To The Point, hosted by senior journalist Karan Thapar, is a show that helps viewers gain a better understanding of contemporary issues in India. It explores different interpretations of the latest news and presents the best analysis of the same. In this episode, we discuss the row over Shakuntala Gamlin’s appointment as acting Chief Secretary of Delhi.
Guests: Shailaja Chandra (Former Chief Secretary, Delhi Govt.) ; Sheila Dikshit (Former Delhi CM); TSR Subramanian (Former Cabinet Secretary); and Anchor: Karan Thapar.
I come in at 12:15 minutes, 16:04 minutes and 18:46 minutes
दिल्ली की अरविंद केजरीवाल सरकार सुर्खियों में ना रहे ऐसा कैसे हो सकता है। वजह या कहें विवाद चाहे जो भी हो, अब ताज़ा विवाद अफ़सरों की नियुक्ति से जुड़ा है। प्राइम टाइम में देखें इस पूरे मुद्दे पर खास चर्चा…
Guests: Shailaja Chandra (Former Bureaucrat) ; Saurabh Bhardwaj (APP) ; Sanjay Singh (Executive Editor) ; Sambit Patra (BJP); Haroon Yusuf (Congress) and Nidhi Kulpati, Anchor .
I come in at 4.08 minutes, 9.47 minutes
Three senior bureaucrats are caught in the crossfire between Delhi government and Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung. Another is issued a warning for being inappropriately dressed for the Prime Minister. Are bureaucrats increasingly coming under attacks from the political class for not toeing their line?
Guests: Sailaja Chandra (Former bureaucrat); Sambit Patra (BJP); Somnath Bharti (AAP); Ajoy Kumar (Congress) and Ankita Mukherji, Anchor .
I come in at 4:25 minute and 15.47 minute
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal now directly hit out at the Centre saying that the appointment of Delhi’s acting chief secretary Shakuntala Gamlin is a conspiracy. He has accused the senior officer of favouring power companies and acting against the interests of the ‘aam aadmi’. The Centre hits back accusing the Delhi chief minister of character assassination and insulting people from the North-East. As the allegations fly between Centre and Delhi CM, is governance in Delhi the casualty?
Guests: Sailaja Chandra (Ex. Chief Secretary, Delhi); Sambit Patra (BJP); Tom Vadakkan (Congress); D.Raja (CPI); Priti Menon (AAP) and Ankita Mukherji, Anchor .
Never before has Delhi seen such public confrontation between the lieutenant governor and the chief minister. The chief minister appears to be provoking a public fight in which he expects to win on the strength of the citizens’ mandate. If he succeeds, he believes, his stature will soar, making him the national leader he longs to be. If he fails, he is confident, the discontent of Delhi citizens can be used to turn this episode into a case of wilful denial of rights.
The constitutional amendment and the Government of National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi Act ,1991, were not passed in isolation. They emanate from the well-recognised principle of diarchy. The chief minister may be right in attributing his helplessness in delivering on promises made to the people of Delhi to the duality of control and lack of authority. But by attempting to defy the provisions of the Constitution and the law, and seeking dominance through executive instructions, he risks causing grave damage to his office and the governance of Delhi.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been both audacious and imprudent. These are qualities that endear civil society organisations to a voiceless citizenry. Because such organisations have taken no oath to abide by the Constitution and the law, they can whip up public passions by resorting to the power of rhetoric and emotion. But once elected to public office, the only route available to the chief minister was to enlarge his authority by first highlighting the damage that the absence of autonomy was wreaking on Delhi’s governance, and to use the unprecedented mandate he commanded to demand Central support for providing what the capital of the country needed most.
Proposals to revamp the antiquated provisions of the 42-year-old Delhi School Education Act, to support the provision of clean piped water and sewerage, to have a say in the management of traffic and parking, better options for public transport to reduce pollution, approving new ways of raising resources, fining recalcitrant citizens who indulge in unauthorised construction and encroach on public spaces could not and would not have been rejected, given the chief minister’s mandate. In the early days, when success was heady and public opinion resounding, he could have demanded from the Central government the leeway to make the capital city liveable. It could not have been thwarted by the Centre.
But that time is over. With Kejriwal admitting, in less than two months in office, that he can deliver on barely half of what he had promised over five years, the government has committed political hara kiri. To add to that, the media, which could have bolstered his efforts to gain primacy in Delhi’s development, has been incensed by the chief minister’s public harangue and threats. Petulance and administrative diktats on routing files are weak strategies when the Constitution, the law, the Transaction of Business Rules issued in the name of the president nearly 25 years ago, all back the LG.
What is the course now open to the chief minister? It may not be out of place for him to read what the noted economist, Paul Krugman, recently wrote in The New York Times on political integrity. The context may be different but the principle holds: politicians “need to have the willingness to face facts opposed to one’s preconceptions, to admit mistakes and change course”.
