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IAS library current 19-04-2018

Should BCCI come under the ambit of RTI?

Relevancy:

ü  GS Prelims, GS Mains paper II, IV

ü  Polity and Governance, Right to Information, BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India), Public Authority definition

Recently:

  • The Law Commission has submitted a report, according to which, the BCCI should be declared a Public Body and hence be brought under the ambit of the Right to Information Act for Public Scruntiny.

What is a Public Authoroty as per the RTI Act?

Did You Know?

Article 12 of the Indian Constitution defines what comprises “State”. A citizen of India can move the Court for the infringement of his Fundamental Rights against the entity/body/organisation that qualifies for the definition of state under Article 12.

Artcle 12 reads: “the State” includes the Government and Parliament of India and the Government and the Legislature of each of the State and all local or other authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India.

It means any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted:

  • by or under the Constitution;
  • by any other law made by Parliament;
  • by any other law made by State Legislature;
  • by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government and includes:
    • any body owned, controlled or substantially financed
    • non-Government organization substantially financed

directly or indirectly by the appropriate Government.

A background of BCCI and its governance:

  • Initially, it was registered as a society under the T.N. Societies Registration Act. But this status was withdrawn in 2009.
  • Draft ‘National Sports Development Bill 2013’ has recommended that all the National Sports Federations be declared as Public Authorities under the RTI Act.
  • In the aftermath of the IPL spot fixing case, the Supreme Court had appointed “Lodha Committee’ to suggest reforms in the BCCI.
  • Lodha Committee recommended reforms in the structure and functioning of the BCCI.
  • In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that though the BCCI doesn’t qualfy for the definition of a ‘state’ as per article 12 of the constitution, yet it was amenable to the writ jurisdiction as it performs ‘public fnctions’.
  • In Jan 2017, the SC appointed a 4 member committee to run the BCCI.
  • In June 2017, the CIC (Chief Information Commissioner) favoured bringing the BCCCI under the RTI Act.

Why should BCCI be declared as a Public Authority?

  1. Affects the Fundamental Rights of the Citizens:
  • The board’s monopolistic activities, directly and indirectly, affect the fundamental rights of citizens, players, and other functionaries.
  1. Corruption concerns:
  • The board has been flying under the radar of public scrutiny and encouraged an environment of opacity and non-accountability.
  • It has created an impression in the minds of the general public that corruption and other forms of malpractices are adversely affecting one of the most popular sports played in India.
  1. BCCI exercises ‘state-like’ powers:
  • Since the BCCI exercises ‘state-like’ powers in the regulation of cricket, and thus, comes under the definition of ‘state.’
  • BCCI is a “limb of the state” as it is permitted de factoby the state to represent the country at the international stage.
  1. The government provides “Indirect Substantial Funding” to the BCCI:
  • As per the Law commission report, the BCCI has enjoyed a tax exemption of approximately Rs 21.6 billion between 1997 and 2007.
  • If the government is foregoing a substantial amount of money, which otherwise would have been deposited in the state exchequer, then BCCI qualifies for the definition of ‘Public Authority”. (because it is indirectly being funded by the government in the form of subsidies and exemptions).
  1. BCCI acts like a National Sports Federation (NSF):
  • The BCCI virtually acts as a National Sports Federation (NSF). If it is officially declared as an NSF by the Ministry, then it would automatically come within the purview of the RTI Act.
  • It selects the Indian cricket team. The selected players wear the national colours and are the recipients of Arjuna awards.
  • The ICC recognises BCCI as the ‘official’ body representing India and neither the government, nor BCCI have ever challenged, discussed or changed the status.

 

Reset of India’s neighborhood policy

Relevancy

ü  G.S. Paper 2

ü  India’s neighborhood policy

ü  Movies that are on the mend

ü  Territorial integrity

Recently:

  • Over the past few months the government’s foreign policy moves represent a profound shift in its thinking about the neighborhood.

What are the moves that are on the mend?

