The Hindu Newspaper Analysis – 25 February 2021

Union Territories

  • This article appears in the backdrop of the recent political turmoil in the Union Territory of Puducherry where several MLAs have resigned and this has led to the fall of the Govt.
  • The resignation of the MLAs is a common phenomenon and is their right but sometimes it is subject to misuse, hence article 190 of the Indian Constitution provides that the MLAs need to state a reasonable ground for their resignation, and only then it will be accepted by the speaker and they will not face defection charges.
  • In this regard, the UTs in India is politically fragile in nature and only two, namely, Delhi and Puducherry have a legislative assembly and the council of ministers. Like states, they have a person appointed by the President in the form of an administrator or Lt. governor.
  • This special status was given to the two above-mentioned UTs to fulfill the democratic aspirations of the people and fuel the growth of democracy.
  • The idea constitutionally provided for, of a UT, has been defeated by the Union Govt by several amendments to article 239 and such other work.
  • Constitutionally, the UTs mentioned in the Constitution may be fully elected or partly elected or nominated and can either have the council of ministers without a legislature or vice versa; if the latter was put into practice then it would be an absurd scenario hence a conventional method is followed. If 50% or more members are nominated then the whole idea of a democracy is defeated in this regard as well.
  • Hence, we see that there are 33 members are 30 are elected and 3 are nominated by the central Govt and these 3 become the bone of contention as the Centre has nominated BJP members in the Congress-ruled regime.
  • The same was also challenged in the Apex court but it was provided by the same that the consultation of the states is not necessary here. The nominated members also have the right to vote in this regard.
  • The criteria for nomination have not been laid down like Rajya Sabha that has nominations for a reason and the same is done, for a proper reason.
  • Another bone of contention is the appointment of the administrator/Lt. Gov by the Union Govt. This position is similar to that of the Governor at the states where he/she is appointed by the Central Govt and could wield considerable influence on the laws and legislation passed by the Govt and can pass it further to the President of India which can further allow the intervention of the center.
  • Hence, we see that this has been a long-standing conflict in not just the Puducherry but also in Delhi due to minor niggles among others. The apex court in the NCT Delhi v/s union of India case 2019 has stated that the powers must not be misused by the LG but these problems keeping arising.
  • What we see here is the issue of non-cooperative Federalism and the fragile nature and non-autonomy of the UTs that has to be balanced and taken care off in the right way and proper intervention is needed.

Human capital and Federalism

  • Human capital consists of aspects like
    • Nutrition
    • Education
    • Health
  • But India has lagged behind when it comes to progress in these aspects which can be gauged with the following
    • Our score in the World Bank’s Human Capital Index
    • Our record on the National Family health survey, ASER report among others.
  • Govt has taken considerable steps in this regard with
    • National nutrition Mission
    • POSHAN Abhiyan
    • Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan
    • ICDS among others
  • But we need to note that our expenditure on the human capital is at 4% in total where 1% is for health and 3% for education which is dismally low.
  • In order to experience in these aspects, we need to take a decentralized approach and allot equally to the hierarchies that are present.
  • In India we have the central Govt, the state Govt and the local bodies that work and legislate on the subjects enumerate in the list of the 7th schedule like education in the concurrent list, health in the state list among others.
  • There is the presence of the finance commission that is set up to provide the right kinds of allocation and maintaining the proper distribution of proceeds. Also, the centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) play a key role.
  • Though this is present, there are various problems that are present in this regard like improper allocation of fiscal resources to the states and local levels, and over-reliance on the CSS has increased the burden.
  • Though the local bodies and states have proper and grassroots reach to the issues, the issues persist and need to solve in the right way. The third tier which consists of the Panchayats and the Municipalities has to be catered to well so that we can get better outcomes.
  • The local tiers have very small sources of revenue but their responsibilities are big and need to be expanded as well. Hence, we have the State Finance Commission to fulfill this role and distribute proceeds in the right way but most states have not even formed one.
  • There are various solutions provided in this regard:
    • The Centre needs to rethink its actions about devolutions among others
    • States and center should not just share fiscal pool but also knowledge pool as well
    • The states have to prioritize their resources to the right need of time
    • The center needs to get rid of offsetting more money for CSS and aim at equal distribution
    • More focus has to be given to tax proceeds and devolution as well
    • The panchayats and municipalities have to be empowered in a better way.
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