Updates on Parliament and state Governance
This section will provide you with updates on Central Governance and state Governance :
Governance News and updates
DPIIT launches regulatory compliance portal
Why in News?
The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has launched a portal called “Regulatory Compliance Portal”.
About Regulatory Compliance Portal:
- Objective: Portal is aimed at minimizing the regulatory burden on businesses and citizens. For that, it will act as a bridge between citizens, industries and the Government. It will also act as a first-of-its-kind central online repository of all Central and State-level compliances.
- Key Features:
- All Central Ministries and States/UTs will rationalize and simplify their regulatory processes and remove burdensome compliances
- All such changes would be captured and updated on the Regulatory Compliance Portal.
- Industry stakeholders would also be able to submit compliances and proposed recommendations. This will be assessed by concerned Government authority and suitable action would be undertaken to minimize the regulatory compliance burden.
- Nodal Department: DPIIT will act as the nodal department for coordinating the exercise of minimizing regulatory compliance burden for citizens and businesses.
2nd edition of India Innovation Index-2020
Why in News?
NITI Aayog along with the Institute for Competitiveness has released the second edition of the India Innovation Index-2020.
- India Innovation Index: The first edition of the index was launched in October 2019.
- The Index is aimed at providing an effective tool to track the state of innovation at both the national and the state level.
- Objectives: The index intends to accomplish the following three functions:
- Rank all States and Union Territories based on their index score.
- Identify innovation related opportunities and challenges for the states.
- Assist in modifying governmental policies to foster innovation.
- Parameters: The index measures innovation inputs through ‘Enablers’ and innovation output as ‘Performance.’
- Enablers: There are Five Enabler pillars that capture elements of the state economy. They act as inputs for the innovation environment. They are: Human Capital, Investment, Knowledge Workers, Business Environment, Safety and Legal Environment.
- Performance: The two Performance pillars that depict the performance are: Knowledge Output and Knowledge Diffusion.
- Ranking: The index has classified the States and Union Territories into three categories: Major States; NE and Hill States; and UT and City–States. These regions are categorized based on the area, as spatial homogeneity across states makes for a fair comparison for innovative capacity.
Key Findings of Innovation index:
- Level of Competitiveness: The index has found that the level of competitiveness among the States and Union Territories was high. This competitiveness is essential for improving on their enabling factors as well as innovation performance.
- Major States: Karnataka has continued to occupy the top position followed by Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
- UT and City–States: Delhi has retained its first rank in this category followed by Chandigarh.
- North-Eastern/Hill States category: Himachal Pradesh has topped the index in this category followed by Uttarakhand.
Significance of the index:
- The index is a major step towards measuring innovation outcomes of states. It will facilitate optimal utilization of national and state mechanisms to realize the goal of an ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’.
- The index can help Central and State governments to benchmark regional performance concerning innovation. It suggests policy decisions required to improve on the strengths and overcome the weak areas of the states.
One Nation One Ration Card system reform – Tamil Nadu becomes the 11th State to complete the reform
News: Tamil Nadu has become the 11th State in the country to successfully undertake the “One Nation One Ration Card system” reform stipulated by the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance.
- One Nation One Ration Card(ONORC) System: It is an important citizen-centric reform. Its implementation ensures the availability of ration to beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and other welfare schemes, especially the migrant workers and their families at any Fair Price Shop (FPS) across the country.
- Features: To ensure seamless inter-state portability of a ration card, Aadhar seeding of all ration cards as well as biometric authentication of beneficiaries through automation of all Fair Price Shops (FPSs) with the installation of electronic point of sale (e-PoS) devices are essential under the system.
Benefits of One Nation One Ration Card:
- Empowers migrant Population: It empowers the migratory population who frequently change their place of dwelling as migrant beneficiaries can get their entitled quota of food grains from any electronic point of sale(e-PoS) enabled fair Price Shops of their choice anywhere in the country.
- Better Targeting: The reform enables the States in better targeting of beneficiaries, elimination of bogus/ duplicate/ineligible card-holders resulting in enhanced welfare and reduced leakage.
Are there any benefits given by the Centre for the implementation of the ONORC System?
- To meet the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of India had in May 2020 enhanced the borrowing limit of the States by 2% of their Gross State Domestic Product(GSDP).
- Half of this borrowing limit i.e 1% of GSDP has linked to undertaking citizen-centric reforms by the States.
