Of Bills and Bandhs – The People’s voice and Parliament

English: People taking part in protests in sup...

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The nation watches once again, as Anna Hazare holds a symbolic fast at Jantar Mantar today, to protest at the manner and form in which the Lokpal Bill has been tabled in the Winter Session. Team Anna has launched a no hold’s barred assault on politicians, political parties and parliamentarians for their duplicity in dealing with issues of Corruption.

The stridency of their tone is a matter of concern to some, and the hypocrisy of politicians posturing with him on stage, is sickening. Nevertheless, having watched the chaos in Parliament this Winter session, it is hard not to agree with those who believe, that both the Treasury benches and the Opposition, have conspired to paralyse Parliament, in an attempt to block debate on, and passage of the Jan Lok Pal bill.

One does not have to be a conspiracy theorist, to find something very odd, in the timing and manner, that the FDI in Retail decision, was sought to be pushed through, and later abandoned. Equally, the determination of the opposition to stall Parliamentary proceedings, rather than utilise this brief session to pass the many important bills that are pending, is a matter of grave concern.

Dr Mahatir Mohammed, ex Prime Minister of Malaysia, said on a visit to India last week, reflecting on our Parliamentary proceedings that we had “too much democracy”. Responding, in a debate hosted by Rajdeep Sardesai, on CNN IBN, I said, the truth was, that we actually had too little.

Democracy is a gift – witness the passion of the Arab Spring and the hunger with which its message is being adopted from Syria to Russia. Talking dismissively of Democracy undermines its value and the sacrifice made by those who won it for us.

Parliament is considered the temple of Democracy. The cavalier manner, in which our Parliamentarians have repeatedly treated Democratic procedure, within Parliament, leads one to believe that they simply fail to hear the voice of those who have elected them. Their job is to debate on and pass legislative bills – not to call a bandh in Parliament every time they wish to deliver a political message.

The current Winter session in Parliament has only 21 sittings. 31 Bills have been listed for Consideration and Passing.

In addition to the Lokpal Bill, these include a number of very important legislations, which demand urgent attention, considered debate and swift passage, such as :

  • The Whistle Blowing act or The Public Interest Disclosure & Protection to Persons Making the Disclosures Bill : The bill was tabled in Aug 2010 – in the meanwhile 12 RTI activists have been murdered in the past year
  • The Judicial Standards & Accountability Bill : Estimates are that it will take 320 years to clear the backlog of 31.28 million cases pending in the various courts of India
  • Women’s Reservation Bills : The 108th and 110th amendments of the Constitution, reserving 1/3 of seats for women in the Lok Sabha & State Assemblies and 50% in Panchayats tabled in 2008 and 2009 respectively
  • Protection of Children from Sexual Offences : A Govt of India study in 2007 revealed that 53% of an estimated 420 million children under the age of 18 had undergone some form of sexual victimisation

In addition to the bills above, there are another 27 significant bills pending for consideration and passage.

There are also a further 23 bills listed for introduction, including significant bills that demand careful attention and discussion such as the Companies Bill, 2011; The Mines & Minerals (Development & Regulation) Bill; The Enforcement of Security Interest & Recovery of Debt Laws; The North Eastern Areas Reorganisation Bill and the Nuclear Regulatory Authority Bill, amongst others. Even a cursory glance at the names of these bills indicates how crucial they are for our nation. (Note: more details on all of the above can be found on the website http://www.prsindia.org.)

As a citizen of India, I want the Lokpal Bill passed. I would like to see it passed in this session of Parliament. I would like to watch a reasoned debate on the bill and its various provisions in Parliament. I would like to see which Parliamentarians support the bill and who opposes it and understand why. And in addition I would like to see our MP’s attend Parliament for every remaining hour in this session, and discuss and pass the remaining 30 bills that have been tabled for passage.

