MONSOON SESSION: NO THOUGHT-WORTHY CONTENT BUT HIGH ON ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT

As expected, the completeness of the washout of the Monsoon session of the Parliament was complete today, on its last working day – that was again a copy of every other day – the way it has been this time since July 21, when the session began.

Reports says the washed out session has wasted some 250 crore of taxpayers ‘money. Reports also say a failure to pass the Goods and Service Bill in this session means some 2-3% drop in the markets. Reports also say the long term effect on the economy of nation of stalled GST Bill or Land Bill would be severely negative.

But who cares!

Reports say there may be another session, the special one, from August 30 to pass the GST Bill – because it is not done now, it will become impossible to achieve its targeted implementation by April 1, 2016.

GST is an important tax reform that will fundamentally change the concerned taxation structure in the country. It requires the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha passing it separately and from there it goes to the state legislatures and half of the Indian states need tom ratified it before it could become a law.

Now, that can be done, as the BJP is in government in many states and as the many non-BJP state governments are supporting the Bill. The riddle lies in Rajya Sabha and the BJP will try to arrange the numbers somehow if the special session is held.

The Congress party, that was the principal force behind the washout this time, is in majority in Rajya Sabha, with 68 members in the 245 member upper house. And, in the name of democracy, it swept the entire 18 days without any result – as the PRS Legislative Research analysis shows – the Rajya Sabha had an overall productivity of just 9% while its question hour could give an output of just 1%.

So, irrespective of political statements about majority of numbers in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, the developments were as the respective political stands – Congress had points to raise questions to score political points and disrupting the Houses, it thought, as the political parties think, was its most visible representation. Rajya Sabha where the BJP is in minority and where Congress is the largest party became the main battle arena for it.

Similarly, the BJP, that is in the government, has clear majority in the Lok Sabha and since as it in the government this time, it has the responsibility to carry out business transactions that reflects in 52% productivity of the lower house, much higher than Rajya Sabha – though, on ground, and in reality, even the Lok Sabha could not work properly.

Every day in the Parliament, in its both Houses, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, witnessed similar characters voicing similar jumbled voices charging the atmosphere to a new ‘unruly high’ that was ‘soap opera’-esque – shows running day in and day out on different television channels – with no thought-worthy content but high on entertainment quotient.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

PARLIAMENT NOW A DISRUPTED, FRACTURED PLATFORM, BUT THEY DON’T CARE!

Tomorrow, another Parliament session is coming to an end – with a beginning that hardly had begun when the disruptions started.

In fact, the trend (or the prevailing culture/political sentiments) was right on the job from the last session. The political culture of disruption, in fact, has been consistently extended from one Parliament session to the next most of the times in the recent political history.

It is said the recent Budget Session was the most productive one recently (in fact, in the last 15 years) but even it was replete with anti-Parliamentary stands resulting in a chaos/ruckus that has become synonymous with the work culture of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.

A work culture where every work is done except the work for which the Parliament sessions are held thrice annually – to assess how the country is being run and to assess how it can be run – because the Union Government is the supreme administrative arch of the nation.

A work culture that has become so one with the politics of disruption that the disturbing trend now runs as its routine undercurrent.

A work culture that now prominently gives rise to countless debates on ‘if the Parliament will be able to work or transact some of its businesses on a coming tomorrow’ – a ‘tomorrow’ that is becoming more and more distant now.

And the prime people manning the Parliament, our politicians, the select few whom we elect (or who are elected), are not at all worried about it.

When it comes to disruptions, every political outfit, based on its position (sitting arrangement in the Parliament), is to share the blame, or in the prevailing political language of the day – the way political parties like to describe their disruptive stands – is to share the credit of ‘promoting democratic values’.

They don’t care if the Indian Parliament is now known as a disrupted, fractured platform that oozes out a feeling that nothing sense can be discussed there. They don’t care if verbal attacks on political rivals by them leave us in bad taste – something that was most intense today.

They don’t care if every washed out Parliament session, as this one is going out to be, wastes hundreds of crores of taxpayers’ money directly – and causes massive losses indirectly due to stalled policy decisions – like the delayed land reforms – or possibly (now) delayed Goods and Services Tax Bill (GST Bill) that could see the markets ‘fall by 2-3%’ as the analysts say.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

‘NO WORK, NO PAY’ FOR OUR MPS: DID YOU SAY THAT?

Reports say every minute of Parliament activist costs Rs. 2.5 lakh (Rs. 250,000) and most of it has been wasted in the recent parliamentary history of India.

And the season is here, yet again.

The issue is being debated intensely as the Parliament is in session and its working days so far, 10 days of this Monsoon Session, have been totally washed away in chaos.

