Happy Birthday Tricolour!

Our National Flag was adopted during meeting of Constituent Assembly on this day 22nd July in 1947, Pingali Venkayya  is the designer of the flag.

The National Flag is a horizontal tricolour of deep saffron (kesaria) at the top, white in the middle and dark green at the bottom in equal proportion. The ratio of width of the flag to its length is two to three. In the centre of the white band is a navy-blue wheel which represents the chakra.tricolour

The top saffron colour, indicates the strength and courage of the country. The white middle band indicates peace and truth with Dharma Chakra. The green shows the fertility, growth and auspiciousness of the land.

Its design is that of the wheel which appears on the abacus of the Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka. Its diameter approximates to the width of the white band and it has 24 spokes.

Digital India

Prime minister Narendra Modi launched his another pet project Digital India and India Inc has committed Rs 4.5 lakh crore investment and promised to create about 18 lakh jobs as part of the initiative.

This post tries to give you complete details regarding digital India , its 9 pillars and the details in them.Digital India is an umbrella programme that covers multiple Government Ministries and Departments. It weaves together a large number of ideas and thoughts into a single, comprehensive vision so that each of them can be implemented as part of a larger goal. Each individual element stands on its own, but is also part of the entire Government. Digital India is implemented by the entire Government and being coordinated by the Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY).

The vision of Digital India is centred on three key areas,

Infrastructure as Utility to Every Citizen

  • High speed internet as a core utility shall be made available in all Gram Panchayats.
  • Cradle to grave digital identity – unique, lifelong, online and authenticable.
  • Mobile phone and Bank account would enable participation in digital and financial space at individual level.
  • Easy access to a Common Service Centre within their locality.
  • Shareable private space on a public Cloud.
  • Safe and secure Cyber-space in the country.

 Governance and Services on Demand

  • Seamlessly integrated across departments or jurisdictions to provide easy and a single window access to all persons.
  • Government services available in real time from online and mobile platforms.
  • All citizen entitlements to be available on the Cloud to ensure easy access.
  • Government services digitally transformed for improving Ease of Doing Business.
  • Making financial transactions above a threshold, electronic and cashless.
  • Leveraging GIS for decision support systems and development.

Digital Empowerment of Citizens

  • Universal digital literacy.
  • All digital resources universally accessible.
  • All Government documents/ certificates to be available on the Cloud.
  • Availability of digital resources / services in Indian languages.
  • Collaborative digital platforms for participative governance.
  • Portability of all entitlements for individuals through the Cloud.

Scope of Digital India

The overall scope of this programme is:

  • to prepare India for a knowledge future.
  • on being transformative that is to realize IT (Indian Talent) + IT (Information Technology)  = IT (India Tomorrow)
  • making technology central to enabling change.
  • on being  an Umbrella Programme – covering many departments.
  • The programme weaves together a large number of ideas and thoughts into a single, comprehensive vision, so that each of them is seen as part of a larger goal. Each individual element stands on its own, but is also part of the larger picture.
  • The weaving together makes the Mission transformative in totality.
  • The Digital India Programme will pull together many existing schemes which would be restructured and re-focused and implemented in a synchronized manner.  The common branding of the programmes as Digital India, highlights their transformative impact.

Digital India aims to provide the much needed thrust to the following nine pillars of growth areas,

9 Pillars of Digital India

9 pillars of Digital India

1.Broadband Highways

Pillar-1-Broadband-Highways

  • This covers three sub components, namely Broadband for All Rural, Broadband for All Urban and National Information Infrastructure.
  • Under Broadband for All Rural, 250 thousand village Panchayats would be covered by December, 2016. DoT will be the nodal Department and the project cost is estimated to be approximately Rs. 32,000 Cr.
  • Under Broadband for All Urban, Virtual Network Operators would be leveraged for service delivery and communication infrastructure in new urban development and buildings would be mandated.
  • National Information Infrastructure would integrate the networks like SWAN, NKN and NOFN along with cloud enabled National and State Data Centres. It will also have provision for horizontal connectivity to 100, 50, 20 and 5 government offices/ service outlets at state, district, block and panchayat levels respectively. DeitY will be the nodal department and the project cost is estimated to be around Rs 15,686 Cr for implementation in 2 years and maintenance & support for 5 years.

2. Universal Access to Mobile Connectivity

  • The initiative is to focus on network penetration and fill the gaps in connectivity in the country.
  • All together 42,300 uncovered villages will be covered for providing universal mobile connectivity in the country.
  • DoT will be the nodal department and project cost will be around Rs 16,000 Cr during FY 2014-18.

3.  Public Internet Access Programme

Piller-3-Public-internet-Access-programme-National-Rural-internet-mission

  • The two sub components of Public Internet Access Programme are Common Service Centres and Post Offices as multi-service centres.
  • Common Service Centres would be strengthened and its number would be increased from approximately 135,000 operational at present to 250,000 i.e. one CSC in each Gram Panchayat. CSCs would be made viable, multi-functional end-points for delivery of government and business services. DeitY would be the nodal department to implement the scheme.
  • A total of 150,000 Post Offices are proposed to be converted into multi service centres. Department of Posts would be the nodal department to implement this scheme.

4. e-Governance – Reforming Government through Technology

  • Government Business Process Re-engineering using IT to improve transactions is the most critical for transformation across government and therefore needs to be implemented by all ministries/ departments.

