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Improved Environment for Human Rights


Providing an Improved Environment for Human Rights in The Country(India)

While human like rights institutions the NHRC have a significant role in the promotion and protection of human rights, the contributions of civil society actors and the state are just as crucial 

An informed discussion on how to provide an improved environment for human rights in the country, and how to achieve social justice through human rights is very necessary. Social justice, as the American philosopher John Rawls pointed out, ‘is predicated on the idea that a society can be regarded as egalitarian only when it is based on principles of equality and solidarity, where human rights are valued and the dignity of every individual upheld.’ A just society is one which provides a degree of protection to its weaker, differently-abled and less gifted members. It is not one where the law of the jungle prevails, where might is right. In a civilized society, reasonable constraints are placed on the ambitions and acquisitiveness of its more aggressive members and special safeguards provided to its weaker and more vulnerable sections. These considerations are basic to any scheme of social justice and their neglect will brutalize society. In a limited sense, the right to social justice may be said to be the right of the weak, aged, destitute, poor, women, children and other underprivileged persons, to the protection of the State against the ruthless competition of life. It is a bundle of rights, in another sense it is a preserver of other rights. It is the balancing wheel between haves and have-nots. 



Public Private Partnerships (PPPs): Analysing the factors behind their growth

The economic perspective in favour of PPP is that they present an attractive alternative to the market and contractualised relationships and are viewed to be broader in scope than privatisation and a qualitative leap from traditional contracting 

The term ‘Public Private Partnership’ or ‘PPP’ has become a buzzword of late in the policy circles, and is being increasingly resorted to as a preferred medium for provisioning of public services both within the industrialised and low-income countries. While the PPPs are more commonly found in the transport infrastructure sector, such as roads, airports, and ports (primarily due to the commercial pricing models), they are also invoked in water supply and sanitation, tourism, education, health, and other social sector programmes, albeit to a lesser degree. A significant difference is however observed in the nature of PPPs across these sectors. In many cases they appear to be glorified forms of service level agreements rather than ‘partnerships’ as are defined in the normative literature on PPPs. 

Social Capital through Social Media


Social Capital Creation Through Social Media

In a country as diverse and complex as India is, a properly restructured and prioritized social media can act as a catalyst for the creation of the social capital in step with the creation of the economic capital, synergetically reinforcing each other 

Social media means different things to different people. It can be used for hobby or as a serious and effective business tool. Behind every organizational success story in this media is a lot of patient planning and a sharp focus on getting things right – putting all the right elements in the right way in the right place at the right time. Like any other technology or facility, social media technology or facility too becomes good or bad depending on how it is used. In this article we forecast the evolutionary path likely up to the year 2020 for the ICT -ambience as well as the social media shaped by it and show how the enhanced or new features of this media can be well utilized to create social capital in the process of socio-economic development of the country. 

Evolution of ICT-Ambience For Social Media 

Formal technology forecast exercises carried out by the author in the past four years had predicted the IT-ambience supporting the social media, among others, up to 2020 in terms of Converged Mobile Handset  (CMH), Bandwidth Enablers, Fourth Generation Long term Evolution (4G-LTE), Nanotechnology, web 3.0, Mobile Intelligent Agents (MIA), Cloud Computing and Reusable Component Software. These are briefly outlined below :  



India and the Ascendency

of the Global South

The Report identifies four areas for particular attention: “enhancing equity, including on gender dimension; enabling greater voice and participation of citizens, including youth; confronting environmental pressures; and managing demographic change”

The elevation of a Jesuit from Argentina to the highest rank of the tradition-bound Roman Catholic church – arguably one of the most conservative and orthodox institutions of the established world order – is the clearest sign for believers of that faith of the ascendency of the global South. For followers of other faiths and non-believers, however, this dramatic shift was highlighted yet again by another more secular ritual: the release of the 2013 Human Development Report (HDR) by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

Aptly titled The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World the Report notes: “For the first time in 150 years, the combined output of the developing world’s three leading economies – Brazil, China and India [BIC] – is about equal to the combined GDP of the longstanding industrial powers of the North – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States [six of the original G-7].” The global South is generally understood to be countries that do not belong to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), with one or two notable exceptions, such as Chile.  



