Parliament - An institution meant for the people, being used to satisfy legislators' whims and funded by the taxpayer

An editorial I read in the Hindu today morning set my mind rolling on this phenomenon of parliamentary disruption. I planned to research on this on the internet and then write an entry. To my pleasant surprise, ironically, I got a plethora of articles, posts, research and survey papers talking about the condition of governance in India. I will add them at the end of the article.

What is surprising though is that last month in an all party meet, present speaker Somnath Chatterjee, had put forward a proposal of "no work, no pay", which in a normally dormant show of solidarity was shot down by all major political parties except the Left. The audacity with which these legislators assert their right to pay would pay even the most ardent mandamus worshipping CEO to shame.

Again picking up the pieces which I left from an earlier entry, I think public apathy is one of the main causes of such blatant disregard towards rules of ethical conduct. I am reproducing here some statistics which try and measure the extent to which time, energy and money is spent on doing nothing.

According to a report prepared by the National Social Watch
Coalition, titled ‘Citizens Report on Development and Governance—2006,’
India’s current Parliamentary expenditure is Rs 72 lakh per day.

This works out to Rs 20,000 per minute. In 1951,
the cost was Rs 100 per minute. If this isn’t stunning enough, there’s
more, according to the report. Even with all this money being spent, a
lot of the time is wasted. The coalition’s survey found that the total
time wasted in pandemonium was as follows:

11th Lok Sabha,1996 to 1998: 5.28% of the time was wasted.

12th Lok Sabha, 1998 to 1999: 10.66% of the time was wasted.

13th Lok Sabha, 1999 to 2004: 22.40% of the time was wasted.

14th Lok Sabha, 2004 to 2006: 38.0% (More than 1/3 rd) was wasted in the first two sessions itself.

Rajya Sabha—201st and 202nd sessions: 46% (almost half the time) was wasted.

----- From Financial Express Website

Public Expectation: Political parties should stop being so hypocritical. Saying one thing when in power and resorting to brinkmanship when in opposition. As Hindu described aptly they are holding the Parliament at ransom.

I think we need to question the rationale behind this frequent disruption of parliamentary proceedings. What was the case made by the political parties when they shot down the proposal of Somnath Chatterjee. Can we invoke RTI in this case? What will be the questions that we will be asking?

We should surely evolve a consensus and come up with a working strategy which can make the legislators more accountable.

Link 1 : On Social Watch website

Link 2: On Business Standard Website by Sunil Jain

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