The guiding principles for reforming government through technology are:

  1. Form simplification and field reduction – Forms should be made simple and user friendly and only minimum and necessary information should be collected.
  2. Online applications, tracking of their status and interface between departments should be provided.
  3. Use of online repositories e.g. school certificates, voter ID cards, etc. should be mandated so that citizens are not required to submit these documents in physical form.
  4. Integration of services and platforms, e.g. UIDAI, Payment Gateway, Mobile Platform, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) etc. should be mandated to facilitate integrated and interoperable service delivery to citizens and businesses.
  • Electronic Databases – all databases and information should be electronic and not manual.
  • Workflow Automation Inside Government – The workflow inside government departments and agencies should be automated to enable efficient government processes and also to allow visibility of these processes to the citizens.
  • Public Grievance Redressal – IT should be used to automate, respond and analyze data to identify and resolve persistent problems. These would be largely process improvements.

5. e-Kranti (NeGP 2.0) – Electronic delivery of services

Pillar-5-E-Kranti-electronic-Delivery-of-Services

  • There are 31 Mission Mode Projects under different stages of e-governance project lifecycle. Further, 10 new MMPs have been added to e-Kranti by the Apex Committee on National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) headed by the Cabinet Secretary in its meeting held on 18th March 2014.

Technology for Education – e-Education

  • All Schools will be connected with broadband.  Free wifi will be provided in all secondary and higher secondary schools (coverage would be around 250,000 schools). A programme on digital literacy would be taken up at the national level. MOOCs –Massive Online Open Courses shall be developed and leveraged for e-Education.

Technology for Health – e-Healthcare

  • E-Healthcare would cover online medical consultation, online medical records, online medicine supply, pan-India exchange for patient information. Pilots shall be undertaken in 2015 and full coverage would be provided in 3 years.

Technology for Farmers

  • This would facilitate farmers to get real time price information, online ordering of inputs and online cash, loan and relief payment with mobile banking.

Technology for Security

  • Mobile based emergency services and disaster related services would be provided to citizens on real time basis so as to take precautionary measures well in time and minimize loss of lives and properties.

Technology for Financial Inclusion

  • Financial Inclusion shall be strengthened using Mobile Banking, Micro-ATM program and CSCs/ Post Offices.

Technology for Justice

  • Interoperable Criminal Justice System shall be strengthened by leveraging e-Courts, e-Police, e-Jails and e-Prosecution.

Technology for Planning

  • National GIS Mission Mode Project would be implemented to facilitate GIS based decision making for project planning, conceptualization, design and development.

Technology for Cyber Security

  • National Cyber Security Co-ordination Center would be set up to ensure safe and secure cyber-space within the country.

6.Information for All

Piller-6-Information-for-all

  • Open Data platform and online hosting of information & documents would facilitate open and easy access to information for citizens.
  • Government shall pro-actively engage through social media and web based platforms to inform citizens.MyGov.in has already been launched as a medium to exchange ideas/ suggestions with Government. It will facilitate 2-way communication between citizens and government.
  • Online messaging to citizens on special occasions/programs would be facilitated through emails and SMSes.
  • The above would largely utilise existing infrastructure and would need limited additional resources.

7.Electronics Manufacturing – Target NET ZERO Imports

Target NET ZERO Imports is a striking demonstration of intent.This ambitious goal requires coordinated action on many fronts

  1. Taxation, incentives
  2. Economies of scale, eliminate cost disadvantages
  3. Focus areas – Big Ticket Items FABS, Fab-less design, Set top boxes, VSATs, Mobiles, Consumer & Medical Electronics, Smart Energy meters, Smart cards, micro-ATMs
  4. Incubators, clusters
  5. Skill development
  6. Government procurement

There are many ongoing programs which will be fine-tuned.Existing structures are inadequate to handle this goal and need strengthening.

8.IT for Jobs

Pillar-8-IT-for-Jobs

  • 1 Cr students from smaller towns & villages will be trained for IT sector jobs over     5 years. DeitY would be the nodal department for this scheme.
  • BPOs would be set up in every north-eastern state to facilitate ICT enabled growth in these states. DeitY would be the nodal department for this scheme.
  • 3 lakh service delivery agents would be trained as part of skill development to run viable businesses delivering IT services. DeitY would be the nodal department for this scheme.
  • 5 lakh rural workforce would be trained by the Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) to cater to their own needs. Department of Telecom (DoT) would be the nodal department for this scheme.

9.Early Harvest Programmes

Pillar-9-Early-harvest-Programme

  • IT Platform for Messages

A Mass Messaging Application has been developed by DeitY that will cover elected representatives and all Government employees. 1.36 Cr mobiles and 22 Lakh emails are part of the database.

  • Government Greetings to be e-Greetings

Basket of e-Greetings templates have been made available. Crowd sourcing of          e-Greetings through MyGov platform has been ensured. E-Greetings portal has been made live on 14th  August 2014.

  • Biometric attendance

It will cover all Central Govt. Offices in Delhi and is already operational in DeitY and has been initiated in the Department of Urban Development. On-boarding has also started in other departments.

  • Wi-Fi in All Universities

All universities on the National Knowledge Network (NKN) shall be covered under this scheme. Ministry of HRD is the nodal ministry for implementing this scheme.

