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States seek review of ban on CMs’ photos in ads

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3.States seek review of ban on CMs’ photos in ads

In May, the apex court banned publication of CMs’ pics in govt. ads

The Supreme Court on Monday sought the Centre’s response on pleas made by several State governments, including Tamil Nadu, to review its verdict banning the publication of photographs of Chief Ministers in government advertisements.

A Bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and P.C. Ghose also issued notice to NGO Common Cause, who had filed the original PIL, on the review petitions filed by the States.

The States argued that they enjoy autonomy in a federal structure of governance, and so, if the court can allow the Prime Minister’s photographs to be published in government advertisements heralding new projects and welfare schemes, Chief Ministers too have every right to have their photos published.

Personality cult’

The Supreme Court, in its May 13 judgment, had banned ruling parties from publishing photos of Chief Ministers, political leaders and politicians in government-funded advertisements, saying that it cannot allow them to use taxpayers’ money to build a “personality cult.”

The apex court said such photos divert attention from the policy of the government, unnecessarily associate an individual with a government project and pave the way for cultivating a “personality cult.”

However, as an exception to this general rule, the court held that the photos of only three constitutional authorities — Prime Minister, President and Chief Justice of India — can be used in such ads. But for that too, the personal approval of these three authorities need to be got before publication.

The judgment by a Bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N.V. Ramana had come on the basis of a series of recommendations given by a committee led by noted legal academician N.S. Madhava Menon on introducing checks on government-funded ads.

The apex court had set up the committee in April 2014 on the basis of a PIL filed by Common Cause that had argued that ruling party leaders and ministers were taking undue advantage at public expense.

4.India yet to achieve U.N. Millennium Development Goals

India is not on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals, the deadline for which expires this year.

The Statistical Year Book, brought out by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) that is overseeing progress on the MDGs, shows that only six of the 18 targets adopted as part of the eight goals in 2000 have been fully met. Another report brought out by the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific shows that India has met only four of the eight MDGs.

The key targets for the MDGs were

  1. halving poverty,

  2. ensuring universal primary school enrolment,

  3. attaining gender parity,

  4. cutting maternal mortality rates by three-fourths,

  5. cutting child mortality by two-thirds and

  6. reducing incidence of HIV/AIDS, among others.

As per the official figures, India has managed to halve poverty rates from the 1990 levels, ensure gender parity in primary school enrolment, reversed incidence of HIV/AIDS, and reduced malaria and TB deaths.

However, India continues to lag behind in checking maternal mortality and child mortality to expected levels. It has failed to address prevalence of hunger as well. As per the Census 2011 report, 89 million children in the age group 0-3 were malnourished, with 35.6 million among them underweight. The failure to improve access to sanitation, with half of the country’s households lacking a latrine, remains a major concern as well.

Even in areas where India claims to be close to meeting its targets, such as reversing the incidence of malaria and TB, the disease burden continues to be high in terms of absolute numbers. As the year book shows, 1.8 million persons develop TB every year, and until recently, 3.7 lakh persons died annually, or 1,000 persons every day.

Another target was to achieve a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020. But, the report says that it is not “statistically discernible” if the target was met. As per the Census 2011, a 37.14 per cent decadal growth was observed in the number of slum households, making it a significant challenge for the country. As for the other two targets of environmental sustainability and partnerships for development with other countries, official reports say India is on track.

Experts, however, dispute the government’s claims and flag the absence of quality data as a challenge in monitoring the country’s progress on the targets.

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