Mains Q & A 24 February 2023
Q1. The federal polity’s formation has boosted the uniqueness and vitality of Indian democracy. Elaborate. (250 words)
Paper & Topic: GS II Parliament related issues
The Center and the State are the two divisions of the federal state of India’s polity. Nonetheless, India has an asymmetrical federalism, with the Center holding a disproportionate amount of power. While the relationship between the Union and the States and the duties of the States are covered in Article 256, Article 365 requires the State governments to obey and carry out orders from the Central Government. The party system is evolving, and federalism’s trajectory is shifting from one of collaboration to confrontation.
Creating India’s federal polity:
Separation of powers: Schedule 7 of the Constitution specifies the exact division of authority between the federal and state governments. According to Article 131 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has exclusive authority over considering disputes between states and the Center, with the exception of emergencies, which are subject to judicial review. g.: In January 2020, Chhattisgarh petitioned the Supreme Court to invalidate the NIA Act.
Coalition administrations have increased the bargaining strength of states.
Federalism is significantly more advanced than the President’s control imposed by Article 356 of the Constitution.
GST Council A striking example of cooperative federalism is the establishment of a uniform tax system by the States and the Centre in order to fulfil the goal of a unified Economic India with a “One Country, One Market” policy.
Up to this moment, two thirds of state votes had been made based on consensus.
The state’s interest increased steadily after the 10th FC and decreased to 42% by the 14th FC.
NITI Aayog: In place of the previous Planning Commission, the Aayog is promoting a bottom-up approach to development planning.
States are included in Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas as equal partners in development. A movement towards competition and cooperation has emerged.
Federalism in India: A problem:
The Union must “… ensure that the government of every State is carried forward in line with the provisions of this Constitution,” according to Article 355 of the Constitution.
The Union contended that the Constitution requires States to carry out legislation passed by Parliament when State governments voiced opposition to the NPR.
Government-funded initiatives: The majority of Central Aid to State Plans (CA), which are subject to little state control, are composed of CSS.
The observance of international treaties and accords. The central government can uphold its commitments under international law because of this provision (Art. 253). The provisions of this specific article were used to bring the Lokpal and the Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, in the Parliament.
200 Section: The governor has the authority to suspend state legislation pending the president’s approval.
In accordance with Article 256, a state’s executive power must be employed to make sure that all legislation passed by Parliament and any other laws that apply to that state are followed. The executive power of the Union includes the ability to take control of a state when the Indian government deems it necessary.
Relations between the centre and the state are hampered by a number of problems, including a lack of trust and dwindling pools that may be shared. They make full group cooperation challenging.
The States are really receiving less even though the Center increased their part of the divided pool.
For instance, according to the 15th FC’s proposals, many southern states do not receive their fair amount of tax revenue.
The decrease in funding for numerous social welfare programmes has an effect on the state’s health.
All parties must work together to resolve interstate water disputes like the Mahadayi conflict between Goa and Karnataka and the Mahanadi water issues between Odisha and Chhattisgarh (centre and riparian states).
The federalism is growing:
A number of committees have advocated for the strengthening of the Interstate Council throughout the year in order to allow for discussion and debate of the problems on the concurrent list while balancing the authority of the Centre state. A constitutional organisation like the ISC can be a solution even though there is substantially less institutional room to manage inter-state issues.
State autonomy: The federal government should provide uniform rules that give states flexibility. To avoid financial burden, the centre must provide the states with adequate budgetary support. When it comes to state concerns, as little interference as feasible should be made.
Democractic governance should be decentralised, and real government should be strengthened at all levels. Decentralized authority should be built on the subsidiarity principle.
On the front of development, the Center should defend the autonomy of the other two tiers of government and intentionally restrain the urge to combine power and responsibility, even though there may be circumstances in which doing so is justified (defence, currency, etc.).
