Crafting a new chapter in parliamentary conduct
The recurring disruptions in India's Parliament, characterized by members' preference for disruption over debate, have eroded the effectiveness and credibility of the legislative body, raising concerns about the state of India's democracy.
Parliamentary Disruptions in India: A Growing Concern
- Deteriorating Parliamentary Conduct: Recent years have seen a disturbing trend of frequent disruptions in India's Parliament. Rather than engaging in substantive debates, many parliamentarians resort to disruption tactics, undermining the core purpose of the legislative body.
- Historical Embrace of Westminster Model: Post-independence, India embraced the Westminster-style parliamentary system, with its traditions inspired by the British model. Indian MPs initially adhered to decorum, including desk-thumping and the use of "aye" during votes, signifying their commitment to democratic principles.
- Erosion of Parliamentary Decorum: However, over seven decades of independence, Indian Parliament has witnessed a decline in parliamentary decorum. Unruly behavior, shouting slogans, and flouting codes of conduct have become commonplace, resulting in sessions marred by disruptions and chaos.
British Parliamentary Practices for Reform:
- Opposition Day: India can learn from the British practice of allocating an "Opposition Day" each week. This would provide the opposition with a dedicated platform to set the parliamentary agenda, fostering meaningful debates and reducing the incentive for disruptions.
- Prime Minister's Question Time (PMQs): Emulating the UK's PMQs in India could enhance accountability. This practice allows MPs to question the Prime Minister on various issues, promoting transparency and rigorous scrutiny of the executive.
- Reforming the Role of the Speaker: To instill discipline and decorum, the Speaker should play a proactive role. Accepting adjournment motions, ensuring separate votes on amendments, and acknowledging dissent through "division" are vital parliamentary techniques to maintain the value of dissent.
Conclusion: The Way Forward for India's Democracy
- Building Consensus: It is crucial for the government and the opposition to collaborate on implementing these reforms to restore the credibility and effectiveness of India's Parliament.
- Strengthening Democracy: By adopting these British parliamentary practices, India can ensure that its democratic institutions remain robust, transparent, and accountable.
- Preserving Parliamentary Democracy: The timely adoption of these reforms can prevent further erosion of India's parliamentary democracy, promoting a culture of reasoned debate over disruptions.