Siddu govt bogged down by challenges galore

Dithers over regulating professional colleges, but rejects KPSC list for 2011 over irregularities

Siddu govt bogged down by challenges galore

Year 2014 went without any big announcements from the Siddaramaiah government which entered into its second year in office. Looking back at the year, one finds that the State government struggled to take challenges in its stride and sometimes even deterred in taking forward some of its own programmes.

Take for instance the government’s flagship ‘Anna Bhagya scheme’ of providing BPL families rice at Re one per kg. Announced soon after the government assumed office in May 2013, the programme is yet to be streamlined.

There have been complaints galore with regard to rice meant for the scheme being diverted to the open market, procurement of substandard rice and grains decaying in godowns, among others.

However, the scheme has brought smiles on the faces of the poor. It is an open secret that the BPL card holders are using and misusing the rice almost given free by selling it in the open market. The government has done least to curtail this trend.

The government could not take a firm stand on implementing the provisions of the Karnataka Professional Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Determination of Fee) Act, 2006, to regulate admission and determine the fee structure in private medical, dental and engineering colleges.

The Act provides that private professional colleges earmark 50 per cent of seats for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.

Besides, the fee structure would be determined by a fee regulatory committee and admission would be monitored by an admission overseeing committee. However, the government succumbed to pressure from private managements and kept the bill in abeyance stating that it would be implemented with changes from the academic year 2015-16.

Getting special status under Article 371(J) of the Constitution for the Hyderabad-Karnataka region (comprising six districts of  Kalaburagi, Yadgir, Raichur, Bidar, Koppal and Ballari) which provides for quota in public employment and education for local population had come as a shot in the arm for the State government.

However, one year down the line, confusion prevails. Many departments are yet to complete the mapping of posts, which is required to implement the quota system.

This has resulted in delay in filling 1.94 lakh vacancies in government departments. The indecision has hit the Health department hard, which is at the receiving end for lack of sufficient number of doctors in primary health centres.

This was obvious from the way Health Minister U T Khader was heckled by the Opposition as well as the Assembly Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa at the winter session of the legislature in Belagavi.

The excuse on the part of the government on the administrative delay was that the model code of conduct was in place for the Lok Sabha polls and later for the bypolls held for a few Assembly constituencies. But it did not come out with alternatives like hiring manpower on contract to meet the demand.

In May, the Supreme Court upheld a Karnataka High Court judgment, striking down an executive order issued by the State government in 1994 to impose K annada or mother tongue as medium of instruction in primary schools from classes I to IV. The apex court held that the State’s directive infringed upon the right to freedom of expression.

The government initially spoke of bringing in legislation to ensure Kannada or mother tongue is the medium of instruction in unaided primary schools. It backtracked, following advice by legal experts that the move would not stand legal scrutiny.

The government then sought to take up the issue at the national level seeking the need for consensus among all states on the medium of instruction in the country.

The government must be commended for rejecting the final list of 362 candidates selected by the Karnataka Public Service Commission (KPSC) for the post of Group ‘A’ and ‘B’ gazetted probationers notified in 2011 after affirming that there had been rampant corruption in the selection process.

The government did send a strong message that it would not tolerate corruption and malpractices in the examination system of the Commission. The government has now directed the KPSC to conduct the 2011 examination afresh by following the systems and procedures recommended by the PC Hota Committee, constituted to suggest changes to ensure accountability and transparency in the recruitment process.

The year witnessed the Cauvery issue being raised by the then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha, who wanted the newly sworn NDA government to immediately constitute the Cauvery Water Management Board to supervise sharing of Cauvery water among river basin states. While Karnataka opposed, the issue, however, fizzled out on its own.

The Siddaramaiah government is known for reversing its decisions - it could be for good or bad. It is ending the year by indicating that it may reverse its decision to discipline religious institutions.

With mounting criticism against the amendment to the Karnataka Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, as proposed at the Belagavi legislature session, the Cabinet on December 23 reportedly decided to withdraw the amended draft bill. The government has often reversed its decision, indicating that it thinks after acting.
DH News Service

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