Rape documentary: Attitudes and challenges
Guests: Ved Marwah (Former Delhi Police Commissioner and former Governor) ; Shailaja Chandra (Former Chief Secretary, Delhi) ; Shilpi Jain (Lawyer) ; Vrinda Gopinath (Journalist and Editor of Altgaze.com)
Anchor: Girish Nikam
Air date: March 4, 2015
Hindi News Bulletin | हिंदी समाचार बुलेटिन – Mar 02, 2015 (7 pm)
Guests: Shailaja Chandra (Former Secretary, Ministry of Health, Government of India)
Air date: Published on 5 March 2015
Tags: Nirbhaya gangrape
After furor over the interview of one of the convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape case, the Home Ministry is in damage control mode. Mukesh Kumar, who is on death row in the rape case, showed no remorse for the rape during the interview he gave to British filmmaker Leslee Udwin.
Guests: Smt Shailaja Chandra, Ex-Chief Secretary, Delhi Govt. ; Sh. Vikram Singh, Ex DGP, UP Police; Sh. Sanjay Srivastava, Sociologist ; Sh. Aakar Patel, Journalist ; Sh. Ashok Pandit, Filmmaker and Anchor: Palki.
Guests: Saurabh Bharadwaj (MLA, AAP) ; Ved Marwah (Former Commissioner, Delhi Police) ; Shailaja Chandra (Former Chief Secretary, Govt of Delhi) ; Ajay Shankar (Former Special Secretary, Ministry of Power, Govt of India)
Anchor: Girish Nikam
Air date: February 11, 2015
I come in at 14:10 Minute, 19:36 Minute & 28.08 Minutes.
Guests: Ved Marwah (Former Governor and also Former, Delhi Police Commissioner) ; Shailaja Chandra (Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Delhi) ; Rakesh Sinha (Director, India Policy Foundation) ; Dilip Cherian (Founder, Perfect Relations) ; Vandita Mishra (National Opinion Editor, Indian Express)
Anchor: Girish Nikam
Air date: February 6, 2015
I come in at 9:24 Minute, 17:28 Minute & 24.16 Minutes.
Yes, you have won and congratulations! From now on, Delhi will watch your every move — no longer as a chief ministerial aspirant but as the face of government. The euphoria will be heady and Delhi’s expectations high. Here for your consideration is some well-intentioned advice. First, please re-read the Constitution before you open your innings because understanding it must determine everything else you do.
The Constitution 69th Amendment Act passed in 1991, whose Article 239 AA almost made Delhi a full state — but stopped short. While excluding the entries relating to police, public order and land, the amendment stipulated that the legislative assembly “shall have power to make laws for the whole or any part of the National Capital Territory, with respect to any of the matters included in the State List or the Concurrent List” — which means 47 entries on the State List and 64 on the Concurrent List. Sounds great. But a caveat that follows also states that any law made by the legislative assembly, if repugnant to a law made by Parliament, would be void. So, while you can pass bills, they will not become law without the approval of the Central government.
For the same reason, your promise to get full statehood for Delhi and bring police and law and order under the control of its government is destined to remain just that — a promise, as Article 239AA of the Constitution expressly precludes the government of Delhi from control on the subjects of land, police and public order. Howsoever undemocratic, there is no alternative to amending the Constitution to change that. And that is simply not going to happen — in the foreseeable future. It would be prudent to circumscribe your promise right now because even if Delhi is on your side, the Constitution will prevail.
Then there is your promise to give swaraj to the mohalla sabhas. This will run into trouble because of two factors. First, while the Delhi Assembly is competent to pass the law, it would necessarily have to be sent to the ministry of urban development for approval to see that there is no repugnancy with the Municipal Corporation Act 1957. And the concept of mohalla sabhas is indeed repugnant to the act. It might be better to think this through before unfurling the flag of swaraj.
You have once again made a commitment to halve electricity bills and provide 700 litres of free water, along with comprehensive sanitation. The city has almost doubled its consumption in the last five years. Delhi’s per capita consumption is the highest and far above the national average. While audits must continue and the performance and billing of the discoms kept under scrutiny, some basics cannot be disregarded. The city purchases around 80 per cent of its power needs from the public sector power-generating companies across the country. Power costs have soared and if consumers do not pay for what they consume, it will ruin the efficiency of the systems, whether owned by the government or the distribution companies. Summer’s spiralling demand will take its toll by way of broken cables, burnt transformers and toppled electricity towers — something you will have to take the flak for. Instead of pampering spoilt consumers, fight for greater competition and more choice. Here, neither the Constitution nor the Central government can play the spoiler. Instead of subsidies, which are retrograde, re-invent your promise and return to the consumer whatever she conserves over the same period in the previous year.
