1. Rajya Sabha is the repository of diverse intellect that ensures in depth scrutiny and wide ranging debates. Even though, it has limited functional powers, its role in India’s polity can’t be belittled. Critically comment.
Indian Parliament consists of the directly elected Lok Sabha and the indirectly elected Rajya Sabha. Rajya Sabha(RS) is also known as the ‘House of Elders’. It is constituted through proportional representation system by means of single transferable vote. The seats are allotted on the basis of population in the state.
Limited functional powers of RS:
Article 109- Money bill can’t be introduced nor be rejected in RS. It can only withhold it for 14 days, after which it is considered as passed.
Article 113- Cannot vote on demand for grants
Council of ministers is responsible only to LS. Under Art 75(3), The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the House of the People
Inferiority of numbers in case of joint sitting and also the joint sitting is presided by Speaker, who belongs to Lok Sabha.
Cannot pass resolution on discontinuance of national emergency.
Despite limited role, its significance cannot be belittle:
As a chamber of representative of states and UTs it curbs the centralizing tendency of Union and maintains federal equilibrium.
House of elders- politicians here are more learned and for diverse background. As 12 members are nominated by President from diverse background including arts, literature, social service etc. And thus is a repository of diverse intellect.
Nominated members and others are relatively immune from demands of democratic politics and thus can raise issues of national importance.
Checks hasty legislation or ill-intended legislation by Lok Sabha especially in case of majority government.
Rajya Sabha’s consent is equally important in case of constitutional amendment bills, ordinary bills and in passing of ordinances.
Maintains continuum as the house can never be dissolved.
Has special powers under Articles 249 and 312, enabling parliament to legislate on matters of state list and creation of All India Service, respectively.
Domicile requirement has been done away with diluting the spirit of federalism.
Passage of ordinary bills as money bills so as to bypass upper house’s scrutiny.
Rajya Sabha has become a parking space for defeated politicians and nepotism has become a frequent issue.
It suffers from absenteeism especially in case of nominated members.
Unethical/illegal practices during election procedure like “cash-for-votes” has tarnished its image.
Implementing recommendations of Punchhi Commision example- equal representation from all states.
Minimizing cronyism and patronage.
Domicile requirement should be restored as recommended by NCRCW.
As quoted by Nehru-” Neither house in itself constitutes parliament. It is both the houses that makes parliament of India”, it is necessary that both houses of Parliament works in tandem.
2. Few states in India have Legislative Council also. Examine their utility and also comment on the way politics has played a role in their continuance.
Article 79 of our Constitution makes the existence of Rayja Sabha mandatory. In the cases for states legislative council its an optional under Article 169. Out of the 29 states only 7 states have legislative council. Since the introduction and passage of 1935 Act utility and problem of second chamber has been debated.
Seven states in India have bicameral legislatures. These are Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Karnataka,Telangana and UP.
Legislative Council’s Utility:
It protect the interest of the people against the hasty and ill- considered legislation.
It promote the space for representative democracy.
It facilitates the nomination of experts and prominent professional.
Promote the inclusion of different section such as teachers, graduate and diverse background
Facilitates inclusion of those members into state legislature who don’t fight elections.
1/6th of its members are nominated and have specialization in arts, science, cooperative services and literature.
Weakness of the Legislative council
Parliament can create and abolish them by simple majority provided a resolution has been passed by state legislative assemblies (SLAs).
It have dilatory powers and only limited authority to impose any check on the assemblies.3. Majority of member are from ruling party and its an unnecessary burden on state exchequer.
They have become victims of politics of the day because-
1). It has become backdoor entries for political parties to park their leaders who have not been able to win an election.
2) If a majority of the members in the upper house and lower house belong to the same party, the LC will become a mere ditto chamber.
3) Some ruling state parties want to use LC to accommodate their close , defeated party candidates ,thus create unnecessary pressure on oppositions during passage of bills.
4) Many states create and abolish it at the whims and fancies of party in majority e.g. in Andhra Pradesh, TDP government abolished the council in 1985 but a congress revived it in 2007.
Parliamentary committee recommended that there is a need for national policy on Upper House given the ad-hocism involved. Such policy will insulate house from petty party politics.
In addition as second ARC had noted there is scope for reform in manner of election to legislative council which is outdated.
