Each year during the Budget Session, Rajya Sabha examines the working of certain ministries. This year it has identified four ministries for discussion, which includes the Ministry of Home Affairs. In light of this, we analyse some key functions of the Ministry and the challenges in carrying out these functions.
What are the key functions of Ministry of Home Affairs?
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is primarily responsible for: (i) maintenance of internal security, (ii) governance issues between the centre and states, and (iii) disaster management. It also discharges several other key functions that include: (i) border management, (ii) administration of union territories, (iii) implementation of provisions relating to the official languages, and (iv) conducting the population census every ten years.
Under the Constitution, ‘public order’ and ‘police’ are state list subjects. The MHA assists the state governments by providing them: (i) central armed police forces, and (ii) financial assistance for modernising state police forces, communication equipment, weaponry, mobility, training and other police infrastructure.
What is the role of the central armed police forces?
The MHA manages seven central police forces: (i) Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) which assists in internal security and law and order, (ii) Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) which protects vital installations (like airports) and public sector undertakings, (iii) National Security Guards which is a special counter-terrorism force, and (iv) four border guarding forces, namely, Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Assam Rifles (AR).
As of January 2017, the total sanctioned strength of the seven CAPFs was 10. 8 lakhs. However, 15% of these posts (i.e., about 1.6 lakhs posts) were lying vacant. The vacancy in the CAPFs has remained above 7% for the last five years (see Table 1). In 2017, the Sashastra Seema Bal had the highest vacancy (57%). The CRPF, which accounts for 30% of the total sanctioned strength of the seven CAPFs, had a vacancy of 8%.
How does MHA assist the police forces?
In Union Budget 2018-19, Rs 1,07,573 crore has been allocated to the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Ministry has estimated to spend 82% of this amount on police. The remaining allocation is towards grants to Union Territories, and other items including disaster management, rehabilitation of refugees and migrants, and the Union Cabinet.
The MHA has been implementing Modernisation of Police Forces (MPF) scheme since 1969 to supplement the resources of states for modernising their police forces. Funds from the MPF scheme are utilised for improving police infrastructure through construction of police stations, and provision of modern weaponry, surveillance, and communication equipment. Some other important objectives under the scheme include upgradation of training infrastructure, police housing, and computerisation.
The scheme has undergone revision over the years. A total allocation of Rs 11,946 crore was approved for the MPF scheme, for a five-year period between 2012-13 to 2016-17. Following the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission (to increase the share of central taxes to states), it was decided that the MPF scheme would be delinked from central government funding from 2015-16 onwards. However, in September 2017, the Union Cabinet approved an outlay of Rs 25,060 crore under the scheme, for the period 2017-18 to 2019-20. The central government will provide about 75% of this amount, and the states will provide the remaining 25%.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has found that weaponry in several state police forces is outdated, and there is a shortage of arms and ammunitions. An audit of Rajasthan police force(2009-14) found that there was a shortage of 75% in the availability of modern weapons against the state’s requirements. In case of West Bengal and Gujarat police forces, CAG found a shortage of 71% and 36% respectively. Further, there has been a persistent problem of underutilisation of modernisation funds by the states. Figure 1 shows the level of utilisation of modernisation funds by states between 2010-11 and 2016-17.
What are the major internal security challenges in India?
Maintaining internal security of the country is one of the key functions of the MHA. The major internal security challenges that India faces are: (i) terrorist activities in the country, (ii) cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, (iii) Left Wing Extremism in certain areas, and (iv) insurgency in the North-Eastern states.
Between 2015 and 2016, the number of cross-border infiltrations in Jammu and Kashmir increased by almost three times, from 121 to 364. On the other hand, incidents of insurgency in Left Wing Extremism areas have decreased from 1,048 in 2016 to 908 in 2017.
The Standing Committee on Home Affairs noted in 2017-18 that security forces in Jammu and Kashmir are occupied with law and order incidents, such as stone pelting, which gives militants the time to reorganise and perpetrate terror attacks. The Committee recommended that the MHA should adopt a multi-pronged strategy that prevents youth from joining militancy, curbs their financing, and simultaneously launch counter-insurgency operations.
