Archive

Archive for April, 2010

Revamping India’s Higher Education System

April 29th, 2010 11 comments

The shortage of skilled man-power is a cause for concern in most sectors in India.  Experts acknowledge that the present higher education system in India is not equipped to address this problem without some changes in the basic structure.  Official records show that the gross enrollment ratio in higher education is only 11 per cent while the National Knowledge Commission says only seven per cent of the population between the age group of 18-24 enters higher education.  Even those who have access are not ensured of quality.  Despite having over 300 universities, not a single Indian university is listed in the top 100 universities of the world.

Present Regulatory framework

The present system of higher education is governed by the University Grants Commission (UGC), which is the apex body responsible for coordination, determination and maintenance of standards, and release of grants.   Various professional councils are responsible for recognition of courses, promotion of professional institutions and providing grants to undergraduate programmes.  Some of the prominent councils include All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Bar Council of India (BCI).  The Central Advisory Board of Education coordinates between the centre and the states.

Universities in India can be established by an Act of Parliament or state legislatures such as Delhi University, Calcutta University and Himachal Pradesh University.  Both government-aided and unaided colleges are affiliated with a university.  The central government can also declare an institution to be a deemed university based on recommendation of the University Grants Commission.  There are about 130 deemed universities and includes universities such as Indian Institute of Foreign Trade and Birla Institute of Technology.  Such universities are allowed to set their own syllabus, admission criteria and fees.  Some prominent institutions are also classified as institutions of national importance.

Reforms in Higher Education

There have been calls to revamp the regulatory structure, make efforts to attract talented faculty, and increase spending on education from about 4% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to about 6%. Presently, the allocation for higher education is at a measly 0.7% of GDP.

From time to time government appointed various expert bodies to suggest reforms in the education sector.  The two most recent recommendations were made by the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) formed in 2005 under the chairmanship of Mr Sam Pitroda and the Committee to Advise on Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education, formed in 2008 under the chairmanship of Shri Yashpal.

Key Recommendations of NKC Key Recommendations of Yashpal Committee
  • Presently, India has about 350 universities.  Around 1,500 universities should be opened nationwide so that India is able to attain a gross enrolment ratio of at least 15% by 2015.
  • Existing universities should be reformed through revision of curricula at least once in three years, supplementing annual examination with internal assessment, transition to a course credit system, attract talented faculty by improving working conditions and incentives.
  • A Central Board of Undergraduate Education should be established, along with State Boards of Undergraduate Education, which would set curricula and conduct examinations for undergraduate colleges that choose to be affiliated with them.
  • An Independent Regulatory Authority for Higher Education (IRAHE) should be formed.  IRAHE should be independent of all stakeholders and be established by an Act of Parliament.
  • The UGC would focus on disbursement of grants and maintaining public institutions of higher learning.  The regulatory function of the AICTE, MCI, and BCI would be performed by IRAHE.
  • The IRAHE shall have the power to set and monitor standards, accord degree-granting power to institutions of higher education, license accreditation agencies, and settle disputes.  Same norms shall apply to all institutions irrespective of whether they are public or private, domestic or international.
  • Quality of education can be enhanced by stringent information disclosure norms, evaluation of courses by teachers and students, rethinking the issue of salary differentials within and between universities to retain talented faculty, formulating policies for entry of foreign institutions in India and the promotion of Indian institutions abroad.
  • The academic functions of all the professional bodies (such as UGC, AICTE, MCI, and BCI) should be subsumed under an apex body for higher education called the National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER), formed through Constitutional amendment.
  • The professional bodies should be divested of their academic functions.  They should only be looking after the fitness of the people who wish to practice in their respective fields by conducting regular qualifying examination.
  • Establish a National Education Tribunal with powers to adjudicate on disputes among stake-holders within institutions and between institutions so as to reduce litigation in courts involving universities and higher education institutions.
  • Curricular reform should be the top-most priority of the NCHER.  It should be based on the principles of mobility within a full range of curricular areas.
  • Vocational education sector should be brought within the purview of universities.
  • NCHER should promote research in the university system through the creation of a National Research Foundation.
  • Practice of according status of deemed university be stopped till the NCHER takes a considered view on it.
  • NCHER should identify the best 1500 colleges across India and upgrade them as universities.
  • A national testing scheme for admission to the universities on the pattern of the GRE to be evolved which would be open to all the aspirants of University education, to be held more than once a year.
  • Quantum of central financial support to state-funded universities should be enhanced substantially on an incentive pattern.
Sources: The Report to the Nation, 2006-09, NKC; Yashpal Committee Report, 2009; PRS