- The four citizen-centric areas for reforms identified by the Department of Expenditure were (a) Implementation of One Nation One Ration Card System, (b) Ease of doing business reform, (c) Urban Local body/ utility reforms and (d) Power Sector reforms.
- Therefore, an additional borrowing limit of 0.25% of the GSDP is allowed to the States only on completion of both of the following actions: 1) Aadhar Seeding of all the ration cards and beneficiaries in the State and 2) Automation of all the FPSs in the State.
Dialogue and deliberation with beneficiaries are a prerequisite for Welfare Policymaking
Synopsis: The state and central government can learn from the good practices of Rajasthan on dialogue and deliberation with beneficiaries while policy making to transform from mere governance to good governance.
- The recently enacted Farm laws were passed without any consultation with the farmer community.
- Even when policies are made in good principles, for effective programme implementation, consultations and deliberations are needed during the initial stages of law making.
- If the farm laws were made by taking consultations from the relevant stakeholders especially from the farming community, we could have avoided the ongoing Farmers protest in Delhi.
- The case of Rajasthan, that has a healthy tradition of consulting with worker groups and civil society organisations during the initial stage of policy formulation and to take continuous feedback from the field to carry out periodic midway course corrections serves as a shining example for effective policy making.
How Rajasthan shines as a text book example for effective policy making?
- The example of the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in Rajasthan can illustrate this better.
- Though MGNREGA wages are now directly credited from the central government to a worker’s bank account this system faces the Issue of payment rejections. There are numerous reasons for rejection, for example,
- There are instances where block level data entry operators make errors in entering the account or Aadhaar details of workers.
- There are instances where money does not get credited due to technical issues, for example, the issue of ‘Inactive Aadhaar’. This happens when the linkage of the worker’s Aadhaar and their bank account is broken in the software maintained by the NPCI.
- Sometimes banks are not able to transfer money as the beneficiary account remains
How the Rajasthan government was able to solve the Issue of payment rejections?
- To resolve payment rejections, the Department of Rural Development of the Government of Rajasthan has held numerous discussions which resulted in conducting periodic workshops with the relevant stake holders.
- Through workshops the worker groups and civil society organisations interacted directly with the aggrieved workers, administrative officers from the village level to the State level, and bankers.
- Through Continuous dialogues with aggrieved workers, they were able to finalise a detailed guideline with well-defined responsibility, clear timelines, and monitoring and protocols to be followed by officials to resolve the issue.
- This has resulted in a significant reduction in payment rejections in Rajasthan. Within a period of 1 year, the Rajasthan government was able to clear ₹380 crore worth of payments to workers that were earlier stuck due to rejections.
- By resolving the payment issue through dialogues, deliberations and constant feedback, the government ensured that every person who has worked, gets their full payment on time
- There is also another case of Jan Soochna Portal similar to MGNREGA where government through a ‘digital dialogue’ involving government officials and numerous civil society organisation have designed and formatted each scheme of Jan Soochna Portal.
- Jan Soochna Portal was launched to facilitate The Right to Information (RTI) Act that was obscured by issues such as ill-defined formats, inaccessibility
- The JSP is a single platform in the public domain providing information across 60 departments of over 104 schemes. The JSP makes disclosure of information accessible for all.
Federalism and good governance require constant constructive engagement between people and officials through Deliberation and debate. A constitutionally committed government should listen to the voices of the marginalised before making welfare policies.
Issue of privacy and Personal Data Protection Bill 2019
Synopsis– Present data-based technological development and Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 presents a unique challenge to the privacy of individuals.
Introduction Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 –
By Puttaswamy v India (2017) case, privacy was established as a fundamental right. In other cases, MP Sharma v. Satish Chandra (1954) and Kharak Singh v. Uttar Pradesh (1962), as well, Privacy rights were upheld by SC.
However, the development of global technology and implementation of the Aadhaar biometric programme in India have diluted the effect of these rulings. Now there is an urgent need to take a new look at the legal position of privacy in India.
As depicted by Aadhaar based technology and global social media platforms, data has become a new oil i.e., it has become a tool for economic and political gain. It created a stream of data protection legislations, globally. India is also trying to join the league by Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 (DPB).
In India, the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 (DPB) is currently under consideration by a parliamentary committee. There are various issues in this bill that go against the privacy rights of individuals.
Commercial and Political consequences of the Data Protection Bill (DPB):
Data Collection related issues
- First- Bill will negatively impact the emerging technologies market of India dealing in creation, use, and sale of data that is valued at $1 trillion by 2025.
