Our constitutional bodies can be leveraged to drive systemic change for the future and here are a few ideas in that direction
India's constitutional bodies have had a chequered past. Some, like the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), have been recent stars; the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has had a subdued past; the Election Commission (EC) has done a stellar job for the most part; the Planning Commission has been termed a colossal white elephant.
1. A Commission should be set up for selection and nomination of eminent citizens as members of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, State assemblies and civic bodies.
2. Judicial & Law Commission of India – The existing Law Commission should be subsumed into this new commission.
3. Police Commission of India – A healthy executive is one of India's most urgent needs and the Police commission can look into both, reforms and dealing with continuing issues with the Police.
4. Agricultural Commission of India - It shall subsume the existing ‘commission for agriculture costs and prices’, with main objective of fixing the procurement prices of major crops like wheat, rice and sugarcane etc after taking a holistic and practical view of all aspects and interest of all stake-holders. This extremely important function should be de-politicised.
5. Minerals Commission of India - To develop, regulate and control all important minerals like coal, iron ore, crude oil, gas etc except sand and stone chips. The latter two should cease to be treated as minor minerals and allowed free extraction/collection/sale as used to be the case earlier. Vested interests of politicians of several state govternments have encroached upon sand and stone chips to make big money in collusion with organised gangs but with minimal revenue to the state exchequer.
6. Competition & Monopolies Regulation Commission of India - To take over the existing Competition commission of India in order to take independent, unbiased and fair decisions to check the monopolistic practices, cartels, mergers and amalgamations with a view to ensure healthy competition and protect the interest of consumers. Monopoly and restrictive trade practices act 1969 and Competition Act 2002 to be redrafted and merged.
7. Health commission of India
8. Commission for selection, recruitment and regulation of officers of Central Govt. To take over the responsibility of selection, recruitment and fixation of remuneration of officers of IAS, IPS, IRS, IFS and other class –A & B of Indian civil services by abrogating/subsuming the existing Union public service commission.
9. Revenue Distribution Commission of India - In its present form the existing Finance Commission is only a statutory authority, but once given constitutional validity, it will take unbiased and apolitical decisions and its report and recommendations will be binding both on central and state governments in respect of revenue distribution.
10. Monetary Policy Regulation Commission of India - The RBI has had a role to play in the sharp downturn of Indian economy by following text book decisions of tight monetary policy and high interest rates to tame inflation. The Monetary policy committee proposed to be formed by RBI for this purpose is not expected to be free and autonomous though it is a first right step in this direction.
11. Pay Commission of India - To decide, fix and review in an unbiased manner the remuneration and pension of 35 lakh central govt staff, 15 lakh Armed forces and 30 lakh pensioners. States should have own independent pay commissions for state govt employees. Let these vital decisions be de-politicised. The pay commissions are presently appointed temporarily once in 10 years. Let this institution become permanent and an autonomous body. Unimaginable but true is the fact that the govt has most irresponsibly hiked DA of central staff thrice, first by 8% in April 2013, next 10% on 20.9.2013 and again by 10% on 28.2.2013 and raising it now to 100%; purely election centric hara-kiri decisions.
12. Railway Commission of India - To fix passenger fares and goods freight prices, keeping in view the best interests of stakeholders, giving sanction to new trains and railway projects taking in to consideration the recommendations of Ministry of Railway, Railway Board and state governments but without being bound by the same.
Historically, most Railway Ministers have hijacked the Indian railways to their home state with undue favours making other states suffer. Creating this constitutional body is the only way to end this arbitrary practise.
13. National Disaster Management Commission (NDMC) - The recent disaster and natural calamity at Kedarnath has once again exposed that multiple relief agencies work at cross-ends, with no coordination, utter confusion and chaos. Central command is crucial in crisis times and helps in saving precious hours and minutes.
14. Central Anti-Corruption Commission (CACC) - Having all India jurisdictions will completely replace the following agencies dealing with corruption:-
• CBI’S Anti-corruption wing formed under Delhi police act.
• State lokayuktas.
• Jan lokpal created recently.
Success of this new institution (Lokpal) is doubtful as it does not enjoy constitutional status, and secondly by and large the CBI will still remain under the control of the ruling govt. Multiple anti-corruption agencies create more confusion and work at cross-ends with little coordination. It will be better to have one single agency with constitutional powers, effective and independent and free from political pressures and external influences to firmly deal with the menace and crime of corruption. CACC‘s head office should be at Delhi under the command of an executive chairman and it should have full fledged branch offices in every state capital to be headed by a director.
15. Financial Instruments Commission of India - It should ideally subsume SEBI, IRDA and, PFRDA or become a super regulator cum advisor for them.
16. Telecom and Broadcasting Commission of India - It will take over the functions of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Telecom Commission and DOT .These three different institutions are creating more problems and confusion, and delaying vital decisions. Besides, this commission will also regulate television and radio broadcasting, cable TV and also act as a super regulator for CBFC and new media.
