Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Parliament in: theory and practice

M.K Gandhi wrote more than a century ago that: 
  • "The best men are supposed to be elected by the people. The members serve without pay and therefore, it must be assumed, only for the public weal. The electors are considered to be educated and therefore we should assume that they would not generally make mistakes in their choice. Such a Parliament should not need the spur of petitions or any other pressure. Its work should be so smooth that its effects would be more apparent day by day. But, as a matter of fact, it is generally acknowledged that the members are hypocritical and selfish. Each thinks of his own little interest. It is fear that is the guiding motive. What is done today may be undone tomorrow. It is not possible to recall a single instance in which finality can be predicted for its work. When the greatest questions are debated, its members have been seen to stretch themselves and to doze. Sometimes the members talk away until the listeners are disgusted. Carlyle has called it the "talking shop of the world". Members vote for their party without a thought. Their so-called discipline binds them to it. If any member, by way of exception, gives an independent vote, he is considered a renegade. Parliament is simply a costly toy of the nation. 

  • The Prime Minister is more concerned about his power than about the welfare of Parliament. His energy is concentrated upon securing the success of his party. His care is not always that Parliament shall do right. In order to gain their ends, they certainly bribe people with honours. I do not hesitate to say that they have neither real honesty nor a living conscience. " [M. K. Gandhi, Hind Swaraj, Chap. V] 

A Lok Sabha MP from Orissa state in India writes
  • When we Indians decry the state of our Parliament, we mostly focus on the symptoms, not the underlying causes. The undesirability of disruptions and the repeated adjournments of Parliament are obvious and have been done to death. It is important to shift the discussion to the root causes and possible solutions if we are to see any improvements.

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