issues.
- IAS officer Mounish Moudgil initiated the development of apps for the surveillance of CoVid patients and was awarded a national e-governance award for the optimum use of technology in Covid-19 management and the war room.
- An effective way of managing law and order : EI enables civil servants to give utmost importance to humanism, compassion and rational thinking while handling situations like riots, strikes, the criminal justice system, prison reforms etc.
- IPS officer Kiran Bedi at the time when she was IG of Tihar jail believed in reformation rather than punishment and empowered prisoners for a positive life by providing skills to them. This gave them hope for a better future once they step out as free people.
- Creating Healthy work culture: EI helps to adopt suitable behaviour with subordinates as well as senior authorities. EI helps to recognize the contributions of others thus motivating them to be part of a team.
- Maintaining balance in life: EI helps in managing personal and professional life in a better way. If a person can manage his life issues like stress, emotions, and relations then he has a better chance to manage his workplace as well.
- Stay composed under pressure: EI manages to not flare up or lose control under difficult circumstances.
Civil servants need to be adept at handling people effectively since it forms a major part of their responsibilities. Further, the civil servants are the trustees of public interest and are entrusted to make policies. Therefore, they need to be high on EI, because without EI it would be difficult to be empathetic to different sections of society, to be firm in their approach, and to be good change agents.
Additional Points: EI Model given by Daniel Goleman.
Q4. Niranjan is an expert on traditional agricultural practices. He has dedicated his whole life to spreading knowledge about traditional practices and its benefits. He harvests seeds organically and shares them among the community. An enthusiastic Sarpanch from the neighboring village X asks Niranjan for his help to spread the knowledge of traditional organic farming. The farmers of village X, have long been habituated to excessive fertilizer usage and their lands have low nutrients. Niranjan works out a plan to revive the organic content of the soil and improve its nutrients. He then submits a detailed plan to the sarpanch. The over-enthusiastic sarpanch orders everyone in the village to immediately adapt to traditional farming. Although not in favor of this idea the Sarpanch pursues Niranjan to provide the required manure and seeds for organic farming. Niranjan is not able to provide enough inputs or train enough farmers. With a lack of knowledge and input, the farmers end up mixing both traditional and modern practices in a haphazard way. The plan is heading for a disaster. With the fear of low produce farmers blame Niranjan, the Sarpanch also blames him for providing low-quality manure and seeds. Hurt by all this, Niranjan who has worked hard to help them regrets his decision of agreeing to the sarpanch’s idea and leaves the village.
Given the situation:
- Do you agree with Niranjan’s action? To what extent do you think Niranjan possesses Emotional Intelligence.
- How would you react if you were Niranjan?
The case study highlights how important it is to have emotional intelligence in one’s life. The case study also highlights how lack of emotional intelligence can become a reason for the loss of credibility in society.
- No, I don’t agree with Niranjan’s action because it is not the right decision at this time because,
- Farmers may continue mixing both traditional and modern practices.
- Farmers will not be getting complete knowledge and benefits of traditional organic farming and they may continue excessive usage of fertilizers which will further lower the produce and land productivity.
- As Niranjan has lower EI, if he leaves the village now, he will regret a lifetime of the mistakes he has done.
- It will damage his reputation in society and he will not be able to spread the knowledge of traditional agriculture practices in the future days.
By Niranjan’s decision, we can say that he possesses lower emotional intelligence. How?
- He was unable to perceive and understand the emotions of an over-enthusiastic sarpanch when the sarpanch contacted him for the first time and when even though not in favour of the idea, the sarpanch pursued him to provide input.
- Instances like Niranjan not being able to provide enough inputs and train farmers indicates how he failed to manage his and the villagers’ emotions i.e., failure of his ability to take responsibility for his mistakes.
- As he leaves the village without taking responsibility and solutions, we can say that he is lacking inner motivation – Optimism even in the face of failure and a strong drive to achieve.
- Leaving the village at this time also shows that he is unable to bear the stress level in his life.
- He is lacking in communication skills and the ability to manage relationships with farmers and sarpanch.
- If he has a high EI, he may bring farmers and sarpanch on board through persuasion and conviction.
- My response to such a situation
- Firstly I will not leave the village as it will affect my credibility in society and enable me to spread the knowledge of traditional agriculture practices.
- I will bear full responsibility for not providing enough inputs and training enough farmers.
- If any farmer still has not adopted mixed practices, I will train them about organic farming and will provide inputs, and manure as per the requirement.
- For those farmers who have already adopted mixed practices and are in fear of lower productivity, I will convince them to wait for that season. I will also assure them to train and provide inputs promptly in the next season free of cost.
- I will also develop higher EI to avoid such instances from happening in future.
- I will also learn about managing and regulating emotions so that I will not be persuaded easily as a sarpanch did in earlier cases.