The same applies to water and sewage. Unless people pay the essential maintenance cost, the systems will collapse. The promise of giving free water would dissuade over 4,00,000 people who have no meters today from ever acquiring them, making it impossible to measure either utilisation or wastage — two essentials for improving efficiency. Instead, legislate and enforce rainwater harvesting and levy heavy penalties for wastage. Ballpark figures also show that only half the sewage in Delhi is treated. Failure to levy sewage charges will affect essential maintenance and cause public health hazards. A party with a difference cannot be that irresponsible.
Discord lies in the Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) announcement of land pooling for setting up Smart cities. Whereas the acquisition and zonal planning of such land would fall under the DDA, entrusting appurtenant development to external or private entities as envisaged would leave the Delhi government out of the loop. The land pooling policy has been announced by the DDA on the ground that it is responsible for implementing the Master Plan 2021 and it will storm ahead. It is questionable whether schools, health centres, roads and water supply can remain outside the purview of the city government for too long. Bringing the DDA under the chairmanship of the chief minister would provide a formal mechanism for harmonisation, without affecting the provisions concerning the Central government. This clear recommendation from the second Administrative Reforms Commission is low-hanging fruit.
As you reward your core support base, you will reach out to the migrant and underprivileged population groups living on the outskirts, in the slums and in unauthorised colonies. But in doing so, it will affect the provision of services to the original residents of the city who have paid their taxes and looked forward to orderly growth. You would do well to balance the interests of core supporters with the rights of the original residents who pay taxes, obey the law and never grudge paying either electricity or water bills. They too have entitlements.
To achieve anything, resources are needed — and Delhi’s budget is already circumscribed by several constraints. Half the budget is spent on salaries and “non-plan” expenditure, which excludes development schemes and infrastructure projects. The rest goes to transport, health and education, water supply, housing and urban development, energy, social security and welfare sectors — none of which is fungible. Eighty five per cent of the budget comes from taxes and only 15 per cent from plan assistance and other non-tax revenue. You have promised to reduce VAT, which accounts for 67 per cent of the revenues. Unlike full-fledged states, Delhi cannot borrow from the market or levy a cess.
It is for you to choose which way to go. Delhi, India and the world are watching.
Shailaja Chandra has had a long career in public service. She has been a Union secretary in the health ministry as well as the Delhi chief secretary, among others. In an interview with Kavita Chowdhury, she talks about the importance of computerised systems in all organisations to bring about good governance. Edited excerpts:
As someone who has 45 years of administrative experience, including some years as the chief secretary of Delhi, what in your view are the challenges that the new Delhi government will face?
Service delivery would be the most important challenge. The connectivity with the individual citizen is essential for accountability.. There are a large numbers of schemes that individual citizens don’t even know about. There is no policy of first in and first out in departments that directly affect citizens. For example, in registering societies, getting certificates needed for school admissions for the economically weaker sections, cash transfers for liquefied petroleum gas, it has to be seen whether the entitled citizens are getting an improved way of living. If out-of-turn approvals and allotments are being made,or if there is a pick-and-choose approach in deciding applications, and there is no idea of the time lag between an application coming in and its disposal. The citizen feels frustrated.
In the public distribution system area, out patient departments of public hospitals, there are long queues. People jump these queues using their influence, ‘speed money’ or by the bravado of their presence and VIP status. But if there is a computerised system in every office and you are able to build a trust in every citizen that the system works, it could check corruption. For that you need to have an independent one per cent check in every department, which will immediately detect what is going wrong and where.
But considering the fact that Delhi has had no elected government for close to a year…
Officers might face a big challenge. In the past nine months, bureaucrats have been working without any political intercession on behalf of the public, which makes for quick decision-making but it may not be good for democracy. A new government and new ministers with the fire and fury of having successfully won an election would like to be seen quickly implementing the promises they made, but the officers will have to keep a check on the developments. For instance, an MLA would want something to be delivered by evening. But officers have to apply certain rules and check entitlement eligibility – that is a huge challenge.
