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Editorials/Opinions Analyses For UPSC 2 October 2021

Contents

  1. Crime and the pandemic: On Crime in India report
  2. Make departments smart, first

Crime and the pandemic: On Crime in India report

Context:

The annual report, ‘Crime in India’, released by the National Crime Records Bureau released in September 2021 needs to be carefully parsed before gleaning insights or making State-wise comparisons. 

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Issues related to women, Issues related to development, Issues related to Gender, Issues related to minorities)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the report
  2. Variations in distribution of cases
  3. About NCRB
  4. Role of NCRB in government accountability

Highlights of the report

Increase

  • According to the report Delhi is the most unsafe city for women as more than 10,000 cases of crimes against women were registered in the capital in 2020.
  • Communal riots registered an increase of 96% in 2020 over 2019 – with Delhi alone registering the highest cases of communal riots in 2020. Uttar Pradesh (UP) did not record a single case of communal violence in 2020.
  • Caste riots saw an increase of close to 50%, agrarian riots 38% and riots during ‘andolan/morcha’ increased by 33%.
  • The rate of cyber crime (incidents per lakh population) also increased from 3.3% in 2019 to 3.7% in 2020.
  • Cases under the ‘environment-related offences’ category increased by 78.1% in the country in 2020.
  • Incidents of circulation of “false/fake news” and rumours, a crime under the Indian Penal Code, saw nearly a three-fold rise in 2020 over 2019.

Decrease

  • The number of cases registered for crimes against women, children and senior citizens, theft, burglary, robbery and dacoity, among others, dropped by about 2 lakh (from 2019 to 2020). However, Murder registered a marginal increase of 1%.
  • 2020 also saw a significant drop in cases related to Offences against the State, with a drop of 27% over 2019. (UP, however, was the only major state to record an increase in Offences Against State mostly due to the large number of ‘Damage to Public Property’ cases registered by the state primarily during the anti- CAA (Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019) protests.

Variations in distribution of cases

  1. Better provisions to register cases: There are significant variances in case registration across States and Union Territories, especially serious crimes pertaining to rape and violence against women. Tamil Nadu (with 1808.8 crimes per one lakh people) > Kerala with 1568.4 > Delhi with 1309.6 recorded the highest crime rates overall, but it is difficult not to see these numbers as a reflection of better reporting and police registration of cases in these States and the capital city, respectively. 
  2. Discrepancy in NCW and NCRB data: While there was an 8.3% decline in registered cases of crimes against women in 2020 (of which the bulk of them, 30.2%, were of the category “Cruelty by husband or his relatives”), this number has to be assessed along with the fact that the year saw prolonged lockdowns during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic (between late March and May 2021 in particular). This period coincided with a high number of complaints of domestic violence — the number of complaints received by National Commission for Women registered a 10-year high as of June 2020.
  3. Impact of Lockdown: It should be noted that the lockdown has also led to an overall fall in crime related to theft, burglary and dacoity.
  4. COVID-19 lockdown violation cases: The COVID-19 related disruption also led to a greater registration of cases overall (a 28% increase in 2020 compared to 2019) largely due to a 21-fold increase in cases related to disobedience to the order duly promulgated by a public servant and over four times in cases involving violations of other State local laws.
  5. Increasing Cybercrime as a cause of concern: Cybercrimes recorded an increase of 11.8% and this increase in cybercrimes is a cause for concern as this requires sharper law enforcement as seen even in highly developed societies. 
  6. Sedition as a weapon: While cases related to sedition declined from 93 in 2019 to 73 last year, Manipur and Assam led with 15 and 12 cases each. Sedition has increasingly been used as a weapon to stifle dissent and this trend needs to be reversed urgently.

