Ever since the new government took charge, they’ve been stressing on efficiency, punctuality and decorum. So much so that a workshop was conducted for first time MPs. There have been at least two headlines about ministers visiting their respective departments and taking to task late comers and insisting on cleanliness in the workplace. It seems like the new government wants to bring about a change in the attitude that we Indians have towards our work but anyone who has ever seen a parliamentary session will call these people hypocrites.
Watch any house session and you will realise what a farce our so-called democracy is. You will find people sleeping, nodding off, watching porn, shouting and making a ruckus. There is rarely an issue that the majority agrees on. Every issue irks the sentiment or interest of some section of our society, according to at least one minister who will berate the person who brought up the issue. They will yell and scream, all while another person is speaking and trying to make their point. Eventually storming the well saying that the government is biased and does not think of XYZ section of society. The ensuing chaos will prompt the speaker to raise their voice and request for silence and decorum. These feeble remonstrations will of course go unheard by the ministers who believe this is their chance at a dharna and continue to shout eventually leading to an adjournment for 10minutes. The break just allows these unruly people to organise better and attack with renewed force leading to an adjournment for the rest of the day. What an amazing use of the people’s tax money. Bravo!
Ministers are elected representatives of the people. They are paid with tax payer money to voice the tax payer’s grievance and solve their issues. Moreover, every single house session also involves a high expenditure which again comes from the public pocket. It’s bad enough that our grievances are never addressed, add to that the fact that even the sessions end up being adjourned and hence no work is done. The problem is that our ministers enjoy a little too much freedom. They are paid whether or not they attend a house session, whether or not they participate in a discussion, whether or not they raise an issue concerning their constituency, whether or not they are awake, whether or not they disrupt a proceeding. You get the picture. From the moment they are elected, its smooth sailing until the next election because they are not answerable to anyone. They face no consequences whatsoever. More often than not, the same person will get reelected the next time round. Zero accountability and consequences and here in lies the problem.
Lets be real, if anyone of us did any of this at school/college/work we’d be expelled or fired. We wouldn’t even dream of attempting something like this for fear of losing our grades/admission/pay. Because we would have to face the consequences of our actions. Why is it then that MPs and MLAs, whose job it is to ensure the smooth running of the country and state, something so much bigger and difficult, face no consequences?
We talk about a change in the country, about progress, but nothing can happen if we don’t eradicate the root cause of our failure. If we really expect a change then we need to have rules and set standards for our MPs and MLAs to abide by. Codes of conduct and penalties for any breach. Let them learn how to earn their pay. It is rather unfair that while the rest of the population breaks their backs to earn their money and adhere to rules these people behave like they are above it all. It is only fair that as our representative, they are held to the same yardstick as us.
Start with a basic set of rules:
1. Fixed number of holidays/leaves
We all get only some sick, casual and permission leave. Let the same be true for them. Categorically specific the number of days available for each leave and the rules attached to availing them. I’d like to see a doctor’s note for that sick leave.
2.. Minimum 80% attendance in parliament
If you miss a day of parliament and you are not in your constituency attending to some important work and none of your leaves hold good, you can forfeit a day’s salary. If your attendance is less than 80% you lose your salary for all the days you were absent.
3. Raise at least one issue of relevance to your constitution or speak in a discussion during your tenure
The people elected you to have their voice heard. Go out there and be their voice. Do it in a dignified manner. Failure to talk or get involved in the house will lead to automatic disqualification from contesting the next election. You can try the year after that. How is that for a performance review?
4. Violating decorum/bringing a halt to the proceedings
Speaking out of turn or shouting when someone else has the floor will result in a warning. Exceeding 3 warnings will lead to suspension and fine. Storming the well and causing adjournment will mean immediate suspension and a hefty fine. More than 3 suspensions and automatic disqualification from the next election. That is your bonus.
If the government does indeed intend to bring about a change in the country, they should start with themselves. First start with all the ministers and set an example for the rest of the country. Just increasing the efficiency of people and different ministries is not enough. The Parliament needs to be efficient too. Are you listening Mr. Naidu?
PS: Some of these rules may seem harsh but anyone who goes to school or work knows that these are rules will comply to in our work/study places. This is just a draft of course and any revisions and suggestions are welcome.
PPS: I know Lok Sabha efficiency has gone up 103% this term. That just means that they shouted and screamed and did nothing more often in the past.