IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 26th Sep 2020
Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny. – C.S. Lewis
EDITORIAL HUNT #157 :“Parliamentary Democracy in India | UPSC“
Parliamentary Democracy in India | UPSC
Valerian Rodrigues is a former professor at Mangalore University and Jawaharlal Nehru University
Parliamentary scrutiny on the back burner
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : Parliamentary Democracy
The basic tenets of Parliamentary democracy are deliberation , discussion and reconsideration . In the purview of recent Farmer’s Bill 2020 discuss the role of Parliamentary Committees.(GS 2)
- Gandhian thought
- Role of Executive
- Fault-lines in Committees
- WHY PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY : Their reasons varied from the political culture to the proverbial social diversity of India.
- GANDHIAN SWARAJ : The Gandhian idea of swaraj that were construed as not easily amenable to forge representative institutions characteristic of parliamentary democracy.
PROVIDING THE LEAD
- DEFENDING PARLIAMENTARY SETUP : There were many who forcefully defended the appropriateness of parliamentary democracy for India on grounds of representativeness, responsiveness and accountability.
- RESPONSIVE GOVERNMENT : They argued that the wielders of power have to continuously demonstrate their responsiveness to public interest on a day-to-day basis in this dispensation.
- SIMILARITIES : There is a running thread across the Constituent Assembly Debates that Parliament at the Centre and legislatures in the States .
- FOCAL POINT : These would be the key institutions around which parliamentary democracy in India would revolve.
- PROVIDING A LEAD : Much rested on Parliament to provide a lead in this regard.
- COMMITTEE SYSTEM : Over the years, the Indian Parliament has increasingly taken recourse to the committee system .
- EXERCISE OF ACCOUNTABILITY : To enhance the efficacy of the House to cope and the technical issues confronting it , but also to guard exercise of accountability on the state.
- LEGACY OF COMMITTEES : Some committees such as the Estimates Committee and Public Accounts Committee have a commendable record in this regard.
- POWER DISTRIBUTION : The executive in independent India, irrespective of the parties in power, was not very disposed to committees of scrutiny and oversight.
- GUARDIANS OF AUTONOMY : They were guardians of the autonomy of the House: the committees of scrutiny and oversight, as the case with other committees of the House, are not divided on party lines,
- WORKING WITH PUBLIC GLARE : Work away from the public glare, remain informal compared to the codes that govern parliamentary proceedings.
- DISCHARGE OF DUTY : In the discharge of their mandate, they can solicit expert advice and elicit public opinion.
- INNOVATION IS THE KEY : While there is much to commend about the routine working of the parliamentary committee system in India, it has not been creative or imaginative.
- THE ROLE OF CHAIR : The presiding officers of the Houses who had to give up leadership in this regard have tended to imitate changes and innovations done elsewhere (such as in Britain).
- UPHOLDING AUTONOMY : The chairman of the Rajya Sabha cannot probably distance himself much from the stance of the Cabinet.
- INTER LINKAGES : They were envisaged to be the face of Parliament in a set of inter-related departments and ministries.
- TASK ASSIGNED : They were assigned the task of looking into the demands for grants , to examine Bills , to consider their annual reports, and to look into their long-term plans and report to Parliament.
A GRADUAL MARGINALISATION
- BOUNDARIES ARE SET : It is important to point out that committees of scrutiny and advice, both standing and ad hoc, have been confined to the margins or left in the lurch in the last few years.
- CONTENTIONS : Some of the most momentous Acts of Parliament in recent years such as Article 370, were not processed by any House committee.
- RECENT BILLS : Given their large-scale implications the three Bills related to agricultural produce definitely deserved to be scrutinised by Select Committees of the Houses.
SETTING ASIDE A CULTURE
- FINAL MANDATE : There is no dearth of scholarly literature to suggest that the committee system has greatly enhanced the capacity of Parliament to carry out its mandate.
- DISPENSED COMMITTEES : One of the reasons given at this point in time is the novel coronavirus pandemic and the urgent need to enact safety measures.
- HALLMARK OF DEMOCRACY : It does not seem to believe that the primary role of Parliament is deliberation, discussion and reconsideration, the hallmarks of democratic institutions, but a platform that endorses decisions already arrived at.
What is ominous is the encroachment into the powers of a State that some of these bills reflect, and the reinforcement of the central authority.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Parliamentary Democracy in India | UPSC