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Questions on Social and Economic Problems
Ethic Code for MPs
Q. “The move of the NDA government to lay down an ethic code for the Members of Parliament (MPs) is a welcome one and must be enforced immediately.” Give arguments For and Against this view. Ans. In all types of public life, a code of conduct is generally prescribed. In India, though there is no code for MPs, yet during the elections the Election Commission lays down the code of conduct for political parties. Recently a Committee of MPs was set up under the Chairmanship of former Prime Minister Chander Shekhar to oversee the moral and ethical conduct of the Members in the Lok Sabha. First meeting of the Committee was held in August 2001. The procedure followed was that any citizen of India could send suggestions. The suggestions could also come from the MPs and members of the panel itself. The question whether the report of the said committee would lead to formation of much needed code remains to be answered. Arguments For the View (a) Members of Parliament consist of an elite class of people who are involved in the process of legislation framing for the country, providing the Prime Minister a majority of the members of the Council of Ministers and carrying out the other parliamentary business, including the control over the executive. It is thus essential to have a code of conduct for these top-level public representatives of the nation. (b) For the last many years now, the proceedings of the Parliament are being shown live on the electronic media. At times, the countrymen are aghast to witness the unruly behaviour of their representatives in the Parliament. To check the unbecoming behaviour of the MPs in the Parliament, the proposed code of conduct must come as statutory provision and not just like an ethical code, so that the public representatives violating it face legal/procedural action. ( c ) Corruption has engulfed the Indian society today and in most of the cases it emanates from the top. There are some existing provisions in the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act, but as per a Supreme Court ruling the provisions of these Acts do not apply to the corruption taking place within the Parliament House. Hence, the need to have a code of conduct cannot be overemphasised. (d) Since the government servants are required to make annual disclosures of their assets and liabilities, the proposed code of conduct should make it mandatory for the MPs also to do so. (e) All the government officers are bound to follow a set of conduct rules, violation of which invites disciplinary action against them. On the similar lines, a comprehensive ethics code must be drawn up for MPs also, making them responsible for their misdeeds. Arguments Against the View (a) There is no need to have a formal code of conduct for MPs. They are in any case responsible to their electorates and Indian electorate has shown maturity over the years to keep a close watch over the conduct and behaviour of their representatives and voted accordingly. (b) The proposed code of conduct is being drawn in unnecessary hurry. In fact, the matter should have been handed over to a Joint Parliamentary Committee and there should have been a national debate over the issue rather than preparing it in a slip-shod manner.
366 I NOVEMBER 2001 I THE COMPETITION MASTER
There is no use of such a code, which may only turn out to be a cosmetic exercise. (c) The proposed code of conduct is being drafted by a Committee of MPs, which is not likely to suggest a strict code for its own members. The proposed code may turn out to be a sham and may not serve any purpose. (d) MPs cannot be compared to the government servants. Just because the government servants have conduct rules governing their conduct and behaviour, it does not necessarily mean that the MPs must also have a code. The country has been managing without any code for decades and there appears to be no need for such a code, particularly when the MPs are responsible and accountable to their voters on expiry of their term. ( e ) Despite the existence of the conduct rules for the government servants, the instances of corruption and misconduct among them are on the rise. Hence, even for the MPs a code of conduct may not be of much use and may be an eyewash for the country. What is required is the national character, self-restraint, selfimprovement and sense of devotion to the nation on part of MPs, which only can help in improving the situation.
NGOs and Social Sector
Q. “The Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) have a very important role to play in the socioeconomic development in the country.” Give arguments For and Against this view. Ans. The Eighth Five-Year Plan had identified participation and initiative of the people as a vital element in the process of
sex ratio expresses the attitudes of the society towards females. The Plan envisaged that particularly in the rural areas the role of the government should be to facilitate the process of people’s participation by creating right type of institutions and infrastructure. undoubtedly.” Comment. Further. Sex ratio is the number of females per 1000 males in the population. Arguments For the View (a) During the recent past. (b) Over the years the dependence of the people has increase manifold over the government. people cannot be expected to volunteer for socioeconomic development with empty stomachs. It is said that the interest of certain NGOs is limited to getting grants from the government of India and the State governments. While the sex ratio in 1901 was 972. Hence. such NGOs cannot be expected to spend money out of their own funds. During the Eighth Plan period the progress in this regard was not satisfactory. (e) After the constitutional status was given to the local bodies in 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments. This is the reason that life expectancy at birth for females is higher . it was admitted that the process of social mobilisation and development of people’s initiatives could not be achieved without the active support of political system at all the levels. Later. Even Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) of male children is higher. colleges. The socio-economic change and the development driven by the government initiatives has been gradual and inefficient. mortality of males is higher. ( b ) The dependence on NGOs cannot result in balanced socioeconomic development. the role of the government in the social sector has to be that of a facilitator only. (c) Many NGOs in India are known to indulge in financial irregularities. As per one study. The government is. In a poor country like ours people are unable to pool in resources to create or maintain any social asset. Such an excessive dependence retards growth. ( c ) History is replete with the examples where rapid and drastic changes have taken place mainly due to people’s own initiatives. people have to come forward by organizing themselves into NGOs to create self-help groups to sustain social development. Sex ratio of a country is an important social indicator. local bodies have also been given some additional duties and responsibilities. It would be extremely difficult for the fund-starved government to maintain even the existing social infrastructure in future. NGOs thus