ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Descent of Parliament

Two events in both houses of Parliament point to the continuing decline in the quality of deliberative processes.

In the past fortnight, the degeneration of Parliament and the credibility of the supreme legislative body in the country touched a new low. First, the opposition walked out of the Lok Sabha during the finance minister’s budget speech. And then seven members of the Rajya Sabha had to be evicted when they held up proceedings during an entire day in order to prevent the introduction of the Women’s Reservation Bill and after they came close to assaulting Vice-President Hamid Ansari.

But we should not be surprised at the gradual descent in the quality and nature of proceedings in Parliament. Noise, scuffle and disruption, rather than deliberation and opposition through debate, are gradually becoming the norm in both houses of Parliament. This is true of the state-level legislatures as well. Even as Indian democracy is celebrated for its high voter turnout, the deliberative aspects of this democracy have been heading in the opposite direction and no political party – in government or in opposition – seems to be worried about the implications for the functioning of this arm of the State (see “Credibility at Stake”, EPW, 9 February 2008).

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