Q2. Although excessive regulation may reduce their effectiveness, NGOs are crucial to achieving holistic development at the local level. In light of the 2010 Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) debate, some observations (250 words)
Paper & Topic: GS II Government Policies and Interventions
In order to place more limitations on NGOs that are eligible to receive foreign financing, the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, was changed in 2020. Regarding petitions disputing the legitimacy of these amendments, the Supreme Court has postponed making a decision. The government asserts that the changes are intended to increase transparency and accountability, but NGOs have criticised them as being unjust and capricious.
The role of NGOs in India:
In India, there are more than 3.4 million NGOs working in a variety of fields, from disaster relief to advocacy for underprivileged and marginalised people. There are significant tasks and responsibilities in a developing country like India, which could be summed up as follows:
NGOs strive to interact with communities that are typically left out of government activities and bridge gaps in government programmes. supporting migrant workers during the Covid-19 crisis, for example
Also, they engage in a wide range of activities, such as research and projects focusing on education, gender issues, healthcare, and the environment.
Local self-help organisations and groups are crucial for putting any change into action.
Putting together a pressure group:
Political NGOs mobilise the population against the government’s policies and actions.
According to the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy’s analysis, the economic crisis brought on by Covid-19 will also increase the number of school dropouts and child marriages while decreasing immunisation rates and access to healthcare.
Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act of 2020 Amendment:
It attempts to outlaw accepting any foreign donations by “public servants.”
It advises reducing the amount of foreign funding utilised by NGOs to pay for administrative expenditures from the current 50% to 20%.
The goal is to “prohibit any transfer of foreign contribution to any association or person.”
It advocates requiring Aadhar cards as proof of identity for all officers, directors, and other important staff members of NGOs or organisations qualified to accept donations from outside.
It tries to make it possible for the central government to carry out a quick investigation by directing organisations with FCRA licences to “not utilise the unutilised foreign contribution or accept the remaining portion of foreign contribution.”
It should also limit the use of foreign funds for administrative goals. This would have an impact on advocacy and research organisations that rely on funding to pay for running costs.
Governmental directives for NGOs and issues:
Several organisations have had difficulty operating as a result of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) amendments passed last year, which prohibit them from accepting foreign donations and mandate that NGOs open bank accounts in Delhi.
With the ban on fund transfers between NGOs, the reduction of administrative expenses paid with foreign funds from 50% to 20%, the requirement for Aadhaar for registration, and the government’s ability to stop the use of foreign funds through a “summary enquiry,” the FCRA, 2010, has been amended to be more stringent.
The five categories of social, educational, religious, economic, and cultural goals for which foreign donations are permitted to registered NGOs are as follows: Nonprofits must register with the FCRA in order to accept donations from outside the country. There are 22,591 NGOs that have registered with the FCRA.
Although applying to open the account before the deadline of March 31, the petitioner stated that administrative delays on the side of the bank and the Ministry severely limited its ability to carry out its operations, including helping COVID-19 and paying employee salaries as soon as feasible. Also impacted by these delays were its humanitarian and educational endeavours.
Before requesting registration under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), an organisation was required to have been in operation for at least three years and spend “a minimum sum of Rs 15 lakh on its main operations for the benefit of society during the last three financial years.”
Any company wishing to obtain a “must first “submit a specific commitment letter from the donor stating the amount of foreign contribution and the purpose for which it is planned to be given, specifying the amount from a specific donor for carrying out defined activities or projects.
The Center has stated that if a foreign contribution exceeds Rs 1 crore, it may be given in installments, “providing that the second and subsequent instalments shall be released after submission of proof of utilisation of 75% of the foreign contribution received in the previous instalment and after field inquiry of the utilisation of foreign contribution.”
The Centre has changed Rule 9 of the previously released rules, which deals with obtaining registration or prior authorisation to collect foreign donations, making the procedure more challenging for NGOs.
The law will have a huge impact on gender justice, education, health, and other aspects of livelihood in India. Unquestionably, the industry has “black sheep,” that much is true. But, by sincerely adhering to the current framework, these may be simply removed. The new regulations will add to NGOs’ administrative burdens and open the door for arbitrary government interference.
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