The Hindu Editorial Summary

Editorial Topic : On the Size of Council of Ministers

 GS-2 Mains Exam : Polity

Revision Notes


Question : Discuss the historical evolution of the Council of Ministers in India from the first government under Jawaharlal Nehru to the present day. How has the size and composition of the Council changed over time?

  • The recent swearing-in of the Union Council of Ministers (COM) under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reignited the debate on its size.
  • With 30 Cabinet Ministers, 5 Ministers of State (MoS) with independent charge, and 36 MoS, the current Council of Ministers is substantial.
  • This editorial examines the concept of the Council of Ministers, the constitutional limits on its size, and the ongoing issues surrounding its composition.


Council of Ministers (COM) in India

Constitutional Framework

  • India’s parliamentary democracy vests executive power in the Council of Ministers, headed by the Prime Minister. Article 74 of the Constitution mandates a Council of Ministers to “aid and advise” the President, who is the nominal head of state.
  • Ministers must be members of Parliament (either Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha) or become members within six months of appointment.
  • The Constitution itself doesn’t categorize Council of Ministers members into distinct ranks.
  • The current practice, with Cabinet Ministers holding senior positions and Ministers of State (MoS) assisting them, is derived from the British parliamentary system.
  • Ministers of State (MoS) with independent charge report directly to the Prime Minister.

Size and Structure:

  • No constitutional limit on total number of ministers, but capped at 15% of Lok Sabha strength by 91st Amendment (2003).
  • Minimum of 12 ministers for states.
  • Cabinet Ministers (senior) handle large portfolios.
  • Ministers of State (MoS) assist Cabinet Ministers.
  • MoS with independent charge report directly to PM.

Historical Context:

  • First Council of Ministers under Nehru (1947) had 15 ministers.
  • Gradual increase over time, reaching 50-60 by late 20th century.
  • United Front governments (1996-97) had smaller Council of Ministers (21-34 ministers).


The Parliamentary Secretary Issue:

  • PS post (derived from British system) used by some states to potentially circumvent Council of Ministers size limit.
  • High Courts in several states have questioned or struck down PS appointments.

Concerns with Large Council of Ministers:

  • Can become unwieldy and hinder decision-making.
  • Difficulty in ensuring effective management of various portfolios.

Optimal Council of Ministers Size:

  • Needs to balance representation and efficiency.
  • 15% cap (91st Amendment) a reasonable step.


  • Strict curbs needed on PS appointments to uphold the spirit of the constitutional limit.
  • Political parties must find alternative ways to accommodate aspirations for ministerial positions.
  • Ongoing challenge: balancing inclusivity and efficiency in the Council of Ministers.




The Hindu Editorial Summary

Editorial Topic : Solid Waste Management (SWM) Cess in India

 GS-2 Mains Exam : Polity

Revision Notes



Question : What is the Solid Waste Management (SWM) cess, and why is it essential for Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in India? Discuss the financial and operational challenges ULBs face in managing solid waste, using Bengaluru as an example.

What is Solid Waste Management (SWM) cess?

  • User fee or cess levied by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to cover the cost of Solid Waste Management (SWM) services.
  • Follows the provisions of Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.

Why is it levied?

  • Offering SWM services is expensive:
    • ULBs spend 80% of manpower and up to 50% of annual budget on SWM.
    • Bengaluru generates 5,000 tonnes of solid waste daily.
    • Requires extensive resources like collection vehicles, compactors, and sanitation workers.

SWM service costs:

  • Collection & transportation: 85-90% of SWM budget (resource-intensive).
  • Processing & disposal: 10-15% of SWM budget.

Challenges in SWM:

  • Waste composition:
    • 55-60% wet biodegradable waste.
    • 40-45% non-biodegradable waste.
    • Only 1-2% recyclable dry waste.
  • Low processing efficiency:
    • Only 10-12% of wet waste gets converted to compost/biogas.
    • Operational revenue from processing covers only 35-40% of expenses.
  • Disposal of non-compostable/recyclable waste:
    • Needs transportation to distant facilities (400-500 km).
  • Financial burden on ULBs:
    • Large cities spend 15% of budget on SWM (e.g., Bengaluru: ₹1,643 crore).
    • Revenue from SWM services is negligible (e.g., Bengaluru: ₹20 lakh/year).

Possible solutions to reduce SWM cess:

  • Segregation of waste at source.
  • Reduction in single-use plastic.
  • Decentralized composting initiatives.
  • Public awareness campaigns to prevent littering.
  • Bulk waste generators processing their own waste.


  • Balanced approach with user charges and efficient SWM operations can lead to cleaner cities.





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