- Second- The bill requires digital firms who want to operate in India to obtain permission from users before collecting their data.
- Third– Bill also declares that users who provide data are, in effect, the owners of their own data and may control its usage or request firms to delete it.
- European internet-users are able to exercise a “right to be forgotten” and have evidence of their online presence removed.
- Fourth– The bill allows the government to use “critical” or “sensitive” personal data, related to information such as religion, to protect national interest.
- Fifth– Open-ended access to government could lead to misuse of data. Mr. B N Srikrishna, the chairmen of the drafting committee of the original bill, warned that government-access exemptions risk creating an “Orwellian state”.
Issues related to Establishment of Data Protection Authority (DPA)
- Bill aims to establish a Data Protection Authority (DPA), which will be charged with managing data collected by the Aadhaar programme.
- Authority will consist of chairperson and six committee members,
- Members will be appointed by the central government on the recommendation of a selection committee.
- Members will be selected from senior civil servants, including the Cabinet Secretary.
- The government’s power to appoint and remove members at its discretion provides it an ability to influence the independence of agency.
- Unlike similar institutions, such as the Reserve Bank of India or the Securities and Exchange Board, the DPA will not have an independent expert or member of the judiciary on its governing committee.
- The UIDAI, for its part, has a chairperson appointed by the central government and reporting directly to the Centre.
Issues related to government use of data for surveillance
There are instances that suggest, India is acquiring some features of a surveillance state.
- As stated by the Union Home minister recently, police used facial recognition technology to identify people after the anti-CAA protests and the Delhi riots.
- There is a high possibility that police was matching the video offstage with the database of Election Commission and e-Vahan, a pan-India database of vehicle registration.
Issue related to safety of data
There are instances of controversy where government has shown casual approach towards data safety and privacy of its citizens:
- First, Safety concerns were raised during aadhaar data collection, which stores biometric data in the form of iris and fingerprints which is a violation of right to privacy.
- Second instance was of Aarogya Setu contact-tracing app which was allegedly not able to protect the data provided by citizens.
- The Data Protection Bill is a unique opportunity for India, a country with some 740 million internet users. It would be a standard setter for privacy of individuals.
- Inclusive debate needs to take place in the Joint Parliament Committee and then in Parliament to examine the Data Protection Bill and promote transparency.
E-Sampada Mobile App launched
Source: The New Indian Express
News: Directorate of Estates, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched a new Web Portal and Mobile App named “e-Sampada”.
- e-Sampada: It is a mobile application that provides a single window for all services including allotment for over one lakh government residential accommodations, office space allotment to government organisations among others.
- Significance: This will promote ease of living for Government of India officers / Departments as all services can be availed online on a single window with a live tracking of applications.The automated processes will also minimize human intervention and will lead to greater transparency.
Need for reform in Governance structure of public universities
Synopsis: The governance structure of public universities must be reformed on an urgent basis as it may help them become world class universities.
55 central universities, endowed with prime land and extensive central grants, are crown jewels of the Indian academic system.
However, lately, these universities are facing governance-related challenges. Six vice-chancellors (VCs) of central universities have been sacked and another five have been charge-sheeted.
Need for Public universities
- There are some important public universities, where cross-disciplinary research to solve complex modern problems take place, with the focus on all the major branches of learning.
- Locus of innovation has been switched towards innovative private universities which have failed to develop into broad-based universities with the full range of humanities, social and natural sciences and the professional disciplines.
Thus, central universities must be saved to save the academia.
What is the governance structure in public universities?
As each of the 55 central universities is governed by a separate Act, there are difference in governance structures, but broadly it is as follows:
- VC: President of India is the Visitor of the university. On his behalf, Ministry of Education appoints chancellor.
- For that purpose, Ministry appoints search committee to interview multiple candidates and to come up with the list of 3 candidates. From the list ministry appoints a VC.
- Senate or court: It is chosen through different process and constituted of nominees from various stakeholders, including the government, faculty, students, and citizens.
- Technically, this is the governing council (GC) of the university.
- Executive council: Council carry on the university work. It is chaired by VC and appoints the registrar.
- Finance committee: Finance committee is appointed to maintain financial checks and balances. It is headed by a chief finance officer.
What are the issues in governance structure in public universities?
- GC has no say in the selection of the VC and meets only once a year. In theories, it approves the annual plan of the university, presented by VC. But in reality, plan is approved without discussions or questions.