The Draft NCHER Bill, 2010

In response to the reports, the government drafted a Bill on higher education and put it in the public domain.  The draft National Commission for Higher Education and Research Bill, 2010 seeks to establish the National Commission for Higher Education and Research whose members shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the selection committee (include Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, Speaker).

The Commission shall take measures to promote autonomy of higher education and for facilitating access, inclusion and opportunities to all.  It may specify norms for grant of authorisation to a university, develop a national curriculum framework, specify requirement of academic quality for awarding a degree, specify minimum eligibility conditions for appointment of Vice Chancellors, maintain a national registry, and encourage universities to become self regulatory.  Vice Chancellors shall be appointed on the recommendation of a collegium of eminent personalities.  The national registry shall be maintained with the names of persons eligible for appointment as Vice Chancellor or head of institution of national importance.  Any person can appeal a decision of the Commission to the National Educational Tribunal. (For opinions by some experts on the Bill, click here and here.)

Other Bills that are in the pipeline include The Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010; the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) (Amendment) Bill, 2010; and the Innovation Universities Bill, 2010.

FAQs on Telephone Tapping

April 27th, 2010 2 comments

1.  Is the government empowered to intercept communication between two individuals?

Answer: Yes. The Central and the State government can intercept communication.  Letters, telephone (mobiles and landlines) and internet communication (e mails, chats etc.) can be intercepted by the government.

Interception of:

  • postal articles is governed by the Indian Post Office Act, 1898 [Section 26];
  • telephones is governed by the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 [Section 5(2)];
  • e mails/chats etc. is governed by the Information Technology Act, 2000 [Section 69].

2. Under what circumstances can the government intercept communication?

Answer: The circumstances under which communication can be intercepted by the government are:

  • for postal articles: the occurrence of any public emergency, or in the interest of the public safety or tranquility;
  • for telephones: in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of an offence;
  • for e mails / chats etc.: in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above;

3. Are there any safeguards that have been built into the interception process?

Answer: The Supreme Court in the case of PUCL Vs Union of India observed that the right to have telephone conservation in the privacy of one’s home or office is part of the Right to Life and Personal Liberty enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution, which cannot be curtailed except according to the procedure established by law.

Elaborating the scope of Section 5 (2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1882 the Court clarified that this section does not confer unguided and unbridled power on investigating agencies to invade a person’s privacy.

The court laid down the following safeguards:

a.  Tapping of telephones is prohibited without an authorizing order from the Home Secretary, Government of India or the Home Secretary of the concerned State Government

b. The order, unless it is renewed shall cease to have authority at the end of two months from the date of issue. Though the order may be renewed, it cannot remain in operation beyond six months.

c. Telephone tapping or interception of communications must be limited to the address (es) specified in the order or to address (es) likely to be used by a person specified in the order.

d. All copies of the intercepted material must be destroyed as soon as their retention is not necessary under the terms of Section 5 (2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1882.

e. In an urgent case, this power may be delegated to an officer of the Home Department, Government of India or the Home Department of the State government, who is not below the rank of Joint Secretary. Copy of this order should be sent to the concerned Review Committee within one week of passing of the order.

f. This Review Committee shall consist of the Cabinet Secretary, Law Secretary and the Secretary Telecommunications at the Central Government. At the state level, the Committee shall comprise of Chief Secretary, Law Secretary and another member (other than the Home Secretary) appointed by the State Government. The Committee shall on its own, within two months of the passing of an order under Section 5 (2) investigate whether its passing is relevant. If an order is in existence, the Committee should find out whether there has been a contravention of the provisions of Section 5 (2). If the Review Committee on investigation concludes that provisions of Section 5 (2) have been contravened, it shall direct destruction of the copies of the intercepted material.

