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Multiple layers of freedom of religion: Political, judicial and constitutional provisions

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The Constitution of India guarantees to all individuals ‘freedom of conscience and the right freely to protest, practice and propagate religion’. Freedom of religion, to be meaningful, is to be guaranteed not only to individual but to religious institutions also. Religious freedom has both an individual as well as a corporate side, and the latter is guaranteed by the Constitution by providing to every religious denomination or section the right “(a) to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes; (b) to manage its own affairs in matter of religion: (c) to own and acquire movable and immovable property; and be absolute, they are subject to state legislation in the interest of “public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of Part III of the Constitution”. Nevertheless, certain lacunae remain. More provisions need to be added to Art 25, so as to limit the scope for conflict. On the other hand it is impossible to understand religious freedom without understanding the wider process of the political management of the group life. Many years ago when India’s Constitution was being drafted, B.R. Ambedkar, who piloted various drafts through the Constituent Assembly, stated that the individual rather than the group was the basis of the Indian Constitution. However, Ambedkar’s insight forcefully explains how groups and group life were to be viewed in the new dispensation. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate various perspectives and layers of the “Freedom of Religion” and bring out its various provisions in three fields i.e. judicial, political and Constitution.

CONSTITUTION, JUDICIARY, FREEDOM, RELIGION.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

The researcher has used doctrinal research method that is pure library based method. Context and contents has been taken from various books, articles and the books of eminent authors. While the concepts of justice, right, infringement, legality, enforcement etc. will be explained utilizing the doctrinal approach. The data will be collected from the published research works and published data from different sources.

INTRODUCTION

When the right to the freedom of religion or belief is said, the primary component that comes to mind is that the right of people to behave according to conscientious beliefs, to worship (or not worship) freely, and to be able to experience life in society without discrimination on the idea of such beliefs.

Practically, however, the amusement of such primary spiritual freedom rights is based upon crucial methods on the legal structures available to spiritual groups to set up their affairs. History is replete with examples of legal suggestions that constrain individual religious practice by denying legal popularity to certain spiritual organizations. The vintage structures of special charters that antedated corporate organization structures were all too often used as a technique of constructing favored nonsecular bodies, and dissolution provisions might be used to reign in unpopular groups. Religious association (VHP, RSS), laws have regularly been passed as a means of controlling spiritual organization than of contributing to their freedom. 

None of the international instruments guarantying the freedom of faith and belief presents a definition of these terms. The Human Rights Committee (HRC), at some stage in a general comment on Article 18 ICCPR, has stated that this text protects theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as right not to profess any religion or belief; that the phrases ‘religion’ and ’belief’ are to be substantially construed; and, that Article 18 isn›t always confined in its utility to traditional religions or religions and beliefs with institutional developments or practices analogous to those of conventional religions.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECTHR) has moreover given a great interpretation of the meaning of religious beliefs. All traditional religions and ideals are blanketed, however also non-religious beliefs consisting of pacifism, veganism and atheism. Further, nonsecular or philosophical convictions or beliefs are protected if they achieve a specific degree of cogency, seriousness, harmony and importance; are worth of appreciation for the duration of a democratic society; are not incompatible with human dignity; relate to a weighty and excellent component of human existence and behavior.

India, popularly known as the land of philosophy, spirituality & the beginning place of civilization, became a birthplace of diverse religions. Religion can be a specific system of faith, beliefs, and worship. Religion is a set of faith and belief which is held through a group of people. There is much difference and each complies with brilliant beliefs and customs. Taking into the account of the Indian situation, it can be concluded that people in India have sturdy faith and belief when it comes to their religion as they adjudge that faith which they followed add meanings and reasons to their lives.

In India, Art. 25-28  of the Constitution of India offers the right to freedom of faith. The right to freedom of religion entitles each citizen of India and offers them liberty to profess, practice and propagate any faith of their preference. The right additionally gives them the liberty to sermonize approximately their religion. It moreover offers the hazard to spread it among absolutely everyone with none worry of presidency involvement.

Religion studies are a volatile issue within the country, prepared to impel sentiments that have routinely found being translated into violent outpourings inside the public sphere.

This paper specializes in this crucial aspect of the freedom of faith: particularly, the right of belief, communities to accumulate legal personality and get right of entry to legal entity status using which they will carry out the entire range of their legitimate belief-related sports.