  • Secure Email within Government
  1. Email would be the primary mode of communication.
  2. Phase-I upgradation for 10 lakh employees has been completed. In Phase II, infrastructure would be further upgraded to cover 50 lakh employees by March 2015 at a cost of Rs 98 Cr. DeitY is the nodal department for this scheme.
  • Standardize Government Email Design

Standardised templates for Government email are under preparation and would be ready by October 2014. This would be implemented by DeitY.

  • Public Wi-fi hotspots

Cities with population of over 1 million and tourist centres would be provided with public wi-fi hotspots to promote digital cities. The scheme would be implemented by DoT and MoUD.

  • School Books to be eBooks

All books shall be converted into eBooks. Min. of HRD/ DeitY would be the nodal agencies for this scheme.

  • SMS based weather information, disaster alerts

SMS based weather information and disaster alerts would be provided. DeitY’s Mobile Seva Platform is already ready and available for this purpose. MoES (IMD) / MHA (NDMA) would be the nodal organizations for implementing this scheme.

  • National Portal for Lost & Found children
  1. This would facilitate real time information gathering and sharing on the lost and found children and would go a long way to check crime and improve timely response.
  2. DeitY/ DoWCD would be the nodal departments for this project.

Some of the aforementioned projects are under various stages of implementation and may require some transformational process reengineering, refinements and adjustment of scoping and implementation strategy to achieve the desired service level objectives by the concerned line Ministries/Departments at the Central, State and Local Government levels.

PRS Annual Policy Review 2014-15

PRS  has Just released the Annual Policy Review 2014-15 with the aim of recording in one place all key legislative and policy developments in India during the fiscal year.  These events have been classified in the following four broad categories:

  • (i) Economy and Finance,
  • (ii) Infrastructure
  • (iii) Development sectors,
  •  (iv) Law and Security.

The PRS Annual Policy Review 2014-15 summarises all major policy developments over the year, with references to the original documents.

interpol notices system

An Interpol notice is an international alert used by police to communicate information about crimes, criminals and threats to their counterparts around the world. They are circulated by Interpol to all member states at the request of a member or an authorized international entity. The information disseminated via notices concerns individuals wanted for serious crimes, missing persons, unidentified bodies, possible threats, prison escapes etc.

There are eight types, seven of which are color-coded by their function: Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Black, Orange, and Purple. The most well-known notice is the Red Notice which is the “closest instrument to an international arrest warrant in use today.”

 

Types of Notice

Notice - red
Red Notice
To seek the location and arrest of wanted persons with a view to extradition or similar lawful action.
Notice - yellow
Yellow Notice
To help locate missing persons, often minors, or to help identify persons who are unable to identify themselves.
Notice - blue
Blue Notice
To collect additional information about a person’s identity, location or activities in relation to a crime.
Notice - black
Black Notice
To seek information on unidentified bodies.
Notice - green
Green Notice
To provide warnings and intelligence about persons who have committed criminal offences and are likely to repeat these crimes in other countries.
Notice - orange
Orange Notice
To warn of an event, a person, an object or a process representing a serious and imminent threat to public safety.
Notice - UN (small)
INTERPOL–United Nations Security Council Special Notice
Issued for groups and individuals who are the targets of UN Security Council Sanctions Committees.
Notice - purple
Purple Notice
To seek or provide information on modi operandi, objects, devices and concealment methods used by criminals.

Yoga and its Benefits by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

I normally never talk about the benefits of yoga, because I consider all the greatest benefits as the side effects of yoga. People may initially come for yoga because it offers a variety of health benefits and a way to become free from stress. Physical and mental benefits are definitely there – one can experience remarkable changes within their physicality and their mentality.

There are many people who have come out of their chronic ailments quite miraculously. There are definitely benefits in terms of being peaceful, joyful and healthy, but that is not the essential nature of what it is. The real thing about yoga is that it makes your experience of life so large and all-inclusive that instead of being an individual, you become a universal process. You will see it will yield phenomenal results.

When the physical dimensions of yoga were first taught, it was expounded as to how to align this human system to the cosmic geometry. We are looking at the geometry of creation. If you get the geometry right, if it is all perfectly aligned, all the friction is taken off. Internal friction means you are working against yourself; you are an issue by yourself.

When you are an issue by yourself, what other issue can you handle? Everything is stressful. You should not be an issue in your life. If you have other issues, let’s deal with it. There are many other challenges in the world. The more activity you take on, the more challenges will happen endlessly. But your own body, mind, emotions, energy should not be stumbling blocks in your life.

If these are properly aligned, suddenly this body and this mind can do things that you have not thought possible in your wildest dreams. Suddenly people think you are superhuman. If you are aligned with the geometry – whether it is business, home, love, war, whatever it may be, you will do it with a certain level of efficiency and competence.

This is because in a most essential way, somehow either consciously or unconsciously, you found the geometry of that. On the surface it may look like understanding, but in a most fundamental way it is the geometry of the existence. Somewhere you hit it off by getting the right geometry.

Yoga means the mechanics of life. Understanding how this human mechanism is made and how to use it in a way that it moves towards freedom, not towards entanglement. Now, how to hold the body? Just learning to hold the body right is not a simple thing.

You remember in the 70’s and 80’s when you got a television in your home, there was an aluminum antenna on top of your house. If it is aligned properly, the whole world pours into your sitting room because you got it into the right position.