- After approval there is very minimal direction or monitoring from the GC throughout the year.
- Size of the GC is very big to organise any fruitful meeting. For example; GC of Delhi University has 475 members.
Example of IIM
- In contrast to the general Governance structure, IIM structure is much better version.
- It has set a limit on the members of GC at maximum of 19. All of them are expected to meet s certain standard i.e. eminent citizens with broad social representation and an emphasis on alumni.
- Functions of GC includes:
- Selection of Director,
- Providing overall strategic direction,
- Raising resources,
- Monitoring the performance of director
Example of Harvard
- Until 150 years ago, Harvard was also a government university and was on verge of collapse.
- It only became what it is today after governance reform by creating an empowered board comprising its most successful alumni. They brought dynamism, oversight, and resources with them and made it a world-class university.
- Thus, it is apparent that the governing councils of all central universities IITs, and all other central institutions is restructured by an Act of Parliament.
- Boards of these universities should comprise of their most eminent alumni.
- Recently the billion-dollar endowment campaign announced by university is being spearheaded by its most successful alumni, many of them created Unicorns, or billion-dollar companies. If alumni like them invited to GC, they may help it become a world-class university like Harvard.
Cabinet approves merger of four government-run film and media units
Source: The Hindu
News: Cabinet has approved the merger of four government-run film and media units — the Films Division, the Directorate of Film Festivals, the National Film Archives of India and the autonomous body Children’s Film Society with the National Film Development Corporation(NFDC).
- Significance of Merger: The merger of Film Media Units under one corporation will lead to convergence of activities and resources and better coordination, thereby ensuring synergy and efficiency in achieving the mandate of each media unit.It will also lead to reduction in duplication of activities and direct savings to the exchequer
- Films Division: It was established in 1948 and is the oldest of the four units created primarily to produce documentaries and news magazines as publicity for government programmes and to keep a cinematic record of Indian history.
- National Film Archives of India: It was established in 1964 with the primary objective of acquiring and preserving Indian cinematic heritage.
- Directorate of Film Festivals: It was set up in 1973 to promote Indian films and cultural exchange.
- Children’s Film Society: It is an autonomous body founded in 1955 with the specific objective of providing children and young people value-based entertainment through the medium of films.
- National Film Development Corporation of India(NFDC): It was established in 1975 to encourage high quality Indian cinema.
- It functions under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.
- The primary goal of the NFDC is to plan, promote and organise an integrated and efficient development of the Indian Film Industry and foster excellence in cinema.
- Headquarters: Mumbai
How COVID-19 revealed the limits of Political Accountability?
Context: The COVID-19 pandemic has put governance under a stress test which exposed how poorly prepared the world’s governments were.
What was the response of the world leaders to the pandemic?
The world’s most powerful leaders failed to do their duty to protect the citizens.
- In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro irresponsibly refused to get vaccinated, even as his own government has launched a national vaccination campaign. He even remarked that the vaccine might turn people into crocodiles.
- In India, lockdowns of limited effectiveness, the sight of migrants desperately walking back to their villages and having the second largest number of cases, dented Prime Minister Modi’s popularity.
- In Russia, Vladimir Putin has hardly spoken even as the virus wraths unchecked across Russia. Further, the citizens are against a vaccine whose ability and safety are inadequately understood because of the opacity of Russia’s protocols.
Then why people of their country have not held their leaders accountable for the failure in handling this situation? Answer lies in the following propositions that shape the view of general public towards their leaders.
What are the limits of political accountability exposed during the pandemic?
Three propositions frame this analysis:
- Prospective Accountability: It is often understood that the voters vote retrospectively, i.e., give their judgement in the elections by voting based on the incumbent’s record. Instead, they vote prospectively, i.e., against candidates who the voters fear would put the opponents to a disadvantage.
- Underestimation of collective action: Second, disease, unlike war, does not offer a clear enemy to target. Public health advice that stressed the need for personal responsibility to stay home, wear a mask, washing hands. It underestimated the challenge of collective action predicted on millions of individual responses.
- It emphasises person’s responsible for own health, then getting sick is also his own fault. It absolves the govt. off the responsibilities.
- Poverty of collective empathy: Third, the coronavirus pandemic reveals our inability to empathise with what we do not see. For example, thousands of deaths due to pollution and road accidents go unnoticed, unlike thousands of deaths by COVID-19;
What is the way forward?
- Prolonged economic suffering demands government remedy more immediately as without some measure of accountability, democracy loses its power, and so do the people.