Planning Commission goes Social 

TO Demonstrate why government bodies in India need to be on social media, we would like to draw your attention to one fact – by June 2013, 66 million Indians will be on social media*. This number is fast growing, with over 150,000 new users joining social media platforms every month. While these statistics appear relatively minor in comparison to the total population, it is important to note heir influence. For instance, a new study asserts, “at a very conservative estimate, the fortunes of contestants seeking election to the next Lok Sabha from not less than 150 constituencies will be determined by Facebook users”. The point here is that government institutions can no longer ignore engagement on social media platforms. These platforms provide voice to people, and it is essential to not only listen to them for feedback but also engage in dialogue through them. This engagement is not just a marketing tool prior to elections. Rather, it allows for a constant engagement between Ministries and the public, and is now an important component of the government’s service delivery to citizens. 

Governments around the world have recognized the power of social media. President Barack Obama uses Twitter town halls to take questions from the people, the Russian law department periodically seeks feedback on new policies through their Twitter handle, and in Ontario the province crowd-sourced ideas on how to better integrate social innovation in the government. Even in India, our Prime Minister’s Office uses Twitter to inform its 5 lakh plus followers on the activities of the PM. These are just a few examples to show that there is a growing acknowledgement that greater transparency can be achieved through proactive dissemination of information from the government. 

What is it like to be a human being ?


What is it like to be a human being?

Almost half a century ago, the philosopher Thomas Nagel published a famous paper called “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” The question I want to ask is: what is it like to be a human being? As it happens, Tom Nagel’s insightful paper in The Philosophical Review was also really about human beings, and only marginally about bats. Among other points, Nagel expressed deep scepticism about the temptation of observational scientists to identify the experience of being a bat—or similarly, a human being—with the associated physical phenomena in the brain and elsewhere in the body that are within easy reach of outside inspection. The sense of being a bat or a human can hardly be seen as just having certain twitches in the brain and of the body. The complexity of the former cannot be resolved by the easier tractability of the latter (tempting though it may be to do just that). 

The cutting edge of the human development approach is also based on a distinction— but of a rather different kind from Nagel’s basic epistemological contrast. The approach that Mahbub ul Haq pioneered through the series of Human Development Reports which began in 1990 is that between, on the one hand, the difficult problem of assessing the richness of human lives, including the freedoms that human beings have reason to value, and on the other, the much easier exercise of keeping track of incomes and other external resources that persons—or nations—happen to have. Gross domestic product (GDP) is much easier to see and measure than the quality of human life that people have. But human well-being and freedom, and their connection with fairness and justice in the world, cannot be reduced simply to the measurement of GDP and its growth rate, as many people are tempted to do. 



Social Competencies: Human development beyond the individual

Individuals cannot flourish alone; indeed, they cannot function alone. The human development approach, however, has been essentially individualistic, assuming that development is the expansion of individuals’ capabilities or freedoms. Yet there are aspects of societies that affect individuals but cannot be assessed at the individual level because they are based on relationships, such as how well families or communities function, summarized for society as a whole in the ideas of social cohesion and social inclusion. 

Individuals are bound up with others. Social institutions affect individuals’ identities and choices. Being a member of a healthy society is an essential part of a thriving existence. So one task of the human development approach is to explore the nature of social institutions that are favourable for human flourishing. Development then has to be assessed not only for the short-run impact on individual capabilities, but also for whether society evolves in a way that supports human flourishing. Social conditions affect not only the outcomes of individuals in a particular society today, but also those of future generations. 



Portrayal of disability in

Literature and Cinema

Everyone has a right to dream, whether abled or differently abled. Iqbal (2005) of Nagesh Kukunoor asserts the victory of such undying spirit. The dumb boy, Iqbal aspires to be a bowler in the Indian Cricket Team. He suffers discrimination but triumphs over all odds

Disability is a major concern of our society. The Governmental and Non-Governmental sectors have been making efforts to fight it but it still remains a big challenge. We often hear about the pervasive presence of disability among people through the media which is an important source to cultivate right attitude towards disability and create awareness about it among people. Film is surely a very important medium towards this end. It would be interesting and pertinent to know as to how disability gets portrayed in cinema. This becomes all the more important because of the at large wide ranging impact of cinema on the society and public. 

Our mythology and puranas also do contain examples of differently-abled individuals like Dhritrashtra, Manthara, Ashtaavakra etc. Disability can be either inborn or a consequence of some unfortunate incident in life such as disease or accident. Films too have given space to representation of disability in various artistic forms.  

