Deja vu hits India's parliament

 
India parliament The legislative output of India's parliament has declined

There is a feeling of deja vu over the present impasse in the parliament.

Last year, the parliament sat for 73 days for over 800 hours. Around 30% of the time was lost due to disruptions, according to the watchdog PRS Legislative Research. A total of 54 bills were listed for consideration and passing into law. Only 28 were actually passed. Some 97 bills were pending when the parliament shut.

Things began on a rosier note this year.

Nearly 90% of the time available during the budget session - March to May with a three-week recess in April - was productive, "significantly higher than the productive time registered in the last few sessions", according to PRS. Twelve bills were passed, and 17 new bills were introduced. Over 100 bills were pending at the end of the session.

And suddenly, it's yesterday once more.

The ongoing monsoon session - with 20 sittings between August and September - has been deadlocked since Tuesday with the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over a report that India lost $33bn (£20bn) by selling coalfields cheaply.

Mr Singh has offered to make a statement on the government's position, but the BJP, "choosing agitation over debate" as one newspaper describes it, says nothing short of Mr Singh's resignation will satisfy them.

Look at what India is losing out on.

During the ongoing monsoon session, there are some 29 pending bills for consideration and passing into laws.

These include laws to prevent money laundering, checking corruption, protecting women from sexual harassment at workplace, protecting whistle blowers, amending laws relating to banking and marriage, and regulating higher education, among other things.

But the possibility of these bills being debated or passed looks bleak with every passing day.

Stuck between what many say is an evasive and indecisive government and a belligerently intransigent opposition, bipartisanship appears to have suffered an irretrievable breakdown. This does not bode well for the future of India's democracy.

India's parliament has had a chequered history.

The first 13 parliaments passed more than 3,200 bills, but the legislative output slowed down in the 1990s as India's politics fragmented and political instability grew.

As Devesh Kapur and Pratap Bhanu Mehta argued in a paper, political instability and a divided parliament - with the ruling coalition often a minority in the upper house - contributed to the slowing down of output.

They also believe that the parliament takes itself less seriously today, "starkly evident" in the declining number of days it is in session - the number of sittings has declined by about a third since 1950s.

Putting the government on the mat through robust debate is the job of a feisty, vibrant opposition party; but paralysing the house with grandstanding and an obdurate go for broke attitude makes it look petulant and irresponsible. When will India's political parties stop making a scene and begin debating more in the parliament?

 
Soutik Biswas Article written by Soutik Biswas Soutik Biswas Delhi correspondent

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 47.

    Food for thought (raised by Arun Shourie)- dilatory tactics in Parliament to "the presence of too many lawyers in every political party" who unleashed a barrage of arguments & counter arguments. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Arun-Shourie-frowns-on-BJPs-parliamentary-tactics-over-coalgate/articleshow/15684118.cms

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 46.

    Well this is a very narrow view. What is the need of passing new legislation when there is rampant corruption with the present set of them? Possibly the only loss is the money spent in working of parliament, which according to one estimate is $0.2 million per day. But then the present disruption is for $33000 million dollar scam. I think we need action now and not just debates.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 45.

    Mr. Biswas, Thank you for another eye opening article. We knew about not-so-well functioning Parliament, but stat confirm our views.
    I guess lots of things are wrong with our democracy, but at the same time we should be proud of what we have achieved. After all keeping this many people, with so many cultures together with the right to vote is not a small task.
    http://vikisviews.blogspot.com/

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 44.

    The ruling UPA 2 passes Bills it wants for electoral gains even if it ruins the economy and so will the majority in any state govt pass Bills suiting them like BJP,SP,NCP etc.The Bills passed are not properly executed by the Govt and the ordinary rural poor labourer,farmer and the city labourers lives are not seriously changed in these Legislated Bills as they are not empowered by these Bills.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 43.

    Mr. Biswas, Thank you for another eye opening article. We knew about the not-so-well functioning Parliament, but stat confirm our views.
    I guess lots of things are wrong with our democracy, but at the same time we should be proud of what we have achieved. After all keeping this many people, with so many cultures together, with the right to vote is not a small task.
    www.vikisviews.blogspot.com

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 42.

    @ Ram (37). Clearly you did not read the article(#20).
    Few Indians do prosper after going away, after getting exposure &/or educated abroad. You can check few interviews of recent Indian origin noble prize winner, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan.
    Do u know why they go away? Why India's last Noble was in 1930? Why investors like Vinod Khosla do not invest in India?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 41.