While most political parties have preferred to sidestep the prickly subject of statehood for Delhi, you have been quite vocal about it.
I have been arguing that full statehood does not mean that the Union government has no say; it is only for day-to-day functioning. For instance, if the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) was placed under the chief minister, it would make for better planning, with inputs of what the citizens also want, rather than a body that is planning externally. The Constitution precludes land, public order and police as subjects not under the jurisdiction of the Delhi government. But apart from that, constitutionally, all other subjects, after the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT) Act was passed should be with the state government which includes smart city plans, housing, construction of roads and setting up markets – all these are of concern to the common man. But the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, the DDA acts, have not changed the term Lt Governor to chief minister, even though the Constitution was amended to do so.
For 24 years, the constitutional provisions have been violated. There are 57 areas under the DDA and about 60 items under the MCD where the Delhi government cannot do anything at all without the Union government’s assent. Even for a simple thing like increasing the fine for littering on the street, the MCD cannot change it and only the Central government can do so.
What have been the roadblocks to this transition?
Nobody wants to give up their authority. Officers within government have not convinced politicians that this is a constitutional violation. I tried during my time as Chief Secretary (between 2002-2004) I tried pursuing it, sent a paper to the Union government despite the then Lt Governor not liking it. But nothing came of it. There is just one Joint Secretary at the Centre looking at Delhi, he doesn’t have the time to look into the delegation of powers. This situation is absurd. And the more it remains this way, there will be less governance, chaos and confusion on municipal matters.
Women security in the capital has been much talked about in these elections. Given the fact that law and order is not under the Delhi government, what can be done to better the situation?
The Chief Minister should attend the monitoring meeting chaired by the Lt Governor and held every fortnight with police commissioners, senior police brass and the Chief Secretary. The CM’s presence and his inputs of, let’s say, increasing crime in a particular area of the city will be pivotal. Such a via media with the presence of a political representative would make for greater accountability.
Delhi is labelled as an unsafe city with the finger pointed at the influx of a large migrant population in the capital.
When the Nirbhaya incident happened, I talked to cops and was told that 60 per cent of rape and molestation cases are done by those in the age group of 14 to 20 years, those who are daily-wage earners, coming from outside the city; therefore, backgrounds of intense poverty. There is also a class divide. So every area would need a different approach – CCTVs, geographic information system mapping, street lighting and so on. The juvenile justice Act needs to be made stringent. To contain crimes against women, police should be the last word as far as safety in the city is concerned. Also, there has to be a semblance of balance between policing in VIP areas and the non-VIP areas. Additionally, there should be that one per cent test check of police stations to see if calls are being answered by women officers, how efficiently they address complaints and so on.
Whether it is the Aam Aadmi Party, the BJP or Congress, all of them have promised poll sops such as lower electricity tariff, free water and so on. How feasible is it to implement all this?
All political parties in all the states make these promises before the elections. But the issue is, how are they going to fund these subsidies, when Delhi gets its resources only from value added tax, excise and entertainment tax. Money is taken out from the back pocket to put into the front pocket – from areas that the public doesn’t see, from school budgets, from maintenance of sewage system and water treatment plants. It is irresponsible to make these promises when sufficient resources are not available. The public will not accept any additional taxation and Delhi can’t go for market-borrowing because it doesn’t have statehood.
The regularisation of unauthorised colonies is a constant as far as Delhi elections go.
Residents in unauthorised colonies comprise 30 per cent of voters – a huge vote bank. They can’t be ignored because they are citizens of the city and need to be provided a modicum of services. But they would need to be charged developmental charges for the services; maybe not all of it but 70 per cent of it. The regularisation of unauthorised colonies should have stopped long ago. Delhi can never become a world-class city as long as there is no right thinking on the part of political parties and vote banks are put before the considerations of governance.
Statehood for Delhi is back in the public eye. The Congress and AAP have been needling the BJP for refusing to make a clear commitment to support the demand. Ironically, a Bill to grant statehood was tabled by then deputy prime minister LK Advani in 2003 but it lapsed with the 13th Lok Sabha.
At the time of Independence Delhi was administered by a chief commissioner and after a few changes the Metropolitan Council was set up in 1966 and it was empowered to deliberate and recommend but not legislate. Finally in 1991 Parliament passed the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCT) Act, inserting a special provision in the Constitution.