 Similarly, this body has a tremendous capability. If you hold it right, you can download the whole cosmos. This is yoga. The word yoga means union. Union means the distinction is gone between what is individual and what is universal.

There is no individual and there is no universal, everything has become you – that means you are in yoga. Not because you imagined something, but because you perceived. Perception will happen only if you are in the right way, otherwise it will not happen. Learning to hold this body right is like adjusting your antenna – if you hold this right, the whole existence pours into you. It is a tremendous instrument of perception.

The Benefits of Yoga in one’s life:

 Yoga does not mean doing a particular practice or twisting your body. Yoga means any method that you use to reach your higher nature. The technology that you use is referred to as yoga.

 Why yoga is needed in one’s life? Of course there are physical benefits. This can do many things to a person, including improving their health and making the body more flexible. But with a healthy body you can still be a mess in your life. There are more people on this planet healthy and miserable than unhealthy and miserable. At least if you have a disease, you have a good excuse, which most people do not even have. With yoga, health, physical and mental wellbeing will happen for a person. People can find quite miraculous health benefits by doing simple processes of yoga, but that still does not fix life.

 As long as you exist here not knowing all the dimensions of what this human being is, you will live a very limited life full of struggle. Once you come into this world with a human body and intelligence, you are capable of exploring all the dimensions of what this life has to offer. If that is not done, then the being suffers because it has been restricted to physicality; it has not experienced the other dimensions of what it is. This is the nature of life. The moment you restrict it, it struggles.

Today, string theory and modern science is talking about eleven dimensions to life. In the yogic systems we have always been talking about twenty-one dimensions to life. If you can do so much with just the three dimensions that are available to you right now, if you had twenty-one dimensions, you would have enormous freedom with life. You would handle your life with so much ease because all the dimensions are alive and within your experience.

The real thing about yoga is, it makes you all inclusive. It makes your experience of life so large and all inclusive that instead of being an individual you become a universal process, which is a fundamental longing in every human being. Wherever you may be, you want to be something more than what you are right now. It does not matter whether you think you are at the peak or at the bottom, still you want to be little more than what you are right now. If that little more happens, you want to be a little more and little more. What is it that you are seeking? You are seeking boundless expansion. This boundless expansion can never happen through physical means. Physical means a defined boundary. If you remove the boundary, there is no physical. This boundlessness becomes a possibility only if a dimension beyond the physical becomes a living reality with you.

 If a dimension beyond the physical is constantly there in your experience, then you are free from the physicality and you are free from the very process of life and death because all these are subject to the physical. Freedom means what? To be boundless and boundless can never be physical. The whole process is aimed towards bringing and maintaining an experience beyond the physical within you. Once you are in touch with it, instead of being just a piece of creation, you are becoming a creator of your life.

Kofi A. Annan on Migration

The scenes of death and misery that are occurring with increasing frequency in the waters of the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia have focused renewed attention on one of mankind’s oldest activities: migration. It is time to accept the reality that, like the waves on the seas that many of the migrants traverse, the ebb and flow of human movement cannot be stopped. That is why the international community must manage migration with understanding and compassion.
Read more at Project Syndicate

These frustrating potholes

In most of the cities in India the common problem is These frustrating potholes, they have cause many accidents and traffic congestion and traffic issues, I find both these solutions interesting and they have nothing to do with the government.

Meet Gangadhara Tilak Katnam, a retired railway officer who has spent the last 5 years of his life filling potholes using his own pension money. He has filled over 1125 potholes in Hyderabad so far.

It started in 2010, on a day when he was trying his best to maneuver his Fiat car on a road near his home which ws with full of potholes. As careful and considerate he was to the pedestrians he could not help splashing muddy water from one of the potholes onto the neatly starched uniform of a little girl and hr mother on her way to school. He deeply regretted his mistake and immediately got off the car to express his apology.
pothole man
He did not rest easy after this incident and immediately ordered 6 truckloads of “moram” paying Rs.4200 from his own pocket and mended the entire road starting from his home.

Soon after this incident on his way to work Tilak had to witness an unfortunate accident in which a very young man lost both his limbs. Another day a collision of an Auto with an RTC bus damaged the auto and severely injuring its occupants. The reason for these accidents were not carelessness or reckless driving. The primary reason was bad roads and driving conditions.

Embracing Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy “Be the change that you wish to see in the world” he embarked on a journey who as comfortably and respectably settled as he was would even care to consider.

Starting on 19th January 2010 filling the potholes became a typical weekend ritual for Tilak. Every Saturday and Sunday morning as soon as he found a pothole he got to the task of repairing the pothole with a crowbar, spade and gravel/tar mix. Thus, he spent his weekends filling the potholes for close to two years. He spent hours speculating what he can do to alleviate the problem of potholes on roads and provide a more safe and secure travel road to every citizen. Once he realized what needs to be done, it was evident his weekend contribution was not adequate to solve the magnitude of the problem – where every busy and non busy road is filled with potholes.

On July 31st 2011, this pothole man quit his job and made filling the potholes his new job so that the roads WE ALL travel are safer. Instead of resentment, indifference, complaining and talking, he choose sympathy, concern, solution and action.

via The Logical Indian

The Tweeting Pothole

These frustrated potholes tweet complaints straight to the authorities,Plenty of people tweet gripes about potholes going unrepaired. Now the potholes themselves are tweeting their frustration.