In relation to Left Wing Extremism, the Standing Committee (2017) observed that police and paramilitary personnel were getting killed because of mine blasts and ambushes. It recommended that the MHA should make efforts to procure mine-resistant vehicles. This could be done through import or domestic manufacturing under the ‘Make in India’ programme.
What is the MHA’s role in border management?
India has a land border of over 15,000 kms, which it shares with seven countries (Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan, and Afghanistan). Further, it has a coastline of over 7,500 kms. The MHA is responsible for: (i) management of international lands and coastal borders, (ii) strengthening of border guarding, and (iii) creation of infrastructure such as roads, fencing, and lighting of borders.
Construction of border outposts is one of the components of infrastructure at border areas. The Standing Committee on Home Affairs (2017) noted that the proposal to construct 509 outposts along the India-Bangladesh, and India-Pakistan borders had been reduced to 422 outposts in 2016. It recommended that such a reduction should be reconsidered since 509 outposts would reduce the inter-border outpost distance to 3.5 kms, which is important for the security of the country.
How is coastal security carried out?
Coastal security is jointly carried out by the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, and marine police of coastal states and Union Territories. The MHA is implementing the Coastal Security Scheme to strengthen the marine police of nine coastal states and four Union Territories by enhancing surveillance, and improve patrolling in coastal areas. Under this scheme, the Ministry sought to construct coastal police stations, purchase boats, and acquire vehicles for patrolling on land, among other objectives.
The Standing Committee on Home Affairs (2017) observed that the implementation of Phase-II of this scheme within the set time-frame has not been possible. It also noted that there was lack of coordination between the Indian Navy, the Indian Coast Guard, and the coastal police. In this context, the Committee recommended that the Director General, Indian Coast Guard, should be the nodal authority for coordinating operations related to coastal security.
The National Anti-Doping Bill, 2021 is listed for passage in Rajya Sabha today. It was passed by Lok Sabha last week. The Bill creates a regulatory framework for anti-doping rule violations in sports. It was examined by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports, and some of their recommendations have been incorporated in the Bill passed by Lok Sabha.
Doping is the consumption of certain prohibited substances by athletes to enhance performance. Across the world, doping is regulated and monitored by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) which is an independent international agency established in 1999. WADA’s primary role is to develop, harmonise, and coordinate anti-doping regulations across all sports and countries. It does so by ensuring proper implementation of the World Anti-Doping Code (WADA Code) and its standards. In this blog post, we discuss the need of the framework proposed by the Bill, and give insights from the discussion on the Bill in Lok Sabha.
Doping in India
Recently, two Indian athletes failed the doping test and are facing provisional suspension. In the past also, Indian athletes have been found in violation of anti-doping rules. In 2019, according to WADA, most of the doping rule violations were committed by athletes from Russia (19%), followed by Italy (18%), and India (17%). Most of the doping rule violations were committed in bodybuilding (22%), followed by athletics (18%), cycling (14%), and weightlifting (13%). In order to curb doping in sports, WADA requires all countries to have a framework regulating anti-doping activities managed by their respective National Anti-Doping Organisations.
Currently, doping in India is regulated by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), which was established in 2009 as an autonomous body under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. One issue with the existing framework is that the anti-doping rules are not backed by a legislation and are getting challenged in courts. Further, NADA is imposing sanctions on athletes without a statutory backing. Taking into account such instances, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports (2021) had recommended that the Department of Sports bring in an anti-doping legislation. Other countries such as the USA, UK, Germany, and Japan have enacted legislations to regulate anti-doping activities.