It is time that the voice of the Indian People is heard in Parliament. It is time that our MP’s and MLA’s do the job they were elected for and earn not just their salaries, but the trust we have reposed in them.


11 thoughts on “Of Bills and Bandhs – The People’s voice and Parliament

  1. Pingback: Assembly Bill: Court backs away from test of whether Constitution comes first « uppercaise

  2. If people elected the government to run the show, they (including the opposition) should allow the government to run the show. I am sure there is a legislation wherein if majority of the people think tt the govt. is not doing a good job they can force a mid-term poll. Why just listen to what Anna demands ? Why just his Clauses of Jan Lokpal Bill? Let the Parliament do what best or worst they can do…… Let the dissatisfaction amongst the people increase so that they can get a better government for themselves nexttime around . Lets not depend on Anna…….. If people were foolish to elect the government, they still could be foolish supporting Anna’s Armtwisting moves(who knows)…… I do agree that an Anna was needed to create the awareness….but hope its not Anna Hazare Vs govt. rather than ppl of India vs govt…… I SERIOUSLY HOPE GOVT passes the Lokpal to the best of its abilities(I mean its limited ability) in the democratic setup, RATHER than bowing down to Anna’s fasting. And then let PEOPLE of INDIA Outst the government for not being sensitive to their demands/needs.

  3. In dwapar yug for change God Vishnu taken birth as Krishna to make change & in Kalyug I am sure Anna Hazare is one . Thank God you kept your promise as mentioned in the Geeta, “Yada Yada hi Dharmsaya glanin bharvati Bhartam , Abhuthanam hi dharmasaya tadatmanam srijamahiam.

    • True Santraj – we are lucky as a nation to have the protection and Blessings of our Gods. However a question that often comes to mind is does this prevent us, as citizens from being more active, and taking the responsibility of improving matters ourselves ?

  4. Agree, considerable continuous improvement in the awareness of process of transformation has taken place in 2011. Making ‘law superseding relationships’ as fashion in Indian culture will create social control that address root cause of corruption. Great start by Anna & his team

  5. What is also cause for concern is the irreverence of Parliament in the eyes of the people, agitators & most importantly MPs themselves. MPs loyalties are only to their parties & not to Parliament or even the people. This is a strange situation wherein these MPs seem to have no responsibility to the people of India. The other issue is the overlap of politics & governance. India desperately needs reform which would delineate politics from governance. We desperately need a reset of the political system. The people are ready for it.

  6. First of all, I’m in agreement with you and all the facts mentioned in this article. It has now become pragmatic that “voice of the Indian people not be heard in Parliament, however, justice to be given for the same”. The today’s reality in India is Systemic issue, much bigger than anyone’s comprehensiveness, and politicians are part of the system.

    The citizen’s movement is extremely important and would certainly play a vital role to bring change in the system as well as build pressure on political vertical for more accountability and transparency. Sometimes, politicians / political party’s not in power take advantage of citizen’s movement and that not for country’s benefit. However, equally, caution is essential as citizen’s movement doesn’t destabilize the country. In case of any transition, nation don’t have alternatives and Supreme Court / President to manage such a large nation even for shortest possible time, may lead to major concerns.

    The constant dialogue / negotiations between citizen’s forum, opposition parties, bureaucracy and concern bodies / organisation / individuals etc and arriving at consensus for the larger benefit of the nation, may be one option. However, it would be also seen to much democracy…….

    The ideal combination, self-less individuals managing the nation guided by intellect ( people, use of technology etc), work towards Vision India on World Map as well as supported by stringent legislation and of course educated, unbiased Indians. And such scenario, no one can ensure……….

    Today, I can only comment, the process of change in this nation has started and it would go through many phases and its a very long process with substantial or marginal improvements at every phase in different verticals of the system as nation has many many challenges.There is no one model or ready model available, but the models of improvements or models for change or model for India’s development will be continuously evolving. So let’s participate and contribute in a positive manner and make India for better future………….

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