As a well wisher of Delhi’s development and its future, I urge the chief minister not to fight the legal position stated in black-and-white. First, the Constitution clearly says, “in case of difference of opinion between the LG and his ministers, the LG shall refer the matter to the president and act according to the decision given by the president and pending such decision it shall be competent for the LG to give such direction as he deems necessary”. The NCT act further states that the LG’s decision on matters that are judicial and quasi-judicial in nature shall be final.
The ensuing Transaction of Business Rules provide that, on matters concerning “public order”, “police” and “land”, the LG should exercise his executive functions in consultation with the chief minister, but this has been restricted to policy issues and resolved in a spirit of give and take. Now this provision is being cited by the chief minister to win the battle over the routing of files pertaining to the three reserved subjects, through orders that he be part of the official system disposing of such matters. But he forgets that “consultation” has not been defined and the interpretation of the word lies in the mouth of those who made the provision or with the courts, not the beneficiary himself.
The Transaction of Business Rules also provide that if there is a difference of opinion between the LG and a minister or ministers, the LG shall refer the matter to the Centre and act according to the decision of the president. When the matter is so referred but immediate action is needed, the LG can give directions which have to be complied with. That pretty much forecloses the opportunity to wage war against the LG.
The experience of working with various chief ministers points to a lesson that Kejriwal needs to follow: There is much to be gained through persuading the Central ministries to support the development of the capital city, by submitting specific proposals and following them up with tenacity. The LG, too, should discuss development priorities with the CM and mediate with the Central government. This always happened, despite governments at the Centre and in Delhi being run by different parties over time. Public transport run on CNG, speciality hospitals, amendments in the house tax and cooperative societies acts, the arrival of the Metro, low-floor buses and world class flyovers, to name just a few improvements, were achieved through a joint determination to make Delhi shine.
It is also time for the ministry of home affairs to resolve the differences before democracy and the rule of law are held up to ridicule.
Tags: Delhi, Municipal Corporation of Delhi, street vendors, The National Green Tribunal
The old tug-of-war between vendors and pedestrians has for once swung in favour of citizens, at least in Delhi’s congested Lajpat Nagar market.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the removal of hawkers and vendors from all metalled roads — a harbinger of what might be in store for similar markets booming on pavements, usurping motorable roads.
How things have reached such proportions not just in Delhi but also in many parts of Mumbai and other cities of India is a story that bears telling.
In 2010, the Supreme Court had directed that a law should be enacted balancing the needs of ordinary citizens and those of street vendors.
The case was Delhi-specific and only involved the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the New Delhi Municipal Committee. The SC juxtaposed two fundamental rights conferred by Article 19 (1) (d) and Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution, the right of commuters to move freely and use roads without any impediment and that of hawkers, squatters and vendors to carry on hawking.
The SC wanted two apparently conflicting rights to be “harmonised and regulated by subjecting them to reasonable restrictions under a law”.
Cleverly using this opportunity, a partisan law which gives elected vendors a major say in deciding its implementation, seeks to protect them to the exclusion of the common man.
The law came into force in May 2014 and as could be expected was in the name of the poor.
But the crucial point that remains unanswered: Is the regulation of street vending purely a livelihood issue or whether it is also a municipal zoning issue? Can a citizen’s right to regulated public space be transferred to one body of citizens by marginalising the majority?
The biggest weakness of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act 2014 is the use of the Concurrent List of the Constitution to enact a central law, ostensibly to protect livelihoods.
This when Parliament had been repeatedly told by the government “street vending is a state subject and the central government does not have the mandate to enact legislation on street vending”.
Under the new law the obligatory functions of the municipal local bodies have been put in deep freeze giving them the perfect alibi to abandon even what little they and the traffic police were doing to safeguard right-of-way for pedestrians and motorists.
The new Act is totally in favour of vendors. It is hazy on principles and does not specify how the vending zones are to be decided or how the number of vendors determined.
As of now different states and municipalities are at different stages of formulating rules, conducting a survey of vendors, seeking fresh applications and establishing the Town Vending Committees (TVCs), the fulcrum on which the new law rests.
Until all this falls into place — which could take years — the law expressly directs that no vendor is to be touched or moved. Many parts of Delhi and suburban Mumbai are badly clogged by hundreds of vendors who have spilled over from the footpaths on to main roads.
Municipal commissioners of three major city corporations lamented to me that the vendor representatives had been given 40% reservation on the TVC and can easily out-voice the official nominees. The largest stakeholder — the general public, which constitutes 99% of the users of public spaces — is represented by a sole nominee from a single RWA.
Astonishingly, the Act specifies a vendor population norm of 2.5% of the population for every municipal ward — a benchmark that is irrational for a country of the size of India, having an enormous floating population and wide variations between and within individual cities.
While the need for protecting poor vegetable sellers, street food hawkers and weekly markets is understood and must be welcomed it certainly does not hold true when it comes to extensive road space colonisation that is taking place in the name of poverty.