Framework proposed by the National Anti-Doping Bill, 2021
The Bill seeks to constitute NADA as a statutory body headed by a Director General appointed by the central government. Functions of the Agency include planning, implementing and monitoring anti-doping activities, and investigating anti-doping rule violations. A National Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel will be set up for determining consequences of anti-doping rule violations. This panel will consist of legal experts, medical practitioners, and retired athletes. Further, the Board will constitute an Appeal Panel to hear appeals against decisions of the Disciplinary Panel. Athletes found in violation of anti-doping rules may be subject to: (i) disqualification of results including forfeiture of medals, points, and prizes, (ii) ineligibility to participate in a competition or event for a prescribed period, (iii) financial sanctions, and (iv) other consequences as may be prescribed. Consequences for team sports will be specified by regulations.
Initially, the Bill did not have provisions for protected athletes but after the Standing Committee’s recommendation, provisions for such athletes have been included in the Bill. Protected persons will be specified by the central government. As per the WADA Code, a protected person is someone: (i) below the age of 16, or (ii) below the age of 18 and has not participated in any international competition in an open category, or (iii) lacks legal capacity as per their country’s legal framework
Issues and discussion on the Bill in Lok Sabha
During the discussion on the Bill, members highlighted several issues. We discuss these below-
Independence of NADA
One of the issues highlighted was the independence of the Director General of NADA. WADA requires National Doping Organisations to be independent in their functioning as they may experience external pressure from their governments and national sports bodies which could compromise their decisions. First, under the Bill, the qualifications of the Director General are not specified and are left to be notified through Rules. Second, the central government may remove the Director General from the office on grounds of misbehaviour or incapacity or “such other ground”. Leaving these provisions to the discretion of the central government may affect the independence of NADA.
Privacy of athletes
NADA will have the power to collect certain personal data of athletes such as: (a) sex or gender, (ii) medical history, and (iii) whereabout information of athletes (for out of competition testing and collection of samples). MPs expressed concerns about maintaining the privacy of athletes. The Union Sports Minister in his response, assured the House that all international privacy standards will be followed during collection and sharing of data. Data will be shared with only relevant authorities.
Under the Bill, NADA will collect and use personal data of athletes in accordance with the International Standard for the Protection of Privacy and Personal Information. It is one of the eight ‘mandatory’ standards of the World Anti-Doping Code. One of the amendments moved by the Union Sports Minister removed the provision relating to compliance with the International Standard for the Protection of Privacy and Personal Information.
Establishing more testing laboratories across states
Currently India has one National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL). MPs raised the demand to establish testing laboratories across states to increase testing capacity. The Minister responded by saying that if required in the future, the government will establish more testing laboratories across states. Further, in order to increase testing capacity, private labs may also be set up. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports (2022) also emphasised the need to open more dope testing laboratories, preferably one in each state, to cater to the need of the country and become a leader in the South East Asia region in the areas of anti-doping science and education.
In August, 2019 a six-month suspension was imposed on NDTL for not complying with International Standard for Laboratories (ISL) by WADA. The suspension was extended for another six months in July, 2020 due to non-conformity with ISL. The second suspension was to remain in effect until the Laboratory complies with ISL. However, the suspension was extended for another six months in January, 2021 as COVID-19 impacted WADA’s ability to conduct an on-site assessment of the Laboratory. In December, 2021 WADA reinstated the accreditation of NDTL.
Several athletes in India are not aware about the anti-doping rules and the prohibited substances. Due to lack of awareness, they end up consuming prohibited substances through supplements. MPs highlighted the need to conduct more awareness campaigns around anti-doping. The Minister informed the House that in the past one year, NADA has conducted about 100 hybrid workshops relating to awareness on anti-doping. The Bill will enable NADA to conduct more awareness campaigns and research in anti-doping. Further, the central government is working with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to test dietary supplements consumed by athletes.
While examining the Bill, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports (2022) recommended several measures to improve and strengthen the antidoping ecosystem in the country. These measures include: (i) enforcing regulatory action towards labelling and use of ‘dope-free’ certified supplements, and (ii) mandating ‘dope-free’ certification by independent bodies for supplements consumed by athletes.