PRS Monthly Policy Review: Highlights Of March 2020 Report: Part III

SC rules in favour of permanent commission to women in the Army

The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of granting permanent commission to all women officers in the Army in its non-combat services. The services in the Army are broadly classified into:

  • combat arms,
  • combat support arms, and
  • services

Currently, women officers are eligible to work in all non-combat services through a Short Services Commission (SSC, for a tenure of 14 years). In February 2019, the Ministry of Defence granted Permanent Commission to SSC women officers in ten services of the Army, such as Signals, Engineers and Army Aviation.

The Court observed that a woman officer who has worked for 14 years does not get pension or retirement benefits. Further, it found that submissions made by the government discriminate against women, as they are based on stereotypes and socially ascribed gender roles. The Court directed that at the stage of opting for the grant of permanent commission, women SSC officers shall be entitled to same choices at the same terms as their male counterparts.

Further, SSC women officers who are granted permanent commission will be entitled to all consequential benefits including promotion and financial benefits. The Court granted the government three months’ time to implement the order.

Ease of Living Index and Municipal Performance Index 2019 launched

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launched two assessment frameworks: the Ease of Living Index 2019, and the Municipal Performance Index 2019. These indices will assess the quality of life of citizens in 100 Smart Cities and 14 other million plus cities.

  • The Ease of Living Index 2019 will assess ease of living of citizens across three categories: quality of life, economic ability and sustainability.
  • These are further divided into 14 categories across 50 indicators.
  • Under this assessment, a Citizen Perception Survey is also being conducted, which will capture the citizens’ perception about the quality of life in their cities.
  • Under the Municipal Performance Index 2019, the performance of municipalities will be assessed based on five categories.
  • These are service, finance, planning, technology and governance. These have been further divided into 20 sectors which will be evaluated across 100 indicators.
  • The data across cities will be collected and collated by nodal officers. According to the Ministry, such assessment will help municipalities in better planning and management, filling the gaps in city administration, and improving the livability of cities for its citizens.
Consultation paper released on Strategy for National Open Digital Ecosystems

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology released a consultation whitepaper on “Strategy for National Open Digital Ecosystems (NODE)”. It refers to a national strategy for enabling digital governance. The key components of such an ecosystem are:

  • public digital infrastructure comprising digital platforms from the government such as Aadhaar and GST network,
  • laws to govern the infrastructure with regard to data privacy, security, and domain-specific policies and standards, and
  • community leveraging this infrastructure to create value for all.

An example of NODE is the eTransport Mission Mode Project under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. It comprises of two applications- Vahan and Sarathi which automate the vehicle registration and driver licensing operations respectively. The availability of this digitised data enables this platform to provide services to various entities including citizens, automobile dealers, insurance companies, and police. Further, the platform ensures data integration with other systems such as stolen vehicle data from National Crime Record Bureau and insurance data from Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority.

It also provides interoperability with external applications such as payment gateways and DigiLocker.

The paper outlines the following key guiding principles for a NODE:

  • openness and interoperability,
  • reusability and shareability,
  • ensuring security and privacy,
  • defining accountable institutions, and
  • enabling effective grievance redressal