Editorial Notes

Editorial Notes 3rd January 2017

Election Symbols: How EC decides when parties split; India’s Urban Management; Recent measures taken to urbanize India; Participatory urban planning; Performance of AMRUT mission
By IT's Editorial Notes Team
January 03, 2017


GS (M) Paper-1: “urbanization, their problems and their remedies.”


Rediscovery Of Urban India



India is moving away from villages and is set to soon become more urban. To meet this demographic transition, experts say that we need to build 22 new Bengalurus besides recasting the landscape of the present 4,041 cities for a better living.

India’s Urban Management:

  • Long years of vacillation since Independence about our approaches to urban management, dilemma over the relevance of urbanisation to our socio-economic context along with weak policy approach have taken a very heavy toll of life in urban areas as one sees now.
  • This, despite the universal acknowledgement that urbanisation drives economic growth due to the attendant advantages of urban agglomerations.

Recent measures taken to urbanize India:

  • The Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched in 2005 was no doubt the first concerted effort to make a difference to the urban chaos.
  • However due to its poor implementation, the JNNURM fell much short of intentions.

Participatory urban planning:

  • Objectivity and transparency in selection of cities and allocation of central resources under new urban missions are now the rule of law.
  • This is based on urban population and the number of statutory urban local bodies in each State.
  • Till 2014, every project needed for a city was being appraised and approved in New Delhi. With this ‘top-down’ planning, there was no sense of involvement in and ownership of new schemes by city and State governments.
  • Consequently, project and investment approvals were being accorded in the last two quarters of a financial year causing implementation delays.
  • Citizen participation in urban planning and project prioritisation are now made mandatory. About one crore citizens contributed to the making of ‘smart city’ plans.
  • Urban planning is now made ‘bottom up’ and the results are showing.

Performance of AMRUT mission:

  • The first priority under AMRUT is to ensure water supply connections to the 2.25 crore urban households that are deprived of them, followed by improving sewerage networks, drainage and non-motorised urban transport. Developing one park in each city every year is mandatory.
  • The Smart Cities Mission seeks to ensure core infrastructure, including health care and education, in an identified area besides improving service delivery across the city through information and communications technology-based solutions.
  • The focus has shifted from a project-based approach to area-based outcomes.

How funding is done?

  • The Ministry of Urban Development has started approving investments for the next three financial years under AMRUT during this year.
  • This enables city and State governments to realise mission targets by the stipulated time through advance planning.
  • Cities are now looking at public-private partnership and value capture financing with a changed mindset.
  • Online integrated single-window clearance for construction permits is being put in place to improve ease of doing business.
  • States have also been empowered to spend more on cities further to devolution of 42 per cent of divisible resources, a hike of 10 per cent over earlier sharing.

Results of these changes:

  • Involvement of citizens, increased sense of ownership of new urban missions by city and State governments coupled with delegation of powers are yielding results.
  • States just can’t send half-baked and shoddy projects to Delhi as the financial year draws to a close.
  • Under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Smart Cities Mission meant for improving urban infrastructure, there shall be a comprehensive assessment of infrastructure deficit before drawing up city-level action plans.
  • Cities have been empowered to add to their technical capabilities. And now there is clear evidence that cities are rising to the occasion by rediscovering themselves
  • Over 500 cities and towns have already become open defecation-free. Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Sikkim have already declared all cities and towns as open defecation-free as the Swachh Bharat Mission gains momentum as a people’s movement.

 [Ref: The Hindu]


GS (M) Paper-2: “Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.”


Who gets symbol? How EC decides when parties split

Symbols Order, 1968:


  • On the question of a split in a political party outside the legislature, Para 15 of the Symbols Order, 1968, states: “When the Commission is satisfied… that there are rival sections or groups of a recognised political party each of whom claims to be that party the Commission may, after taking into account all the available facts and circumstances of the case and hearing (their) representatives… and other persons as desire to be heard decide that one such rival section or group or none of such rival sections or groups is that recognised political party and the decision of the Commission shall be binding on all such rival sections or groups.”
  • This applies to disputes in recognised national and state parties. For splits in registered but unrecognised parties, the EC usually advises the warring factions to resolve their differences internally or to approach the court.

How did the EC deal with such matters before the Symbols Order came into effect?

  • Before 1968, the poll panel issued notifications and executive orders under the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961.
  •  The most high-profile split of a party before 1968 was that of the Communist Party of India in 1964.
  • A breakaway group approached the ECI in December 1964 urging it to recognise them as CPI(Marxist).
  • They provided a list of MPs and MLAs of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and West Bengal who supported them.
  •  The ECI recognised the faction as CPI(M) after it found that the votes secured by the MPs and MLAs supporting the breakaway group added up to more than 4% in the 3 states.

Is there a way other than the test of majority to resolve a dispute over election symbols?

  • In almost all disputes decided by the EC so far, a clear majority of party delegates/office bearers, MPs and MLAs have supported one of the factions.
  • Whenever the EC could not test the strength of rival groups based on support within the party organisation (because of disputes regarding the list of office bearers), it fell back on testing majority only among elected MPs and MLAs.
  • Only in the case of the split in the AIADMK in 1987, which happened after the death of M G Ramachandran, the EC was faced with a peculiar situation. The group led by MGR’s wife Janaki had the support of the majority of MPs and MLAs, while J Jayalalithaa was supported by a substantial majority in the party organisation.
  • But before the EC was forced to make a decision on which group should retain the party symbol, a rapprochement was reached.

What happens to the group that doesn’t get the parent party’s symbol?

  • In the case of the first Congress split, the EC recognised both the Congress (O) as well as the breakaway faction whose president was Jagjivan Ram.
  • The Congress (O) had a substantial presence in some states and satisfied the criteria fixed for recognition of parties under Paras 6 and 7 of the Symbols Order.
  • This principle was followed up to 1997. However, things changed when the Commission dealt with the cases of splits in the Congress, Janata Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party.
  • The disputes led to the creation of Himachal Vikas Congress, Manipur State Congress, West Bengal Trinamool Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Biju Janata Dal, etc.
  •  The EC in 1997 did not recognise the new parties as either state or national parties. It felt that merely having MPs and MLAs is not enough, as the elected representatives had fought and won polls on tickets of their parent (undivided) parties.
  • The EC introduced a new rule under which the splinter group of the party — other than the group that got the party symbol — had to register itself as separate party, and could lay claim to national or state party status only on the basis of its performance in state or central elections after registration.
[Ref: Indian Express]


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