CONSTITUTIONAL VIEW

In Western political history the idea of secular State and conceding of religious freedom developed out of a wide range of chronicled circumstances and philosophical motivations. Specifically, they have been molded by the procedure of secularizations of the State and dividing of the medieval combination between the Church furthermore, the State. Indian Constitution likewise controls the manner of division among religion and the State in the Indian country. These arrangements do not intent to make a State that minimizes religion from society, or to follow an approach of exacting lack of bias towards religion. The framers of the Indian Constitution visualized a model of secular political framework that ensures all religions with equivalent respect (Sarva Dharma Samabhava) however under the system of an egalitarian social order, informed by the principles of welfare State consistent with the progressive enhancement of human dignity. The State’s methodology towards religion installed in these constitutional arrangements are one that keeps up a ‘principled distance’ from religion. India had been a secular state since its commencement. The Constitution of India has acknowledged the rule of secularism. Secularism in India implies that in the open undertakings of the nation, religion won’t have any impact.

One of the rights ensured by the Indian Constitution is the Right to Freedom Of Religion. As a secular country, each resident of India has the privilege to freedom of religion i.e. option to follow any religion. As one can see significant number of religions being practiced in India, the constitution assurances to each resident the freedom to follow the religion of their decision. As per this essential right, every resident has the chance to practice and spread their religion calmly. Also, if any occurrence of strict bigotry happens in India, it is the obligation of the Indian government to check these rates and take severe activities against it. Right to opportunity of religion is well portrayed in the Articles 25, 26, 27 and 28 of Indian constitution. In Indian constitution, the composite right to religious freedom is enumerately expressed, partitioning into four classes: conscience, profess, practice and propagate. These can be distributed into two-nonexclusive zones- belief and practice. Conscious implies conviction, confidence, sentiment, and to pronounce and in one sense, intends to have a place with participation, adherence, that is again confidence, profess in the other sense of ‘to declare’ and to practice and propagate are the exercise aspect of the right. Articles 25 and 26 are the two focal articles ensuring religious freedom.

Article 25 of the Constitution ensures freedom of religion to all people in India. It provides that all people in India, subject to public order, morality, health, and other provisions. It further gives that this article will not influence any current law and will not keep the state from making any law .The Supreme Court in Tilkayat Shri Govindlalji Maharaj V. Province of Rajasthan held that the test to decide the inquiry in choosing what is a vital piece of a religion is whether it is viewed as basic by the network following that religion or not. The Supreme Court held that the basic right ensured under Article 25 and 26 isn’t absolute and is subject to public order and if the court is of the supposition that moving of graves is in light of a legitimate concern for the open then the assent of the gatherings is insignificant despite the fact that the Muslim individual law is against moving of graves.

JUDICIAL ASPECT

As a strictly assorted society and self-broadcasted mainstream state, India is an ideal setting to investigate the complex and frequently questionable convergences among religion and law. The strict opportunity conditions of the Indian Constitution take into consideration the state to direct and limit certain exercises related with strict practice. By deciphering the established arrangements for strict opportunity, the legal executive assumes a significant function in deciding the degree to which the state can legally manage strict issues. This postulation tries to historicize the related advancement of two jurisprudential tests utilized by the Supreme Court of India: the strict group test and the fundamental practices test. The strict group test gives the Court the power to figure out which gatherings comprise strict groups, and in this manner, fit the bill for lawful insurance. The fundamental practices test restricts the sacred assurance of strict practices to those that are esteemed ‘fundamental’ to the particular confidence.

From their causes during the 1950s up to their application in contemporary cases on strict opportunity, these two tests have served to restrict the extent of lawful insurance under the Constitution and legitimize the interventionist propensities of the Indian state. Furthermore, this theory will examine the standards behind the activity of the two tests, their most conspicuous reactions, and the potential ramifications of the Court’s methodology. The Supreme Court’s choices on strict opportunity, I contend, epitomize the interventionist inclinations of the Indian state. The Court is an ideal climate to inspect the state’s way to deal with religion and its ramifications for strict opportunity. The discussions that happen in the court interface the exceptionally hypothetical contentions on secularism to prompt, unmistakable issues, felt profoundly by the country’s residents. Since the Supreme Court is entrusted with adjusting strict freedom with the state guideline of religion—two contending driving forces in the Constitution—its choices are significantly considerable for strict networks in India. Struggle is unavoidable. In completing its obligation to determine debates and decipher laws, the legal executive offers substance to the assurance of strict opportunity, and decides the level of limitation that can be put upon it.