    @ Ram (37). There are hundreds of such IT & other companies set up by Indian or Indian origin people. Some in India too (Wipro etc). Not a single one is based on novel, innovative technology/product. Having a degree frm IIT or Harvard or Oxbridge never guarantee academic/research excellence either. Thank God, you did not mention those Lala companies for having "valuable" IT & Biotech companies!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 40.

    @ Ram (37). So you consider those people succeeded on the basis of ACADEMIC excellence? I'm not sure what you mean by academic! Setting up a company (even knowledge based one) does NOT imply academic excellence of the founder. Was the company developed any NOVEL technology/product by its owner? NO. They may be great entrepreneurs / venture capitalist (eg Mr Khosla) but not on academic excellence.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 39.

    Unfortunately, there are more crooks per sq. in in India than anywhere in the world with the possible exception of Nigeria. corruption is a way of life and everybody from the PM to the clerk is on the take. The ruling party controls the security apparatus (police, cbi, cid) so corrupt politicians get away. The country needs a benevolent dictator not westminster style democracy.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 38.

    It's very much in vogue & fashionable to "move on" (bypassing the issue, without solving the problem). people, politician, businessmen- all say "lets move on". How can we "move on" on something that is core of many (if not all) problems? How can we get a different result doing the same thing again & again? "Govt urges opposition to allow parliament to function"! Why shd they allow?

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 37.

    Romesh T. Wadhwani founder chairman of Symphony Technology Group 15,000 employees. In 1991, Wadhwani founded Aspect Development, maker of software. In 2000 Wadhwani sold Aspect for 9.3 billion. Wadhwani had a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay. Other names Sanjiv Sidhu, Vinod Khosla, Need more names?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 36.

    If we sincerely & honestly can agree on a target, we always can settle any issue. At the worst case, we always can disagree politely & let the other person pursue a different route. That happened many times during freedom struggle & early phase of Indian democracy. Then people used to trust politicians- they earned it. But no more. Even politicians themselves do not trust each other now.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 35.

    @ Ram (29). As per reports, India is among the LEAST innovative countries in the world (along with China)- not only in terms of innovation/invention but also in terms of probability & time to market a new product/technology. Entrepreneurship is also hereditary there- within specific class of people. lately, success became synonymous to corruption / crime there.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 34.

    @ Ram (29). Have you ever seen any employer who criticizes his/her most obedient & laborious employee? It makes perfect sense for Bill Gates to "praise" IIT or Indians. Even US government/politicians always praise Islam & any other community/religion- more so after 9/11.
    Can you name a single Indian billionaire who succeeded on academic excellence- in India or abroad? I do not know any!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 33.

    All debacles of parliament sittings, opposition parties are RESPONSIBLE. Do they want to have another PM? Do they think that is a primary school kids game of who will be next Monitor in a class. We want progress NOT such kind of brainlessness act in parliament. They must have forgotten but every Indian is annoyed, upset over the situation and they demand new political system with educated People.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 32.

    Current political system and politicians are unaware that for every parliament sittings money requires coming from tax payers and on top of that current report on Indian tax payers show that only 30% Indian pay taxes: actually on 10-12% in reality pay taxes.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 31.

    Sonia Gandhi is directly responsible for this sad state of affairs.She installed a completely muted and shameless puppet whose honesty has turned out to be a big smokescreen while the nation is being pillaged by LicenseRaj billionaires at the fastest rate before the big Foreign corporates come to take over.Sonia or Rahul should become the PM and be responsible.Team Anna ur our only Hope.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 30.

    28 Jay
    I absolutely hate corruption in all its forms. Given power I would attack it at all levels ASAP.

    I grew up in a village in UP. My father told me there were two types of Indians. Ones who have money and power and the other who do not and would never have them. Fortunately slowly and surely it all started happening in front of our lives.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 29.

    24, 25 Jay,
    I am sad you do not read or hear all the praise and recognition bestowed on Indian immigrants in US, UK and other countries for their contributions. Praisers include high level politicians, academics, business leaders, news media and everyone else. The number of Indian millionaires and billionaires basically succeeded on the basis what they built on their academic excellence.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 28.

    @ Ram(26). It all depends on which side one is- for corruption (i.e those who r befitted & naturally want to maintain the status quo) or against it.
    Do you agree that social mobility in today's India the lowest than ever before? The probability of a child from less fortunate background to die rich &/or powerful is far less now. I request you to read the article I posted (#20) & then discuss.

 

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