In pursuance of the Supreme Court judgement the Indian Telegraph (First Amendment) Rules, 1999 were framed and notified on 16.02.1999.

A similar notification titled, the Information Technology (Procedures and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information Rules, 2009 were notified on October 27, 2009. [see page 18]

4. Are there any other known cases of telephone tapping of politicians?

Answer: In 2005, Shri Amar Singh alleged that his telephones were tapped by private individuals.  The case against them is currently pending in the Tis Hazari court in Delhi.

5. Are there any statistics about the number of telephones being tapped by the government?

Answer:  Currently no such statistics are publicly available.  In a similar context, in the UK (where the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 governs this particular subject) a Report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner states that a total of 5344 warrants were issued for interception of communication in 2008.

Seeds Bill Update

April 26th, 2010 4 comments

The Seeds Bill was introduced in 2004, and is listed for discussion in Rajya Sabha this week. We had flagged some issues in our Legislative Brief. The Standing Committee had also made some recommendations (summary available here). These included the following: Farmers selling seeds had to meet the same quality requirements (on physical and genetic purity, minimum level of germination etc.) as seed companies. Second, seed inspectors had the power to enter and search without a warrant, unlike the requirements in the Criminal Procedure Code for the police. Third, the compensation mechanism for farmers was through consumer courts; some other Acts provide separate bodies to settle similar issues.

The government has circulated a list of official amendments. These address most of the issues (tabulated here).

One significant issue has not been addressed. The financial memorandum estimates that Rs 36 lakh would be required for the implementation of the Act during 2004-05 from the Consolidated Fund of India. The amount required by state governments to establish testing laboratories and appointing seed analysts and seed inspectors has not been estimated, which implies that the successful implementation of the bill will depend on adequate provision in state budgets.

Re-starting the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council

April 19th, 2010 2 comments

Anirudh and Chakshu

Friday’s issue of Indian Express carried an op-ed article by the Director of PRS on the issue of the re-establishment of the Legislative Council (upper house) in Tamil Nadu.

The article (a) traces the history of the legislature in Tamil Nadu, (b) the efficacy of having upper houses in state legislatures, (c) arguments for and against having legislative councils in state legislatures, and looks at the larger issue of how efficiently state legislatures perform their expected role.

General information on Legislative Councils in India:

The Legislative Council (Vidhan Parishad) of a state comprises not more than one-third of total number of members in legislative assembly of the state and in no case less than 40 members (Legislative Council of Jammu and Kashmir has 36 members vide Section 50 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir).

Elections:

(a) About 1/3rd of members of the council are elected by members of legislative assembly from amongst persons who are not its members,

(b) 1/3rd by electorates consisting of members of municipalities, district boards and other local authorities in the state,

(c) 1/12th  by electorate consisting of persons who have been, for at least three years, engaged in teaching in educational institutions within the state not lower in standard than secondary school, and

(d) one-twelfth by registered graduates of more than three years standing.

Remaining members are nominated by Governor from among those who have distinguished themselves in literature, science, art, cooperative movement and social service. Legislative councils are not subject to dissolution but one-third of their members retire every second year.

The points below provide more information on the Tamil nadu legislative Council:

- The Government of India Act, 1935 established a bicameral legislature in the province of Madras.

- May 14, 1986 [eigth assembly] the government moved a resolution for the dissolution of the Legislative Council.  The resolution was passed.

