Consumer protection or curb on right to speech and expression?

-writing from Harvard Law School   There have been recent news reports (though surprisingly few - here and here) on new government regulations that ostensibly seek to protect cell phone users from unwanted marketing calls, but may actually amount to restrictions on individual rights to free speech and expression. The telecom regulator TRAI introduced regulations... Continue Reading →

Can “civil” society also reform the state?

-writing from Harvard Law School.   Over the last few months, people have either whole-heartedly supported Ana Hazare's crusade against corruption, or have cautioned against the dangers of un-deliberated actions by civil society. Some have also taken pains to highlight how the movement is seemingly undemocratic.  One of the most interesting analyses I read of... Continue Reading →

How well are major government schemes working?

The background to this post comes in the realisation that though the government has launched big ticket "social-welfare" schemes in the last decade or so, the government should not merely be throwing money at problems existing in our society.  Social welfare schemes should have well-designed, well-formulated structures which can maximise benefits to the poor or... Continue Reading →

Commonwealth Games II: Delhi’s War on Beggars

Various anecdotal evidences from peers and one's own experiences reinforce impressions of Delhi's transition to a "world-class" city without the transition to world-class systems.  One aspect of this is simply how extreme the difference between the purchasing power of those at the top and bottom of the economic pyramid is.  However, when one hears reports... Continue Reading →

How expensive is corruption? Public Administration I

Every instance where corruption is a topic of discussion revolves around one central question (apart from the obvious immorality of it):  How much does corruption cost society as a whole?  I recently picked up a book in an order to understand the process of public administration better.  Its preface gave at least one, objective estimate... Continue Reading →

Spectrum Scam: Confidential transcripts summarised

Some official and confidential documents relating to the 2G-Spectrum allocation scam were put up by the Hindu on its website for a while yesterday.  A read through the 2gspectrumscam document reveals a disturbing network of politicians, businessmen, PR firms and journalists.  What follows is a small summary. The CBI is investigating a criminal case under the Indian... Continue Reading →

Local Government IV: India’s municipal bodies

Municipal Corporations Municipal corporations are formed in large urban areas, and usually have one head appointed by the government who is the ‘Commissioner’.  The other head of the municipal corporation is the Mayor, who is elected either directly by the people, or indirectly from among the elected members of the municipal corporation.[i] Though the Mayor... Continue Reading →

Local Government III: States – Culprits or bystanders?

The Constitution gives the state governments the power to make laws on all matters relating to the local government, the composition and powers of municipal bodies, and other local bodies for the purpose of self-government.[i] All states therefore have legislations setting out in detail the powers and functions of municipal bodies, and other local bodies.... Continue Reading →

Parliament: Bleak Outcome for Defence

In August 2005, a new experiment was initiated by India's Ministry of Finance under P. Chidambaram.  Every Ministry would have to prepare an "Outcome Budget" and present it in parliament along with its annual budget.  An Outcome Budget, as the foreword to "Outlays and Outcomes - towards achieving better results" explains is essentially the following:... Continue Reading →

Size of the State

One of the points made repeatedly by those in different fields of policy-making is to invest enough to make the Indian state more capable of governing the country properly.  This debate also finds some co-relation in the continuous debate in the USA where Democrats make the case for a larger government which regulates greater areas... Continue Reading →

Performance of Telecommunications Ministry written about

This ministry is not in service Anandita Singh Mankotia Posted online: Friday , Feb 12, 2010 at 0128 hrs From the outside it might look like the country’s telecom sector is bustling with activity. Seven to eight big operators, 17-19 million net subscribers added each month, the sector’s resilience to the financial meltdown last year... Continue Reading →

Bt Brinjal: Consultative process and democratic governance

Yesterday, the Minister for Environment and Forests decided against letting Bt Brinjal be commercially produced in India.  The Ministry also put out a detailed explanation of the reasons for the same.  I attempt to summarise it, state the facts, and then point out the sheer frenzy generated by activists.  The point here is to note... Continue Reading →

Commonwealth games: Child Labour galore

An article in Foreign policy highlights how contractors behind schedule are taking advantage of lax labor laws and coercing their employees to bring their children to work alongside them, promising payments of bread and milk. The article makes the following points: 1. India has very weak enforcement of child labour laws.  In fact, it is preferable... Continue Reading →

Govt. Preparing to influence media perception??

While doing some work-related research, I found an interesting sub-heading under the Ministry of Home Affairs' Action Plan document for October, 09 - March, 10.  Page 44 of this document (Under the sub-heading Naxal Management Division) mentions a heading called the "Media / Perception Management Plan".  The activities planned under it pertain mainly to inane... Continue Reading →

Indian Supreme Court: When Distance affects Visibility

Taking a break from my posts on China, I am summarising a fantastic article by Mr. Nick Robinson (Yale Law School South Asia Teaching and Research Fellow and a visiting fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi) which appeared recently in Frontline magazine.  The article argues that the Supreme Court is not as populist... Continue Reading →

Judging our judges

Today's post is an article appearing in the Indian Express, concerning the condition of judges in our country: In defence of their lordships (Indian Express) GOPAL SANKARANARAYANAN Posted online: Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010 at 0250 hrs On September 1 2009, Neeraj Kishan Kaul stepped down as a judge of the Delhi High Court — a... Continue Reading →

RTI: Knowledge, information…and violence

This post relates to a recent story titled: "CIC orders publication of PDS details" The Indian government runs one of the largest Public Distribution Systems (PDS) giving subsidised food and other essential commodities for the lower-income groups in the country.  Even if just those Below Poverty Line (BPL) are taken into account roughly 25 crore... Continue Reading →

A Unique Identity

Today I had the opportunity of listening to Nandan Nilekani talk about the Unique Identification (UID) project.  He also referred us to the UIDAI website which has an approach paper to creating the UID database.  The points he mentioned are the same as those contained in the approach paper, and I am summarising them below... Continue Reading →

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