Only recently a film by Anurag Basu Barfi was released. It also became the official entry of India for Oscars. The protagonist Ranbeer Kapur playing a deaf and dumb man is simultaneously attracted to two girls, one of them being a physically challenged girl. The boy, Barfi, prefers the physically challenged girl over the other one. But, why ? It’s indeed a thought provoking question. Priyanka Chopra was much admired for her role as a mentally challenged girl, world apart from the glitter and glamour. It is significant that when a star of Bollywood plays such a character he is thought of displaying an exemplary courage for an artist. For instance, Sanjeev Kumar was much appreciated for playing the disabled in the legendary film Sholay although as we do know that his disability was incidental rather than being from birth. Likewise in the film Koi Mil Gaya (2003) Hrithik Roshan played a mentally challenged whose mental age was that of a eight year child although his biological age was twenty years. This movie was meant for the children and carried little social message yet, it proved that skilful use of creativity can make for a commercial hit as well. 



Making Inclusive Education A Reality

Inclusive education is primarily about restructuring school culture, policy and practice so that it responds to the diversity of students in the locality. It sees individual differences not as problems to be fixed, but as opportunities to enrich learning and embrace change 


“A society that has no vision for the education of children and youth
and is not prepared for the same, is doomed to die.”

....Mahatma Gandhi

Education is the right of every child for that is what equips him to meet the challenges of life. Children with disabilities need this all the more, to supplement their different talents so that they can prepare themselves for a happy, productive and useful life. Apart from formal education, per se, children with disabilities have also to contend with several issues connected with their disability, such as attitude of the society, lack of employment opportunities and health concerns. These issues have been topics of deliberation at various fora within the country and across the world including the United Nations. It is widely recognized that much more needs to be done to integrate children and adults with disabilities in the mainstream. 

The Reality 

India has the second largest education system in the world, with more than 200 million school aged children. 6 to 14 years of these approximately 20 million (10 per cent) do not have access to regular education (as per NSSO 2002 & Census 2001). While the national average of enrolment in schools is over 90 per cent, less than five per cent of children with disabilities are enrolled in schools. Moreover, about 40 per cent of these children are not able to complete the first five years of basic education, while another 20 percent leave school prior to the completion of three years of free and compulsory schooling as mandated by our Constitution.

The Constitution of India enshrined that elementary education is a fundamental right of every child. The same has been reiterated in several international instruments like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 and the Biwako Millennium Framework for action towards an inclusive, barrier-free and right-based society. The National Policy on education states - “In our national perception, education is essentially for all… Education has an acculturating role. It refines sensitivities and perceptions that contribute to national cohesion, a scientific temper and independence of mind and spirit”. The country also has a national policy for persons with disabilities framed by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment. The policy reflects their concern and recognizes that persons with disabilities are a valuable human resource and seeks to create an environment which provides them equal opportunities, protects their rights and ensures full participation in social and community activities. This in itself includes children with disabilities. 

Vocational Education and Skill Development


Vocational Education & Skill Development in Secondary Education in the XII Plan

The aim is to increase the percentage of the workforce which has received formal skills through vocational education and training from 12.0 percent at present to 25.0 percent by the end of the Twelfth Plan. This would mean that about 70 million more people have to be imparted formal skills in the next five years.

With a dramatic growth in elementary education enrolments and improvements in retention and transition rates in recent years, particularly after the enforcement of RTE Act, the demand for secondary schooling is growing rapidly. Meeting this demand is critical for three reasons. First, secondary education fulfils large manpower needs of the semi-organized and the organized sectors of the economy. Second, it is the supply chain for higher education. Finally, it caters to the needs of teachers for primary schooling. 

Public expenditure on secondary education has increased from Rs.35,806 crore in 2007–08 to Rs.94,183 crore in 2011–12, leading to an increase in its share  as a percentage of GDP from 0.78 percent to 1.05 per cent. Per capita expenditure on secondary education has gone up from Rs.315 to Rs.784 during this period. The Central Government’s expenditure has gone up from Rs.2,578 crore in 2007–08 to Rs.13,278 crore in 2011–12, a five-fold increase. There is significant private expenditure as well. The average private expenditure on secondary education in private schools is as high as Rs.893 per month as compared to only Rs.275 per month in government schools. This difference is primarily due to high tuition fees in private schools. 

E-Governance- Need for Bottom-up


E-Governance: Need for a

Bottom-up approach


Achieving success in e-governance requires active partnerships between government, citizens and the private Sector


In its journey to improve services for citizens, the government has undertaken several successful e-governance initiatives such as MCA21 (to improve the speed and certainty in the delivery of the services of Ministry of Company Affairs), online submission of income tax returns, Passport Seva Kendra (PSK), etc. Also, to roll out all the planned 1,100 e-governance services by 2014, the government is making huge investment -up to Rs 40,000 crore. This investment will cover the cost of all kinds of hardware and software that will be required for capacity building. 

