Law & Public Policy

Reports & BriefsPublished ArticlesBooks & ChaptersWorking Papers

Report Card on the Performance of Information Commissions in India: Key Findings
Satark Nagrik Sangathan & Centre for Equity Studies
2018

This report is a part of an effort to undertake ongoing monitoring of functioning of information commissions across the country. It focuses on the performance of information commissions in India in terms of the number of appeals and complaints registered and disposed by the ICs, the number of pending appeals and complaints, the estimated waiting time for the disposal of an appeal, availability of annual reports of ICs, frequency of violations penalised by ICs and transparency in the functioning of ICs.

A Report on Participatory Food Security Policy Mapping in Nepal
LWF Nepal in support of RtFN, FIAN Nepal
2017

Nepal, as per the United Nations, is one of the only two South Asian countries to have been able to achieve their Millennium Development Goal hunger target of halving their proportion of undernourished population to the total population, with its proportion of undernourished people to the total Population (in %) decreasing, from 22.8% in 1990-92, to 7.8% in 2014-16. Yet, gap still exists. This report has identified and investigated some of the legal provisions, contraints, and challenges that hindered in fulfilling the gaps under food security.

Good Governance And People Living In Poverty: Perspectives On The Neo-Liberal Paradigm
Harsh Mander

Since the 1990s, concerns with governance have been suddenly thrust into the vocal centre-stage of the mainstream international development debate. This paper will attempt to examine more carefully this dominant neo-liberal paradigm of ‘good governance’, and critically analyse its implications for poor people. It will also suggest some elements, or building blocks, of an alternative paradigm.

Forgotten behind prison walls
Harsh Mander
The Hindu, 2009

Under-trials often spend years in jails without trial or conviction because they are too poor to get themselves out. The predicament of these “under-trial” prisoners, who constitute as many as two-thirds of our overcrowded jail populations, have for many decades — but all too briefly and ineffectually — stirred the conscience of courts, official commissions and human rights activists, but little has changed for them.

Conscience, not obedience
Harsh Mander
Seminar, 2009

It is often believed this metamorphosis in a democracy of the permanent executive from master to servant required that the highest ethic of a civil servant now becomes one of obedience to the will of the people, as articulated in the will of the people’s representatives. This article argues that on the contrary, precisely because the civil servant is a servant of the people and the Constitution, his or her highest duty is not of obedience but of conscience. It emphasises that a democracy guarantees to civil servants not only the right, but even enjoins on them the duty to dissent in response to the call of their conscience.

Exclusion from Access to Legal Justice
Gitanjali Prasad and Mrinal Satish
India Exclusion Report, 2016

Contemporary understandings of what legal justice in India constitutes derive from constitutional provisions, legal jurisprudence as well as international covenants. This chapter of the India Exclusion Report focuses on the access to fair process for those in conflict with the law. It explores who (as a demographic group) is statistically more likely to undertake the option of plea bargaining as a means of securing early release from prison, as opposed to accessing the option of getting out on bail; in five districts in Uttar Pradesh.

Public Pension Provisioning for Old Persons in India
Kinjal Sampat and Harsh Mander
India Exclusion Report, 2016

This chapter of the India Exclusion Report examines the provisioning of pensions for old persons in India, focusing primarily on people disadvantaged by gender, caste, religion and class. Pensions, here, refers to regular cash transfers made to individuals in recognition of advancement of their age. The chapter relies on information obtained from public data sources, secondary studies as well as primary field insights from Rajasthan and Gujarat. It briefly traverses the history of pensions globally and in India, unpacking the moral-politico and economic underpinnings across predominant pension systems.

Recent Changes in India’s Fiscal Architecture: Implications for Public Provisioning in Social Sectors
Subrat Das, Amar Chanchal and Jawed Alam Khan
India Exclusion Report, 2016

India’s federal fiscal architecture has witnessed a number of substantive changes over the last couple of years. Replacing the Planning Commission with NITI Aayog has changed the institutional set-up of policymaking at the national level; the recommendations of the Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC) have led to significant changes in the domain of resource-sharing between the union (or centre) and the states; and the decision by the union government to drop the distinction between Plan and Non-plan expenditures in its budgets (starting from the financial year 2017– 18) is going to change the way public spending is designed, reported and carried out in the country. One of the important questions that arises in the context of such changes pertains to the impact of the same on the responsiveness of India’s fiscal policy to social inclusion.