About NCRB

  • NCRB was set-up in 1986 to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators based on the recommendations of the Tandon Committee to the National Police Commission (1977-1981) and the MHA’s Task force (1985).
  • Subsequently, NCRB was entrusted with the responsibility for monitoring, coordinating and implementing the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) project in the year 2009. The project connects 15000+ police stations and 6000 higher offices of police in the country.
  • NCRB launched National Digital Police Portal. It allows search for a criminal / suspect on the CCTNS database apart from providing various services to citizens like filing of complaints online and seeking antecedent verification of tenants, domestic helps, drivers etc.
  • The Bureau has also been entrusted to maintain National Database of Sexual Offenders (NDSO) and has also been designated as the Central Nodal Agency to manage technical and operational functions of the ‘Online Cyber-Crime Reporting Portal’ through which any citizen can lodge a complaint as an evidence of crime related to child pornography, rape/gang rape.
  • NCRB also compiles and publishes National Crime Statistics i.e. Crime in India, Accidental Deaths & Suicides and also Prison Statistics

Objectives of NCRB

  • Create and maintain secure sharable National Databases on crimes and criminals for law enforcement agencies and promote their use for public service delivery.
  • Collect and process crime statistics at the national level and clearing house of information on crime and criminals both at National and International levels.
  • Lead and coordinate development of IT applications and create an enabling IT environment for Police organizations.
  • National repository of fingerprints of all criminals.
  • To evaluate, modernize and promote automation in State Crime Records Bureaux and State Finger Print Bureaux.
  • Training and capacity building in Police Forces in Information Technology and Finger Print Science.

Role of NCRB in government accountability

  1. It collect and process crime statistics at the National level that help people to keep government account for any increase in crime and law and order issues.
  2. It receive from and supply data to penal and correctional agencies for their tasks of rehabilitation of criminals, their remand, parole, premature release etc. Thus any inaction is being reflected in data released by NCRB.
  3. Data released by NCRB is considered by civil societies in analysing government effectiveness in maintaining law and order, thus keeping government accountable.
  4. Crime rate and Cases of discrimination like gender discrimination when increase in society, put pressure on government and institutions to act.

-Source: The Hindu


Make departments smart, first

Context:

As India grows more urban, the importance of effective governance and service delivery by city governments becomes central to the well-being of Indians. A smart city requires good data to inform decision-making. The only reliable way to get good data is to design ‘smart systems’ that generate such data by default. 

Relevance:

GS-II: Governance (Transparency and Accountability, e-Governance, Government Policies and Initiatives), GS-III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Smart Cities Mission
  2. Definition of “Smart Cities” according to Smart Cities Mission
  3. What is Digital India Mission?
  4. Vision and Vision area of Digital India
  5. Approach and Methodology for Digital India programme are:
  6. Assessing Digitisation
  7. Way forward

About the Smart Cities Mission

  • National Smart Cities Mission is an urban renewal and retrofitting program by the Government of India with the mission to develop smart cities across the country, making them citizen friendly and sustainable.
  • The Union Ministry of Urban Development is responsible for implementing the mission in collaboration with the state governments of the respective cities.
  • While the mission initially included only 100 cities, the government later announced to expand the mission to all 4,000 cities in India.
  • Smart Cities Mission is supporting interested cities in raising finance through Municipal Bonds.
  • The Urban Learning Internship Program (TULIP) is designed for all ULBs (Urban Local Bodies) and Smart City SPVs (Special Purpose Vehicles) to engage fresh graduates as interns.
  • Climate Smart Cities and Data Smart Cities are two important programs under Smart Cities Mission.
  • The use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is at the core of enhancing the city’s liveability, workability, and sustainability.
  • The Ministry of Urban Development has identified 24 key areas that cities must address in their ‘smart cities’ plan.
  • Of these 24 key areas, 3 are directly related to water and 7 are indirectly related to water – Smart-metre management, leakage identification, preventive maintenance, and water quality modeling.
  • Smart Cities Mission is one of the mechanisms that will help operationalize the nationwide implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) priorities like poverty alleviation, employment, and other basic services.

Definition of “Smart Cities” according to Smart Cities Mission

  • Some definitional boundaries are required to guide cities in the Mission.
  • In the imagination of any city dweller in India, the picture of a smart city contains a wish list of infrastructure and services that describes his or her level of aspiration.
  • To provide for the aspirations and needs of the citizens, urban planners ideally aim at developing the entire urban eco-system, which is represented by the four pillars of comprehensive development-institutional, physical, social and economic infrastructure.
  • This can be a long-term goal and cities can work towards developing such comprehensive infrastructure incrementally, adding on layers of ‘smartness’.

What is Digital India Mission?