The Tweeting Pothole from P4 Ogilvy on Vimeo.

PM’s letter to the people

Service, in our Indian ethos is the ultimate duty – Seva Parmo Dharma. One year ago, you had entrusted me with the responsibility and honour of serving you as your Pradhan Sevak. I have devoted every moment of every day, and every element of my body and spirit, in fulfilling the same with fullest sincerity and honesty.

We assumed office at a time when confidence in the India story was waning. Un-abated corruption and indecisiveness had paralyzed the government. People had been left helpless against ever climbing inflation and economic insecurity. Urgent and decisive action was needed.

We systematically went about addressing these challenges. Runaway prices were immediately brought under control. The languishing economy was rejuvenated, building on stable, policy-driven proactive governance. Discretionary allotment of our precious natural resources to a chosen few was replaced with transparent auctions. Firm steps were taken against Black Money, from setting up a SIT and passing a stringent black money law, to generating international consensus against the same. Uncompromising adherence to the principle of purity, in action as well as intent, ensured a corruption-free government. Significant changes have been brought about in work culture, nurturing a combination of empathy as well as professionalism, systems as well breaking of silos. State governments have been made equal partners in the quest for national development, building the spirit of Team India. Most importantly, we have been able to restore Trust in the government.

Guided by the principle of Antyodaya, our Government is dedicated to the poor, marginalized and those left behind. We are working towards empowering them to become our soldiers in the war against poverty. Numerous measures and schemes have been initiated – from making school toilets to setting up IITs, IIMs and AIIMS; from providing a vaccination cover to our children to initiating a people-driven Swachh Bharat mission; from ensuring a minimum pension to our labourers to providing social security to the common man; from enhancing support to our farmers hit by natural calamities to defending their interests at WTO; from empowering one and all with self attestation to delivering subsidies directly to people’s banks; from universalizing the banking system to funding the unfunded small businesses; from irrigating fields to rejuvenating Ma Ganga; from moving towards 24×7 power to connecting the nation through road and rail; from building homes for the homeless to setting up smart cities, and from connecting the North-East to prioritizing development of Eastern India.

Friends, this is just the beginning. Our objective is to transform quality of life, infrastructure and services. Together we shall build the India of your dreams and that of our freedom fighters. In this, I seek your blessings and continued support.

Always in your Service. Jai Hind!

How can we prevent destruction of public property ?

The Union Home Ministry has proposed a set of amendments to the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984’ (PDPP) that seek to deter prospective violators from damaging public property during agitations and also make the office bearers of the organizations calling for such agitations responsible for any damage. These amendments follow the recommendations made by the Justice K T Thomas committee setup by the Supreme Court while dealing with a writ petition on this issue.

Damage to Public Property during violent protests is common place across the country. Public Transport Buses and other Public Property are the first victims during such protests. The government of India now proposes to the amend PDPP Act to put in place proper deterrents so as to prevent damage to public property.

Background

Taking a serious note of various instances where there was large scale destruction of public and private properties in the name of agitations, bandhs, hartals and the like, suo motu proceedings were initiated by a Bench of the Supreme Court in 2007. The court appointed two different committees, one headed by former supreme court judge, Justice K T Thomas and the other headed by Mr. Fali S Nariman. The Justice K T Thomas committee recommended:

1. The PDPP Act to contain provision to make the leaders of the organization, which calls the direct action, guilty of abetment of the offence.
2. Enable the police officers to arrange videography of the activities damaging public property

The court accepted these recommendations. The court also issued certain guidelines for effecting preventive action. It said, as soon as a demonstration is organized:

1. The organizer shall meet the police to review and revise the route to be taken and to lay down conditions for a peaceful march or protest
2. All weapons, including knives, lathis and the like shall be prohibited
3. An undertaking is to be provided by the organizers to ensure a peaceful march with marshals at each relevant junction
4. The police and State Government shall ensure videography of such protests to the maximum extent possible
5.In the event that demonstrations turn violent, the officer-in-charge shall ensure that the events are videographed through private operators and also request such further information from the media and others on the incidents in question.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”MLK Jr

Acceptance of injustice in any form (sexism, for example) makes people think unjust behaviour is acceptable, meaning it will be easier for other forms to happen (racism, for example). Thus, it can manifest into many different spheres.

Also, the action of one person doing something unjust can persuade others to similarly act unjust, as they do not want to miss out on the potential quick benefits offered to them through his misbehaviour.

The importance of diversity is paramount in the multicultural world we live in, and injustice in any facet of society will prove detrimental to our development and well-being as a whole. Injustice to one culture means potential injustice to all cultures including section of the majority culture.

If any of us can be singled out and turned servile, then all of us are at risk. The only chance we have is if the law protects every one of us equally, protecting some a little more is acceptable if they are vulnerable.

If there is an injustice, something that is unfair, to someone, even if they are not close to you, it allows the possibility of another injustice and then another until the justice that you enjoy, that you take to be a right of yours, may not be there for you as it has been denied these other people. so it is very important that you support justice for everyone, everywhere, to prevent the loss of justice for yourself.