Towards a Tax System for Inclusive Development: Some Aspects of Tax Incidence and Tax Mobilisation in India
Rajeev Malhotra and Sridhar Kundu
India Exclusion Report, 2015

The magnitude of tax revenue and the manner of its mobilisation, in terms of its composition and incidence with regard to different segments of the population, is of direct consequence to the development process and human well-being in society. While a higher tax-Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio based on high tax rates (and narrow tax base) could be detrimental to the growth of economic activity, giving rise to black economy and encouraging the flight of capital (both physical and human) from the country, a high tax-GDP ratio with moderate tax rates (and a broad tax base) could spur growth through improved scope for provisioning of public goods in the economy. It could also support the State’s capacity to create a social protection floor and, if required, specific entitlements, especially for the poor and the vulnerable to help create more equal outcomes in the society. Similarly, a progressive tax system, where taxes levied take into account the ability of an individual to pay, is a potent redistributive tool, which could potentially support a more inclusive and equitable development process.

Exclusion in Planning and Budgetary Processes
Jawed Alam Khan and Subrat Das
India Exclusion Report, 2014

While government expenditure on sectors like health, education and agriculture can be expected to benefit the entire population including the marginalized and vulnerable sections), the development status of certain groups significantly lags behind that of other sections of the population. Dalits, Adivasis, religious minorities, women, children and persons with disabilities comprise the major marginalized or vulnerable sections of the country’s population. The relatively poor development status of these groups is due to a number of reasons, including unequal social structures, discrimination, gaps and flaws in public policies, and poor implementation of government interventions.

Law and Justice: Exclusion in Anti-Terror Legislation
Warisha Farasat, Amod Shah and Gitanjali Prasad
India Exclusion Report, 2014

Across continents, countries have redefined many fundamental human freedoms and introduced extraordinary legislations that subvert basic guarantees, under the alibi of the pressing need for a strong response to counter terrorist threat. India, in its own ‘war against terrorism’, has been no different. This chapter of the India Exclusion Report seeks to address some questions central to the passage and functioning of such anti-terror legislation in India. For instance, while the state has the power to enact laws to protect its citizens from violent attacks, has the exercise of this power been within reasonable limits, or does it constitute an unreasonable intrusion of fundamental freedoms and protections guaranteed under the Indian Constitution? What impact have these legislations had on the life and liberty of individuals arrested and prosecuted under them? Is there an equal and fair application of these laws across communities and classes in India, or is there a bias against some sections of society?

Towards a Food Rights Code: The State, Food Denials and Food Rights
2007

This Discussion Draft argues for and outlines a proposed Food Rights Code, that lays down statutory duties for public authorities to secure the right to food of all people at all times, normal and emergent. It discusses a range of Famine, Drought and Scarcity Codes, and argues that they need to be completely rewritten for the contemporary context. In the light of this review of Famine Codes, past and present, this volume suggests an alternative Food Rights Code, which delineates duties of public authorities to a) ensure the right to food of all people in normal times; b) acknowledge, verify and address individual and mass starvation; c) identify people and groups which live with chronic hunger even in normal times and take special measures to protect them from starvation and secure their rights to food; and d) address emergent situations of food scarcity arising from extraordinary natural, human made and economic situations.

Tribal Development Policy in India
Harsh Mander
2006

Constituting about eight per cent of the total population of India, the tribal peoples are among the most vulnerable groups in the country. Not only do they share with other disadvantaged groups the common travails of economic deprivation, they are also faced perennially with grave threats to their cultural integrity and socio-political freedoms. This paper will try to summarise the issues faced by tribal persons in India, and the legislative and public policy interventions of the Indian state in relation to its tribal populations.

People’s Health in People’s Hands? A review of debates and experiences in community health in India
Harsh Mander
2005

This paper will attempt to review briefly the history and debates in India around community health workers and their roles and relevance to more equitable and effective public health systems and services. It will engage with debates around diverse practices in the design and implementation of CHW programmes, both in non-government micro-experiments, usually covering a small cluster of contiguous villages, and larger state-led programmes, covering the countryside in entire states or the nation as a whole. It concludes with recommendations for critical aspects of the design and implementation of CHW programmes. This review is restricted to rural health, although it is important to apply these lessons and debates to urban health care, especially for the underserved and dispossessed residents of shanties and streets in all cities and towns.

Corruption and the Right to Information
Harsh Mander

This paper explores the phenomenon of corruption by public authorities in India, particularly the civil services: its causes, dynamics and the methods and dilemmas associated with its possible control. It examines the efficacy of systemic regulation and reforms to reduce corruption, and argues that the movement for right to information in India demonstrates the critical significance of citizen vigilance and assertion in checking the corrupt and arbitrary exercise of state power. It emphasises that it is through the creation of effective legal spaces for the exercise of the people’s right to information that the most powerful, sustainable and reliable safeguards against corruption in public life can be erected.