have a special role to play in socio-economic development in the liberalised and globalised environment.ARGUMENTATION economic development. considering the high sounding objectives. or maintenance of social assets costs money. they take up only limited areas. hospitals. Since creation of. As a social indicator. thus. the NGOs have to take initiatives so that locally-felt needs of socio-economic development are met. 367 I NOVEMBER 2001 I THE COMPETITION MASTER (d) Socio-economic development in a welfare state like ours is the primary responsibility of the government. The government would. (d) With the onset of the process of reforms. With the help of these institutions. which is a slight improvement over the sex ratio of 927 obtained during 1991 Census. responsible to create new institutions like schools. biologically more number of male children are born under normal conditions and birth sex ratio of 960 to 970 is considered to be normal. But for creating any social asset funds are needed. Sex Determination Tests Q. in the developmental strategy outlined in the Ninth Plan. “The report about falling sex ratio in 2001 Census for 0 to 6 years child-group is shocking and the facilities of sex determining tests are largely responsible for this. Ans. thus. Since the local bodies have already been set up in the rural and urban areas. But it is also established by the empirical studies that the survival rate of female children is higher than that of male children. the services provided by the government would increasingly become expensive and inefficient. Going back to the beginning of the 20th century. NGOs are active only in some pockets of the country. With growing emphasis on reduction of subsidies and increase in the user charges. At every age group. have to come forward to provide several services that are being provided by the government till now. it had a declining trend throughout the century and 2001 Census has shown a sex ratio of 933. should be made responsible for maintaining these infrastructures. the Ninth Plan emphasizes that the people’s involvement in socio-economic development has to be through the locallyelected representatives. as well as advent of the WTO regime. continue to play an important role of providing funds for socio-economic development. Arguments Against the View (a) The role of the NGOs is limited to mobilise people. (e) Voluntary action and NGOs’ participation is generally found in the developed countries. with active support of the local people. Thus. sex ratio has always been adverse towards females in India. NGOs. on the pretext of inviting voluntary action the government cannot escape from its primary responsibility of socioeconomic development of the country. In a poor country like ours where sizeable proportion of population lives below the poverty line and is at the lookout for gainful employment. to finance rapid economic development of the country. public investment in the social sector is almost stagnant. etc but the NGOs. particularly in improving the effectiveness of socioeconomic development outlays. Dependence on NGOs may result in neglecting certain areas that are not generally adopted by the NGOs. outstanding leadership and un-relented action.
Surprisingly. Chandigarh . The so-called fertility clinics bypass the statutory provisions under which sex determination through ultra-sound is a criminal offence. Sex ratio may have apparently improved in India from 927 to 933 between 1991 to 2001. In one of the cases the conviction was ordered but the case is pending in appeal before a higher court. When compared to 1991 Census. the sex ratio in child population of 0 to 6 years of age was 945. Hence. This is easily done by such clinics. Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat where this ratio in the 2001 Census has come down to 793. with most of the socio-economic indicators better than the national average. It is due to low mortality and higher life expectancy at birth in favour of females that the overall sex ratio gradually comes nearer to 1000 under normal conditions.P . Although the sex determination tests are available all over the country. In the earlier days some States like Rajasthan used to have adverse sex ratio and female infanticide was cited as one of the factors responsible for it. The ineffectiveness of the statutory provisions already in existence for the last 6 to 7 years is evident from the fact that upto the year 2000-2001 only two such complaints were filed in the country. it is not possible to get any complaint or any witness. Industrial Area-1. And the politicians are still dithering over the Women Reservation Bill! GENERAL KNOWLEDGE REFRESHER BY O. KHANNA Recommended for all Competitive Examinations Revised and Updated 2001 Edition KHANNA BROTHERS (Publishers) 126. as well as the facilities of ultra-sound in so-called fertility centres. all the States in which there is a sudden fall in child sex ratio are the prosperous ones. It is believed by the demographers that strong male child preference. While most of these States and UTs have experienced a fall in the sex ratio in this age group. Haryana. Empowerment of women is the key to remove all socio-economic biases against the women. Uttaranchal. 897 and 878. as they do it in connivance with the patients and their family members. but a disturbing trend has been noticed in the sex ratio for children in the age group of 0 to 6 years. The damage done to the balance of the younger population group during the decade of 1990s would continue to haunt the Indian demographers and social scientists for many years to come. No biological factors can be attributed to this sudden fall. empowerment of women and change in the social values and attitudes that can make significant contribution in this direction. The skewed malefemale population would not only pose problems to the policy-makers. respectively. but would also reflect a very poor social picture of the country in various fora and the UN organisations. during the same period. yet the areas in which these facilities are easily available. respectively. legal deterrent may not be of much use. The result is that the business of sex determination tests is flourishing and the female children are disappearing from the foetus of their mothers.160 002 368 I NOVEMBER 2001 I THE COMPETITION MASTER Prestigious Publication of . But if the sex ratio of 0 to 6 years population of Rajasthan is considered. is responsible for this trend. Drop in sex ratio in child population upto 6 years of age has been most noticeable in the States of Punjab. Delhi and Chandigarh have experienced a sudden fall in the relative births of female children. UTs of Delhi and Chandigarh have seen this ratio drop from 915 and 899 to 865 and 848. two western States of Maharashtra and Gujarat have also witnessed a discernible fall in the sex ratio among the said group of population.ARGUMENTATION in the world as well as in India. It is obvious that in a social crime like this. which has come down alarmingly to 927 in the 2001 Census. the reduction in the sex ratio have been more distinct in them. In the second case the inquiry by the court is still on. It is the social awareness. Six northern States/UTs of Punjab. Himachal Pradesh. there is only a marginal fall from 916 in 1991 to 909 in 2001 Census.
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