Such revision can revive councils and enable them to become place for informed public debate and dispassionate, nonparty based politics in state interest.
Q.3 The glorious tradition of debates, discussions and deliberations in the parliament has witnessed a decay that doesn’t augur well for the largest democracy of the world. Examine.
That representative democracy and parliamentary institutions have endured in India for five decades is a great tribute to their strength and resilience. There has, however been in recent years quite some thinking and debate about decline of Parliament, devaluation of parliamentary authority, falling standards of debate, deterioration in the conduct and quality of Members, poor levels of participation and the like. A certain cynicism towards parliamentary institutions and an erosion in the respect for normal parliamentary processes and the parliamentarians present a disturbing scenario.
The reasons can be enumerated as
Little effort has been made to develop the essential prerequisites for the success of parliamentary polity – discipline, character, high sense of publicmorality, ideologically oriented two party system and willingness to here and accommodate minority views.
Absenteeism among members has reached alarming proportions and betrays sense of responsibility towards citizenry.
Change in composition of the houses, infiltration of the house with people accused of a criminal background has eroded the Character of the house. Eg: ADRreport of 2014 has showed 58% of MPs have pending criminal cases against them
Low productivity of house at large due to frequent disruptions over petty matters eg: 1st house of 1952-57 has passed twice the number of bills compared to the 11thS of 2009-14
Disrespect to parliamentary conventions as a house of deliberation by brute majoritarianism and not involving in debates or willing to engage the opposition and use of ordinanceroute subverting parliamentary democratic tradition seen in current term of the lok sabha 2014-19, many of the legislations are passed through Guillotine motion preventing serious discussion.
Personal abuses and character assassinations has led to moral ineptitude amongst parliamentarians and general apathy from public.
Placing party interests over national interests has also given rise to a extraneous super power in form of the Partywhip where any disagreement forces disciplinary action has restricted parliamentarians reaching out to each other.
There is an urgent need to develop a sense of responsibility and camaraderie among parliamentarians for which the Ethicscommittees of both the houses have a greater role to play. Codificationofprivileges has to be seriously considered.
Members need to be more accountable to their conscience, country and constituency and absenteeism needs to be curbed.
Stricter enforcement from EC and stronger disqualification standards can reduce criminalization of political arena and ensure a cleaner representation in houses.
The need of the hour for parties and parliamentarians is to assume a moral high ground and ensure that Parliament remains a temple of Democracy by indulging in deliberations and debate with dignity.
BEST ANSWER : Affu
Indian Parliament plays a crucial role as a deliberative and representative assembly, its image and influence have suffered a serious setback in recent years
HISTORICAL COMPARISON: In 1952 MPs spent almost twice as many days in the Lok Sabha as the MPs in 2009. This decline has been progressive during these 57 years, across governments
INTERNATIONAL COMPARISON: the time spent by legislators in UK ranges from 120-150 days on an average but the time spent by Indian legislators per year is around 60 days
-debates centred on political ideologies and mileage rather than national interests,(eg: bills enhancing accountability, transparency, electoral reforms, communal violence)
-domination of parochial interests in the debates,(eg: women reservation bill)
personal attacks, character assassinations and
-the tragic episode of pepper spray in parliament (2014) showcased a new low
1 there is the democratic paradox of first-past-the post system which emphasises more upon the numeric dimension on attaining victory
2 serious absence of genuine will among parliamentarians themselves to inculcate parliamentary values in one’s personality
3.lack of electoral reforms leads to election candidates with dubious credentials enter into the house eg:those with serious criminal charges, accused of hate speeches, spreading violence etc
4.Absenteeism,unholy nexus of politicians-businessmen influencing debates and discussions
1.Holistic electoral reforms to deter entry of those charged with serious criminal cases, paid news, hate speeches
2.Reducing influence of money power in elections through state funding and more transparency in electoral funding
3.bringing political parties into ambit of RTI
4.strengthening resources for research for debates, ethics committee to set the moral compass of legislators right
There needs to be a collaborative effort from all stakeholders to uphold dignity of highest body of law making and deliberations in our country
4. Floods devastate life and property in various parts of India on a yearly basis. Why? What is the policy response to such hazards? Aren’t we lacking one? Discuss.