- The Tamil Nadu Legislative Council(Abolition) Bill, 1986 was passed by both the Houses of Parliament and received the assent of the president on the 30th August 1986.  The Act came into force on the 1st November 1986.  The Tamil Nadu Legislative Council was abolished with effect from the 1st November 1986.

- February 20, 1989, [ninth Assembly] a Government Resolution seeking the revival of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council was moved and adopted by the house

- The Legislative Council Bill, 1990 seeking the creation of Legislative Councils of the Tamil Nadu  and Andhra Pradesh was introduced in Rajya Sabha on the 10th May 1990 and was considered and passed by the Rajya Sabha on the 28th May 1990.   But the Bill could not be passed by the Lok Sabha.

- October 4, 1991, [tenth Assembly] a Government Resolution was adopted in the Assembly to rescind the Resolution passed on the 20th February 1989 for the revival of the Legislative Council in the State of Tamil Nadu.

- July 26, 1996, [eleventh Assembly], a Government Resolution seeking the revival of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council was moved and adopted by the house.

Modernization of Police Forces in Indian states

April 8th, 2010 5 comments

By Rohit & Anirudh

A modified ‘Modernization of State Police Forces’ scheme was started by the central government in 2000-01. One of the objectives was to help police forces in meeting the emerging challenges to internal security in the form of terrorism, naxalism etc. The scheme aims to modernize police forces in terms of:

  • Mobility (including purchase of bullet proof and mine proof vehicles)
  • Weaponry
  • Communication Systems
  • Training
  • Forensic Science Laboratory/ Finger Printing Bureau
  • Equipments
  • Buildings

Under this scheme, States have been clubbed into different categories and Centre-State cost sharing is category specific. Since 2005-06, States have been categorized as category ‘A’ and ‘B’ with 100% and 75% Central funding respectively. All the North Eastern States, namely Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim have been placed in category ‘A’ and thus, are entitled to receive 100% Central assistance for implementation of their annual approved plans.

Recently, CAG decided to evaluate the working of the scheme and commissioned ‘performance audit’ reviews covering select general category and special category States. Each review covers a contiguous five year period between 2000 and 2007, but varies across selected states.

For the periods under review, each state had a plan outlay (the total amount proposed to be spent in modernizing the state’s police forces). However, in most cases, the actual release of funds fell significantly short of this outlay – in some cases the Centre did not contribute its share, in others the States lagged behind. For instance, in the case of Bihar, the Centre released only 56% of its share; while in the case of Rajasthan and West Bengal, the States did not release any funds at all.

The graph below shows the actual releases by the Centre and the States (as percentages of their share in the proposed outlays):

Further, even the funds that were released were not fully utilized. Thus, the amount finally spent fell significantly short of the initial proposal. The graph below shows the actual expenditure by State:

Following are some of the other main findings from the CAG report:

Table 1: Summary of main findings in the CAG audit for different states for Modernisation of State Police Forces

Purpose for which money was sanctioned

Summary of CAG Findings

Planning

(Every state has to propose an Annual Action Plan every year. The plan is approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs and money is released as per the plan.)

§ Submissions by the states to the MHA were delayed.

§ There were also delays in the clearance granted by the MHA.

§ In various states such as,

a) Andhra Pradesh – the government spent money on works not covered by the Annual Action Plan.

b) Bihar – Persistent delays in preparation of the Plan by the state police.

c) West Bengal – the plans drawn up by the state did not include items covered under the scheme.

Mobility

§ Overall shortage of vehicles was observed. Most of the new vehicles replaced the old ones.

§ The police response time was too long in some states.

§ To give examples from some states:

a) Andhra Pradesh – 58 percent of vehicles procured were utilised for replacing old vehicles.

b) Bihar – the shortage of vehicles was 43 percent.

c) Uttar Pradesh – 2400 vehicles were procured against a shortage of nearly 10,000 vehicles.

Residential and non-residential buildings

§ There were considerable delays in construction of buildings in most states. Consequently, police forces’ own security was in jeopardy.

