New Delhi, 20 August 2012, Recognizing the disconnect between people and the Parliament the world over, law makers in India and U.K. underlined the need to restore “respect” and “faith” of people in their elected representatives, which has been undermined in recent times. While there is a need to overcome legitimacy deficit, it was noted that the answer did not lay in running down of politicians.
These views were expressed at the day-long meeting of the Forum of United Kingdom and Indian Parliamentarians which was organized by the O.P. Jindal Global University at its campus on 19th August.
The meeting discussed many critical issues including the role of civil society, working of Parliamentary select and standing committees, criminalization of politics, funding of political parties, first past the post principle and the related representational legitimacy issues, proper working of monitoring institutions like CAG and Ombudsman and relative roles of public and private sector.
Rt Hon. Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, Shadow Leader of the House of Lords noted that legislations are often badly drafted and stressed the need for greater pre- and post-legislative scrutiny. While laws provide the main framework, Baroness Royall emphasized the need to be wary about the secondary or subordinate legislation. Mr. Nigel Evans, Deputy Speaker, House of Commons, U.K. observed that IT revolution posed great challenge to the way India and U.K. governed themselves by adding that people will demand greater involvement. Referring to E-petitions, he noted that people are able to mount pressure on what subjects M.Ps must debate.
Questioning as to who governs, Mr. William Cash, MP referred to the dangers of bureaucratization and observed that the voter must have a decisive say in matters relating to governance. Mr. Cash also expressed concern over truncated debates in the House of Commons
In his Inaugural address, the Speaker of the Haryana Legislative Assembly, Mr. Kuldeep Sharma noted that public policy and good governance emanate from legislatures but expressed concern over the fact that a lot of valuable time in legislatures is often lost in discussing matters “which should not be discussed”. He observed that a churning process is going on in the Indian system and that public policy is at cross roads. Referring to the recent agitations, Mr. Sharma asserted that public policy or laws cannot be made on streets. Stating that we cannot allow the civil society to hijack issues, he urged the legislators to introspect on why they have become vulnerable and stressed the need for the legislators to work hard.
In his remarks, M.P and Chancellor of the O.P. Jindal Global University, Mr. Naveen Jindal referred to the challenge of meeting numerous expectations of constituents without having any administrative powers. He paid compliments to the good work being done by the Parliamentary Standing Committees in India which is a source of satisfaction. Referring to the establishment of the Jindal School of Government and Public Policy, Mr. Jindal stressed the need to improve the quality of governance and various service delivery mechanisms in order to make the country stronger. He said that there is a lot to learn from the best practices in U.K. and rest of the world.
The former Secretary General of Lok Sabha, Mr. Subash Kashyap expressed serious concern over the fact that legislation is often rushed through without adequate debate. He also highlighted the fact that 12 to 15 per cent of time of Parliament’s time is now devoted to legislation which has reduced from the earlier figure of 48%.
A group of Members of Parliament from India and the United Kingdom held wide ranging discussions covering various aspects of Indian federal system and Center State Relations, law-making process and current challenges. The meeting also discussed various facets of the Center-State relationship; coalition government; party discipline and dissent; the legislative process; secondary legislation; select committees; Private Member’s Bills; pre- and post-legislative scrutiny, parliamentary standing committees; The meeting also discussed current challenges relating to the funding of political parties; corruption; outreach and recovering respect.
The ten member U.K. Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation was led by Rt Hon. Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (Labor), shadow leader of the House of Lords. Lady Royall said “This Forum was an invaluable opportunity both to engage in dialogue about our parliamentary systems and to establish important relations which will be fostered in the future.”
Besides Mr. Naveen Jindal, Dr. E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan and Mr. Avinash Pande represented the Indian MPs delegation. Commenting on the event, Mr. Naveen Jindal, M.P. and Chancellor, O.P. Jindal Global University said, “The coming together of Members of Parliament from India and U.K. augurs well for the exchange of views, learning from each other’s experiences and close bilateral cooperation between the two sides. It reinforces shared understanding of parliamentary form of government and age-old bonds between both the countries.”
Professor (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar, Vice Chancellor, O.P. Jindal Global University said, “This exchange between the parliamentarians of India and the UK is extremely relevant for the strengthening of the democratic institutions and institutional practices based upon the common law system and the rule of law that prevails in both the countries. The O.P. Jindal Global University is delighted to host this event, which provided an opportunity for law makers from both countries to discuss in an informal and academic environment the major challenges of democratic governance promoting greater understanding between India and the UK”.