Just because someone is of a different religion, or comes from a different section of town, or has a different family background, or has a different history, or has a different education, or a different sexual preference, or has a different ethnic background, or is of a different sex, or has different physical defects, or different height challenges, or different mental capabilities, or are of different ages, you would be unwise to tolerate injustice toward them for any of those reasons, because you then may find yourself in a group that injustice is practiced against. So even if you may not see eye to eye with someone, you still need to believe in the need for them to have their liberties protected.

Too often people believe in rights and justice only for themselves. For instance, ‘freedom of speech’ to many people means only freedom for themselves and whoever agrees with them. Even today there are people who believe freedom of religion only means freedom for -their- religion.

Before the Civil Rights era in the USA, many people fought for justice only for the middle class, for white people. They didn’t care how blacks were treated in the South, or how disadvantaged people were treated just about everywhere. King was reminding us that justice is not justice until it applies to everyone.

And though we’ve made considerable progress in 68 years in India years, we still have one kind of justice for people who are well off and another kind for everyone else. One kind for one sex and another for the other. One for one caste and another for others.

“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Martin Luther King Jr

Bibek Debroy committee recommendations on revamping railways.

The railways operate more than 12,000 trains, carrying some 23 million passengers daily.This vast public enterprise is virtually a state within a state. It runs schools, hospitals, police forces and building companies and employs a total of 1.3 million people, making it the seventh biggest employer in the world. It is in need of modernization.

The high-level railway restructuring committee, chaired by noted economist Bibek Debroy, has recommended drastic reforms in the cash-strapped Indian Railways by suggesting to allow privatisation of railways to run passenger as well as freight trains, producing coaches, wagons and locomotives and switching over to commercial accounting of railway functions.Following are the main recommendations in its interim report.

1. Streamline recruitment & HR processes: “There is a multiplicity of different channels through which people enter the railway services. The committee recommended unifying and streamlining the process. At present there are eight organized Group ‘A’ services in Indian Railways. Deployment to these services is by direct recruitment from UPSC (Civil Service and the Engineering examinations) and also by promotion of Group ‘B’ officers of the department. There is also a small but significant element of recruitment of Mechanical Engineers through the Special Class Railway Apprentices examination, followed by training. The eight services can be broadly categorized in two bigger groupings viz. technical and non-technical services.

IR should consolidate and merge the existing eight organized Group ‘A’ services into two services i.e. the Indian Railway Technical Service (IRTechS) comprising the existing five technical services (IRSE, IRSSE, IRSEE, IRSME and IRSS) and the Indian Railway Logistics Service (IRLogS), comprising the three non-technical services (IRAS, IRPS and IRTS).

2. Focus on non-core areas: Many tasks carried out by the Indian Railways are not at the core of the prime business of rail transportation. These activities include running hospitals and schools, catering, real estate development, including housing, construction and maintenance of infrastructure, manufacturing locomotives, coaches, wagons and their parts, etc.To this list must be added the Railway Protection Force and Railway Protection Special Force, which carry out functions which should normally be performed by State Police forces, or conveniently outsourced. To maintain and run these diverse sets of peripheral activities, Indian Railways has created a monolith organizational structure. There is a strong case for revisiting these activities.Indian Railways should focus on core activities to efficiently compete with the private sector. It will distance itself from non-core activities, such as running a police force, schools, hospitals and production and construction units.

Immediate integration of the existing Railway schools into the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathana set-up. Needs of the children of Railway employees could be met through subsidizing their education in alternative schools, including private schools.

3. Indian Railway Manufacturing Company: Wagons are already produced by the private sector. Coaches and locomotives could follow. Unless they are freed from constraints, the existing production units will be unable to face this competition.

All the production units, all the production workshops whether it is coaches or locomotives must be under Indian railway manufacturing company. This is an institutional reform, not privaisation.

The Committee proposes that all these existing production units should be placed under a government SPV known as the Indian Railway Manufacturing Company (IRMC). IRMC remains a government SPV, at least initially, under the administrative control of the Ministry of Railways.

4. Encouraging private entry: Private entry into running both freight and passenger trains in competition with Indian railways should be allowed and private participation in various Railway infrastructure services and non-core activities like production and construction, should be encouraged by the Ministry of Railways.

“The reason private players find it unviable to operate is because they do not have access to the tracks. They do not have access to tracks because Indian Railways gives preference to the Indian Railway trains. Therefore, Debroy committee recommended having a separate track holding company, which remains public, from that part of Railways which runs trains. This track holding company will be neutral between Indian Railways and the private players.

5. RRAI, an independent regulator: Shift regulatory responsibility from the government to an independent regulator as the private sector will only come in if there is fair and open access to infrastructure. The independent regulator shall ensure fair and open access and set access charges; establish tariffs; and adjudicate disputes between competitors. This will make fair and open access a reality and open up both freight and passenger trains, in competition with IR.The report recommends setting up a Railway Regulatory Authority of India (RRAI) statutorily, with an independent budget, so that it is truly independent of the Ministry of Railways.

The RRAI will have the powers and objectives of economic regulation, including, wherever necessary, tariff regulation; safety regulation; fair access regulation, including access to railway infrastructure for private operators; service standard regulation; licensing and enhancing competition; and setting technical standards. It should possess quasijudicial powers, with appointment and removal of Members distanced from the Ministry of Railways.

The Railway Board should continue only as an entity for the Indian Railways (PSU).