§ In states such as:

a) Andhra Pradesh – 53 percent of staff quarters and 43 percent of official buildings were not completed (2007).

b) Bihar – The total requirement of housing was nearly 60,000. Only six percent of this were included in the Plan.

c) Jharkhand – District Control rooms remained non-functional because of shortage of manpower.

Weapons

§ Police force in states continue to depend on outdated weapons.

§ Shortages of weapons also happened as acquisition from ordnance factories was very slow.

§ The weapons that were procured were mostly kept in the district headquarters.

§ In some states such as,

a) Bihar – AK-47s were kept at the disposal of bodyguards of VIPs.

b) West Bengal – Adequate weapons were not supplied to extremist prone police stations.

Communication

§ Police Telecommunication Networks were not set up successfully in some states. In others, network was functional only up to the district level.

§ Shortages of various communication equipments were also observed.

§ In some states such as,

a) Bihar – The Police Telecommunication Network system (costing Rs. 4.96 crore) remained non-functional due to non-construction of tower.

b) Maharashtra – Of the 850 purchased Remote Station Units, 452 were lying in stores.

Forensic Science Laboratory/ Finger Printing Bureau

§ In most States the Forensic Science Laboratories lacked adequate infrastructure.

§ In the absence of automatic finger print identification systems, investigation was being done manually in some States.

§ In some states such as,

a) Maharashtra – There were significant delays in receipt and installation. There was also shortage (284 vacant posts) of technical manpower.

b) West Bengal – Performance of the Forensic Science Laboratory was poor and in some cases, the delay in issue of investigation reports was as high as 45 months.

Training

§ It was observed that the percentage of police personnel trained was very low.

§ Training infrastructure was also inadequate.

§ In some states such as,

a) Bihar – Only 10 per cent of total force was trained.

b) West Bengal – Live training was not imparted for handling useful weapons and this severely affected the performance of police forces.

Sources: CAG Compendium of Performance Audit Reviews on Modernisation of Police Force; PRS.

Note: The audit has been done broadly from 2000 to 2007. Consequently, the period of audit for different states may vary.

Table 1: Summary of main findings in the CAG audit for different states for Modernisation of State Police Forces

Purpose for which money was sanctioned

Summary of CAG Findings

Planning

(Every state has to propose an Annual Action Plan every year. The plan is approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs and money is released as per the plan.)

§ Submissions by the states to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) were delayed.

§ There were also delays in the clearance granted by the MHA.

§ In various states such as,

a) Andhra Pradesh – the government spent Rs 32 crore on works not covered by the Annual Action Plan.

b) Bihar – Persistent delays in preparation of the Plan by the state police.

c) West Bengal – the plans drawn up by the state did not include items covered under the scheme.

Mobility

§ Overall shortage of vehicles was observed. Most of the new vehicles replaced the old ones, and no additions were made.

§ The police response time was too long in some states.

§ To give examples from some states:

a) Andhra Pradesh – 58 percent of vehicles procured were utilised for replacing old vehicles.

b) Bihar – the shortage of vehicles was 43 percent.

c) Uttar Pradesh – 2400 vehicles were procured against a shortage of nearly 10,000 vehicles. 203 ambassador cars were procured, though only 55 were approved by the MHA.

Residential and non-residential buildings

§ There were considerable delays in construction of buildings in most states. Consequently, police forces’ own security was in jeopardy. Satisfaction levels with the housing provided were also very low.

§ In states such as:

a) Andhra Pradesh – 53 percent of staff quarters and 43 percent of official buildings were not completed (2007).

b) Bihar – The total requirement of housing was nearly 60,000. Only six percent of this were included in the Plan, and only 1045 units were completed by 2006.

c) Jharkhand – District Control rooms remained non-functional even after spending Rs 2 crore because of shortage of manpower.

Weapons

§ It was observed that the police force in states continue to depend on outdated weapons.

§ Shortages of weapons also happened as acquisition from ordnance factories was very slow.

§ The weapons that were procured were mostly kept in the district headquarters.