‘At your service’ or Mee Seva is Government of Andhra Pradesh’s window to its citizens. Nearly 6,000 Mee Seva Counters are servicing over 50,000 requests per day, which are geared to handle 100,000 transactions a day. It has converged all National e-Governance Programme (NeGP) initiatives in rendering G2C services in a fast and secure way – thus ended the “tyranny of ink signatures”. Back-end applications interact with database and pull out information and front-end application receives the citizen’s request and communicates with departmental application – therefore gives a single view of the citizen. It involves departments like revenue, registration, municipal administration, education and other service delivery channels.  

Impact of e-Governance


The Impact of e-Governance on Good Governance

The State government has also initiated the ‘Information Kerala Mission’ project for the deployment of technology at the grassroots level as a model for participatory governance through effective use of IT


With the advent of Information Communication Technology(ICT), Indian governance has entered into a new sphere of globalization. Previously online and offline governance were treated as two different spheres but with the emergence of ICT, this distinction has been blurred. There is a common assumption of e-government as the automation of government services, yet, there is much more to e-government. A working definition of e-government is that it is: “the use of information technology to support government operations, engage citizens, and provide government services” (D. Sharon, 2003). The creation of this new cyber regime must incorporate good e-governance to deliver effectively and efficiently to citizens. The Government of India has formulated the National e- governance Plan (NeGP) to expedite deployment of Information Technology in governance with a vision to improve delivery of government services to citizens, business and other stakeholders. It has been recognized that a quantum jump in the quality of services is possible only by adoption and implementation of the principles of e-Governance. While initially the political and managerial focus was on developing e-services within each public institution, with limited consideration being given to cross-organizational coherence, the focus today has clearly shifted towards coordinated services offering one-stop shops to citizens and businesses (OECD 2007). In this context, this study has been carried out to examine the impact of an urban e-governance project of a South Indian State on good governance. 

Attempts on e-Governance in India 

India was one of the earliest to respond to the possibilities of using ICTs in development administration in the developing world. It may be noted that the Indian State began to design and execute rural development programmes with a relatively visible ICT content in the 1970s, while international attention on the potential of harnessing ICTs for developmental activities is a much new phenomenon. Several attempts have been made to use ICTs for improvising development planning, a key area of State action in the pre-liberalisation era. The Dharampur Sub-District Infrastructure Planning for Development (1977) is one such early example of an attempt to use computer applications for cost optimization and decision-making. The Karwar Rural Development Information System (1984) was yet another initiative formulated with a focus on reducing delay and curbing corruption through a monitoring programme based on computer applications (Kaul. et. al, quoted in Bhatnagar, 1990). 

Technology and Innovation


Technology and Innovation

The larger share of public investments into R&D could also be leveraged by focusing of R&D for public and social good priorities of India

The ability to innovate and deploy globally competitive technologies has been recognized as the next key driver of global economic change in the emerging knowledge economy. While science is scholarship driven, technology and innovations are market and competition driven, respectively. Currently, Indian Research and Development landscape is largely influenced by the character of public funded research and selection of R&D priorities is mostly supply driven. The private sector investments into R&D have been marginal. Therefore, demand driven component of R&D goals has been limited. Policy, strategy and tools are required to stimulate larger investments into demand driven R&D goals. Energy sector invests far too low into R&D, although industrial turn over in the sector is extremely high. Promotion of Public-Private Partnerships into R&D and clean energy is a critical component of India’s competitiveness in global trade and industrial growth. New strategies and tools are required to stimulate engagement of private sector into R&D and enhance the share of private sector investment from the current 26% of India’s R&D spend to at least 50% during the 12th plan period.  

The larger share of public investments into R&D could also be leveraged by focusing of R&D for public and social good priorities of the country. There is an un-tapped opportunity for India to emerge as a global leader in affordable innovations under PPP by focusing on R&D for public and social goods in the areas of agriculture and food security, water, energy, affordable health care, education, environment, renovation of urban infrastructure, S&T inputs to rural development etc. Residual idealism among the youth and vast talent base offer an opportunity for the R&D sector in the country to gain leadership in affordable and social innovations.

Budget - Concepts and Terminologies


Budget : Concepts and Terminologies


Budget of a government is a comprehensive statement of government finances relating to a particular year. Every Budget broadly consists of two parts- (i) Expenditure Budget and (ii) Receipts Budget. 