6. Social costs & JVs to bear them: Constructing new suburban lines should be undertaken as joint ventures with state governments. There are too many Zones and Divisions and thus a rationalization exercise is required. Suburban railways should ideally be hived off to State governments, via the joint venture route. Until this is done, the cost of low suburban fares, if these fares are not increased, must be borne by State governments on a 50/50 basis, with MOUs signed with State governments for this purpose.

While competition makes efficient service delivery better and helps railways raise resources for reinvestment for modernization, criticism is that social commitments may take a hit; and privatization that hurts workers may be under contemplation.PM Modi ruled out privatization.

Ethical Governance: Google Hangout with Vinod Rai

In this video former CAG Mr.Vinod Rai talks on a huge range of issues and answers the questions on many useful topics, the one thing I noticed is huge levels of optimism and experience.

I really suggest you all to learn from his experience,thanks to Dheeraj for forwarding the link.

Not just an accountant is an incisive, no-holds-barred account of Indias eleventh comptroller and auditor general and a symbol of the anti-corruption movement, Vinod Rai.This is a wonderful book written by him.

Land Acquisition: An overview of proposed amendments to the 2013 Act

On March 10, Lok Sabha passed a Bill to amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.  The Bill is now pending in Rajya Sabha.  This blog briefly outlines the major changes the Bill, as passed by Lok Sabha, seeks to make to the Act.

Context

Land acquisition, unlike the purchase of land, is the forcible take-over of privately owned land by the government.  Land is acquired for projects which serve a ‘public purpose’.  These include government projects, public-private partnership projects, and private projects.  Currently, what qualifies as ‘public purpose’ has been defined to include defence projects, infrastructure projects, and projects related to housing for the poor, among others.

Till 2014, the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 regulated the process of land acquisition.  While the 1894 Act provided compensation to land owners, it did not provide for rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) to displaced families.  These were some of the reasons provided by the government to justify the need for a new legislation to regulate the process of land acquisition.  Additionally, the Supreme Court had also pointed out issues with determination of fair compensation, and what constitutes public purpose, etc., in the 1894 Act.  To this end, the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 was passed by Parliament, in 2013.

II. Current legislative framework for land acquisition: major shifts from the 1894 Act

The 2013 Act brought in several changes to the process of land acquisition in the country.   Firstly, it increased the compensation provided to land owners, from 1.3 times the price of land to 2 times the price of land in urban areas, and 2-4 times the price of land in rural areas.  Secondly, unlike the earlier Act which did not provide rehabilitation and resettlement, the 2013 Act provided R&R to land owners as well as those families which did not own land, but were dependent on the land for their livelihood.  The Act permits states to provide higher compensation and R&R.

Thirdly, unlike the previous Act, it mandated that a Social Impact Assessment be conducted for all projects, except those for which land was required urgently.  An SIA assesses certain aspects of the acquisition such as whether the project serves a public purpose, whether the minimum area that is required is being acquired, and the social impact of the acquisition.  Fourthly, it also mandated that the consent of 80% of land owners be obtained for private projects, and the consent of 70% of land owners be obtained for public-private partnership projects.  However, consent of land owners is not required for government projects.   The 2013 Act also made certain other changes to the process of land acquisition, including prohibiting the acquisition of irrigated multi-cropped land, except in certain cases where the limit may be specified by the government.

In addition to the 2013 Act, there are certain other laws which govern land acquisition in particular sectors, such as the National Highways Act, 1956 and the Railways Act, 1989.  The 2013 Act required that the compensation and R&R provisions of 13 such laws be brought in consonance with it, within a year of its enactment, (that is, by January 1, 2015) through a notification.  Since this was not done by the required date, the government issued an Ordinance (as Parliament was not in session) to extend the compensation and R&R provisions of the 2013 Act to these 13 laws.  However, the Ordinance also made other changes to the 2013 Act.

The Ordinance was promulgated on December 31, 2014 and will lapse on April 5, 2015 if not passed as a law by Parliament.  Thus, the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 has been introduced in Parliament to replace the Ordinance.  The Bill has been passed by Lok Sabha, with certain changes, and is pending in Rajya Sabha.  The next section outlines the major changes the Bill (as passed by Lok Sabha) proposes to make to 2013 Act.

III. Changes proposed by the 2015 Bill to the 2013 Act

Some of the major changes proposed by the 2015 Bill (as passed by Lok Sabha) relate to provisions such as obtaining the consent of land owners; conducting an SIA; return of unutilised land; inclusion of private entities; and commission of offences by the government.

As mentioned above, the 2013 Act requires that the consent of 80% of land owners is obtained when land is acquired for private projects, and the consent of 70% of land owners is obtained when land is acquired for public-private partnership projects.  The Bill exempts five categories of projects from this provision of the 2013 Act.  These five categories are: (i) defence, (ii) rural infrastructure, (iii) affordable housing, (iv) industrial corridors (set up by the government/government undertakings, up to 1 km on either side of the road/railway), and (v) infrastructure projects.

The Bill also allows the government to exempt these five categories of projects from: (i) the requirement of a Social Impact Assessment, and (ii) the limits that apply for acquisition of irrigated multi-cropped land, through issuing a notification.  Before issuing this notification, the government must ensure that the extent of land being acquired is in keeping with the minimum land required for such a project.

