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GS Mains Classes 2023, Batch Starts: 12th August

Governance & Social Justice GS Paper II by Abhishiekh Saxena (150 Words)

  • Category
    GS -II
  • Test Date
    2022-06-25 07:00:00
  • Evaluated
    Yes

Instruction:

  • Attempt One question out of the given two.
  • The test carries 15 marks.
  • Write Your answer in 150 words.
  • Any page left blank in the answer-book must be crossed out clearly.
  • Evaluated Copy will be re-uploaded on the same thread after 2 days of uploading the copy.
  • Discussion of the question and one to one answer improvement session of evaluated copies will be conducted through Google Meet with concerned faculty. You will be informed via mail or SMS for the discussion.

    Question #1. 'Local Civil Service on which the governance depends at the implementation level, requires a greater professionalism and motivation. Discuss.  Suggest how capacity building of Civil Service can be done to make grass root level democracy a success. 

    Question #2. What do you mean by the term ‘Learning Poverty'? How has pandemic exacerbated the Learning Poverty in India?
    (Examiner will pay special attention to the candidate's grasp of his/her material, its relevance to the subject chosen, and to his/ her ability to think constructively and to present his/her ideas concisely, logically and effectively).

    Model Answer

    Question #1. 'Local Civil Service on which the governance depends at the implementation level, requires a greater professionalism and motivation. Discuss.  Suggest how capacity building of Civil Service can be done to make grass root level democracy a success. 

    Approach:

    •   Briefly introduce by stating the role of grass root bureaucracy in local governance (40 words)
    •   Highlight the issues plaguing local civil services (90 words)
    •   Mention measures to revamp the local civil services (90 words)
    •   Conclusion (30 words)

    Hints:

    The 73rd and 74th Amendment Act gave a constitutional status to the local governments at Panchayats and municipality levels respectively. However despite more than 25 years of enactment of the act, local governments haven’t performed optimally and a main reason for this failure has been attributed to the inefficiencies in local civil services.

    Local bureaucracy ails from following issues:

    •   Fragmentation: The apex unit of field administration is the is governed through three streams- State government departments have their separate offices at various levels to implement departmental programmes, the district collector, responsible for the whole district, is the overall administrative authority and coordinator and third, democratically elected local governments are expected to be autonomous and act as per local interests. The structure of administration that is created through the relative powers of these three streams of authority promotes fragmentation, centralisation, and non-responsiveness to local needs.
    •   Centralisation: The district offices are controlled tightly by the State departments, which stipulate programmes and activities, make most decisions about the personnel, issue detailed directives, and inspect field offices. This promotes centralisation, with orders from the top taking priority over needs from the ground.
    •   Lack of clarity of responsibilities: Local elected representatives are usually keenly aware of the needs and problems on the ground, and motivated to address them. But its potential to address local needs is not realised, as they are disempowered. As per law, local governments are responsible for socio-economic development, but they exercise little actual authority. Consequently, the role of local civil services tends to be unclear, resulting in conflict between political representatives and officials, which leads to further disempowerment.
    •   Poor skill set: Local civil services are structured so that the least skilled and lowest paid personnel actually implement government programmes. However, to deliver on the ground, a very high order of skills is often required. Successful local governance is unlikely if the person undertaking this task has poor understanding and skills.
    •   Understaffing: Contrary to popular perception of bloated bureaucracy, local bureaucracy is heavily understaffed with an especially inadequate number of rigorously trained education and health administrators, nutritionists, or gender specialists.
    •   Absence of autonomy: In most States, Panchayats do not have the power to recruit their staff and determine their salaries, allowances and other conditions of service. Besides, due to the lack of financial resources, the power to recruit staff, even if such power exists, remains grossly underutilized or completely un-utilized. The Panchayats, therefore, have to depend on the officials of the State Government for staff support.
    •   Corruption: All other problems are exacerbated by widespread corruption, which further reduces professionalism. An online survey, conducted by Transparency International and Local Circles, found that property registration, police and municipal corporations mostly staffed by the local civil services are the most corrupt government offices.
    •   Deputationists heading local bodies: Running an organization with deputationists suffers from two major weaknesses. First, frequent transfers do not allow development of a dedicated manpower. Secondly, the employees remain under the control of two authorities. This duality of control is one of the major obstacles in optimally coordinating the activities of various government functionaries in the rural areas.

