Que. 1. The Constitution of India conditionally allows domicile-based reservation in public employment. Elaborate.
Ans.: Article 14 of the Constitution lays down equality for all under the law. Art.15 and 16 elaborate the same for access to public places and employment respectively. There are conditional departures from the equality that is promised in Art.14 for reasons of addressing the historically built up and current inequalities.
Art.16 promises equality of opportunity in matters of public employment. However, there are exceptions made in favour of certain social groups based on economic reasons, caste and ethnicity. Even residence is also open to be diluted if Parliament so believes.
To elaborate, there may be regions in the state where the people may be backward enough for them to be preferred in local jobs. For example, people of Telangana region till 2014 when the state of Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated. However, such a `sons of soil’ policy can be made by way of law by the parliament only and not state legislature; it can be only temporary; and can be terminated only by the Parliament.
The aim is to alleviate the under-development of a region within a state.
Such jobs are subordinate jobs, generally.
Que. 2. “A balance must be kept between fighting hate speech on the one hand, and safeguarding freedom of speech on the other.” How do the laws and other policies of the government seek to achieve the balance?
Ans.: Hate speech covers many forms of expressions which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred, violence and discrimination against a person or group of persons for a variety of reasons.
It poses grave dangers for the cohesion of a democratic society, the protection of human rights and the rule of law. If left unaddressed, it can lead to acts of violence and conflict on a wider scale. In this sense hate speech is an extreme form of intolerance which contributes to hate crime.
Aware of the dangerous link between hate speech and violence, the Constitution of India and other laws make for stringent provisions for the balance. The Constitution of India, under Article 19(1)(a) provides the right to freedom of speech and expression. However, under article 19(2), the constitution also provides for the reasonable restrictions against free speech in the interests of sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.
Hate speech constitutes a criminal charge under some Sections of the Indian Penal Code, Representation of the People Act, 1951, Press Council of India (PCI) regulations, Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, 1995 and Information Technology Act.
Criminal prohibition should be balanced well. Any restrictions on hate speech should not be misused to silence democratic expressions and minorities and to suppress criticism of official policies, political opposition or religious beliefs.
Effective approach to tackling hate speech, in particular cyberhate, includes self-regulation by public and private institutions, media and the Internet industry, such as the adoption of codes of conduct accompanied by sanctions for non-compliance.
Education and counter-speech are also equally important in fighting the misconceptions and misinformation that form the basis of hate speech.
Public awareness of the importance of respecting pluralism and of the dangers posed by hate speech needs to be spread.
Que. 3. “Indian Civil Service needs to reinvent itself.” Comment.
Ans.: Since Independence, while the bureaucracy has earned itself well deserved but qualified praise, it has disillusioned many. Many today assert that the civil services are no longer a ‘steel frame’ and need to renew itself to deal with the current challenges.
Many changes have taken place in the ecosystem
In the past two decades, the Constitution Review Commission (2002), the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2008), and the NITI Aayog’s 3 Year Action Agenda (2017) have all suggested domain specialization instead of generalized competence, looking at the rising complexity of modern-day policymaking.
Recent reforms like Mission Karma Yogi for continuous attitudinal renewal may be of use in this direction. Faceless tax administration, tax charter for citizen convenience and railway recruitment reforms for streamlining are praiseworthy. It is equally important that Prakash Singh case judgement of the Supreme Court for police reforms and the TSR Subramanyam case reforms for the IAS need to be implemented for giving the civil servants adequate security of tenure and autonomy from political interference.
Que. 4. “Penalising states for failing to stabilise population, by the Finance Commission awards has not worked. New ways have to be devised.” Critically examine the statement.
Ans.: Finance Commission (Art.280) after dividing the shareable pool of taxes and duties between the centre and the states, allots to the states their respective shares based on certain criteria. One of the criteria is population. President of India mandates to the Commission about which census figure is to be taken.
President recommended in the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the Commission that it should consider the Census 2011 figure instead of the 1971 Census.
The 14th FC also divided the population criteria into 1971 and 2011. The 15th FC in its interim report in 2019 divided between 2011 and also demographic performance.
Southern states have protested. They fear it would lead to a significant loss in tax pool share. Moreover, they see it as a punishment for enforcing the National Population Policy effectively. Kerala became the first state to oppose this change.
However, one school argues that the 1971 census is unrealistic as the population has enormously grown in some states and it has to be addressed. According to the, FC is not the appropriate channel for affecting demographic goals.
The formula adopted by the 15th FC in its interim report is the right one as it is realistic in taking 2011 census and also aspirational in allotting some resources based on performance in population control.
Que. 5. Equality of opportunity is critical to social progress. Can we say the same about equality of outcomes? Comment in the context of Indian polity.
Ans.: Constitution of India seeks to establish an egalitarian society on the basis of rule of law and human dignity. Equality of opportunity goes ahead of equality before law as the former tackles historically inherited inequalities by providing additional facilities for the marginalised groups.
Preamble promises equality of opportunity to all. The State is directed by the Constitution “to promote the welfare of the people and a social order in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all the institutions of the national life” (Article 38.1).
By an amendment in 1976, the mandate is further clarified by adding a positive duty on the State to minimize the inequalities in opportunities. Several mechanisms including preferential treatment (reservation of seats for certain identified groups in legislative bodies, in public employment and in educational institutions) have been adopted by the provisions of the Constitution itself. Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment is a guaranteed fundamental right of every citizen under Article 16. This is ensured by prohibiting under Article 16(2) all forms of discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence in respect of any employment or office under the State. Art.15 prohibits discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth.
The right of individuals so discriminated to seek constitutional remedies by approaching the Supreme Court is also a guaranteed fundamental right Article 32.
However, equality of opportunities is used by different individuals differently. Equality opportunity provides for a level playing field. Outcomes are a consequence of individual merit, circumstances etc. Outcomes are different invariably different. Equality of outcomes is neither desirable nor necessary.