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08-July-2024-Special-Article

July 8 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm

CABINET COMMITTEES 

The Union government of India recently established eight Cabinet Committees to streamline decision-making and improve governance efficiency. This action was accompanied by changes in oath-taking rules for Members of Parliament (MPs), underscoring the government’s commitment to organizational and procedural reforms. 

Cabinet Committees 

About Cabinet Committees 

  • Definition: Subsets of the Union Cabinet, consisting of selected Union Ministers. 
  • Purpose: Streamline decision-making by dividing responsibilities among different groups. 
  • Functions: Examine issues in detail and manage complex matters efficiently before presenting them to the full Cabinet for final approval. 
  • Principles: Based on the division of labour and effective delegation. 

Types of Cabinet Committees 

  1. Standing Committees: Permanent in nature. 
  1. Ad Hoc Committees: Temporary, established to deal with special problems. 

Features of Cabinet Committees 

  • Extra-Constitutional Nature: Not mentioned in the Constitution but provided for in the Rules of Business. 
  • Legal Basis: Executive in India operates under the Government of India Transaction of Business Rules, 1961, derived from Article 77(3) of the Constitution. 
  • Membership: 
  • Set up by the Prime Minister according to current needs. 
  • Membership ranges from three to eight, usually including Cabinet Ministers. 
  • Non-Cabinet Ministers can also be included. 
  • If the Prime Minister is a member, they typically preside over the committee. 
  • Functions: 
  • Sort out issues and formulate proposals for Cabinet consideration. 
  • Can take decisions, subject to Cabinet review. 

List of 8 Cabinet Committees 

  1. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA): Focuses on economic policies and development. 
  1. Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC): Handles appointments to key posts. 
  1. Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS): Deals with national security and defence. 
  1. Cabinet Committee on Accommodation: Manages allocation of government accommodation. 
  1. Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs: Oversees legislative business and parliamentary affairs. 
  1. Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs: Handles political issues and strategies. 
  1. Cabinet Committee on Investment and Growth: Focuses on investment promotion and economic growth. 
  1. Cabinet Committee on Skill, Employment and Livelihood: Addresses employment and livelihood issues. 

Recent Changes 

  • Home Minister’s Role: Sole Cabinet member in all committees. 
  • Prime Minister’s Role: Heads all committees except the Committee on Accommodation and the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs. 
  • Appointments Committee: No changes; headed by the Prime Minister with the Home Minister as the sole member. 

Parliamentary Committees 

About Parliamentary Committees 

  • Definition: Specialized committees formed to handle detailed parliamentary work. 
  • Purpose: Ensure detailed scrutiny, discussion, and investigation into specific matters. 
  • Types: Include Standing Committees, Departmentally Related Standing Committees (DRSCs), and more. 

Groups of Ministers (GoMs) 

About GoMs 

  • Definition: Ad hoc bodies formed to give recommendations to the Cabinet on emergent issues. 
  • Functions: Some are empowered to make decisions, while others provide recommendations. 
  • Effectiveness: Act as instruments of coordination among ministries. 
  • Composition: Ministers heading relevant ministries are included, and they are disbanded once their task is completed. 

Lok Sabha Speaker Amends Oath-Taking Rules for MPs 

About the Amendment 

  • New Clause: Added to ‘Direction 1’ within the ‘Directions by the Speaker’ to manage specific matters not covered by existing rules. 
  • Clause 3: MPs must take and subscribe to the oath without adding any words or expressions as prefixes or suffixes. 

Challenges of Cabinet Committees 

Overlapping Mandates 

  • Issues: Leads to delays, inefficiency, and conflicts between committees. 
  • Effects: Proposals get stuck, and decisions are slow. 

Lack of Expertise 

  • Issues: Committees may lack subject matter experts. 
  • Effects: Poorly informed decisions with unintended consequences. 

Information Silos & Poor Communication 

  • Issues: Committees operate in isolation, not sharing information. 
  • Effects: Creates blind spots, hinders a holistic approach, and leads to duplication of effort. 

Political Pressure & Short-termism 

  • Issues: Political considerations may prioritize short-term gains over long-term planning. 
  • Effects: Leads to reactive measures instead of proactive solutions. 

Lack of Accountability & Transparency 

  • Issues: Decisions may be shrouded in secrecy. 
  • Effects: Erodes trust and reduces accountability. 

Concentration of Power 

  • Issues: Decision-making authority may rest with a few committees or individuals. 
  • Effects: Excludes valuable perspectives and leads to unbalanced decisions. 

Way Forward 

Clear Mandate 

  • Actions: Clearly define committee mandates to avoid ambiguity. 
  • Suggestions: Establish a central conflict resolution body for inter-committee disputes. 

Expert Appointment 

  • Actions: Appoint subject matter experts as advisors or temporary committee members. 
  • Suggestions: Partner with external think tanks for specialized knowledge. 

Better Information Sharing 

  • Actions: Implement a centralized information-sharing platform for all committees. 
  • Suggestions: Establish regular inter-committee briefings to foster collaboration. 

Long-Term Goals 

  • Actions: Mandate committees to develop long-term strategic plans alongside short-term action items. 
  • Suggestions: Integrate independent economic or social impact assessments into decision-making. 

Accountability 

  • Actions: Regularly release meeting minutes and summaries. 
  • Suggestions: Ensures accountability and transparency. 

Broad-Based Consultation 

  • Actions: Invite other cabinet members as special invitees. 
  • Suggestions: Make the consultation process more inclusive and comprehensive. 

Conclusion 

Cabinet Committees and Parliamentary Committees play a crucial role in India’s governance by streamlining decision-making and ensuring detailed scrutiny of issues. However, they face challenges such as overlapping mandates, lack of expertise, and political pressures.  

By addressing these challenges through clear mandates, expert appointments, better information sharing, and enhanced accountability, the effectiveness and efficiency of these committees can be significantly improved. 

Mains Question: 

  1. “Discuss the role and significance of Cabinet Committees in the Indian governance system. Highlight the recent changes and challenges faced by these committees and suggest measures to enhance their effectiveness.” (150 WORDS)

Details

Date:
July 8
Time:
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category:
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