Fish Marketing in Parliament

Often I wonder at the Indian parliamentary sessions, “Is this the parliament or fish market?” There is complete pandemonium and unparliamentarily words used. Both treasury and opposition members bother not to attend the session when they are not speaking. This is common cutting across the parties. Most of the members do not know the bills tabled for discussion. Their situation is reduced to the level of ordinary man on the street. Those who watch the proceedings in the parliament pity the status of MPs. When there is no time to discuss the important issues and constituency matters, speaker gets nervous. In that time of cold-feet there are too many changes in the chairperson of the house. Speaker slips away when the situation goes out of his control or he gets bored of the session. The speaker invites deputy speaker who after few minutes passes the chair to another. It goes on and on.

The Times of India (24.12.2008, p.1) reports that the parliament had met for only 32 days this year and the expectation that it should meet for a minimum of 100 days was not going to be fulfilled by a long margin. In the past, Lok Sabha had met for as many as 151 days in 1956 but just 98 and 109 days in the 1976 and 1985, respectively. In 1999, it had met for 51 days.

Eight bills were passed in a matter of 17 minutes. The speaker passes by saying that the ayes ayes have it without taking a look at the house. It has become customary for the speaker to push the bill and get out of the house for the day. The speaker’s job has become a nursery school teacher. Like stick in hand and regular shouting at the children in class, speaker exhausts all his energy in the parliament. At least in the school, children learn something positive and go home. In parliament there is no improvement.

In the last session of the parliament, the critical South Asian University Bill was passed without any debate. Similarly the criminal procedure code amendment and Lakshadweep election contestants’ bill were introduced and passed in the same speed.

The reasons for this gloomy parliamentary culture are many. First it is the overall social culture which is reflected in the parliament. There is an increase in intolerance. Very people can lend their ears more than open their mouths. Result of this no tolerance culture is seen in the parliament also. It can be connected to the high riding consumer economy. Second, those who were elected to the parliament were not trained adequately. Due to this untrained people even seasoned parliamentarians are changing their nature. It was uncommon to see long serving parliamentarians going for physical tit for tat in the past. But today there is an unequal matching of disruption of the parliament by showing their physical and shouting prowess. Three, criminalization of the public sphere and politics has casted the parliament in a wrong shadow. According to the Public Affairs Centre, Bangalore, 23.2% of those elected to parliament are criminals. They carry serious charges like murder, extortion, rape and abductions.

One cannot change the parliament without changing the society. In the past Parliament contributed to the positive changes in the society. That was when the constructively thinking parliamentarians and tolerant human beings were inside the house. This is the instant result expecting generation. Not only they need immediate gains but the new culture is wrongly influencing the disciplined people. Principle is dead; any means mobility is thriving. In this situation a long term social surgery is needed. It is an egg comes first or chicken comes first situation. The right track moving socio-political leaders should introspect and act at the earliest to save the August institution.


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