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Frequent Disruptions in Parliament are a Bane for Indian Democracy

Mark Twain sagely observed, “It were not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion that makes horse races.” And I agree with his concept of diversity. It is literally the “difference in our opinions” that makes us less of an animal and more of a human being. Were it not for the essence of diversity, the whole world would have been monochrome in its ideology. So, how could we expect our politics to be devoid of their notion of dissimilitude.

Winston Churchill defined politics in a very apt way saying, “Politics is almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times.” The game of politics is often stained with dirt. This dirt is the apple of discord, the bane of contention that leads to conflicts. Conflicts lead to debates and debates lead to arguments. And these arguments finally lead to disruptions. This is exactly what we have been experiencing in the Indian Parliament for the past few years. Voices have risen, etiquettes have been lost, nuisance has been created, and respect has been sold. The world has seen with its own eyes how pathetically our ‘elected representatives’ have ruined the long-held culture of serenity and peace in India.

Just in case my worthy opponents do not remember the reality of disruptions in Indian Parliament, let me quote some figures. The Indian Parliament costs the country  1·5 crore per hour every year. With three sessions in the entire year, there already is a dearth of time to acknowledge the needs of an 125 crore population by a handful of men and upon it there comes the burden of these flippant conversations, also known as ‘disruptions’.

  1. Sreedharan, the metro man of India quoted in one of his speeches about these frequent disruptions, “We cannot allow our parliamentarians to hold the nation to ransom while the nation pays 1·5 crore per hour to run the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.” Indeed, he remarkably highlighted the fact that the citizens have paid enough to watch this tomfoolery with the future of the nation. Sparks start flying at the most trivial issues too. Be it the goods and Service Tax Bill, or the Land Acquisition Bill, there is seldom a way for the parliamentarians to react other than taking up the cudgels.

A PIL or Public Interest Litigation by Foundation for Restoration of National Values, an NGO formed by E. Sreedharan, Ratan Tata, retired justice M. N. Venkata, former Chief Vigilance Commissioner N. Vitthal, former Election Commissionner T.S. Krishnamurthy and educationist Vibha Parthsarathy, question the undermining threat of these disruptions to the spirit of democracy in India. Margaret Thatcher once remarked, “I love arguments. I love debates. I don’t expect anyone to sit there and agree with me, that is not their job.” And what is genuinely debatable must be debated, but, within the cross limits of being un-civilized. The members of Parliament could be at loggerheads with each other due to different political ideologies. There could be North Vs. South, Warnists Vs. Denislists, Conservatives Vs. Progressives. Big Government Vs. Big Opposition, Giant Minister Vs. Gigantic Political family. The ‘Lotus’ could be the new ‘Palm’. The ‘Broom’ could be the newer ‘Lotus’ and it is very clear that politics would triumph. But, what kind of politics ? The intolerant one, where opinions are often accompanied with a shoe, ink pot or a dance on the table or the tolerant one, accompanied with a certain degree of disagreement and use of NLP (neuro-linguistic practices) to some extent.

Though Joseph Gobbels remarkably noticed, “Making noise is an effective way of opposition, “but what one needs to realise is that the noise made shouldn’t be a false alarm. There’s an old story of a cattle herder that goes this way. Once there lived a boy of twenty. A bit immature for his age. He had a herd of sheep which he took beyond the mountains to graze daily. He would then shout “wolf, help !” and all the woodcutters nearly would collect to find the boy mocking at them. After a routine of this kind the woodcutters became quite sure that every time the boy cries and shouts, it is a hoax or fake alarm. And suddenly, one day, a real wolf approaches the herd of this boy, but however loud he shouted for help, people paid no attention as they knew it was again going to be sham only. And hence he lost the only support he had for earning his livelihood.

Now let’s draw the comparison. The boy represents the parliamentarians who keep disturbing and disrupting the house with false alarms. And thus, the public and the media have became so ‘used to’ these tantrums by politicians that when there would veritably be the passing of a wrong bill, they would seemingly consider it a hoax once more.

And talking about wolf and sheep reminds me of another view by William Ralph Inge. He said, “It takes in reality only one to make a quarrel. It is useless for the sheep to pass the wolf remains of a different opinion.” It is worth acknowledging that I out of every 10 ‘walking-out-of-the-Parliament’ moments are unquestionably ‘one’s quarrel. The battle of the gains is not because of some clash in ideology. It may be the reason for 8% of the cases, the rest 92% being partly and purely clash of the ‘partylogy’. Even the head of the Republic, President Pranab Mukherjee did not demur in entitling the Parliament as ‘Akhara’ (wrestling pit). What else could be the name of the place where bables of the past and the smearing and shoeing each other in the new trend ? There hardly could’ve been a better word to pick than ‘akhara’. It is high time to stop locking horns with each other in the Parliament with each minute of running it costing the nation  2·5 lakh. If ‘masala’ was all that citizens wanted, they would rather prefer to watch a Bollywood Blockbuster and that too by paying a mere  200 for a 3-hour long entertainment. Time taxes go into the salaries of these parliamentarians not as the remuneration of the scandals they show us, but for the betterment of future they would do, if and only if, they would discuss and not disrupt the proceedings.

Bruce Lee, philosophically noted, “Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it in a tea-pot, it becomes the tea pot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” This is what we ask our politicians today, be water, my friend. The subtle form of water should be the subtle form of their speech. Un-assertive. Adjusting to the object of discussion. Finding a way around. Rigid yet disclosing. This is the way politics needs to be. As clear as water and as powerful as well.