Court complexes across country connected under E-Courts Project
Source: Click here
News: As many as 2927 complexes across India have been connected so far by a high-speed Wide Area Network(WAN) under e-Courts Project.
What is e-court project?
It is an Integrated Mission Mode Project under implementation since 2007 as part of National e-Governance Plan.
- The project is based on the National Policy and Action Plan for Implementation of Information and Communication Technology in Judiciary-2005.
- Aim: To provide designated services to litigants, lawyers and the judiciary by universal computerisation of district and subordinate courts in the country by leveraging Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for improved justice delivery.
- Implementation: The project is monitored and funded by the Ministry of Law and Justice.
Urban Governance Index 2020
Source : Click here
News: The Urban Governance Index 2020 has been released.
- Published by: The index has been published by Praja Foundation, a Mumbai-based think tank.
- Purpose: The index ranks states to indicate where they stand in terms of real empowerment of grassroot democracy and local self government.
- Themes: The ranking is based on these main themes— how empowered elected city representatives and legislative structures are; how empowered the state’s city administration is; how empowered the citizens are and finally the fiscal empowerment and financial autonomy of the state.
- Topped by: Odisha was ranked first in the index followed by Maharashtra, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
- Worst States: Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur and Nagaland performed the worst in the index.
Post Truth politics
Context: Untroubled by factuality and diversity, privilege and power are shaping public opinion in troubled democracies.
What is the relation between truth and politics?
- “Factual truth”: It is a reference to observations by living subjects of constantly changing reality. But factual truth was always prone to challenge as being no more than opinion.
- “Formal truths”: On the contrary, it is a part of the received wisdom, such as the proposition that two and two made four.
- Truth and politics: Both of them had always been “on rather bad terms with each other” and “truthfulness” was never counted “among the political virtues”.
- This was a reality with a deep bearing on the practice of politics, since “facts and events”, the outcome of the collective life of humanity, were the “very texture of the political land”.
How is truth altered by deception?
- Factuality:The lie in normal circumstances is “defeated by reality”. However large the tissue of falsehood, even when twisted with the help of computers, it would be inadequate to “cover the immensity of factuality”.
- Radical destruction:A fact could be removed from the world if a sufficient number of people believe in its non-existence.
- But this would require a process of “radical destruction”, an experiment that totalitarian regimes had undertaken with frightening consequences, though without the intended result of “lasting deception”.
What is the role of social media?
- The role of social media: Earlier modes of harvesting attention and securing assent for a particular perception of reality have been transformed in this intensely networked situation.
- Since the events of 2016, notably the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s election as the U.S. President, social media has come in for intense scrutiny for its ability to create bubbles of political misinformation.
- The economist, Raghuram Rajan, and the philosopher, Michael Sandel, have in recent times pointed out how daily lives in the U.S. today are increasingly about sameness, less about exposure to diversities of culture and social perception.
- It is a context that enables particular population units to pretend that other worlds do not exist, that their perceptions, fortified in regular “check ins” with social media, are all that matter.
- Customary deliberative processes have been dispensed with: Parliament sessions conclude without the Question Hour and consultative meetings across party lines over significant legislative initiatives have been scrapped.
- Public opinion in democracies is now fashioned within cocoons of privilege and power, untroubled by factuality or diversities in perception. The U.S. seems to have tapped the sources of countervailing power to neutralise this drift towards a world of alternative truths.
Context: Analysing the need for common global governance
What are the impediments to international cooperation in the 21st century?
- USA & China: The rivalry between the world’s two largest economies has intensified spreading the fears of a new cold war breaking between them.
- India – China: The militaries of the two most populous countries of the world has been engaged in a tense standoff for the past seven months.
- India and Pakistan: Endless state of confrontation between the armies of two nuclear-armed countries.
- West Asia: Civil wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen that are externally instigated.
- Brazil: Fire in parts of the Amazon forest, the world’s largest sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide has been a global concern
- USA- Russia nuclear disarmament: Uncertainity over the extension of the only remaining nuclear weapons control pact between the US and Russia, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty which is set to expire on February 5, 2021.
What are the Other common challenges?
- Ensuring affordable availability of the COVID vaccine to the entire global population.
- Making the world economy inclusive, equitable and sustainable for complete eradication of poverty.
- Achieving time-bound climate action to protect the planet.
- Preventing the militarisation of oceans, outer space and other global commons.
