Democracy: Report Card of Legislature, Spotted Clouds With Silver Lining [Part 2]

Posted on April 23, 2012 in Politics at Play

By Ashish Kumar:

Agreed that the working of our rule-making bodies both at the centre and states has been marred by frequent pan demonic and anarchic scenes where our “chosen ones” indulge in roasting their “political breads” on the flame of hard-earned money of poor masses. Dirty party politics is the fountainhead of the maverick which has resulted in dysfunctioning of these bodies. Easy entry of goons and even illiterate candidates is another reason. But there are still reasonable legislations coming out of these law-making bodies.

Media is to be blamed for bringing to the fore only the physical bouts of legislators inside the legislatures while ignoring the need of serious debate on a number of laws which are discussed in parliament. Recently, government has mulled over extensive legislation on a myriad of issues like Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation, Food security, Cable and TV networks, Communal violence, Mines and Mineral development, Microfinance, National Sports, Company law, Grievance redressal and Indian ports. But, what has media shown? Just, the Lokpal. Lokpal is important but it shouldn’t be blown to a proportion where it undermines all other legislations. It is the apathy on the part of masses and media that they are ignorant of many of these in-process legislations. On the other hand, creation and proper functioning of special parliamentary bodies like Standing Committee and Parliamentary Accounts Committees representing people from all school of thoughts vindicates the democratic nature of our law-making and investigational debate process.

Indian legislature enjoys a unique setup. The government needs to have a majority in the lower-house like in England and unlike USA, where the legislature and government are chosen independently and government needn’t have a majority in the legislature. This majority suggests that the government is so powerful that it can legislate its whims and fancies. But, the coalition-governments and the authorities like the Supreme Court have more or less ensured that no whimsical or draconian law is passed from the house. Sometimes, these prove to be a stumbling block for important legislations but more often than not they act as a safety valve to prevent India from sliding into dictatorship.

Endorsement and passage of popular legislations like RTI (Right to Information) and RTE (Right to Education) has proved that the legislature has not become insensitive yet. They can’t turn deaf ear to popular movements. Participation of civil society and activists by creating moral and logical pressure for virtuous legislations has been a welcome initiative. This is a robust evidence of informal decentralisation of power in the hands of common people. The formalisation of this decentralisation through government-endorsed institutions facilitating discussion about legislations at the grass-root level is required.

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