CUTS IN MEDIA-December 2008
Trade falls victim to Mumbai attack
Delay in service?
Make the officer pay up
Low volume of trade between Pakistan and India: non-enforcement of bilateral
Doubts surround introspective Singh's
ability to reform security
Counter terrorism needs financial boost
and a constitutional revision: CUTS
Express Buzz, India, December 08, 2008
Institutions like the World Bank to the OECD to the WTO have recommended a number of methods to achieve what is called good governance. Tools like citizens charters, public grievance redressal systems, civil service reforms, vigilance committees and a host of other measures have been tried to improve administration.
Yet the helpless citizen continues to be harassed and made to run from pillar to post to get even petty things done in a government office. On a different plane, wrong decisions, delays and wasteful expenditure by public servants are burdening the tax payer. It is to address these issues that we need to understand the efforts of consumer forums and commissions constituted under Consumer Protection Act (CPA).
In a number of decisions delivered under CPA, public servants responsible for delay have been asked to pay up for the delay.
The Supreme Court in the case of M K Gupta vs Lucknow Development Authority awarded Rs 10,000 as compensation to the complainant and directed the authority to recover it from all the officials responsible for the delay.
In a similar case, the National Commission directed the Ghaziabad Development Authority to pay a sum of Rs 15,000 to each of the harassed allottees and recover it from the concerned negligent staff.
In another case the Rajasthan State Electricity Board was asked to pay a compensation of Rs 1,000 to a consumer and recover it from the salary of the negligent employees.
Forget about housing and electricity boards. Even bank employees have been asked to shell out from their pockets. In 1999, Shashikala Narayan Prabhu a customer of Syndicate Bank, Mumbai, found that the bank had paid Rs 1,05,000 against forged cheques. The Mumbai consumer forum directed the bank to pay this amount with interest to the customer and recover it from the errant officials.
There are a number of similar cases being reported from across the country. For instance non-issuance of marks sheet to a student, delayed money order by the postman, denial of reserved berth by railways, delay in issuing money after maturity of policy etc. have been taken to these forums.
In all these cases, forums have taken a unified stand that the compensation paid is to be recovered from the erring officials.
Though this a drop in the ocean, it has sent the right message.
But unfortunately, the findings of cases like the above do not reach the consumers. As a result, the common citizen continues to suffer in two ways.
Firstly due to delay in getting the service and secondly sharing the burden of the defaulting staff.
The Jaipur based Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) has done an excellent job in bringing out a collection of some of the decisions where the negligent officers are asked to pay from their pocket. This needs to be done on a wider scale by National/State Legal Services Authorities.
This news item can also be viewed at: http://www.expressbuzz.com/
Financial Times, December 02, 2008
Manmohan Singh ensured his place in history when, as India's finance minister in 1991, he seized the opportunity of an economic crisis to push through radical reform of its regulation-bound economy. Now, as prime minister, he faces a fresh crisis: reforming a security regime that was found deeply wanting by the Mumbai attacks.
But with only a few months before his government must call a general election, Mr Singh may find it hard to shake up an administration many observers say is characterised by drift and introspection.
In spite of his previous success at the finance ministry, there was not universal praise for his decision this weekend to combine it with his prime ministerial role after appointing Palaniappan Chidambaram, the current finance minister, to replace Shivraj Patil as home minister. "Taking over the finance portfolio himself is not a good idea," says Tarun Das, chief mentor to the Confederation of Indian Industry, who hopes it is only a stopgap measure. "It needs a full-time minister."
Mr Singh is not a deal-making politician with a strong personal power base but a technocrat who has never been elected to a seat in the lower house, or Lok Sabha, of parliament.
Since he became prime minister in 2004, the conventional wisdom has been that Mr Singh's scope to push on with economic reform and other policies has been curtailed by Sonia Gandhi, the Congress party's president who anointed him, and the leftwing parties in the ruling coalition.
Pradeep Mehta, secretary-general of the Consumer Unity & Trust Society, a non-governmental campaign and think-tank based in Jaipur, says: "Manmohan Singh has two problems. One, a lack of support from the left. Two, he is too good a man to be a politician."
Some observers say a more forceful character might still have made more progress. "The prime minister's main problem is not with Sonia Gandhi or with his coalition partners - it is that he needs to provide the political willpower to get things done," Mr Das says.
Formulating India's response to the security threat provides a good test. The government's response to previous bombings has been low-key, including appeals for peace between Hindus and Muslims and allowing Mr Patil to stay in his job in spite of complaints about his competence. Since the Mumbai attacks, Mr Singh has talked about a new federal agency to combat terror. But for those frustrated with his introspective style, quicker action is needed.
Mr Das says: "The attacks on Mumbai could be a turning point for the government getting properly tough on terror but only if they seize the moment." The prime minister "needs to admit he was wrong about terror and push through a new prevention of terrorism bill in the current session of parliament. No one would dare vote against it".
But for an administration that has largely failed to push ahead with radical reform of the economy or anything else, that would mean a decisive break in style. "I am not sure he has the stamina to get things done," Mr Mehta says. "In a sense, his is already a government in transition."
This news item can also be viewed at: http://www.ft.com/
Thesynergyonline, December 01, 2008
"MUMBAI'S leading hotels, prominent centres of business negotiations, coming under the siege of terrorists, is symbolic of the fact that progress in counter-terrorism/law and order efforts and India's economic progress are intertwined.
India is now increasingly being perceived as a high risk country by both foreign entrepreneurs and international tourists. This is the time to not only give a major financial and technological boost to anti-terrorism/law and order efforts but ring in some major constitutional changes" said Pradeep S. Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International, a leading economic policy research and advocacy group, in a press release issued here today
"The Mumbai terrorist attack is probably the biggest attack to hit the world after 9/11" said Mehta, "while the apathy of the government in the wake of so many terrorist attacks in the recent past has been both startling and unnerving, we should realise our own responsibility as citizens of this country"
The civil society, intelligentsia and media need to launch a sustained campaign to ring in major changes into the system instead of just raising the alarm after major terrorist attacks.
Mehta elaborated on the systemic changes mentioned above:
Mehta concluded with an appeal:
"If we do not act now both the economic prosperity of India and the physical and mental security of its populace are at stake. The civil society, the media, the intelligentsia and ordinary citizens need to rise as one and not rest till we have made sure that the necessary safeguards have been put in place". (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This news item can also be viewed at: http://www.thesynergyonline.com/
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