Is the Parliamentary form of our government good enough? There stands a ‘need for a change’ to fill in the missing action of India.
Parliaments in democracies worldwide were meeting and questioning their governments on their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several countries have held sessions either with physical distancing (fewer MPs attend with agreement across parties) or video conferencing or a combination of the two. Many countries have adopted a hybrid model of in-person and video attendance.
India’s Parliament, which takes pride as the apex representative body of the world’s largest democracy, was a notable absentee from this list. Hence, India’s Parliament is missing in action.
The Indian Parliament
Parliament has a primary role in our system of governance. Predominantly, it is the institution that checks and challenges the government of the day. Over the decades, our Parliament has progressed procedures of accountability, including hearings of committees.
However, Parliament and its committees have not met for over two months during the pandemic, which indicates the absence of scrutiny of government actions.
The Judiciary, Legislature and Executive are the three pillars on which the effective functioning of the parliamentary government rests. As opposed to conflicts, a balance is vital to achieving the ultimate public welfare and smooth functioning of the constitutional machinery.
India, on the contrary, bears the supremacy of the Constitution where the powers of the Parliament circumscribe within the four walls set by the Constitution and yet provides for striking a balance between the various pillars without any encroachment on each other’s area, providing effective governance.
The judicial review encompasses the judiciary’s power to review legislative and judiciary actions, thus enshrining the principle of Rule of Law and maintaining the separation of power principle at the grassroots level.
The mainframe within which the judiciary limits is thereby protecting the Constitution’s sanctity and protecting the fundamental rights of the citizens.
Judicial review is a reliable tool to check public bodies and render them accountable if their decisions or policies go outside the powers that hied in the Constitution.
It maintains adequate checks and balances by controlling unriddled, arbitrary or unjust acts taken on the Executive and the Legislature.
The Pressing Issues
In India, the President is nothing more than a rubber stamp. He does not possess any natural powers in his hands except in rare circumstances.
The President has no voice in the policies of the parliamentary government. He is obliged to approve the advice of the Council of Ministers. Also, the people of India have no vote in the election of the President.
Their views are not taken into account while the deliberations take place. As already stated, the opposition party opposes only to oppose the ruling party, no matter how beneficial the policy is for the country in the long run.
Indians have seen and enjoyed uncontested democracy since independence except during the 1970s while the decree of emergency was in effect. There is always a brawl amid the political parties for vote banks.
The economy requires a wave of modernization and industrialization agricultural sector is overburdened, and the to share the burden and pace up its growth and development, which appears to be impossible in the current conditions of a perverted form of democracy.
After taking in the new Constitution for the Fifth Republic, France had a more powerful President.
It increased the role of the public in politics and matters of great public concern. Contrasting to the conditions prevailing in India, the legislators work only to stay in office and hold power.
They are least bothered about the long-term aspects of any reform or policy. Just for the sake of opposing the ruling party, the Opposition opposes the policies of the government.
They don’t look deep into the matter and seek merits; instead, they hold onto the superficial flaws of the guidelines. However, their duty is not to oppose but to check the public interest undermining activities of the government.
Participatory democracy is the alternative form of democracy that could be made applicable in India. Participatory democracy, a form of social action and political practice expanding politics beyond the representative institutions of elections, political parties and the bureaucracy.
Participatory democracy is comprehensive of deliberative, consensus, anticipatory and semi-direct democracy.
Nevertheless, the researcher recommends the Semi-direct Democracy or Semi-Presidential system of democracy in India, like adopted by France.
In such a structure, the balance of power shifts precisely from the politicians to the citizens where it truly belongs. This design form is practical and desirable since it is not a fully Presidential form of democracy, nor is it similar to the present Parliamentary system.
This design will increase the role of an ordinary person in matters of public concern and importance. The President shall be made more robust and responsible. People will be free to elect their head of the executive and the State.
The active role of the President will secure the smooth operating of the three organs of the government. This idea of participatory democracy was primary to Gandhiji’s political thinking and practice.
It features public participation, the rule of law, transparency, responsiveness, the harmony of the public and the three organs, efficiency and accountability. And, this form of democracy will be a key to effectuate good governance and participatory citizenship in India.
The government can use technology to implement the idea of participatory democracy, enhance people’s role in the election and decision-making processes, and look into their interests and political and social destiny.
Internet has a great position and eases to deliver in such a case. Government can introduce an online voting mechanism for people’s will and views in significant areas.
Today, almost every person in India has access to the internet; hence its usability and connectivity would be fruitful in this regard. People would be free to vote and participate without any persecution.
This initiative will entail a fairer and more appropriate approach to the prevailing demands and needs. Therefore, a semi-direct democracy type of participatory democracy and technology would be in the nation’s interest.
Democracy was constructed as a flexible system wherein every citizen makes their contribution to society.
However, the past few years since independence have demonstrated that democracy has failed to deliver its purpose theoretically and practically in India.
In the present conditions of rapid degradation of democratic norms, criminalization of politics, corruption in the government’s legal, executive and political sects meant for facilitating and catering to people’s needs and open violation of electoral reforms, alternative forms of democracy have become increasingly needed in India.