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Today’s Talk on Editorials November 7, 2017

 

Plotting Social Progress- The Hindu

 

India has transformed itself from a symbol of hunger and poverty at the time of independence to one of the fastest growing major economies over the last seven decades.The economic achievements are remarkable considering fact that India followed democratic governance and continues as a secular entity.

However, social progress indices and measurements continue to lag behind the economic growth focus. NITI Aayog’s School Education Quality Index , Performance of Health Outcomes Index , water management index has become a renewed approach to a bottom up focus on social development. A common progress card can help to quantify the development of each states in achieving social progress.

Three parameters of social progress Index include:

  1. Basic human needs.
  2. Foundations of well being.
  3. Opportunity.

Social progress Index which ranks environmental, social indicators could bridge the gap India faces on social development orientation. Country records a score of 57.03 on a 0-100 scale. Country is performing better in provision of basic human needs but not in opportunities for all.

Findings also include poorly performing states can improve rapidly. For example, Tripura, Meghalaya etc. have greatly improved from 2005. Improvements in social progress are very less where correlation with economic development is absent. That is , health and environmental quality which are least developed have eroded as per survey.

Eliminating mafia from Indian politics- Livemint

Supreme Court asked the government about the status of criminal cases pending against elected ministers. It underlines importance of nullifying criminalisation of politics.Court recommended setting up fast track courts. However it is not an effective strategy, unless complemented with reforms to improve governance and bring transparency in campaign financing.

Ban on corporate financing of elections in 1969  eliminated the most important legal source of campaign finance and pushed financing underground. Increased political competition—the number of political parties increased from 55 in the 1952 general election to 464 in 2014—and the trend of giving freebies for votes rose up demand for more funds for political supremacy.

This played politicians into the hands of criminals and racketeers who had the means to acquire and dispose of large amounts of cash without detection. Thus parties fielded tainted candidates because they could contest an election without becoming a burden on the party’s limited coffers.

The root of the problem lies in the country’s poor governance capacity. On the one hand, India has excessive procedures that allow the bureaucracy to insert itself in the ordinary life of people; on the other hand, it appears woefully understaffed to perform its most crucial functions.

The inadequate governance capacity thus cannot prevent criminalisation of politics. In fact, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) report that about 34 per cent of winners of the 16th Lok Sabha had at least one pending criminal case against them. Fast-track courts as proposed by S.C. are necessary because politicians are able to delay the judicial process and serve for decades before prosecution. But it is obvious that this will do little to prevent criminalisation.

A comprehensive reform that includes Election Commission of India auditing financial parties, bringing political funding under the blanket of RTI, rationalization of bureaucratic procedures and an increase in state capacity can achieve dream of “Clean India” from corruption.