The government has stated that these exemptions are being made in order to expedite the process of land acquisition in these specific areas.  However, the opponents of the Bill argue that since the five exempted categories cover a majority of projects for which land can be acquired, consent and Social Impact Assessment provisions will not apply to these projects.

Secondly, the Bill changes the time period after which unutilised, acquired land must be returned.  The 2013 Act states that if land acquired under it remains unutilised for five years, it must be returned to the original owners or the land bank.  The Bill changes this to state that the period after which unutilised land will need to be returned will be the later of: (i) five years, or (ii) any period specified at the time of setting up the project.

Under the 2013 Act, as mentioned above, land can be acquired for the government, a public-private partnership, or a private company, if the acquisition serves a public purpose.  The third major change the Bill seeks to make is that it changes the term ‘private company’ to ‘private entity’.  This implies that land may now be acquired for a proprietorship, partnership, corporation, non-profit organisation, or other entity, in addition to a private company, if the project serves a public purpose.

Finally, under the 2013 Act, if an offence is committed by a government department, the head of the department will be held guilty unless he can show that he had exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.  The Bill removes this section.  It adds a provision to state that if an offence is committed by a government employee, he can be prosecuted only with the prior sanction of the government.

For more details on the 2015 Bill, see the PRS Bill page, here.via PRS blog

Pragati Proactive Governance and Timely Implementation

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be starting a monthly conference call with state chief secretaries and secretaries of the Union government starting March 25 for the speedy redressal of grievances and monitoring and implementation of projects.

The new governance programme has been called Pragati  Proactive Governance and Timely Implementation.Pragati is expected to be a credible mechanism for redressal of public grievances.

The Pragati sessions will take place every fourth Wednesday.

During the interaction, PM will discuss and understand the problem areas and will give suitable directions. These directions will remain in the system for further follow-up and review till finality of the matter.”

Criticism is that : “greater respect for the federal structure of the country is necessary. It would be much better if the Prime Minister discusses the issues with the Chief Minister.”

Thus, the PMO’s monitoring of projects is helpful, but the initiative could give rise to concerns about the Centre-state framework.

The Pragati programme will attempt to find solutions for issues selected from the available data base regarding public grievances, on-going programmes and pending projects.

Key features of the PRAGATI application are as follows:

  1. It is a three-tier system (PMO, Union Government Secretaries, and Chief Secretaries of the States);
  2. Prime Minister will hold a monthly programme where he will interact with the Government of India Secretaries, and Chief Secretaries through Video-conferencing enabled by data and geo-informatics visuals;
  3. The first such programme was launched on 25th March, 2015 (Wednesday) at 3.30 PM;
  4. Now onwards, it will be held once in every month on Fourth Wednesday at 3.30 PM-to be known as PRAGATI Day.
  5. Issues to be flagged before the PM are picked up from the available database regarding Public Grievances, on-going Programmes and pending Projects;
  6. The system will ride on, strengthen and re-engineer the data bases of the CPGRAMS for grievances, Project Monitoring Group (PMG) and the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. PRAGATI provides an interface and platform for all these three aspects.
  7. It will also take into consideration various correspondences to PM’s office by the common people or from high dignitaries of States and/or developers of public projects;
  8. The issues flagged are uploaded seven days prior to the PRAGATI day (i.e. on third Wednesday of every month).
  9. These issues can be viewed by the Union Government Secretaries and Chief Secretaries after entering into the application;
  10. User ID and Password for each of the Union Government Secretaries and Chief Secretaries have been created and made available;
  11. Union Government Secretaries and Chief Secretaries will be able to see the issues pertaining to their Department /State;
  12. Union Government Secretaries and Chief Secretaries have to put their comments and updates about the flagged issues within three days (i.e. by next Monday);
  13. One day – Tuesday is available to the PMO team to review the data entered by the Union Government Secretaries and Chief Secretaries;
  14. The design is such, that when PM reviews the issue he should have on his screen the issue as well as the latest updates and visuals regarding the same;

The system has been designed in-house by the PMO team with the help of National Informatics Center (NIC). As the name suggests, it is aimed at starting a culture of Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation. It is also a robust system for bringing e-transparency and e-accountability with real-time presence and exchange among the key stakeholders.

“ The Girmitiyas have an important place in modern Indian memory.” Explain.

Girmityas are descendents of indentured Indian labourers brought to many countries like Mauritius, Fiji etc. to work on sugarcane plantations for the prosperity of the European settlers. Agreement” is the term that has been coined into “Girmit”, referring to the “Agreement” of the British Government with the Indian labourers as to the length of stay in Fiji and when they would be allowed to go back to India.

In the years that immediately followed the abolition of slavery in most of the British Empire in 1834, nearly half a million Indians were forced to migrate to Mauritius, as the colonial system struggled to keep up the flow of captive agricultural workers for the sugar plantations there.

These ‘girmitiyas’, people from modern-day UP, Bihar, West Bengal and parts of southern India, who had signed the ‘agreement’ or contract with employers, mostly thought they were going to a better life “just a little way off north India” — but were instead sent on a long and arduous sea journey that took many of their lives.

These indentured labourers were never to return to India, but they went on to shape the future of Mauritius, and many other distant lands, in multiple ways.

Aapravasi Ghat was where the indentured labour force landed, in “Marich Desh”, or Mauritius.Credit:Sri Ram IAS