Monday, April 14, 2014

Will the new Lok Sabha deliver?

This was published on also. 

As India undergoes the 16th Lok Sabha elections with various leaders claiming to change the fortunes of the country, let us not forget that for that to happen the Parliament needs to function efficiently too. And it cannot happen unless there is a collective political will across all parties.

The Anger

These elections are being fought in the backdrop of growing disenchantment with the system. It resembles the feelings of a young kid, now grown up to be a man, who had been living with his overly strict parents who had placed many checks on him during his formative years. And now he is so restless and eager to fly away in order to fulfill his wishes/aspirations. I can’t help but see a similar story being played out in India.

To realize why this parallel fits on our country we just need to take a look on the monolith our system has become. It has become increasingly inefficient with only a privileged few reaping the benefits. This ever-rigid, inflexible, insensitive behemoth has failed to keep up with the rising expectations of the populace. And hence the simmering anger and rebellion streaks all around.

We don’t have to go too far behind while looking for examples. The present 15th Lok Sabha is probably the most dysfunctional in the history. The stats and figures will vouch for that.

How sure are we that the new Lok Sabha will conduct its affairs in an orderly manner? The irony is outside the Parliament all the “manyavars” will talk about development, kindling our hopes but inside the Parliament they will be at their lazy best.

The fundamental question is who is to be held accountable for it – the ruling party, opposition or all of the 545 representatives. In a positive sign, our political discourse is starting to get interspersed with words like “accountability” and “transparency”. It will be a solid step if some measures are taken to account for lackadaisical Parliament proceedings. All this talk of development, electoral promises will come to nothing if the new Lok Sabha continues the trend of low productivity.

As they say, “Charity begins at home” – the manyavars should first ensure that they are held accountable.

Possible Ways

A single step to give more teeth to the Speaker so as to punish unruly members will go a long way. However, this will require the 2/3rd of the House to arrive at a consensus to make an amendment– which can be achieved by mere political will. And this will happen only if WE, the voters ask them tough questions about their performance inside the House