The Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana was launched last week, for the development of model villages. Under the Yojana, Members of Parliament (MPs) will be responsible for developing the socio-economic and physical infrastructure of three villages each by 2019, and a total of eight villages each by 2024.
The first Adarsh Gram must be developed by 2016, and two more by 2019. From 2019 to 2024, five more Adarsh Grams must be developed by each MP, one each year. This implies that a total of 6,433 Adarsh Grams, of the 2,65,000 gram panchayats, will be created by 2024. Key features of the Yojana are outlined below.
Key objectives of the Yojana include:
Identification of villages
MPs can select any gram panchayat, other than their own village or that of their spouse, to be developed as an Adarsh Gram. The village must have a population of 3000-5000 people if it is located in the plains, or 1000-3000 people if located in hilly areas.
Lok Sabha MPs can choose a village from their constituency, and Rajya Sabha MPs from the state from which they are elected. Nominated members can choose a village from any district of the country. MPs which represent urban constituencies can identify a village from a neighbouring rural constituency.
No new funds have been allocated for the Yojana. Resources may be raised through:
A Village Development Plan must be created for each Adarsh Gram. While each village will develop a list of activities to be carried out, based on its own resources and requirements, possible activities have been listed in the guidelines for the scheme. For example, Adarsh Grams can work towards providing universal access to basic healthcare facilities, promoting diversified livelihoods through agriculture related livelihoods and skill development, providing pension for all eligible families, housing for all, and promoting social forestry.
The table below outlines key functionaries at the national, state, district, and village level and their responsibilities.
Table 1: Roles and responsibilities of key functionaries
|Level||Functionary||Key roles and responsibilities|
|National||Member of Parliament||
|Two committees, headed by the Minister of Rural Development, and Secretary, Rural Development, respectively.*||
|State||A committee headed by the Chief Secretary||
|Village||Gram Panchayat and functionaries of schemes (at various levels)||
Note: *These committees will include members from other Ministries.
Sources: Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana Guidelines, Ministry of Rural Development; PRS
A web based monitoring system will be established to enable the MP and other stakeholders to monitor the scheme. Outputs relating to physical and financial targets will be measured each quarter. A mid-term evaluation and post-project evaluation will be conducted through an independent agency.
More information on the scheme is available in the guidelines for the scheme, here.
On June 13, 2022, the West Bengal government passed a Bill to replace the Governor with the Chief Minister, as the Chancellor of 31 state public universities (such as Calcutta University, Jadavpur University). As per the All India Survey on Higher Education (2019-20), state public universities provide higher education to almost 85% of all students enrolled in higher education in India. In this blog, we discuss the role of the Governor in state public universities.
What is the role of the Chancellor in public universities?
State public universities are established through laws passed by state legislatures. In most laws the Governor has been designated as the Chancellor of these universities. The Chancellor functions as the head of public universities, and appoints the Vice-Chancellor of the university. Further, the Chancellor can declare invalid, any university proceeding which is not as per existing laws. In some states (such as Bihar, Gujarat, and Jharkhand), the Chancellor has the power to conduct inspections in the university. The Chancellor also presides over the convocation of the university, and confirms proposals for conferring honorary degrees. This is different in Telangana, where the Chancellor is appointed by the state government.
The Chancellor presides over the meetings of various university bodies (such as the Court/Senate of the university). The Court/Senate decides on matters of general policy related to the development of the university, such as: (i) establishing new university departments, (ii) conferring and withdrawing degrees and titles, and (iii) instituting fellowships.
The West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 designates the Chief Minister of West Bengal as the Chancellor of the 31 public universities in the state. Further, the Chief Minister (instead of the Governor) will be the head of these universities, and preside over the meetings of university bodies (such as Court/Senate).
Does the Governor have discretion in his capacity as Chancellor?
In 1997, the Supreme Court held that the Governor was not bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, while discharging duties of a separate statutory office (such as the Chancellor).
The Sarkaria and Puunchi Commission also dealt with the role of the Governor in educational institutions. Both Commissions concurred that while discharging statutory functions, the Governor is not legally bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. However, it may be advantageous for the Governor to consult the concerned Minister. The Sarkaria Commission recommended that state legislatures should avoid conferring statutory powers on the Governor, which were not envisaged by the Constitution. The Puunchi Commission observed that the role of Governor as the Chancellor may expose the office to controversies or public criticism. Hence, the role of the Governor should be restricted to constitutional provisions only. The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 also mentions this recommendation given by the Puunchi Commission.
Recently, some states have taken steps to reduce the oversight of the Governor in state public universities. In April 2022, the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly passed two Bills, to transfer the power of appointing the Vice-Chancellor (in public universities) from the Governor, to the state government. As of June 8, 2022, these Bills have not received the Governor’s assent.
In 2021, Maharashtra amended the process to appoint the Vice Chancellor of state public universities. Prior to the amendment, a Search Committee forwarded a panel of at least five names to the Chancellor (who is the Governor). The Chancellor could then appoint one of the persons from the suggested panel as Vice-Chancellor, or ask for a fresh panel of names to be recommended. The 2021 amendment mandated the Search Committee to first forward the panel of names to the state government, which would recommend a panel of two names (from the original panel) to the Chancellor. The Chancellor must appoint one of the two names from the panel as Vice-Chancellor within thirty days. As per the amendment, the Chancellor has no option of asking for a fresh panel of names to be recommended.