If this is not possible, I would go with Malcom X saying, “You are not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong. No matter who does it or says it.” No work, no pay should be imposed. Gone are the days when the public could be deceived so easily. The members of the Houses cannot get away from their responsibilities as our representatives. A major population of our country, literate and employed, agree that there should be a use of the marshal to evict the position of those who disrupt the functioning of both the houses. Difference between the ideologies of the parties should be set apart from the difference of opinion on the matter discussed. Following John Keats would be astounding, when he says, “The only means of strengthening one’s intellect is to make up one’s mind about nothing to let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thoughts. Not a select party.”

We live in one of the most stable democracy of the world and patience and tolerance are the pillars on which it stands. Considering stability a boon, the politicians must not swerve from their pledge to serve the nation and its people.

A disrupted parliament is no less a testimony of the rowdy opposition than that of the impatient government. Forgetting the notions of disagreements outside the Parliament, the parliamentarians should present a better picture of the Indian democracy. Else the world would end up saying the George Orwell closing lines from the classic ‘Animal Farm’ : “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again, but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

Against

Soumi Das

Before getting into the heart of the matter, let me first point out some things which are a integral part of our Indian democracy and even though

overlooked still had a great deep impact. Our Indian democratic system is primarily based on the exercise of rights and duties that has been explicitly bestowed over the citizens of this nation. Some of rights are predominantly fabricated keeping in mind their implementations into various fields and areas of lives, call it public or private. In this way, even our political bodies like the Parliament can’t be secluded and alienated. There too the rights need to be projected and enacted upon. Some of rights, which are like ‘The Freedom of expression, speech etc.’ is to be looked into.

l       The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 stated that everyone has right to freedom of opinion and expression, to communicate one’s opinions and ideas without the fear of retailation or censorship with clauses which is concerned with “derogatory and offensive matters should be avoided vehemently.”

l       In this way, this civil and Political right also is and should be a part of our Parliamentary System.

l       But we fail to understand that due to simultaneous sprouting of opinions and ideas, the main decision takes time to be made. And people start to blame the government for its slack and delay made under this context.

“What we really miss out is that without declaring a set of ideas to be immune from getting criticized, derided and dispersed, how can some effective conclusions be made out of it ?” The people, political officials do see it as the politics of parliamentary politics. But if we really dig into this matter, is it so ?

People do think unrealistically that it can be get ridden off but it just can be minimised and that too with great practice. See, India is diverse in every respect, call it varieties of cultures or thought processing in each and every individual. The Parliament itself is made and assembled with politicians with leadership and responsibility of each state of the country and hence it will be and is obviously herculean task to come into a consensus after every session of meetings. People do find time to time frustrations to criticise the government and unruly question the quantity of democratic functioning of the Parliament. Still they don’t see the dimensions which surface up when all the contradictions and clashing ideas get discussed upon.

Undefendable acquisitions, criticism and unending mockery does sometimes overshadows show of the preventive and overlooked matters of concern. We lose sight of matter that this is an adaptive change in the parliamentary culture. There is a fair degree of homogeneity in the composition of house, with many MPs of the various states. But with establishment of coalition politics as well as new political forces changed the composition and diversity of Parliament and Parliament became more vulnerable to disruptions and protests inside itself. The sad thing is politics and its dynamics are mostly mastered and misused by our political leaders who get derailed having secret agenda for re-elections from dramatically bad publicity stunts. Due to irresponsible conductivity of the representatives frequent disruptions sometimes fail to reproduce constructive enforcements and hence this leads to dilemma of indecisiveness.

The commentaries are indicators of mass in built frustrations but miss out some facts for which the disruptions should not be blamed.

l       Firstly, we should understand that disruptions contribute to undermining the respect representatives ought to have in the eys of citizens. It is also popularly known that disruptions in India are not caused by actions of individual legislators but by coordinated action of a party.

l       At the heart of rise of disruptions, whether in Parliament or in state legislatures, is the presentiment among parties and their legislators that their interest is better served by disruptions than debates.

l       Voicing up in oppositions to any set idea and delay from inception till the end can’t be objectified and make Indian democracy appear dysfunctional.

l       Disruptive activity has functional impacts which are mostly side-lined.

l       Parliamentary disruptions refer to acts which interrupt or impede the usual functioning of Parliament. These disruptions surprisingly occur only when the initiators don’t see the supposedly functioning of Parliament as defined by the rules and procedures. So, it is actually as bad as it looks like.

l       Many times disruptions seem to be as attempts to use issues for a purpose other than advancements.

l       I think India is a mature and well aware democracy. Despite vibrancy of political system, it is effective and accountable.

l       There are no anomalies, Indian democracy has been successful following its own pathway of law and order into governance.

l       Even the capacity to create a din can be an asset in disguise. The process provides new possibilities though shifty and fragile of corrective measures to be taken as to combat disproportions.

l       Moreover the media tends to cover the disruptions more than the sessions that are not disrupted, thereby creating an image which is false.

l       There is actually a bit of exaggeration of the situation as compared to the actual scenario. We should know that the political parties don’t really appear to have been attenuated by these parliamentary disruptions.

l       Many times, these disruptives are emerged from reluctance and procastination by the political bodies and officials.

l       Therefore, the use of disruption in India, doesn’t appear to have been destructive in an unreparable state of Indian democracy as many experts have claimed. Hence concluding thing is that disruptions are not anti-democratic nor unconstitutional. It actually necessitates the promotion of democratic values and brings representation to unseen aspects which otherwise would have got to be thought non-existent and it will not be calamity over our well-cherished democracy.

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