Addressing the part of the courts, Tahir Mahmood expresses, “In the common India of our occasions, it is the tradition that must be adhered to that decides the extent of religion in the society, and the legal executive figures out what the laws identifying with the extent of religion state, mean, and require.”As Chatterjee watches, strict freedom is a fundamental nature of a common state A common state is needed to allow the free act of any religion, inside sensible limits. Dissecting the Supreme Court’s statute on religion will reveal insight into what restricts on strict opportunity are perceived to be sensible, and why. I recommend another motivation behind why it is judicious to think about the Indian Supreme Court’s arbitration on religion. A few ongoing cases have clarified that judges read, refer to, and consider grant on the Court’s methodology. Their commitment with this material will `definitely impact their dynamic. Surely, the Court is contained people, a few of whom bring a self-intelligent mentality to their decisions. That being the situation, the group of grant managing secularism, strict opportunity, and the Supreme Court isn’t as it were clear of the legal executive’s methodology, yet may even impact its course. In a perfect world, commitments to this control could advance the capacity for the appointed authorities to consider the more extensive setting of their decisions, maybe prompting more illuminated dynamic. The controversy surrounding a recent Supreme Court decision i.e. the sabrimala case and the triple talaq case llustrates the social and legal magnitude of religious freedom adjudication in India and the profound societal ramifications of the Supreme Court’s approach.

POLITICAL ASPECT

In sixty years we should have consolidated secularism and should have meet our politics of all traces of religious controversies and communal trappings .But it was not easy to translate the constitution Idea into practice in a society as complex as India. Indian state was categorised as solid state by Gunner Mysdal in Asian drama. And it remained soft towards Communism as well.The state remained not only soft towards Communism it also encouraged it, if it paid political dividends.The political role of Congress in early eighties was nothing but exploitation of religious sentiments to win over certain sections of Indian society.On the other hand the BJP which is not only the rightist but also a Hindu communal party choose to use religious controversial issues to capture power at the centre and some States mainly in Hendi heartland. India despite partition on the basis of religion resolve to be a secular state and promulgated its constitution in 1950 accepting equal rights for all the citizens irrespective of their caste, creed Or race. It was undoubtedly a great step forward. Thus,citizens was ,prioritized over religion and ethnicity. Citizenship and not religion became the fundamental category.At the same time all citizens were given the right to profess, practice and propagate their religion under article 25 of the Constitution. Gandhiji wrote In 1942,” religion is a personal matter which should have no place in politics.”He even went further and told a missionary “If I were a dictator, religion state would be separate, I swear by my religion I will die for it. But it is my personal affair. The state has nothing to do with it. However our politicians have completely adverse this situation.They mix religion with politics with vengeance and throw away values in the air.Religion without values like justice, equality, compassion, love, nonviolence, truth and sensitivity to other suffering is mere death ritual and if that empty ritual and not values associated with religion which our politicians do,it can be very deadly. That is what we have been witnessing since independence.

CONCLUSION

India is the world’s second-most crowded nation with more than 1.3 billion individuals and is the origin of four significant world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. It is likewise home to around 180 million Muslims—just Indonesia and Pakistan have more. A little Christian minority incorporates around 30 million individuals. An authoritatively common country with a large number of ethnic gatherings and 22 authority dialects, free India has a long convention of strict resilience (with intermittent and some of the time genuine slips). Strict opportunity is unequivocally ensured under its constitution. Hindus represent a larger part (almost four-fifths) of the nation’s general population. Hindu patriotism has been a rising political power in late many years, by numerous records dissolving India’s common nature and prompting new attacks on the nation’s strict opportunities.