Congress and the opposition parties supporting its stand are demanding resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan’s chief minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia for helping Lalit Modi and Madhya Pradesh’s chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for Vyapam scam in the state. Obviously, going by the politics of the day, the BJP will never agree to such demands.

And as everyone is maintaining the stands taken, no one is listening to anyone. If we go by the audible records of the days in both Houses, voices of the Speakers of both Houses (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) are the most clear and audible ones – trying to run their Houses and trying to discipline the members (of Parliament, that seldom happens). That speaks a lot.

Obviously, that is taxpayers’ money which our policymakers so easily waste. In fact, the Parliament of has become synonymous with ruckus and chaos and its disruptions have become so routine that when it functions, it becomes a news.

And are policymakers are openly vocal and probably, insistent on it.

So, when a union minister proposed that the Narendra Modi government was considering bringing the MPs under ‘no work, no pay’ principle, the ears became spontaneously sceptical, taking the news with a fistful of salt.

And lo! Soon, the minister that had said so took U-turn saying he never said so.

Yes, the issue is a burning one and the suggestion, if someone from the policymaking benches moots so, would be the logical one, in fact the most pertinent one. After all, bureaucracy comes under ‘no work, no pay’. It is used in many private jobs and in corporate houses.

But our policymakers who see disrupting the Parliament daily as one of their democratic rights, even if it means loss of nation’s resources, even if means nothing productive happening at a place where policies running the country are made and modified, would never agree to it.

And reactions by parliamentarians on the ‘alleged’ suggestion of the union minister only reaffirm so.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

DEAR POLITICIANS AND BUREAUCRATS: CAN’T YOU VOLUNTARILY GIVE UP SUBSIDY IN PARLIAMENT CANTEENS?

Well, if Narendra Modi can request his countrymen to do so for LPG cylinders (liquefied petroleum gas cylinders, main cooking fuel in houses where PNG or ‘piped natural gas’ has not reached – or families that can and can somehow afford it), his government can certainly push the fellow members and their officials and officials of the Parliament and the Government to give up the ‘huge subsidy’ – ranging from 60% to over 100% (in some cases, a dish with raw material cost of Rs. 99 is served for Rs. 33) – on food in the Parliament canteens.

Congress has supported the move. Parliamentarians can give it up voluntarily. Or, they can come with a yardstick. Also, it is a popular issue politically – like Arvind Kejriwal successfully cashed the electoral popularity of ‘VIP culture’ in Delhi polls – most members (of Parliament) would be forced to look positive to such measures. Some may oppose the move but their count would not be enough to obstruct a decision to this effect. And if the politicians there support it, we can count the bureaucrats in.

Now, for the point – as told reportedly – that politicians alone cannot be blamed for the practice – well, politicians and well-to-do bureaucrats are to be blamed for it.

On March 27, Narendra Modi had appealed – as the Times of India writes – “People who can afford buying LPG at market rates should give up subsidy on cooking gas. Money we save from giving up LPG subsidy is the money we will use for the poor, so that they have access to clean energy too.”

It is now almost three months to that statement. MPs and bureaucrats could have set a precedent for masses by refusing subsidized food items in the Parliament. Alternatively, they could have come up with a mechanism to fix market price of each item to pay accordingly.

They did not do it. They have not done it. Would they do it now?

It is not for the Rs. 60.7 crore subsidy given to the Parliament canteens in the last five years, as Subhash Chandra Agrawal’s RTI reply reveals. It is a very small amount when we count the overall government expenditure on politicians. It is about the message that such gesture would send to the masses – in times, when we are moving towards a ‘subsidy free’ governance – in times, when economists urge for the ‘pressing need’ to do so – in times, when the government looks convinced to do so.

The prices that have not been revised since December 2010 look ridiculously low. After all, where do we get a ‘masala dosa’ for Rs. 6 or ‘boiled vegetables’ at Rs. 5? And the long ‘ridiculously funny’ list is replete with such examples. And it is not in the canteens of the Parliament. We have other such spots on the ‘subsidy freeway’ where wrong people are enjoying such perks.

Parliament canteens can set a precedent for all such folks. Would our Parliamentarians, bureaucrats and other ‘financially capable’ people relishing such ‘subsidized delicacies’ do so?

Would they voluntarily give up the subsidy on food items in the Parliament canteens beginning with the Monsoon Session that is from July 21?

Would they pay the ‘market prices’ with ‘service tax’ as every Indian is expected to pay (and has to pay) till the issue is fixed?

And since any such move will be ‘self-driven’, ‘altruistic’ and ‘voluntary, it will take care of those ‘who really need subsidized food items’ from the Indian Parliament canteens.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/