An Evaluation of the Indian Parliament – Essay

Professor B. R. Sharma in his presidential addresses to the Conference of Indian Political Science Association in December, 1953 observed, “India has chosen to be a camp follower of West and is taking pride in Godless secularism and in the paraphernalia of parliamentary democracy which it has decided to adopt.

We know that institutions of parliamentary democracy have failed to give happiness and peace to large sections of the world population who spend sleepless nights in fear of wars and party despotism”.

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Professor B. R. Sharma is not the only Indian scholar who attacks the functions of our parliamentary institution.’ As already stated, Professor K. T. Shah, in the Constituent Assembly, pleaded for a presidential type of Government. All these critics looked at the parliamentary, institutions of India with jaundiced eye.

On the 13th May, 1952 the First Session of the Indian parliament met in New Delhi. In the history of the parliamentary institution in India this day marked the beginning of a new period. This was the first Parliament whose members were elected for the first time on the basis of universal adult franchise.

All General Elections have been passed peacefully. In some of these elections, the Congress Party lost its popularity in many states. In the Centre the party secured a narrow majority. In many States in India the Congress Party was thrown out of power. This change was a healthy sign of Indian democracy.

Critics repeatedly pointed out the ascendancy of the Congress Party in power for a long time and dominant role that Pandit Nehru played in it. “After Nehru Who?” was often repeated argument of such critics till the death of Pandit Nehru.

Another critic remarked the Indian system not as parliamentary but as the “Parliamentary System” of Government. Others raise the fundamental question again whether the Constitution would have survived had there been no Nehru and no ascendancy of the Congress Party.

Disappearance of Congress from power after Independence might have led to disintegration of the country. As Granville Austin writes, “Lacking these (Ascending of Congress and Pandit Nehru) a democratic Constitution is likely to be mortally threatened, as it was in the United States in 1861 or overturned, as in Weimar Germany.

Democracy in new States is simply a calculated risk. Tine events of 1964 indicate that in India the risk has paid off, that parliamentary democracy can survive the death of Nehru, the last of the great leaders”.

The Parliament of India has served well as a chamber of ventilation of public grievances. It has brought out many mistakes of Government and caused some resignations of ministers.

The Parliament serves as a public forum whose proceedings are carefully watched by the people of the nation.

As one commentator said, “The Indian Parliament as a mirror and educator of popular feeling and performing its duties in public eye has proved that Britain’s work in India lives on”. W. H. Morris-Jones writes, “The habit of orderly public discussion, once established, helps to set the tone of public life in general.

Parliamentary behavior can communicate as well as embody an understanding of how leadership can be combined with fairness, adherence to principles with toleration of different views.

These ideas have already become part of the outlook of many sections in India. Their expression in an institution helps to ensure that they will be passed on to new generations”. The membership of the Parliament includes veteran opposition leaders and many others whose opinion counts on the treasury bench.

Government has paid due weight to the criticisms levelled by those opposition leaders. In the first three Parliaments although the Congress Party had a stem-roller majority it did not disregard the criticisms of the opposition members.

While parliamentary institutions are not having good time in other countries of Asia, they are becoming increasingly popular in India. The quality of work of the Parliament depends upon the quality of its members.

Often the behavior of the members of the Parliament, particularly the members of the Lok Sabha, is deplorable. They do not maintain dignity and decorum in the Parliament. Indiscipline is a prime cause of hindering the successful working of the Parliament.

Indiscriminate and improper uses of various privileges such as raising points of order or moving adjournment motions have obstructed the efficient transaction of the business of the Parliament.

However, the Speakers of the Lok Sabha have tried their best to maintain the dignity of the Parliament. Presiding Officers like Mr. Mavalankar, Mr. Ayengar, Sardar Hukum Singh and Mr. Sanjeeva Reddy have built up a healthy tradition of impartiality.

Critics often maintain the view that parliamentary democracy does not suit India because of its illiteracy, poverty and caste system which prevail throughout the country. This view seems to be over-exaggerated. The General Elections of India have proved that voters have political consciousness.

They have voted for other parties with sound political judgment and common sense. At the fag end of the twentieth century i.e., in the 1999 Lok Sabha Elections, the Congress has become weak both in the Centre as well as in the States. It marked the emergence of new parties in Indian Parliament.

Thus the present Parliament should pay more weight to the voice of the opposition. The opposition parties in order to become more effective ‘ should combine and follow a consistent and constructive policy.

To; conclude with Mr. Palmer, “With all these limitations the Parliament of India especially the Lok Sabha has functioned with remarkable effectiveness and it has established itself as an indispensable part of the governmental machinery”.

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