Uploaded on August 27, 2021
THE FADING DREAM
Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam
Amidst the edge of the second wave of the pandemic, India celebrated its 75th anniversary of freedom. The milestone was honored with seeking pride in India's achievements over the last few years. Undoubtedly, India has had its fair share of ebb and flow throughout history, and most of the time, it has emerged out a vigorous, independent, and democratic state. However, one cannot let go of the recent crisis India is facing through the hands of the current regime. Hence, inciting the masses with pseudo nationalism would not do the trick for the ruling party.
When the people are reminded of the welfare programs and the Olympic success, it becomes pertinent to count the lost lives of innocent people due to the dying health infrastructure of the nation. There needs a balance between the promises and the ground reality to keep a check on the unrealistic dream manifested by the current regime. The speech delivered on Independence Day is one such example of the hypocrisy and bogus declarations, which has become the modus operandi for the government to maneuver people from the calamitous condition of India's democracy.
The dream that India collectively built 75 years ago is on its way to doom in this time of absolute mayhem of democracy. The democratic turned majoritarian state has surpassed many red flags, and now it is time for the stakeholders of democracy to wake up from their patriotic hangover. Or else, it could malign the proceedings of the parliament. When discussing the pillars of India’s democracy, the legislature holds a pertinent position in upholding the democratic principles of India. However, looking at the current situation of the parliament, one could sense the upsetting condition of India's parliament.
The parliamentary debates at the time of the formation of the constitution were extensive and time-taking. The parliamentarians thoroughly debated each legislation to focus on every aspect of the laws and their consequences on people belonging to different sections of society. Contrary to this, the current parliamentarians do not realize the dynamics of discussing a bill before its enactment. Highlighting this issue, Chief Justice of India N. V. Ramana commented on the "sorry state of affairs" of our parliament. All of this points to the waning standards of lawmaking of our nation.
Introducing any new law entails a quality debate to bring out the intent of the law and its functioning to the people it aims to target. However, the 2021 monsoon session portrays a horrific picture of the state of our parliament. This monsoon session witnessed 15 bills getting introduced and passed in the same breath. It was the first time in 22 years that the Lok Sabha did not bother to send any law to a select committee for detailed analysis and outcomes of applying such legislation for a diversified nation like India.
An unprecedented situation like the pandemic had already undermined the capacity of the legislature. The deteriorating functioning of both houses in terms of working hours further blows the aspiration of our policymakers who fought the battle for independence.
The ruckus created by the opposition leaders on the recent snooping case and the ruling regime's denial of the same has taken center stage in lieu of mindful and critical parliamentary debates regarding new bills. Imagine the horrors of discussing the supplementary budget of 15,750 crore, in response to the COVID-19 crisis for merely 9 minutes. Critical decisions pertaining to national interest need thorough discussion before deciding the fate of billions of people through these laws and provisions.
Our constitution gave us the dream of a democratic country, which needs constant nurturing. The dream needs to be worked upon and not simply left by virtue of being the heir of that legacy. The decline in the functioning of India's parliament is paralyzing the intrinsic purpose of adopting a parliamentary democracy. It is absolutely essential for the parliament to be relevant in order to not lose the essence of our democracy. As accurately pointed out by President Ram Nath Kovind—"Parliament is the temple of democracy," India's legislative needs to step up and respect the sacred forum that provides a platform to our lawmakers to make decisions on behalf of over 1.3 billion people regarding their well-being and security. Or consequently, a lack of discussion could result in introduction of more biased laws such as anti-conversion laws, and amendments to the existing ones that deepen communal differences amongst the people of India.
(The writer is General Secretary, All India Milli Council)