§ In some states such as,

a) Bihar – AK-47s were kept at the disposal of bodyguards of VIPs.

b) West Bengal – Adequate weapons were not supplied to extremist prone police stations.

Communication

§ Police Telecommunication Networks were not set up successfully in some states. In others, network was functional only up to the district level.

§ Shortages of various communication equipments were also observed.

§ In some states such as,

a) Bihar – The Police Telecommunication Network system (costing Rs. 4.96 crore) remained non-functional due to non-construction of tower.

b) Maharashtra – Of the 850 purchased Remote Station Units, 452 were lying in stores.

Forensic Science Laboratory/ Finger Printing Bureau

§ In most States the Forensic Science Laboratories lacked adequate infrastructure.

§ In the absence of automatic finger print identification systems, investigation was being done manually in some States.

§ In some states such as,

a) Maharashtra – There were significant delays in receipt and installation. There was also shortage (284 vacant posts) of technical manpower.

b) West Bengal – Performance of the Forensic Science Laboratory was poor and in some cases, the delay in issue of investigation reports was as high as 45 months.

Training

§ It was observed that the percentage of police personnel trained was very low.

§ Training infrastructure was also inadequate.

§ In some states such as,

a) Bihar – Only 10 per cent of total force was trained.

b) West Bengal – Live training was not imparted for handling useful weapons and this severely affected the performance of police forces.

Sources: CAG Compendium of Performance Audit Reviews on Modernisation of Police Force; PRS.

Note: The audit has been done broadly from 2000 to 2007. Consequently, the period of audit for different states may vary.

Tags:

Guesstimating Access to Food Security

April 7th, 2010 1 comment

The empowered group of ministers (EGoM) met recently to review the draft food security bill. Two issues have been reported to have gained prominence in their discussions – the exact number of poor families that are likely to be beneficiaries under the Food Security Act and reforming of the targeted public distribution system.

On the issue of estimating poverty, it is reported that the Planning Commission has been asked to submit a report in three weeks on the number of  (BPL) families that are likely to be legally entitled to food under the said Act.

The Minister of Agriculture is reported to have said “It is up to them [Planning Commission] whether they base it [BPL list] on the Tendulkar Committee report or the earlier N.C. Saxena panel or the Wadhwa committee.”

The estimation of poor persons in India involves two broad steps:

(i) fixing a threshold or poverty line that establishes poverty, and

(ii) counting the number of people below this line.

Estimating these numbers is a contentious issue – ridden by debates around norms and parameters for defining poverty, methodology to estimate poverty, etc.

The Planning Commission estimates the percentage and number of BPL persons separately in rural and urban areas from a large sample survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) which operates under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

In addition various government social sector schemes are targeted specifically at the poor and require the government to identify BPL beneficiaries.  For this purpose the Ministry of Rural Development designs a BPL census and that is conducted by the States/UTs.  The BPL census website gives data on BPL households for 2002 based on the poverty estimates for 1999-2000, by state, district and block.

The targeted public distribution system was recently subjected to scrutiny by a Supreme Court appointed vigilance committee headed by Justice D P Wadhwa. Amongst many issues, the committee reported that “the PDS is inefficient and corrupt.  There is diversion and black-marketing of PDS food grain in large scale.  Subsidized PDS food grain does not reach the poor who desperately need the same.  These poor people never get the PDS food grain in proper quantity and quality.”

The two issues highlighted here are important to ensure that the proposed legislation on food security is not a leaky bucket in the making.   As the draft food security bill is not in the public domain it is difficult to comment on how the government is thinking on length and breadth of issues that govern giving access to food security.

India commences Census 2011

April 1st, 2010 1 comment

Census 2011 or the 15th National Census, a gigantic exercise to capture the socio-economic and cultural profile of India’s population, began on April 1, 2010.  India undertakes this exercise every 10 years through the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner in the Ministry of Home Affairs.  The census documents details of a billion plus population on diverse subjects such as demography, literacy, fertility and mortality and provides primary data at village, town and ward level.