    For realising the goals of grass root democracy, ground level governance needs to be overhauled which is possible by transforming the local civil services in following manner:

    •   With a view to emphasize the importance of capacity building of local civil services it is to be ensured that it receives the much needed attention, finances and leadership across all levels of Government.
    •   The Comprehensive Capacity Building Scheme is a step in that direction. The scheme funds various capacity building programmes e.g. preparation of comprehensive human resource policies including the creation of the municipal cadre, provisioning of staff, implementation of e-governance initiatives and setting up of world–class urban management institutes.
    •   Most government efforts at training are routine and not demand driven. All tiers of officials should be brought under the purview of capacity building efforts. Enhancing capacity of 2nd and 3rd tier level officers through proper training will only ensure responsibility and accountability in delivery of functions.
    •   A self assessment of the local governments as a mechanism for effective governance needs to be ensured periodically to improve performance and service delivery. The vision of the elected head goes a long way in providing improved governance but the willingness and capacity of the local bureaucracy should match these efforts.
    •   If the planning process in the urban sector is strengthened, governance will improve on its own.
    •   There is a need to establish a state training and resource centre that relies on locally available resource persons for imparting training and fulfilling knowledge needs like in many states.
    •   NITI Aayog suggests Cadre structure in municipal services to include municipal services, accounting services, revenue services, personnel services, etc. In the short and medium term, an enabling framework must be created for allowing the ULBs to hire required personnel. In the long run, efforts may be made to create a professional cadre.
    •   Enhancing anti-corruption mechanisms by popularizing the contact details of vigilance departments and anti-corruption bureau
    •   Creation of a separate division or Cell for Capacity Building at Central and state level: Dedicated leadership is essential for a large scale capacity building program to succeed as there is an urgent need to augment the planning, monitoring, and evaluation of capacity building initiatives. It should look into the aspects of demand creation, augmenting supply side, strengthening linkages between institutions and cities, identifying new areas of capacity building, evaluating the impact of programmes, etc.

    Conclusion:

    Clearly, much more is required for capacity building and skills-inculcation beyond such routine measures. For example, issues like principles of good local governance, gender concerns and sensitivity, disaster management, and Right to Information are aspects needing much more salience in training and individual capacity building initiatives. Grass root level quality governance ultimately depends on a skilled, efficient and qualified local civil service which has so far been kept out of the purview of improvement; however, urgent steps taken now can have bright results in achieving grass root democracy in India.

     

    Question #2. What do you mean by the term ‘Learning Poverty'? How has pandemic exacerbated the Learning Poverty in India?

     Approach:

    •     Define the term learning poverty. (  25 words)
    •     Explain interrelation between pandemic and learning poverty in India. (  50 words)
    •     Suggest measures to overcome learning poverty. (  50 words)
    •     Conclusion (  25 words)

    Hints:

    Learning Poverty as a concept has been constructed jointly by the World Bank and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics which aims to cut by at least half the global rate of Learning Poverty by 2030. It is defined as the percentage of 10-year-olds who cannot read and understand a simple text.

    The World Bank analysis shows that the global learning crisis is still severe – one out of every two children in the developing world is not learning to read by late primary school age. This rate is even higher in low-income countries, at close to 80% and above in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Pandemic and Learning Poverty:

    •     A study by the Azim Premji Foundation in India called the loss in learning due to the Pandemic, conducted with over 16,000 students across 1137 public schools in 5 states, showed a significant drop in learning because of the pandemic. There was a significant loss in language and mathematical ability.

    Reasons for sharpening learning poverty during COVID:

    •     Access to Schools: COVID induced lockdown has led to shutdown of educational institutions which affected children’s access to schools.
    •     Digital Divide: Digital divide is another hurdle for India which exaggerated learning poverty in India. Children in rural areas or from poor families have very less access to smartphones/internet connectivity.
    •     Inadequate experience of teachers in providing online education: Teachers in India are mostly not trained to provide online education, It also impacts a child’s capabilities to learn.
    •     Unemployment: Covid also affected employment of Indian parents which further impacted their ability to provide education to their children.

    Measures to overcome learning poverty

    •     Use of technology: Technology should be used more efficiently and effectively to teach the children. Technology can help in designing a child specific course which is not possible in offline courses.
    •     Addressing Digital Divide: COVID led us to realise that without addressing the digital divide, ensuring inclusive education is almost impossible.
    •     Training for teachers: Policies must include providing detailed guidance and practical training for teachers, ensuring access to more and better age-appropriate texts, and teaching children in the language they use at home.
    •     Creating a learning atmosphere: it can be done by ensuring children come to school prepared and motivated to learn; classrooms provide a well-equipped space for learning; schools are safe and inclusive; and education systems are well-managed.

    Conclusion:

    Eliminating learning poverty must be a priority, just like ending hunger and extreme poverty. The fight against learning poverty will require an integral, multi-sectoral approach supported by actions beyond the education sector, that is, in all the other areas essential to improve learning. 

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