Two years later, a 70-member assembly was sworn in. The assembly was given the powers to govern and make laws except on three subjects — public order, police and land. But all other subjects that fall under the ambit of other states devolved on Delhi. These include 64 entries in the state list and 47 on the concurrent list of the Constitution. But in violation of the constitutional provision, even in respect of subjects that have nothing to do with the reserved subjects of public order, police and land, a sizeable portion of authority continued to be exercised by the Central government.
There are some 60 matters relating to municipal governance that cannot be administered without the acquiescence of the Union government. The Delhi assembly can pass an amendment but unless the Bill is approved by the lieutenant governor (LG) and the ministries of urban development and home affairs and receives the assent of the President, it cannot become law. This course had to be followed over months when the Property Tax Amendment Bill was enacted in 2003. And that when there was, for once, perfect understanding and agreement between the Central and Delhi governments to effect the amendment. The moot point is: Why did this amendment Bill, which brought huge benefits to tens of thousands of Delhi house-owners, require the approval of the ministries of urban development and home affairs and presidential assent? Only because the MCD Act has not been amended in consonance with the Constitution — something only Parliament can do but no one is keen to take that course. The experience of the past 24 years is evidence of the extreme reluctance that prevails when it comes to giving up power despite the existence of a constitutional provision that over-rides the statute.
Another anachronism is the continuing control of the Delhi Development Authority by the ministry of urban development. The DDA was established in 1957 by an Act of Parliament to promote and secure a planned spatial development of Delhi. Its mandate is primarily to acquire land for the development of new areas and to hand the same over to the relevant authority once developed. But by enlarging its powers and jurisdiction, the DDA also built and managed huge townships like Rohini and Dwarka, besides flyovers, sports complexes and housing for low- to higher-income citizens. After the GNCT Act came into force in 1993, it begs the question as to why the DDA should not be reporting to the chief minister of Delhi. The second Administrative Reforms Commission (during the UPA rule) had strongly recommended that the DDA should be chaired by the chief minister of Delhi instead of the LG, noting that more than 50 provisions continue to require a nod from the Centre. Nevertheless little has changed.
When it comes to the DDA, the amendment of just one section in the DDA Act can place the body under the chairmanship of the chief minister. Even so all powers that rest with the Union government under the Act could and should remain because macro planning for the national capital requires long-term thinking and sound technical advice, which the ministry of urban development is far better equipped to provide. Day-to-day decisions would, however, be taken by the chief minister and the approval of the Union government obtained exactly as is done today.
Is there any plausible reason why full statehood should be denied? Yes. As the national capital, the Union government has the responsibility for the city’s orderly growth and security. That can be achieved by continuing with the Central government exercising powers of oversight by retaining a few supervisory sections that are already in the law. The NDMC too should remain as it is now under the Central government, which would take care of all that matters to the Central government. Sensitive areas like foreign missions, the Red Fort area and some others as may be notified should remain with the Central government.
The Delhi government also has no say in police administration and law and order. This is administered by the ministry of home affairs, through the LG. A balance can be found by having the monitoring meetings with the senior police heads chaired by the chief minister when there is an opportunity to discuss issues which are local, specific and affecting people’s well-being. That would help allay fears about police non-responsibility that prevails.
Finally there is the question of funding. The budget of the government of Delhi is around Rs 40,000 crore, of which the city raises only about three-fourths. Delhi, with a population approaching 20 million (more than 10 full-fledged states), badly needs to take recourse to market borrowing but, not being a state, cannot do so. If Delhi is given statehood subject to restrictions on borrowing, it would enable the state to raise the resources that are required to build a world-class city.
The issue is not statehood for the sake of statehood. It is a necessity for the nation’s capital and one of the most populated cities in the world. It simply cannot continue to be governed by remote control.
Tags: annual report, stats helper monkeys, Sydney Opera House
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here's an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Tags: Violence Against Women
It’s been 2 years since a young woman was gang raped and left to die in the national capital. The incident shocked the nation, shook up the establishment, and forced a much needed debate on women’s safety. Two years later, we ask – What has changed in this country? Is it safer for women?
Guests: Shailaja Chandra (Former Chief Secretary, Delhi Govt.) ; Nishtha Gautam (Associate Fellow, ORF); Meera Sood (Lawyer, Supreme court); Maxwell Pereira (former Joint Police Commissioner, Delhi Police) and Anchor: Rajdeep Saradesai, Consulting Editor, TVTN.