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Cabinet Reshuffles since 2009

June 18th, 2013 1 comment
Source: www.pib.nic.in

Source: www.pib.nic.in

Yesterday the Prime Minister reshuffled his Cabinet and inducted four cabinet ministers and four ministers of state.  Since the beginning of the UPA II government, there have been three major Cabinet reshuffles and a number of minor readjustments in the portfolios of ministers. Analysing changes in the portfolios of ministers gives an insight into the churn in the political leadership of the different ministries of the government of India.

Until recently there was no central online resource where information could be collated about cabinet reshuffles. The information was scattered between the websites of the President, the Prime Minister and the Press Information Bureau. Since 2012, the Cabinet Secretariat has started putting details about changes in the portfolio of the council of ministers in the public domain. However analysing this information becomes difficult as the information is split into different files and details about the Cabinet reshuffle do not go back till 2009.

We have tried to collate data about changes in Cabinet portfolios since May 2009, so that it becomes easily accessible and can be analysed by interested individuals.  The raw data file can be accessed here. This data could be analysed to see which Ministers have shifted across ministries or the average length of tenure of Ministers in different ministries.

If you spot interesting trends in the raw data above, please share them with us on twitter@prslegislative

We have done a preliminary analysis of the data to see which ministries have had the most changes in Cabinet Ministers since May 2009:

– Railway Ministry portfolio has been held by six different Cabinet Ministers [Mamata Banerjee, Dinesh Trivedi, Mukul Roy, C P Joshi (twice), Pawan Kumar Bansal and now Mallikarjun Kharge]

– Ministry of Law and Justice, Corporate Affairs and Science and Technology: Four Cabinet Ministers.

– Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Civil Aviation, Rural Development, Tourism and Youth and Sports:  Three Cabinet Ministers.

– Ministries like Finance, Home, External Affairs, Communications and Information Technology, Human Resource Development:  Two Cabinet Ministers.

– Ministries like Agriculture and Non Conventional Energy Sources have the same Ministers from May 2009.

This data also helped us put together a brief chronology of Cabinet reshuffles since the beginning of the term of the UPA II government:

23 & 28- May-09 Cabinet sworn in.
31-May-09 Meria Kumar resigns as Minister of Water Resources to become Speaker of Lok Sabha.
19-Apr-10 Shashi Tharoor resigns as Minister of State from the Ministry of External Affairs.
15-Nov-10 A Raja resigns as Minister of Communications and Information Technology. Kapil Sibal gets additional charge of the ministry.
19-Jan-11 First major cabinet reshuffle. Most ministries affected.
12-Jul-11 Second major Cabinet reshuffle. Dinesh Trivedi assumes charge of Railway Ministry after Mamata Banerjee, Salman Khursheed becomes Law Minister, Jairam Ramesh moves to Rural Development. New Ministers like Rajeev Shukla (Parliamentary Affairs) and Jayanthi Natarajan (Environment and Forest) get inducted.
18-Dec-11 RLD joins UPA. Ajit Singh inducted as Minister of Civil Aviation.
20-Mar-12 Dinesh Trivedi resigns and Mukul Roy becomes Railway Minister.
27-Jun-12 Pranab Mukherjee resigns as Finance Minister to fight the presidential election.
31-Jul-12 P Chidambaram moves from Home to Finance Ministry and Sushil Kumar Shinde moves from Power to Home Ministry.
22-Sep-12 Trinamool withdraws support to UPA. All TMC ministers resign. C P Joshi assumes additional charge of Railway Ministry.
28-Oct-12 Third major reshuffle. S M Krishna resigns from Ministry of External Affairs and Salman Khursheed takes over. Ashwani Kumar comes in place of Salman Khursheed in Law and Justice. Ambika Soni resigns and Manish Tiwari takes charge of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Ajay Maken moves from Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to Housing and Urban Poverty Alliviation.
21-Mar-13 DMK withdraws support. All DMK Ministers resign.
11-May-13 Ashwani Kumar and Pawan Kumar Bansal resign. Kapil Sibal takes charge of Ministry of Law and Justice and C P Joshi takes charge of Railways.
16-Jun-13 Ajay Maken and C P Joshi resign.

 

 

Paid News in the spotlight

June 3rd, 2013 2 comments

The issue of paid news has been debated for a long time, most recently during the 2012 Gujarat assembly elections, the Jindal Steel-Zee News dispute and disqualification of a sitting UP MLA by the Election Commission of India (ECI) in October 2011.  The Standing Committee on Information Technology recently submitted its report on the “Issues Related to Paid News”.  The report discusses the definition of paid news, reasons for its proliferation, existing mechanisms to address the problem and recommendations to control it.

Need for comprehensive definition of paid news

The Press Council of India (PCI) defines paid news as any news or analysis appearing in print or electronic media for consideration in cash or kind.  The Committee acknowledged challenges in defining and establishing incidence of paid news, citing new manifestations like advertisements disguised as news, denial of coverage to select electoral candidates, private deals between media houses and corporates and the rise in paid content.  Hence, it asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MoIB) to formulate a comprehensive legal definition of ‘paid news’ and suggest measures for usage of ‘circumstantial evidence’ in establishing incidence of  paid news.

Reasons for rise in incidence of paid news

The Committee identified corporatisation of media, desegregation of ownership and editorial roles, decline in autonomy of editors/journalists and poor wage levels of journalists as key reasons for the rise in incidence of paid news.  It urged the MoIB to ensure periodic review of the editor/journalist autonomy and wage conditions.  It also recommended mandatory disclosure of ‘private treaties’ and details of advertising revenue by the media houses.

Need for empowered regulators and stricter punitive provisions

The Committee observed that statutory regulators like the PCI and Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC) lack adequate punitive powers while self-regulatory industry bodies like the News Broadcasting Standards Authority have even failed to take cognisance of the problem.  The PCI and self-regulatory bodies are also plagued by conflict of interest since a majority of their members are media-owners.

The Committee recommended the establishment of either a single regulatory body for both print and electronic media or setting-up a statutory body for the electronic media on the lines of the PCI. Such regulator(s) should have the power to take strong action against offenders and should not include media owners as members. It highlighted the need for stricter punitive provisions to control paid news and sought further empowerment of the ECI to deal with cases of paid news during elections.

Committee critical of government’s inaction

The Committee censured the MoIB for its failure to establish a strong mechanism to check the spread of paid news.  It criticised the government for dithering on important policy initiatives, citing the lack of action on various recommendations of the PCI and ECI.  Previously, the PCI had sought amendments to make its directions binding on the government authorities and to bring the electronic media under its purview.  Similarly, the ECI recommended inclusion of indulgence by an electoral candidate in paid news as a corrupt practice and publication of such paid news as an electoral offence.  The Committee also expressed concern that the MoIB and self-regulatory bodies have not conducted any study to evaluate the mechanism adopted by other countries to tackle the problem of paid news.

For a PRS summary of the Standing Committee Report, see here.