Topic: GS2 – Indian polity.
Disruptions have become a recurring issue in India’s Parliament, with last session seeing extensive disruptions by Opposition parties. This behavior has not always been the norm in India’s parliamentary history. In the early days, Indian leaders took pride in adopting a parliamentary system modeled after Britain’s Westminster model. However, over the decades, exposure to British practices has faded, and disruptive behavior has taken hold.
A Shift in Indian Politics
India’s political landscape has evolved, with some State Assemblies witnessing extreme disruptions, including overturned furniture and pepper spray incidents. While such chaos hasn’t fully engulfed the national legislature, parliamentary conduct has deteriorated, and code of conduct violations have become common.
Reasons for recurring disruptions in Parliamentary working:
- Political Rivalry: Opposition parties often disrupt to challenge the ruling party’s agenda and policies.
- Issue Highlighting: Disruptions draw attention to specific issues or grievances that MPs want to prioritize.
- Lack of Debate Opportunities: When debates are limited or ineffective, MPs resort to disruptions to voice their concerns.
- Attention-Seeking: Disruptions can provide media attention and visibility to individual MPs or parties.
- Pressure Tactic: Disruptions are sometimes used strategically to exert pressure on the government to meet demands.
- Weak Opposition: Inadequate opposition strength can lead to disruption as a way to compensate for political imbalance.
- Ineffective Parliamentary Norms: Erosion of parliamentary decorum and norms can encourage disruptive behavior.
- Constituent Pressure: MPs may disrupt if they believe their constituents are dissatisfied and want immediate action.
- Public Discontent Reflection: Disruptions may reflect widespread public discontent with the government’s performance.
- Perceived Inaction: When issues remain unresolved, MPs disrupt to compel the government to take action.
Impact of recurring disruptions in Parliamentary working:
- Legislative Gridlock: Recurring disruptions can prevent the passage of crucial laws and reforms, leading to a legislative standstill.
- Public Distrust: Frequent disruptions can erode public trust in elected representatives and the democratic process, damaging the credibility of the government.
- Lack of Accountability: Disruptions impede lawmakers’ ability to hold the government accountable for its decisions and actions.
- Undermined Democratic Values: Disruptions undermine the principles of respectful debate and consensus-building, weakening democratic norms.
- Delayed Reforms: Critical policy reforms may be delayed, potentially impacting economic growth and development.
- Media Sensationalism: Disruptions often lead to sensationalized media coverage, diverting attention from substantive issues.
- Political Polarization: Ongoing disruptions can deepen political divisions and hinder cooperation between parties.
- International Standing: A country’s international reputation can suffer, affecting foreign investments and diplomatic relationships.
- Legislative Backlog: Frequent disruptions result in a backlog of pending legislative work, hindering effective governance.
- Weakened Democracy: Continual disruptions weaken the foundations of democracy and representative governance.
Erosion of Standards and Impunity
Standards of behavior have eroded, and suspended MPs are often quietly reinstated, raising concerns about accountability. While disruptions are sometimes viewed as a way to give the Opposition a voice, it prompts questions about the effectiveness of such practices.
Drawing Inspiration from the UK
To address this issue, India can learn from the UK’s parliamentary practices. “Opposition Day” allows the Opposition to set the legislative agenda, providing a platform for accountability without disruptions. “Prime Minister’s Question Time” (PMQs) ensures direct questioning of the Prime Minister, fostering accountability and interactive discussions.
The Role of the Speaker and Cooperation
The Speaker can play a pivotal role by allowing amendments, facilitating dissent recording, and acknowledging Opposition voices, creating a more inclusive legislative environment.
Conclusion: Restoring Parliament’s Role
In conclusion, India’s Parliament faces a disruption dilemma. By adopting British-inspired practices and fostering cooperation, Parliament can regain its credibility as a cornerstone of Indian democracy. Collaboration between the government and the Opposition is key to preserving Parliament’s essential role.
Mains question: Discuss the implications of recurring disruptions in parliamentary functioning on the effectiveness of democratic governance in India. What measures can be taken to address and mitigate the challenges posed by such disruptions?