The “reset” with China:

  • The trigger for the rapprochement between the two neighbours was the peaceful resolution of the Doklam standoff and Mr. Modi’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Xiamen last year.
  • To begin with, the government has taken care not to respond with any heat to reports of the Chinese build-up at Doklam.
  • Keeping its responses cool, New Delhi has been repeating that the Doklam standoff point is untouched and Chinese construction on their side of the boundary is “not a threat” to India.
  • The government has also gone to some lengths to tone down planned celebrations marking the anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s arrival from Tibet.
  • New Delhi and Beijing have now embarked on a flurry of high-level visits that are meant to lead up to a summit meeting between the two leaders; they may even meet more than once.
  • The shift has given rise to speculation that the two sides are intent on making significant progress in smoothening ties on outstanding issues such as boundary negotiations and also narrowing the trade deficit.

In South Asian region:

This flexibility is also mirrored in the government’s dealings in the South Asian region.

With Maldives:

  • Despite several appeals by the Maldivian opposition, and nudges from the U.S., the Modi government decided not to exert hard power in bringing Maldives President Abdulla Yameen around after he declared a state of emergency in the country.
  • Nor did it engage China in a confrontation when Mr. Yameen sought Beijing’s support in this regard.
  • The government remained silent as Male went a step further and held discussions with Pakistan’s Army Chief, Gen. on joint patrolling of its Exclusive Economic Zone, an area of operation in the Indian Ocean considered to be India’s domain.

With Nepal:

  • Instead of seeing red when Prime Minister K.P. Oli made it clear that he would step up engagement with China in infrastructure development, India rolled out the red carpet for him earlier this month.
  • Nor did India raise concern over Nepal’s Constitution which had sparked the confrontation between India and Nepal in 2015-16.

Bhutan and Bangladesh:

  • There has also been outreach to Bhutan and Bangladesh in recent weeks.
  • Both Bhutan and Bangladesh are to hold elections this year, and with incumbent governments more favourably disposed to New Delhi than their challengers in the opposition, the results will have an impact on India’s influence in these countries as well.

Quiet progress with Pakistan:

  • This year, the government admitted in Parliament for the first time that National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval had met his Pakistani counterpart, as a part of “established channels of communications at various levels” between the two sides in the past few years, post-Pathankot.
  • Meanwhile, the resolution of the standoff over the treatment of diplomats in Delhi and Islamabad indicates that neither government has the appetite for escalation at this point.

The next steps:

  • Overall it seems that India’s hard power strategy in the region is being replaced with a more conciliatory one.
  • However, the next steps will be defined not by a quiet or defensive approach to redefining India’s foreign policy in the region, but with a more bold and proactive one.
  • The reset with China will work only if there are transactional dividends for both New Delhi and Beijing. Two issues on which both governments can show flexibility are China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and India’s bid for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership.
  • On the NSG, China could remove its block to India’s membership by adopting a more inclusive approach within the nuclear export control organisation.
  • The goodwill from such a move would propel India-China relations forward.
  • On the BRI, if there is political will on both sides, they needn’t look too far for creative solutions around India’s three concerns: on territorial integrity, transparency of projects and their sustainability.

Territorial integrity-

  • The solution is contained in a proposal under consideration — to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan.
  • The shift from the CPEC to what could be called PACE or the Pakistan-Afghanistan-China Economic corridor would necessitate a shift away from projects in Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
  • Those projects may still be built and funded by China, but then would not constitute a part of the BRI route; as a result, India’s concerns on sovereignty could be dispensed with.
  • Several countries, from Europe to Central and East Asia, are now echoing India’s concerns about the environmental and debt trap risks that BRI projects pose.
  • India could take the lead in creating an international template for infrastructure and connectivity proposals, one that would seek to engage China and other donor countries in a structured approach towards debt financing.
  • This would win India goodwill in the neighbourhood too, where every other country (apart from Bhutan) has signed on to the BRI but has felt alienated by India’s rigid opposition to the initiative.

SAARC re-engagement:

  • The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit is to take place this year, with Pakistan as the host.
  • India’s decision on attending the meeting should be rational.
  • Afghanistan, which supported India’s move to pull out of the SAARC summit in Islamabad in 2016 following the Uri attacks, is engaging with Pakistan again.
  • Sri Lanka and Nepal, both sympathetic to India’s outrage over Uri, are pushing for a summit this year.

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