Home Top Stories Citizen Social Responsibility (CSR) – Crumbling Democratic structure and silent spectators
Whenever the Indian Parliament is set to be in session, there is debate over “Whether the Parliament session could be disrupted’’. Many a times, there is ruckus in the Question Hour, occasionally there’s upheaval on a bill during debate. Opposition sit-ins on various issues are often held within the Parliament complex.
But this time, there is a ruckus much before the Parliament is in session. Due to Corona, the Monsoon Session of the Parliament is starting late, and a lot of changes have been incorporated into the Agenda due to the pandemic.
In this session starting from 14 September, the proceedings of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha will be held from 3 pm till 7 pm, except for the first day when both houses will run from 9 am to 1 pm.
Apart from this, changes have also been made in the seating area of the MPs, so that social distancing can be followed in the Corona era. The session will continue on Saturday and Sunday, so that the timeline can be completed.
The Parliamentary session was held on holidays and at night when necessary, earlier too. The GST bill was passed in one such nightly session.
There will be zero hours and MPs will also be able to raise important issues related to the public, but their duration has been reduced to 30 minutes. This session of Parliament will end on October 1.
We cannot expect an uproar like the previous Parliament session, since MPs will not be allowed to ask questions during Question Hour. Opposition MPs are strongly objecting to this decision of the government.
MPs have to send questions 15 days in advance during the Parliament session. The session starts on September 14. Question period has been cancelled. Opposition can’t even ask the government a question now. This is happening for the first time since 1950. Well, the number of hours are the same as before, so why has Question Hour been cancelled citing COVID-19? It feels as if democracy is being given slow poison.
50% of the total time of the Parliamentary session is for the ruling party and the remaining 50% is for opposition but the BJP seems to be converting this Parliament into Maintenance and Support (M&S) Private Limited. In the parliamentary tradition, the Westminster model is considered to be a good model for everyone, which says that Parliament is for the opposition.
Powerful leaders are trying to suppress the voice of democracy and protest by resorting to Corona as an excuse. The government notification declares that there will be no Question Hour in order to keep parliamentarians safe. Is this justified in the name of a pandemic? Questioning the government is like oxygen for a democratic system. Is the Government trying to convert the Parliament into a notice board? They want to use their majority as a rubber stamp so that any bills they have will be enacted in compliance with their fancies and whims. There was a mechanism in place to show the government its responsibility, and the government is trying to put an end to that as well.
According to some reports, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has spoken to the leaders of the opposition to postpone Question Hour. It has been argued by the government that during Question Hour, the concerned departments’ respective officers also have to be present in the House. This is necessary to give briefings to ministers. Due to this, the number of fixed people in the house will increase, and this could cause serious threat to the lives of all present in the House. The government has made this provision only to reduce the risk to people’s lives in the wake of Coronavirus.
Final year college Examinations and entrance test for various professional courses during the pandemic were debated at all levels in our country for quite some time. India’s youth feared for their lives and urged the government to cancel the final year exams and postpone the entrance tests in view of the rising cases of Coronavirus, otherwise millions of youth appearing for exams could face serious threat to their lives but no one listened to their voices.
Are politicians’ lives more important in our country than the lives of young people? If not, then, on the one hand, we are jeopardising the lives of millions of young people and, on the other, we cancel Question Hour of the parliamentary session allegedly because Indian politicians could be in danger of contracting COVID-19.
We have to ask questions. If we get a response or not is a separate matter. It’s really sad to see that our country’s youth kept battling for their own and their families’ lives and our government didn’t even consider cancelling the exams and now they’ve got rid of the Question Hour to run away from being grilled on various issues, citing Coronavirus as the reason.
Speak up now to save the Democratic structure of our Country before it’s too late.
The author, Amit Upadhyay, is Editor-in-Chief of The CSR Journal
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