How can we tackle this problem?
- Need to establish democratic world government: Since, Non-discriminatory and justice-promoting governance is necessary for creating a more united, safer and better world. So, this concept must be brought to the centre of global discourse and action.
- Principle of shared sovereignty: Exclusive national sovereignty has become the greatest barrier to human unity and fraternity. The concept of national sovereignty is invoked many times to threaten peace, well-being and development. In the age of globalisation, we must embrace the virtues of shared sovereignty, in which connectivity (physical, digital, cultural and people-to-people) takes priority over the territorial sovereignty.
- New laws of global governance: Where militarisation of international disputes must be criminalised.
- Disarmament: The world community must compel all nations, to destroy all their weapons of mass destruction and to reduce their military expenditures.
- Reform and strengthen United Nations: To gradually evolve into a future world government body. As a key element of UN reforms, permanent membership of its security council must be abolished and nations that wage offensive wars or have failed to resolve disputes with their neighbours should stand disqualified/suspended from UNSC membership.
- Making governance more broad-based and participatory: Technology and mobility have made it possible for artists, professionals, environmentalists, disempowered communities etc, to collaborate by transcending national barriers. Therefore, their empowered participation in global governance is a must.
- People’s Movement: Rally the people of all nations, races and religions around a new democratically governing body to address the issues caused by myopic, self-centred and unaccountable national governments.
The solution to polarisation is reform of government and state institutions in a way that they work for all citizens without discrimination and injustice. Societies are healed when governance becomes fair and compassionate.
Digital nation: On delivery of citizen services
Context: The true measure of digitalisation would be smooth delivery of all citizen services.
Analyse the development of India as a digital nation.
- Measure of digital nation: The true measure of digital nation is the readiness of governments to use technology to create open, participatory public systems that citizens consider trustworthy.
- Result of internet access: Affordable smartphones and Internet access have made India a digital nation with an estimated 750 million connections and a thriving financial technology sector.
- Digital platforms in Covid-19: Digital platforms providing goods and services, including online education and telemedicine, have grown vigorously during the COVID-19 pandemic, while many professionals have maintained productivity by working from home.
- Schemes and services: Government-to-citizen services using Common Service Centres for:
- Advice to agriculturists.
- Digital payments of welfare benefits through bank accounts.
- Online legal advice to four lakh people under the Tele-Law scheme.
Discuss the sectors which has potential for developing India’s digital governance.
- Digital method in road safety: If digital methods were applied to other sectors, such as road safety, the results could be dramatic as it can potentially reduce the accident mortality rate of about 1,50,000 deaths a year.
- Technology in social sectors: Enhanced adoption of technology in health and education;
- The nucleus plan is Ayushman Bharat, with a digital health identity for all.
- It should be possible to achieve measurable progress early on at least on one UHC component such as access to free, essential prescription drugs.
- Issuing a digital health ID: A digital health ID would help prescribe and dispense essential medicines free.
- The Planning Commission estimated that the public procurement cost for this, in 2011, would be 0.1% to 0.5% of GDP
- Transformation of internal process: Efficient digital government depends on transforming internal processes, and fixing deadlines for service delivery.
- If digital has to become a way of life, redefining the complex functioning of citizen-centric services would be a good place to start, with deadlines for government departments.
- Governance must achieve is a reliable system of digital welfare.
Context: Central scholarship scam underlines need to tighten checks and balances in DBT architecture, fix accountability
- An investigation by a newspaper has uncovered a nexus of middlemen, government employees, and bank staff were involved in cheating students from minority communities of a centrally funded scholarship in Jharkhand.
- It was found that the officials have bypassed the verification processes and have misused the DBT funds sanctioned by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs.
What is the need for Direct benefit transfer?
- Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) was perceived as a solution for the persistent problem of social welfare and subsidy schemes by the elimination of middlemen.
- The use of Aadhaar seeding ensures that nobody else can claim the share of the benefits by impersonation or any other means.
- The recent incident has proved that having a Unique Identification Number (UIN) is no guarantee against being robbed of scholarships, pensions, and other welfare entitlements.
How DBT funds are being misappropriated?
- Bank officials and school staff steal user IDs and passwords to divert benefits from schools that never applied for any grant.
- Middlemen compel parents to forego a big share of their children’s dues.
- Institutions overstate records to apply for scholarship funds.
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There is a need to find effective solutions to strengthen DBT schemes so that social welfare funds and subsidies will reach the intended beneficiaries.