Vendors in Connaught Place in New Delhi have already usurped upward of 300% additional space over the original permitted conditions. The so-called “poor” had years ago swapped their permits for money, every square foot in the area being among the costliest in the world. Traders who purchased the allotment from once poor vendors now hire casual labour to hawk winter jackets, T-shirts and shorts, grabbing more and more pavement space each passing day.
The once prestigious Regal-Rivoli corner and the head of Janpath is now berth for some 1,000 vendors, itinerant hawkers and beggars.
If anything negates the concept of Incredible India and Swachh Bharat, it is this spectacle. In capital cities across the world, urban design focuses on maintaining the character of the city centre and its heritage buildings. Here in the name of livelihood, we have destroyed one of the finest walkways that could easily have supported open-air cafes and well-laid out kiosks promoting authentic Indian handicraft.
The vendors’ protection law is impractical and has paved the way for the triumph of bedlam. Until every ward has non-fungible spatial norms with vending slots allotted, leaving reasonable walking and driving space, matters cannot improve. Governments have repeatedly failed to protect the citizens’ rights and safety.
Now the NGT has started bringing some order into the prevailing chaos, more power to its elbow. The sooner the public gives its full-throated support the better.
Farmers in Uttar Pradesh reeling under debt due to crop loss following unseasonal rains have been handed over cheques of Rs.75 and Rs.100 as compensation.
Guests: Shailaja Chandra (Former Secretary, Delhi Govt.) ; Gaurav Bhatia (Samajwadi Party), Davinder Sharma (Expert, Food Security) and Anchor: Rajdeep Saradesai, Consulting Editor.
I come in at 12.28 minutes.
सरोकार-भारतीय स्वास्थ्य सेवाओं की चुनौतियां
Every year, 7th of April is celebrated as the World Health Day. In this edition of Sarokaar we try to explore the various health related concerns faced in India and how have we fared in tackling public healthcare.
A cursory look at the available data regarding healthcare suggests that a lot still needs to be done. A worrying rate of infant/maternal mortality, the swine flu outbreak, casualties due to Japanese Encephalitis, deaths from vaccine preventable diseases, poor or lack of medical equipment, etc. draws our attention to the reality which leaves a lot yet to be covered in terms of healthcare.
Public healthcare in India is still riddled with problem areas which need to be looked upon before it can be effective and available to all. Large population in our country is still deprived of quality and affordable healthcare.
Watch Sarokaar with eminent panellists bringing out various facets of the issue.
Guests: Shailaja Chandra (Former Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) ; Prof. K Srinath Reddy (President, PHFI) ; Dr. Vandana Prasad (National Convener, Public Health Resource Network) ; Nitin Sethi (Associate Editor, Business Standard) ; Kanwar Singh Tanwar (MP, BJP & Member, Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare)
Anchor: Amrita Rai
I come in at 9:42 Minute, 20:31 Minute, 26:30 Minute, 33:10 Minute, 40:16 Minute, 44:05 & 49.44 Minutes.
Prime Time, a discussion on the BJP governments move to transfer Ashok Khemka to archaeology and museums department from the current transport department that he is in. The IAS officer has been transferred multiple times during his career and had claimed victimisation by the previous government of Congress for having cancelled land deals of Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra. We ask – is there no space for honest officers in our system? (Audio in Hindi)
यह बात सार्वजनिक रूप से जाहिर नहीं है कि खेमका के तबादले में सिविल सर्विसेज बोर्ड की कोई भूमिका रही है या नहीं लेकिन एकाध बार को छोड़कर उन्होंने कहीं टिक कर काम नहीं किया। करने नहीं दिया गया। केंद्र के कार्मिक मंत्रालय ने जनवरी 2014 में नियम भी बना दिया कि आईएएस आईपीएस और आईएफएस की पोस्टिंग कम से कम दो साल की होगी। सरकार बदलने से ईमानदार अफसरों के दिन नहीं बदलते। इनका इस्तेमाल विपक्ष में ही ज्यादा अच्छा होता है। ऐसा ही मामला हरियाणा के ही संजीव चतुर्वेदी का है। 5 साल में 12 तबादले हुए हैं।
Guests: Shailaja Chandra (Former Bureaucrat) ; Narendra Taneja (BJP) ; Sanjay Singh (AAP) ; P.C. Parekh (Fmr.Coal Secretary) and Ravish Kumar, Anchor .
I come in at 16:46 minutes
Tags: Ashok Khemka
Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka is transferred again, this time by the BJP government. As Mr Khemka tweets his distress, does the BJP which once attacked the Congress for a witch-hunt against the IAS officer have double standards on corruption?
Guests: Shailaja Chandra (Former Bureaucrat) ; Kirit Somaiya (BJP) ; Aarti R. Jerath (Senior Journalist) ; Shehzad Poonawala (Congress) and Nidhi Rajdan, Anchor .
I come in at 6:01 minutes