The 2014 public political race triumph of the Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian Peoples’ Party or BJP) carried recently intense regard for the issue of strict opportunity in India. Following its causes to an ideological group made in 1951 in a joint effort with the Hindu patriot Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Organization or RSS), the BJP has since proceeded to win control of various state governments, remembering for Uttar Pradesh, the nation’s most crowded state with in excess of 200 million inhabitants, one-fifth of them Muslim. The BJP’s chief, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is a self-declared Hindu patriot and long lasting RSS part with a dubious past: In 2002, during his 13-year residency as boss clergyman of the Gujarat state, huge scope against Muslim revolting there left in excess of 1,000 individuals dead, and Modi confronted allegations of complicity as well as inaction (he was later officially absolved). In 2005, Modi was denied a U.S. visa under a once in a while utilized law excepting section for unfamiliar government authorities discovered to be complicit in extreme infringement of strict opportunity, and he had no official contacts with the U.S. government until 2013. Numerous in the U.S. Congress were incredulous of Modi’s function in the 2002 brutality, and some keep on pointing out signs that strict opportunity mishandles are expanding under his and his gathering’s standard, as reported by the U.S. State Department and free basic liberties gatherings. Thus, in this paper we tried giving overview to religious freedom in India, beginning with an constitutional perspective and then judicial and finally the political view.

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Policy & Politics

Builder hardware products from India have considerable global demand, says Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash

Tarun Nangia

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Builder hardware industry is linked to the construction equipment industry where the revenue was valued at US$ 6.5 billion in 2020 and construction market is expected to be the third largest globally by 2025: MSME Secretary B B Swain

India is the 17th largest supplier of builder hardware products and is on its way to fulfil the government ambition to become a global manufacturing hub of builder hardware products.

Builder Hardware is another performer making India as one of the top 20 suppliers with a 1.2 percent share in the world builder hardware export pie, said Som Parkash, Minister of State of Commerce & Industry

While addressing the Builder Hardware Expo, organised by EEPC India, virtually today, the Minister noted that builder hardware products from India have considerable demand across the continents.

Indian builder hardware product is one of the best performing segments in the Indian engineering goods sector which has been the key driver of merchandise exports from the country.

“Builder hardware industry is linked to the construction equipment industry where the revenue was valued at US$ 6.5 billion in 2020 and the construction market is expected to be the third largest globally by 2025,” said Mr B B Swain, Secretary, Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME).

India is the 17th largest supplier of builder hardware products and is on its way to fulfil the government ambition to become a global manufacturing hub of builder hardware products.

Swain stated that EEPC India with more than 60 per cent of its members representing MSME sector took several initiatives even during pandemic to provide global interaction opportunities to small players in the form of webinars and virtual Expos.

“The Government of India has been proactive to ensure that all the benefits of the MSME schemes reach the intended beneficiaries in time,” said Mr Swain.

EEPC India Chairman Mahesh Desai said that the four-day virtual Expo would provide opportunity to the Indian exhibitors to display an array of over 200 domestic builder hardware products to overseas buyers from nine focus regions and trade blocs.

“The buyers would comprise contractors, builders, building engineers, architects, landscape artists, interior designers, consultants and project management professionals,” he said.

Speaking at the Expo, EEPC India Vice Chairman Arun Kumar Garodia said India belongs to the league of leading builder hardware manufacturing and exporting nations.

“The Government of India has now set a National Mission of merchandise exports to reach US$ 400 billion within this fiscal, US$ 500 billion by FY-24 and US$ 1 trillion by FY-28 by making Indian products the only choice for global buyers,” he said.

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Policy & Politics

MOU SIGNED BETWEEN J&K AND GOVERNMENT OF DUBAI FOR REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT, INDUSTRIAL PARKS, SUPER SPECIALITY HOSPITALS

MoU will give UT a big developmental push: Piyush Goyal

Tarun Nangia

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Jammu and Kashmir administration has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Dubai for real estate development, industrial parks, IT towers, multipurpose towers, logistics, medical college, super specialty hospital and more.

Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal highlighted the significance of the day and said that with the signing of the MoU with Dubai Government, the world has started to recognize the pace with which Jammu and Kashmir is traversing on the development bandwagon. This MoU gives out a strong signal to the entire world that the way India is transforming into a global power, Jammu & Kashmir is having a significant role in that as well.

This MoU is a milestone after which the investment will pour in from entire globe and is a big developmental push. Different entities from Dubai have shown keen interest in investment. Development has to be aspired on all fronts and we are on track, he added.