Floods play a vital role in ecosystem and it makes equilibrium of biodiversity in making the dry land and wetlands retaining the life in ponds back after summer. On increased intensity Flood is a natural disaster often augmented due to anthropogenic causes, and which occurs in certain parts of India on recurrent basis. States affected by flood are Bihar, UP, J&K, Uttarakhand, West Bengal etc. The humanitarian cost of the flood is very high.
Causes of Floods:
The reason for occurrence of flood in India:-
Siltation of river basin
Blockages in the flow of river by construction of dams, irrigation projects
Sudden release of water by Nepal brings flood in Kosi area of Bihar
Destroying river embankments through land filling
Landslides and subsequent blockage of river brings flood in Uttarakhand
Climate change is responsible for abrupt rainfall and a high variability in rainfall.
melting of glacier due to increase in mean global temparture.
Cities like Mumbai and Chennai witnesses urban floods because of encroachment on wet lands, inadequate provision of storm drains, destruction of water bodies around cities which acts like a shock absorber for flood.
Coastal cities on eastern cost witnesses floods because of cyclone.
Government Policy response:
1)Enactment of National disaster management act 2005
2)Setting up of National Flood commission and Task Force on Flood Management/ Erosion Control to study India’s flood control measures.
3)Central Water Commission (CWC) –apex body for flood and water management
4)National Water Policy ( 1987/ 2002/2012)
Issues with current Policy measures:
1) Most of the state governments do not have their own Flood forecasting and warning network.
2) Flood management measures are generally planned on an adhoc basis to give immediate relief on public demand
3) Frequent violation of environmental rules,
4) Zoning of cities are either not done or followed,
5) Lack of capacity building of local community to deal with the disaster,
6) SDMA not possessing separate forces dedicated to flood control,
7) Overdependence of states on center for assistance
8) Lack of coordinate center state
Steps to prevent flood hazards
1) Dam building wherever possible, sorrow of Bengal Damodar has been effectively tamed
2) River linking projects to transfer excess water into deficient regions.
3) Strict measures to prevent encroachment of flood plains.
4) Conducting National level hydrographical study to understand the flood prone region and flood mapping to develop effective policy measures.
5) Sustainble urbanization.
6) watershed developnents to reduce runoff.
Therefore, the approaches to flood management presently exercised in India needs to give a re-look to have an integrated strategy for policy and management related to flood.
5. Cases of graft and corruption have dotted the political landscape in India. Even though enforcement and investigative agencies are there, institutional measures have only proven to be insufficient. Why? Critically examine
Acts related to corruption in India:
Section 169 and Section 409 of Indian Penal code.
The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988
The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 and its amendment Act 2016
The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002
Reasons for the insufficiency of Institutional measures:
Lengthy investigations and even lengthier trials have made it easy to exploit the loop holes in the judicial system.
Parliamentary committees have not been able to assert their powers and bring corruption into open
Lower conviction rates make the criminals feel that they can exploit judiciary and legal system, even after the convictions the criminals are given special treatments in jails. e.g., Sasikala case.
Core of corruption causing issues like opaque electoral financing and complete lack of internal democracy in political parties remains unaddressed.
for reasons of illiteracy, ignorance and freebie culture etc. people keep voting the corrupt back to power, this incentivizes political parties to keep using such practices.
Collusive corruption –hard to be checked through laws, the public servant either remains silent or colludes with people who are doing criminal activities.
Culture of tolerance towards corruption-as Second ARC notes this attitude of inevitability towards corruption is dangerous. This is reflected in poor rankings in TI’s corruption perception index
Bureaucratic rigidity- plethora of transparency measures like RTI depend on mindset shift which is still underway. Attitude of excessive deference to pol masters prevails
Investigative agencies like CBI themselves undergoing crisis of credibility, they lack autonomy which has made them a tool in the hands of successive political parties.
Independence- CBI, CVC etc. lack independence and act at the behest of government of the day.
deficiencies in Prevention of Corruption Act- It punishes both bride taker and giver thus giving no incentive for giver to be a whistle blower and exposing corruption
Lack of powers- some agencies like CAG lack any powers and can only expose corruption but cannot act against it.
Judical issues- Delay in adjudication of cases give opportunity to destroy evidence, prolong the case etc.