On the 60th Independence day of India, several articles are published in the print media highlighting the democratic values adhered to in India during the last 6 decades; about the Constitution; the Institutions like Parliament, Courts, Election Commission etc. They have all more or less content that democracy is flourishing in India.
But, no one cared to suggest improvements!
No doubt, democracy is flourishing in India. The parliament and the State assemblies are conducting sessions regularly, discussing important matters, and legislating. But to one, who is looking at the sessions, in live electronic media, they are a pathetic sight. What with the shouting and fighting; breaking of the mikes; government representatives trying to silence the opposition; opposition not heeding the speaker; suspending of the entire opposition out of the house; marshals snatching away the members…….so on and so on!
WHY DON’T WE REVISE THE PROCEDURES ADOPTED IN THE HOUSES?
Usually the day starts in the house with ‘Question Hour’ as per the age old prevailing practice. As the questions raised by the members to the Government were considered to be of great importance to the public, the question hour was regarded as the most important part of the proceedings and hence the priority.
The public were thrilled to read about the questions and the answers in the print media the next day and discussed how their representatives were extracting information from the Government and how at times the Government was facing critical situations. The best example of the relevance of the question hour was portrayed in one of the Novels of famous writer Jeffery Archer.
As this was the case, when some things considered important by the opposition, demanding immediate attention of the house, they used to place ‘adjournment motions’ in the house. Meaning, the Question hour has to be adjourned to enable immediate discussion on the matters raised in the adjournment motion. At times, the speaker, basing on the urgency of the matter, allowed the motions, adjourning the question hour! The public felt proud that their representatives were taking up the matters of public interest in right earnest.
But now, the question hour has become irrelevant. The audience do not know what are the questions asked, who asked the question etc. Simply the speaker reads out the question number and asks the concerned Minister about his answer. The Minister or his representative answer in mono-syllables like ‘for point a) the answer is ‘No Sir’, for b) ‘Not true Sir’, for c) ‘the question does not arise Sir’. What the members of the house or the Government or the watching public gain from such sessions is only known to God. More over, after the Right to Information Act (though it is not being utilized to the fullest extant) there is no need for the Question Hour!
Recently, it has become a habit for all the political parties in the house to shower adjournment motions on the speaker, some times with ridiculous matters such as ‘a person has publicly scolded our leader and there as to be urgent discussion in the house’! So also it has become customary for the speaker to declare that all the adjournment motions are ‘declined’, thereby lessening the importance of the really urgent matters. At times, it seems to the public that some speakers are aiding the Government in postponing discussions and to face the opposition on urgent public matters.
When the house is in sessions, every day one can see the routine: Speaker calling the house to order, declaring that all the adjournment motions are declined, calling for answer to the days 1st question, the opposition raising cries about their adjournment motions or some allegations against the Government, Speaker not allowing the members to speak and asking to proceed with the question hour, the members moving to the well of the house, leader of the house moving a motion for suspension of the opposition members, the motion declared as ‘carried out’ by the Speaker, the suspended members refusing to go away, the marshals lifting them and practically throwing them out, agitation by the other members and the house declared as ‘adjourned’. What a waste of public money!
Why not, for a change, start the session by placing before the house by the Speaker himself, the important Public issues, raised by the print media the previous day? And asking the Government to react and tell the public the facts?
Just Think of it!
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2 months ago