Goyal thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Shri Amit Shah for their focus and commitment towards the development of UT of Jammu & Kashmir. Recent industrial package of 28,400 Crore rupees is a testimony towards ensured development.

Terming it a momentous occasion for the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Shri Manoj Sinha said that this development journey will help the Union Territory to scale new heights in Industrialization and sustainable growth.

Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal highlighted the significance of the day and said that with the signing of the MoU with Dubai Government, the world has started to recognize the pace with which Jammu and Kashmir is traversing on the development bandwagon.

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Policy & Politics

India is working towards bridging digital divide in Africa: V. Muraleedharan

‘India has adopted an approach that facilitates development of human capital in the continent with the larger objective of harnessing socio-economic growth,’ said V. Muraleedharan, Minister of State for External Affairs & Parliamentary Affairs, Government of India

Tarun Nangia

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‘India is working towards bridging digital divide in Africa and has adopted an approach that facilitates development of human capital in the continent with the larger objective of harnessing socio-economic growth”, mentioned V Muraleedharan, Hon’ble Minister of State for External Affairs & Parliamentary Affairs, Government of India while addressing the Inaugural Session at the 2nd edition of the India Africa Higher Education and Skill Development Summit organised by Confederation of Indian Industry in partnership with Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India today.

Muraleedharan elucidated that India is best positioned to partner Africa as we can offer affordable and high-quality education and skill development opportunities and make the young population employable and allow them to participate in growing economies of African countries. Elucidating on the strong Indo-African partnership in the domain of higher education and skill development, the Minister stated that capacity building and providing higher education opportunities with for the socio-economic development of our partner nations is a major element of our Foreign Policy.

India has long standing ties in education with Africa and over 2000 Indian faculty members have been involved in teaching and research activities of Ethiopian nations. Further, defence academies and colleges are being set up in nations like Nigeria and Tanzania. With a view to promote students from African nations to study in India, several initiatives have been undertaken like the Study in INDIA, ITEC programmes, Sir C V Raman Scholarship, collaboration of Department of Science & Technology with the World Bank to develop centres of excellence in African countries and the launch of e-VidyaBharti and e-ArogyaBharti Project, among others.

Dr Sarah Ruto, Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Education Republic of Kenya, emphasised that Kenya is working towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development Goals with a special focus on select education-based SDG Goals. She mentioned that Kenya has a competency-based curriculum to meet the rising demands for tertiary education and there is focus on alumni network funding as well as partnerships to promote skill development.

Buti Kgwaridi Manamela, Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science & Innovation, Government of Republic of South Africa informed that a bilateral cooperation treaty is being negotiated in education for exchange of students as well as to share best practices. He added that forums like IBSA and BRICS have also provided opportunities to address the developmental needs of the nations.

Dame Diop, Minister of Employment, Vocational Training, Apprenticeship and Inclusion, Government of Republic of Senegal informed that the Plan for an Emerging Senegal (PES) which harmonises national policies particularly for human capital development and vocational training is a major step towards promoting employability. The Minister commended India for committing 130 million Rupees to Senegal to create science and technology institutes.

Dr Douglas Letsholathebe, Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Government of Republic of Botswana highlighted that the commonality of English language based higher education system offers scope for greater cooperation between the countries. The Minister stated that the Botswana Vision 2036 aims at transformation from a resource-based to an all-ingredient knowledge-based economy focussing on education, training, and human resource development systems. Expressing the commitment to the youth, Botswana has joined the Generation Unlimited initiative as a leader thereby, playing a crucial role in forging multisector partnerships across geographies to provide greater access to skilling and livelihood opportunities.

S Kuppuswamy, Co-Chair, CII Africa Committee & Advisor-Group Finance & Special Projects, Shapoorji Pallonji Group, said that the Indo-African collaboration has strengthened in the post pandemic era as the nations are collectively focusing on new age learning models and enhancing the role of technology in education. Emphasizing on the strong multilateral cooperation with Africa, it was highlighted that one of the most popular programs, the Study in India commonly called EDCIL offered by Ministry of Education offers around 900 scholarships to African students to study in India and Indian universities are also investing in promoting their services to the African community.

The two day Summit organised in partnership with Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India will focus on Online education, Study in India and Skills Development programmes. Over 6 ministers from Africa and India participated at the Summit and event saw online registration of 600 delegates from India and Africa.