The amounts of intended expenditure by the Government in the next financial year are expressed in the Expenditure Budget. 

The entire Expenditure Budget can be divided into two distinct categories, viz. 

i) Capital Expenditure : those expenditures by the government that lead to an increase in the assets or a reduction in the liabilities of the government. It is however not necessary that the assets created should be productive or they should even be revenue generating. Only the charges towards the construction of the asset are counted as Capital expenditure, while the subsequent charges for its maintenance are considered as Revenue expenditure. Most capital expenditure is nonrecurring.  

- Examples of Capital Expenditure causing ‘increase in assets’: construction of a new Flyover, Union Govt. giving a Loan to a State Govt. 

- Examples of Capital Expenditure causing ‘reduction of a liability’: Union Govt. repays the principal amount of a loan it had taken in the past. 

Union Budget Formulation


How is the Union Budget Formulated?

The budget process in India, like in most other countries, comprises four distinct phases:

i) Budget formulation- preparation of estimates of expenditure and receipts for the ensuing financial year;

ii) Budget enactment- approval of the proposed Budget by the Legislature through the enactment of Finance Bill and Appropriation Bill;

iii) Budget execution- enforcement of the provisions in the Finance Act and Appropriation Act by the government—collection of receipts and making disbursements for various services as approved by the Legislature;

iv) Legislative review of budget implementation- audits of government’s financial operations on behalf of the Legislature. 

Process commences in August- September 

By convention, the Union Budget for next financial year is presented in Lok Sabha by the finance minister on the last working day of February. However, the process of budget formulation starts in the last week of August or the first fortnight of September. To get the process started, the Budget Division in the Department of Economic Affairs under the Ministry of Finance issues the annual budget circular to all the Union government ministries/departments around August- September. The Circular contains detailed instructions for these ministries/ departments on the form and content of the statement of budget estimates to be prepared by them. 

Challenge of Good Governance


The Challenge of Good Governance in India: Need for Innovative Approaches 


The need is to go for ‘million negotiations’ that would ensure that government, market and civil society work together for the poor 


Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, in his famous Tryst with Destiny speech of 15th August 1947 succinctly put the task before people’s representatives and the services in the following words; “….. to fight and end poverty and ignorance and disease; to build up a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation, and to create social, economic and political institutions which will ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and woman.” These works are still in progress. A deeper look at these tasks would clearly establish that these goals are entirely within the realm of governance. 


There is no accepted definition of governance. There is divergence of opinion about the meaning of governance between the conservatives and the liberals, between socialists and the communists.  

In recent years the word governance has become a very fashionable term and is being used in a variety of ways and that covers a large number of organizations both in public and private domains. 

For our purposes, however, we are confining governance only to public domain. We are concerned here with that form of governance which serves the citizens by safeguarding territorial integrity of the State and securing individual security, rule of law and the delivery of services ranging from education, health to livelihood and food security. 

Cash or Credit-Continuing Dilemma


Cash or Credit-Continuing Dilemma

The DBT programme, if it manages to overcome the challenges, might well confound its critics and create a whole new paradigm for delivering of entitlements in India 

The Direct Benefits Transfers (DBT) programme was announced with much fanfare as a “game changer”. Even before it could be rolled out in 43 districts, the FM rolled back the programme to 23 districts for the pilots, within a fortnight of the announcement of the programme. Since then much air-time has been devoted to the merits and demerits of this programme with the debate largely along ideological lines.  

What needs to be clearly acknowledged that despite these initial setbacks, the idea of the DBT programme that has been announced is not just unexceptionable, it is a move in the right direction that was long overdue. Cash transfers are not a new idea, not even in India, and most of the programmes that have been brought within the ambit of this programme are existing cash transfers. The programme that has been announced is not creating any new cash transfers but is instead consolidating the delivery of the existing schemes.  

The real “game changer” in this is two-fold: the idea of universal financial inclusion and, the timely transfer of benefits to entitlement holders without intermediaries and unnecessary paperwork. The use of Aadhar enabled authentication as the backbone of this system is likely to plug leakages that are built into these programmes. The technological/ IT architecture as well as the proposed financial architecture, have the potential of transformational change in rural areas, not very dissimilar to the revolution that rural telephony and mobile telephony have unleashed over the past two decades. Critics of the DBT, in failing to recognize this transformational potential, are doing themselves a disservice.  


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