If you have been following the Parliamentary proceedings in the past few years, it would not come as a surprise to you that the 2015 Winter Session of the Parliament saw the least number of bills being passed since 2010. If countries like UK take pride in not wasting a single Parliamentary hour, we in India could perhaps gloat about the exact opposite, of wasting as many hours as possible. Perhaps this in many ways emphasise the sorry state of our democracy more than ever. A mechanism that was created to keep the spirit of democracy alive in every piece of legislature is now the tool of Politian to settle part y and individual scores.
A Delhi based think-tank PRS Legislative compiled some interesting and jaw dropping facts with regard to our Parliamentary proceedings:
- In this session, the majority of productive time was spent on non legislative business
- Discussions were mainly on issues like price rise, drought and floods,
- There was a two-day special sitting on Commitment to India’s Constitution
- A total of 8 Bills were passed in this session
- Of the 7 Bills that Rajya Sabha passed, 6 were without discussion
- 14 Ministries did not answer any starred question orally
- Only three Ministries answered more than 40% of the questions orally
Not only that this 20-day Session was adjourned Sine Die after a complete washout in the Monsoon Session. The all important GST Bill did not see the light of day yet again and the issues like the National Herald case kept disrupting the house functioning.
While the Opposition has been blamed on several occasion and rightfully, the Government too needs to chalk out a clear game plan to ensure smooth functioning of the Parliament and pave the way for important legislation to be passed as fast as possible. According to Pawan Kumar Bansal’s report way back in 2012, the average cost of running the House during session is a whopping Rs 2.5 lakh/minute. But the issue I guess transcends beyond mere monetary considerations.
Though we pride on being one of the biggest democracies in the world, the lack of constructive debate has led to woeful degradation of lifestyle from basic sanitation needs, to public education to safety women. We are faced with gaping holes everywhere. Perhaps iti is time the Government and the Opposition cleaned up their act and joined hands to make this a better democracy not just bigger.