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Policy & Politics

INDEX NUMBERS OF WHOLESALE PRICE IN INDIA FOR THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER, 2021(BASE YEAR: 2011-12)

Tarun Nangia

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Note: P: Provisional, F: Final, * Annual rate of WPI inflation calculated over the corresponding month of previous year

The month over month change in WPI index for the month of September, 2021 (as compared to August, 2021) was 0.07 %. The monthly change in WPI index for last six-month is summarized below:

Annex-I

All India Wholesale Price Indices and Rates of Inflation (Base Year: 2011-12=100) for September, 2021

Annex-II

Note: * = Provisional, Mf/o = Manufacture of

Note: * = Provisional, Mf/o = Manufacture of

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Policy & Politics

One nation one election: From inception to constitutional/logistical issues

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‘The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity.”

In the yesteryears, when Late Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru was injecting the idea that India will awake to life and freedom, he certainly would not have had any idea that the same speech, to the same public and with the same zeal will be delivered by dissecting few of the words and adding spice wrapped in polarized feelings. Those occasions were five yearly festival of Indian democracy- elections where such speeches jumbled every now and then – could be heard and read.

But one could never fathom of a situation where complex electoral processes does not go simultaneously for the centre and state and in fact, takes place at intervals of every few months in the diversified though unified country like India. And the saga of speech would start once again, every second, for months. It took 20 years of independence and 17 years of first general election to break the chain. 1967 was the last time when India had near simultaneous elections.

The Constituent Assembly had scholars like Dr. BR Ambedkar who raised the issue of deciding the status of election commission i.e. whether it has to be a permanent body or a temporary one, giving logic for his take on the issue. At the same time, the far-sightedness of ones like Prof. Shibban Lal Saxena, threw light on the issue that mid-term dissolution of assemblies would push us to a situation of having elections before completion of five years and hence we cannot have such a commission which sits free for five years after conducting one and waiting for other election, and hence we have Article 324 in our constitution.

Kerala Assembly made debut for the mid-term dissolution and elections were held in the year 1960, unlike for rest of the country which was held in 1962. Nagaland and Pondicherry should also be kept under exceptions because assemblies here were formed only after 1962. Like every beginning has an end, similarly every end has a beginning. The end of simultaneous election had its beginning in 1970 when, on the wishes of Indira Gandhi, there was a premature dissolution of Lok Sabha on December 27, 1970 and mid-term elections were held in February 1971. The next political event was declaration of National Emergency, 1975. General Elections were held in the year 1977 and the newly formed Janta Parivar started to focus on dissolution of assemblies of few states after the 1977 victory. Such attempts, both at centre and state level, were rusting the greased process of simultaneous elections. The 1998 and 1999 dissolution of Lok Sabha acted as a catalyst for such rusting of simultaneous elections and now only three to four states go for elections with the Lok Sabha polls for last few years. Thus, the Election Commission now conducts state elections once or twice every year and so we get to hear the saga of speeches discussed earlier every few months.

The Hurdles in the path

The Representation of People Act, 1951 is relevant to throw light on the legal aspect of the possibility and shortcomings faced by the authorities for conducting simultaneous elections. Section 14 and Section 15 talk about notification for general elections to House of People and State Assembly respectively. These provisions are empowering in nature and hence the Election Commission, by virtue of these provisions, can notify elections keeping a gap of six months from the end of tenure of the house and this gap period has to be strictly adhered to. Usually, the election schedule is announced a few days before the notification is issued so that the individuals and institutions involved in the process gear up. Hence we can surmise that for the present state of affairs regarding elections of different states and for those assemblies ending their tenure in the span of less than six months, simultaneous elections are legally possible. But, this is not the only changes that shall be required.

Our constitution’s basic structure not only includes parliamentary democracy but also federalism. Also, the tenured elected legislatures are equally important to sustain parliamentary democracy. By bringing the scheme of simultaneous elections, tampering of constitutional accountability shall take place. This shall further deteriorate the structure of federalism that we uphold.