The first census ever to take place in India was in 1872 and the last one was held in 2001.  The Census of India Act, 1948 lays down the rules and regulations pertaining to conduct of a census.  The Act makes it obligatory for the public to answer all the questions faithfully while guaranteeing the confidentiality of the information.

The last census was held in 2001, which revealed that India’s population was about 1.03 billion.  Statistical data related to literacy rate, sex-ratio, urban-rural distribution, religious composition, SC/ST population and so on were captured by Census 2001.

Features of Census 2011

Census process: India uses the canvasser method for collecting census data.  Under this method, the canvasser approaches every household and records the answer on the schedules himself after ascertaining the particulars from the head of the household or other knowledgeable persons in the household.  The full detail of the methodology is available here.

National Population Register (NPR): It would be a register or database of residents of the country.  The government states that such a database would facilitate better targeting of the benefits and services under government schemes and programmes; improve planning and help strengthen the security of the country.  The register is being created under the provisions of the Citizenship Act and Rules.

NPR process: Basic details such as name, date of birth and sex shall be gathered by visiting each household of a resident of the country. A database shall be created with addition of biometric information such as photograph, 10 fingerprints and probably Iris information for all persons aged 15 years and above.  The list shall be sent to the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) for de-duplication and issue of UID Numbers.  The cleaned database along with the UID Number would form the National Population Register.

There was a controversy over whether Census 2011 should capture caste data.  Since India last collected caste data in 1931, proponents argued that up-to-date, reliable caste data was essential to target welfare schemes towards various backward castes. Opponents however contended that this would perpetuate the caste system.  The government finally decided not to include caste as one of the parameters in the 2011 census.

Table 1: Schedule of Census 2011

Schedule State/UT
April 1 New Delhi (NDMC area), West Bengal, Assam,  Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Goa, Meghalaya, Bihar, Jharkhand
April 7 Kerala, Lakshadweep, Orissa, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim
April 15 Karnataka, Arunachal Pradesh, Chandigarh
April 21 Gujarat, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu
April 26 Tripura, Andhra Pradesh
May 1 Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Punjab, Uttaranchal, Maharashtra
May 7 Madhya Pradesh
May 15 J & K, Manipur, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh
June 1 Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Nagaland

PRS seeks inputs on increasing outreach

April 1st, 2010 5 comments

We need your ideas and inputs.  Ideas on how we can inform many more people who are interested in policy about what they can access on the PRS website.

The mission of PRS is to strengthen the legislative process by making it better informed, more transparent and participatory.

The statement has three important components:

(a) Better informed: This implies that legislators and citizens need to be better informed about the implications of legislation.  For us in PRS, this implies producing easy-to-understand non-partisan analysis that can be made available to MPs and citizens.  This also includes our continual efforts to personally brief MPs and political parties on the details and implications of each Bill.

(b) Transparent: We mean that all proceedings of Parliament and the work of MPs in Parliament should be easily accessible to citizens.  In an operational sense, this includes the effort we put into creating the Bill Track section on our website where every Bill that is pending in Parliament can be accessed, and the current status of the Bill can be tracked.  It also includes the MP Track section in which we have up-to-date information about the engagement levels of MPs in Parliament.  We also have a twitter page www.twitter.com/prslegislative and a Facebook presence.

(c) Participatory: Which simply means that once citizens know the information, and would like to articulate a point of view, they should reach out to policy makers and get their point of view across to them.  To promote this, we have had a number of workshops with NGOs and have produced a primer on Engaging with Policy Makers.

These are just some examples of what we are doing in each of these three areas.  Our website has much more information.

But we are increasingly of the view that we need to reach out many more people who are interested in policy — even if it is sector specific.  We would be grateful for any ideas that you might have, which you can post as responses to this post.

If you also have specific ideas on what you like on our website and what can be better, do let us know.  Thanks, in advance.

Tags: