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PSIR 1B-6 Statutory Institutions / Commissions – Previous Year Questions – Solved

Model Answers to PYQs (2018-2023)

1] National Commission for Minorities. [2023/10m/150w/5e]

The National Commission for Minorities was set up under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. The Commission plays a vital role in promoting the educational, economic, social, and cultural well-being of India’s minority communities.

The primary objective of the NCM is to ensure the protection of the rights of religious and linguistic minorities in India. It aims to prevent discrimination and violations of the rights of minorities. The Commission is also responsible for identifying minority communities in India, and it can recommend government certain actions to improve the status of minorities.

Further, the NCM can conduct investigations and inquiries; and can intervene in legal proceedings, either on its own or based on complaints filed by minority individuals or communities, to protect and enforce their rights.

The National Commission for Minorities consists of a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson, and five members. The Chairperson and members are appointed by the President of India, and they hold office for a three-year term. The Commission should have representation from various minority communities, including Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians (Parsis).

The NCM has faced criticisms about its effectiveness in protecting the rights and interests of minority communities. Some argue that it lacks the teeth to enforce its recommendations and intervene effectively.

Despite these challenges, the National Commission for Minorities remains an important institution in India’s efforts to protect and promote the rights and welfare of minority communities. It continues to be a forum for addressing issues related to the well-being of religious and linguistic minorities in the country. [254 words]

2] How far is the National Commission for Backward Classes an empowered body? Assess its role in the context of rising demand for backwardness among dominant communities. [2022/10m/150w/5d]

The NCBC was established under the National Commission for Backward Classes Act 1993 and was given constitutional status in 2018. It has the authority inter-alia to examine requests for inclusion or exclusion of communities in the backward classes list.

The NCBC has the powers of a civil court and can summon witnesses, demand documents, and conduct inquiries. This provides a legal framework for its functioning and investigative powers.

While the NCBC has the power to make recommendations, its recommendations are not binding on the government. The final decision on including or excluding communities from the list of backward classes rests with the government. This limits the effectiveness and impact of the NCBC’s recommendations, as they may not always be implemented promptly or fully.

The NCBC’s effectiveness is hindered by its lack of autonomy. It operates under the administrative control of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, which can impact its independence and ability to function impartially.

In recent years, there have been instances where dominant communities, seeking reservation benefits and affirmative action, have demanded backward status. The NCBC’s role becomes crucial in examining such demands and ensuring fairness in the determination of backwardness.

The NCBC has faced criticism for its decision-making processes, lack of transparency, and delays in addressing requests. At times, its recommendations have been challenged and disputed, raising questions about the credibility and effectiveness of the commission. The perception of bias or political influence on its functioning can undermine its authority and trust.

In conclusion, while the NCBC is a constitutionally mandated body with certain powers, its effectiveness and empowerment have been subject to scrutiny. Strengthening the autonomy of the NCBC, ensuring transparency in its processes, and addressing the concerns of various stakeholders can contribute to enhancing its effectiveness. [292 words]

3] The success of electoral democracy can partly be attributed to the status and role of the Election Commission of India.” Explain. [2021/20m/250w/8a]

The Election Commission of India (ECI) plays a crucial role in ensuring the success of electoral democracy in India. Its status, independence, and role contribute significantly to the fair and efficient conduct of elections.

The ECI operates with a high degree of independence and autonomy. They are insulated from political interference, ensuring impartiality and neutrality in their decision-making. This independence is crucial in upholding the integrity of elections and maintaining public trust in the electoral process.

The primary role of the ECI is to ensure free and fair elections. It undertakes various activities such as delimitation of constituencies, voter registration, and issuance of voter identity cards. The ECI also sets guidelines and enforces a code of conduct for political parties and candidates during elections to ensure a level playing field. It monitors campaign financing, investigates electoral malpractices, and takes corrective measures to maintain fairness and transparency in elections.

The ECI actively engages in electoral reforms and innovation to enhance the democratic process. It introduces technological advancements like electronic voting machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) to ensure accurate and efficient voting. The ECI also works on initiatives to increase voter participation, promote ethical behaviour, and improve electoral administration.

The election commissioner is also the arbiter in resolving disputes related to elections. It adjudicates electoral disputes, such as complaints of electoral malpractices, violations of the model code of conduct, and challenges to election results. Its role in dispute resolution ensures that grievances are addressed and electoral disputes are resolved in a fair and timely manner, contributing to the credibility of the electoral process.

The ECI undertakes voter education and awareness campaigns aimed to increase voter turnout, enhance political participation, and promoting informed decision-making among voters.

The combination of constitutional authority, independence, impartiality, and proactive measures undertaken by the ECI contributes to the success of electoral democracy in India, and the institution has definitely performed its part so far. [320 words]

4] Examine the role and functioning of the Election Commission of India and the Comptroller and Auditor General in the last two decades. [2020/20m/250w/6a]

The Election Commission of India (ECI) and the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) are two important constitutional bodies in India that play distinct roles in ensuring transparency, accountability, and good governance.

The ECI is responsible for the conduct and supervision of elections in India, from the preparation of electoral rolls to the announcement of results. It ensures free and fair elections, enforces the model code of conduct, and monitors campaign financing.

Over the last two decades, the ECI has made significant efforts to modernize the electoral process. It introduced electronic voting machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) systems to enhance the accuracy and efficiency of voting. The ECI has also focused on increasing voter awareness, registration, and turnout through voter education campaigns.

The ECI has taken steps to promote transparency in elections. It has made voter rolls available online, implemented the system of candidate affidavits disclosing criminal records and assets, and enforced strict expenditure monitoring to prevent the misuse of money power during elections.

While ECI ensures free and fair elections, the CAG on the other hand is responsible for auditing the accounts and finances of the central and state governments in India. It acts as a constitutional watchdog to ensure financial accountability, transparency, and efficiency in the use of public funds.

The CAG’s audits have played a crucial role in identifying financial mismanagement, irregularities, and corruption in various government schemes and programs. Its reports have shed light on instances of misappropriation, wasteful expenditure, and lapses in financial management, leading to increased accountability and corrective actions.

Its reports and recommendations have often served as a catalyst for policy changes and reforms. They have prompted government action to plug financial loopholes, improve transparency, and strengthen accountability mechanisms. The CAG’s role in identifying systemic weaknesses has contributed to the formulation of better governance practices and procedures.

In the last two decades, both the ECI and the CAG have demonstrated their commitment to their constitutional mandates. They have taken steps to modernize their processes, enhance transparency, promote accountability, and ensure the efficient functioning of democratic institutions. Their efforts have contributed to strengthening democratic governance, maintaining the integrity of elections, and improving financial management in the public sector.

However, it is essential to continuously evaluate and strengthen these institutions to address emerging challenges and maintain public trust in their roles as independent watchdogs. [392 words]

5] The Comptroller and Auditor-General of India enhances the accountability of the Government and serves as the watchdog of the finances of the Government. Explain. [2019/15m/200w/7b]

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India plays a crucial role in enhancing the accountability of the government and serving as the watchdog of the government’s finances.

The CAG conducts audits of the accounts and financial transactions of the central and state governments, as well as other government entities. This includes the examination of revenue receipts, expenditures, financial statements, and utilization of public funds. Through its audits, the CAG verifies the compliance of government agencies with financial rules, regulations, and procedure.

By scrutinizing the government’s financial operations, the CAG ensures financial accountability. It assesses whether public funds have been used judiciously and in accordance with the principles of transparency, economy, efficiency, and effectiveness. The CAG’s audits help in identifying instances of financial mismanagement, irregularities, and fraud, thereby holding the government accountable for its financial decisions and actions.

In addition to financial audits, the CAG also conducts performance audits. These audits evaluate the effectiveness, efficiency, and impact of government policies, programs, and schemes.

Most significantly, the CAG operates independently and this allows the CAG to carry out its duties objectively, without fear or favour, and without being influenced by the government or any external entities. The CAG’s observations and recommendations are taken seriously by the government and have played a role in initiating systemic changes and improvements in financial management and governance practices.

Hence, it is evident that CAG acts as a watchdog by identifying financial irregularities, promoting transparency, and recommending measures to improve governance. The CAG’s reports and recommendations contribute to strengthening financial accountability, fostering good governance, and safeguarding public funds. [262 words]

6] Discuss, in brief, the role of the National Commission for Women. Do you think it is a toothless organization? [2019/15m/200w/7c]

The National Commission for Women (NCW) is a statutory body established under the National Commission for Women Act 1990. Its primary role is to safeguard and promote the rights and interests of women, ensuring their empowerment and gender equality.

The NCW works towards influencing policy formulation and legislation related to women’s issues. It provides recommendations and suggestions to the government on policy matters affecting women, highlighting areas where laws and policies need to be strengthened or improved. It has the authority to inquire into complaints and matters related to the violation of women’s rights. It can initiate investigations, visit places of concern, and take suo moto action on specific cases or incidents impacting women’s rights. The NCW also provides legal assistance and support to women who have been victims of violence or discrimination.

However, the recommendations and guidelines of the commission are not binding on the government or other entities. This limits its ability to ensure strict compliance with its directives and inhibits the enforcement of its decisions. Further, its jurisdiction is restricted to matters falling within its mandate. It cannot investigate criminal cases, as it does not possess the power to conduct trials or punish offenders directly. Its role is primarily advisory and consultative in nature.

Adding to all of it, the NCW operates with limited financial resources, which can affect the scale and reach of its activities. It may face challenges in effectively addressing the vast range of women’s issues across the country.

However, it is important to note that despite these limitations, the NCW has played a significant role in creating awareness, advocating for policy changes, and addressing women’s issues. While there is room for improvement, it serves as a platform for women to voice their concerns, seek support, and engage in dialogue with policymakers. [298 words]

7] Analyse the arguments in favour and against the lateral entry into higher civil services in India. [2018/15m/200w/7b]

Lateral entry refers to bypassing the usual system of appointments and hierarchy to select the postholders in higher offices. The provision for lateral entry into higher civil services has kindled a debate in the public sphere.

Various stakeholders have suggested some problems that may arise with lateral entry. The lack of transparency in the direct appointment process will give space for nepotism. With the political sphere already occupied by family institutions, this is the last thing India needs.

There is also a difference between the organizational values of public and private offices. The private offices run with profit as the sole motive, while government offices are more concerned about public service. Further, the provision is also likely to face resistance from within the bureaucracy itself.

However, there is also a lot to gain if we adopt the system. The complexity of government functions has increased over a period of time. While the traditional system only selects generalists, lateral entry can induct specialists. Lateral entry will also fill the gap at higher levels which cannot be just filled by promoting officers who are yet not suitable for the posts.

Unfortunately, government offices are still known for their inefficiency. Lateral entry will help in bringing the values of economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the government sector. It will also make governance more participatory.

If the government decides to adopt the system, there should be a provision for an intense training program for new entrants. The system needs to be institutionalized and the whole process should occur in a transparent manner. [258 words]

The post contains answers to the last 6-year papers i.e. (2023-2018). Answers to the previous year questions from 2013-2017 are a part of our book PSIR Optional Model Answers to PYQs (2013-2022)

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