As we have a quasi federal state, our President and Governor neither reigns nor governs unlike United States where the President both reigns and governs and England where the King reigns but does not govern. Thus, by bringing simultaneous elections, we shall be indirectly bringing Governor and President at the pedestal to govern and reign, as when the Lok Sabha or the State Assemblies would be dissolved, the President and Governor shall be appointed as head of the executive. This was even suggested as one of the proposals in The Niti Aayog discussion paper, 2017.

The Paper and the Draft Report of the Law Commission in 2018 also suggested to shorten the tenure of few legislative assemblies and to extend the same of the others in order to synchronize the cycles. This would lead to chaos as why would an elected assembly would want a tenure of two years in place of the earlier promised five years. Similarly, it was also proposed to conduct only two sets of election in a time span of five years. This action in itself is anti-democratic as it goes against the right of citizens to elect their leaders at regular intervals.

This anti-democratic action can be curved into a democratic one by bringing the necessary constitutional amendments. In order to sync the tenures and terms, amendments shall be needed in the following Articles of The Constitution of India, 1950

Article 83(Duration of Houses of Parliament) and 172(Duration of State Legislatures) – These article provides for fixed tenure of five years of the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly. It shall need to be amended to match the requirements of flexible tenures in case of synchronizing elections.

Article 85(Sessions of Parliament, prorogation and dissolution) and 174(Sessions of the State Legislature, prorogation and dissolution) – These sections empowers the President and governor to dissolve the Lok Sabha and Legislative assembly respectively. it shall need to be amended to include synchronization as a reason to dissolve.

Article 356(Provisions in case of failure of constitutional machinery in States) – This article provides for when president or governor can act as head. This shall need to be amended to include manual tampering of tenures so as to create a path to shorten the tenures and also provide for a way to president or governor to act in situations.

In addition to these constitutional issues, there are logistical issues too. The logistical issues which are of major economical value bring with itself the shortage of the number of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM). Presently, the complete set of single EVM including the voter-verifiable paper audit trial can be used for different elections taking place at different time and places for so long as is the recommended life of an EVM. One EVM can have the names of 16 candidates at maximum. Hence for those constituencies where candidates are even one more than 16, the second EVM has to be used. As a precautionary measure, few of the EVMs are kept as reserve and they are to be used in case the once installed earlier face issues. The number of polling stations in India is more than one million. Now the calculation has to start from providing every polling station with EVMs, that too double in number in case of simultaneous elections for centre and state. The procurement of such large number of EVMs does not limit the expenditure. Storage and security of the EVMs adds to the expenditure which undoubtedly counts to thousands of crores and this does not adds to decrease in the expenditure as is the view of proponents for simultaneous elections. As far as local body polls are concerned, the polling stations, the superintending authority and the judicial authority for taking cases of local elections are different from those of state or centre elections. Hence such issues only add to the logistical issues already faced by the election commission.

Conclusion

The idea of one nation one election is not alien to India. 1952, 1957, 1962 and 1967 pave way for the history of simultaneous elections. The synchronization shall definitely bring stability and strengthen nationalism. In long run, it might also help to cut expenditure and speed up development but the immediate expenses seem to be more than the cost benefit analysis. Moreover, the authors are of the opinion that one election might make the country more centralized and lead to tangential behavior towards local issues and regional parties. It might also transform our democracy to a managed democracy like in Russia. It might give the pretence of free and fair elections but the reality shall be far from it.

Thus, it is imperative that electoral reforms are needed but one nation one election is not the correct scheme to embrace under the ambit of electoral reforms.

The Constituent Assembly had scholars like Dr. BR Ambedkar who raised the issue of deciding the status of election commission i.e. whether it has to be a permanent body or a temporary one, giving logic for his take on the issue. At the same time, the far-sightedness of ones like Prof. Shibban Lal Saxena, threw light on the issue that mid-term dissolution of assemblies would push us to a situation of having elections before completion of five years and hence we cannot have such a commission which sits free for five years after conducting one and waiting for other election, and hence we have Article 324 in our constitution.

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Policy & Politics

MAKING IT HAPPEN: HIGH SCHOOL TRANSFORMATION IN GANJAM

Anil Swarup

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With the sole motto of ‘Desire for excellence in School Education’, the concept of transformation of high schools into Centre of Excellence (CoE) is based on the vision of Chief Minister of Odisha. The school transformation initiative aims to revolutionize the high school education paradigm of Odisha by upgrading the existing school infrastructure at par with the best of the private schools in the country. This has helped provide a highly conducive learning environment for the students from humble background and would also ensure the delivery of best quality education and training.

The major challenge of community participation and ownership was addressed through regular coordination meetings with PRI members, Block Administration, parents, alumni, School Management Committee (SMC), teachers and students. This also helped identify the needs and priorities of the school for imparting quality education. After several rounds of consultations, it was decided to bring about holistic changes in the existing infrastructure of the high school and re-establish it with Smart and Digital Class Rooms, e-Library-cum-Reading Room, Modern Science Laboratory, Hygienic Toilet, Safe & Pure Drinking Water and upgradation of Sports facilities.

After finalizing the above-mentioned priorities, the next challenge was to work out the finances to implement the said work. This is where the ‘Mo School’ initiative of the State Government played the role of a game changer. Under this programme, contributions were to be invited from alumni, donors and organizations for every school and the State Government would provide twice the matching grant against each donation received. For example, if a CSR contribution of Rs. 1 Lakh was received for a particular school, the State Government would provide Rs. 2 Lakhs for the said school and a total amount of Rs. 3 Lakhs would be made available for the development of the school.

In addition to the aforementioned, the local self-governing bodies such as Gram Panchayats and Blocks also earmarked their funds for transforming the local schools which would turn into an asset for capacity building of their children. The overall transformation work was closely monitored by the School Management Committee (SMC) in coordination with Block Technical Team in order to maintain a higher degree of transparency, accountability and timeline.

The main aim was to improve quality of education in high schools by using latest technology, upgrading infrastructure by means of smart class rooms and creation of interactive learning environment with audio-visual facilities. In order to inculcate the practice of reading and to develop soft skills among the students, a well-furnished Library-cum-Reading Room has been setup where students not only develop practice of reading books related to their syllabus but also various informative and motivational books.

To inculcate a sense of scientific temper among students, a modern integrated science laboratory has been setup. To facilitate easy understanding of various science concepts and theories, students will now get a first-hand learning experience by performing various experiments in the laboratory. The modern science laboratory will improve scientific reasoning abilities and practical skills of the students.

In addition to all the above, separate hygienic toilets for boys and girls were also ensured in the high schools. The idea is to ensure that students remain free from infection by developing good sanitation habits. The toilets are fitted with colored & designed tiles and with modern sanitary fittings to minimize wastage of water. Installation of napkin incinerators in girls’ toilet is also ensured to dispose the sanitary napkins in a hygienic way. It is also ensured that the teachers and students use the same toilet so that they take personal interest in maintaining cleanliness & hygiene. Special and dedicated toilet for students with special needs are also made an integral part of the new toilet pattern.

As a top priority, pure and safe drinking water facilities are being ensured in all schools under the ‘Nal Se Jal’ campaign of the State Government. Provision of water purifier is ensured in every high school for safe and pure drinking water. It has also been decided to upgrade the school playground with modern playing equipment in order to nurture young sporting talents.

An additional initiative called ‘Water Bell – The reminder’ has been launched by Ganjam Administration with a vision to inculcate the habit of drinking water at regular intervals among the students so that they stay hydrated and fit. As students spend most of the time in schools, water bell is a reminder for a strategic break for the students during the school hours to take a break and drink water in between the school sessions. Students are also encouraged to carry water bottle to schools

The efforts being made have the potential of transforming high school education in the entire state of Odisha, including Ganjam District . The idea of upgradation of Government high schools driven by 5T principles has not only resulted in the transformation of infrastructure but also developed self-confidence and motivation among students, teachers and parents coming from very humble background in rural areas. This ambitious initiative has become a reality only because of the concerted efforts of various stakeholders, especially the field level functionaries like BDOs, AEs, JEs, SMCs, Teachers, parents, students, etc. The success can be attributed to ‘Team Ganjam’ led by a young and dynamic Vijay Amruta Kulange. This team made it happen. All this could not have been achieved without political support from the top. The beauty of the model is that it is replicable, scalable and sustainable because all the stakeholders are on board.

Anil Swarup has served as the head of the Project Monitoring Group, which is currently under the Prime Minister’s Offic. He has also served as Secretary, Ministry of Coal and Secretary, Ministry of School Education.

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