17. Electricity Commission of India - To clear the existing mess of the vital power sector and to streamline, standardise and harmonise it’s all India production, transmission and distribution.
18. Defence Production and Procurement Commission of India - This independent board comprising of members drawn from serving and retired defence officers, nominees of government and technical experts will be able to take quick and fast procurement decisions which are vital for the security of the nation. At present procurement decisions are unnecessarily and inordinately delayed due to complex and multiple layers of decision making process and caution/fear on the part of the government to avoid allegations of corruption.
This commission’s decisions shall be implemented by a separate new Ministry called “Ministry of Defence Requirements” which should always be under the direct control of Prime Minister
The existing constitutional bodies should be further strengthened and following new Bodies should be created to restrict the powers of politicians and bureaucrats and also to enable them have more time to devote on their main task of efficient and good governance and to take quick and timely decisions for speedier development. But just like the Election Commission and CAG; the success of these new constitutional bodies will depend how their members are selected and more importantly on their honesty, integrity, knowledge, experience and impartiality.
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(Kolkata-based Dalbir Chhibbar practised as a CA till 1990 and later started his own buinsess)
Twenty-eight people, including 10 terrorists, were killed in the attack, one of the most daring in recent years in the port city of Karachi in Pakistan
In a brazen attack, heavily armed Pakistani Taliban terrorists launched a major assault on the country’s largest airport at Karachi in which at least 28 people, including 10 terrorists, were killed before security forces eventually regained control on Monday.
The 10 militants divided into two groups of five, attacked the Jinnah International Airport late Sunday night, resulting in a six-hour gun battle with security forces involving army, paramilitary Rangers, police and Airport Security Force.
Explosions and gunfire rang out as the attackers wearing military uniforms and suicide vests, and armed with grenades and rocket launchers attacked the airport in Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city and financial hub.
According to reports, eight ASF personnel, two Rangers officials, one police officer and three Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) officials are among the dead.
Twenty-eight people, including the 10 terrorists, were killed in the attack, one of the most daring in recent years in the port city. Twenty-four people have also been injured.
“The airport has been cleared. The security forces killed seven terrorists while three blew themselves up during the fight,” Director General, Rangers, Major General Rizwan Akhtar told media.
“Very soon we will hand over the airport to the civilian aviation authority to start its normal operations,” he said.
Earlier, the military had declared an end to its operation to secure the airport but were forced to relaunch an assault after fresh firing erupted.
“All 10 terrorists have been killed, the airport secured and they were unable to damage any aircraft or installations,” a spokesman of the military’s Inter Services Pubic Relations (ISPR) said.
The terrorists were cornered and shot down after they stormed the old airport terminal building posing as Airport Security Force (ASF) personnel.
The ISPR spokesman said that army units from the nearby Malir cantonment base, ASF commandos, paramilitary rangers and police had carried out the joint operation to clear the area.
Sophisticated machine guns and rocket launchers were recovered from the slain terrorists who were being identified, he said.
The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the attack.
“We carried out this attack on the Karachi airport and it is a message to the Pakistani government that we are still alive to react over the killings of innocent people in bomb attacks on their villages,” TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said in a statement to the media.
He said that the attack was also carried out to avenge the killing of former TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike.
The Prime Minister's Office has decided to unblock nearly 10,000 twitter accounts which were blocked by previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government
After receiving nearly 4,000 requests to unblock their twitter accounts, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Office (@PMOIndia) has decided to unblock about 10,000 Twitter handles that were blocked by the former PM, Dr Manmohan Singh's media advisor, Pankaj Pachauri.
A report in DNA quotes a member of Bhartiya Janata Party's (BJP) IT team as saying, "Nearly 2,000 followers have already been unblocked. By the end of this week, we would be able to unblock all the blocked followers. This number is expected to be around 8,000-10,000.”
Some of these accounts, labelled as 'Internet Trolls' were used to poke fun at the UPA, former PM Dr Singh as well as other ruling members of the Congress. Back in 2012, journalists Kanchan Gupta and Shiv Aroor were also blocked from Twitter along with 16 other handles for being partial to the Right wing and speaking against the Congress Government. They were later unblocked following outrage from public regarding 'freedom of speech' and 'freedom of press'.
Among the blocked accounts were also those who were using abusive language against the BJP during the recent Lok Sabha elections. Speaking on this, Economic Times (ET) quoted Vinit Goenka, co-convenor of BJP's IT Cell as saying, “We had blocked some accounts with abusive posts and tweets but with the government in place, it is time to look at interacting with everyone about collective development.”
Narendra Modi, who is extremely active on Twitter with 45 lakh followers, is hoping to interact with everyone, and hence planning to unblock the accounts. According to the ET report, Goenka said “The party now wishes to 'adopt a new policy' on trolls. We have still not decided how to go about abusive posts. But we will consult our members and do the needful. The cell that was managing the accounts of all BJP leaders and campaign units said it was not just them, but Congress too had blocked many accounts during the past few months.”