  • Digital India is a flagship programme of the Government of India with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
  • The Government of India approved the NeGP, comprising of 27 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) and 8 components in 2006, developed by Department of information & Technology and Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances.
  • The 11th report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2008), titled “Promoting e-Governance – The Smart Way Forward” called for government to expand its e-governance capacity.
  • In 2015 the Union Cabinet gave its approval for the Approach and Key Components of eKranti -National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) 2.0.
  • This programme provided for the establishment of Common Service Centres for citizens to have an easy access to government services through various applications.

Vision and Vision area of Digital India

The vision of Digital India programme is to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.

The Digital India programme is centred on three key vision areas:

Digital Infrastructure as a Core Utility to Every Citizen

  • Availability of high speed internet as a core utility for delivery of services to citizens
  • Cradle to grave digital identity that is unique, lifelong, online and authenticable to every citizen
  • Mobile phone & bank account enabling citizen participation in digital & financial space
  • Easy access to a Common Service Centre
  • Shareable private space on a public cloud
  • Safe and secure cyber-space

Governance & Services on Demand

  • Seamlessly integrated services across departments or jurisdictions
  • Availability of services in real time from online & mobile platforms
  • All citizen entitlements to be portable and available on the cloud
  • Digitally transformed services for improving ease of doing business
  • Making financial transactions electronic & cashless
  • Leveraging Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) for decision support systems & development

Digital Empowerment of Citizens

  • Universal digital literacy
  • Universally accessible digital resources
  • Availability of digital resources / services in Indian languages
  • Collaborative digital platforms for participative governance
  • Citizens not required to physically submit Govt. documents / certificates

Approach and Methodology for Digital India programme are:

  • Ministries / Departments / States would fully leverage the Common and Support ICT Infrastructure established by GoI. DeitY would also evolve/ lay down standards and policy guidelines, provide technical and handholding support, undertake capacity building and R&D etc.
  • The existing/ ongoing e-governance initiatives would be suitably revamped to align them with the principles of Digital India. Scope enhancement, Process Reengineering, use of integrated & interoperable systems and deployment of emerging technologies like cloud & mobile would be undertaken to enhance the delivery of Government services to citizens.
  • States would be given flexibility to identify for inclusion additional state-specific projects, which are relevant for their socio-economic needs.
  • e-Governance would be promoted through a centralised initiative to the extent necessary, to ensure citizen-centric service orientation, interoperability of various e-Governance applications and optimal utilisation of ICT infrastructure/ resources, while adopting a decentralised implementation model.
  • Successes would be identified and their replication promoted proactively with the required productisation and customisation wherever needed.
  • Public Private Partnerships would be preferred wherever feasible to implement e-governance projects with adequate management and strategic control.
  • Adoption of Unique ID would be promoted to facilitate identification, authentication and delivery of benefits.
  • Restructuring of NIC would be undertaken to strengthen the IT support to all government departments at the Centre and the State levels.
  • The positions of Chief Information Officers (CIO) would be created in at least 10 key Ministries so that various e-governance projects could be designed, developed and implemented faster. CIO positions will be at Additional Secretary/Joint Secretary level with over-riding powers on IT in the respective Ministry.

Assessing Digitisation

  • There is a five-level framework for assessing where a given function, department, or city stands in its journey of e-governance.
  • The framework sees how the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) has been able to apply digital technologies across three domains in order to work more smartly. The three domains are:
    1. Processes
    2. Human resources
    3. Citizen-centricity
  • Even the most advanced e-governance systems stand on the foundation of a simple behavioural change, i.e, going digital.
  • Records kept on papers instead of being stored digitally creates scope for errors and manipulation.

Way forward

To make the departments work more smartly and efficiently, there is a need to use digital technologies across all three domains — processes, human resources, and citizen-centricity. We need to work on:

  1. E Governance: There is a need to shift the work from regular copy pen format to digital format. This will also help us to save time, reduce errors and reduce manipulation in the system. For Example in Andhra Pradesh, ULB employees reported saving an average of 11 hours every week after a digital system was adopted.
  2. Transition period: Administration should adopt phased targets to adopt new tools. It should also provide training to the employees for their effective use.
  3. Citizen Centric: Changes should be done keeping the citizens in mind. It should be citizen-centric.
  4. Collaboration: Collaboration should be there between various government departments and with non-governmental partners as well — to create a virtuous cycle of co-creation, learning, and efficiency.

-Source: The Hindu

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