Parliament: The North Star of Democracy

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    In News

    • Recently, Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar termed Parliament as the “North Star of democracy”

    About

    • Recently, Both the houses of Parliament were adjourned due to the opposition creating a ruckus and demanding a discussion on the Hindenburg report on the Adani conglomerate.
    • The report by Hindenburg Research, a US-based investment firm has accused the Adani Group of “stock manipulation and accounting fraud” leading to a steep fall in the share prices of group firms.
    • Previously, the Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud had described the basic structure of the Constitution, laid down by the Supreme Court in the 1973 Kesavananda Bharati judgment, as the “North Star” 
    • The Doctrine of Basic Structure is a form of judicial review that is used to test the legality of any legislation by the government and gives certain direction to the interpreters and implementers of the Constitution.

    What is North Star?

    • The North Star, also known as Polaris, is a bright star located in the constellation Ursa Minor.

    • It is located less than 1° away from the north celestial pole and is in direct line with the Earth’s rotational axis.
    • Its position and brightness make it useful for navigation since late antiquity.
    • Polaris was first charted by the Roman mathematician and astronomer Ptolemy and became central to human history during the Age of Exploration.
    • The North Star has been used in literature as a metaphor for something that provides guidance and direction, with “constant as the Northern Star” being a famous example from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
    • The title of “North Star” passes to different stars over time as the Earth’s axis of rotation wobbles like a spinning top, causing the celestial pole to “wander in a slow circle”.
    • Polaris is around 2,500 times more luminous than the Sun and is approximately 323 light years away from Earth.

    Indian Parliament

    About:

    • The Indian Parliament is the supreme legislative body of the Republic of India. 
    • It is responsible for making laws and policies that govern the country and serves as a platform for representatives of the people to voice their opinions and concerns.

    History

    • The Indian Parliament has a long and rich history that dates back to the colonial era. The Indian National Congress was established in 1885, and in the following years, the demands for independence and self-rule grew louder.
    • The Government of India Act 1935 established a federal structure of government and provided for a bicameral legislature.
    • India achieved independence from British rule on August 15, 1947, and the Constituent Assembly was established to draft the country’s constitution.
    • The Indian Constitution came into effect on January 26, 1950, and the Parliament of India was constituted under its provisions.

    Structure of Indian Parliament

    • The Parliament of India is a bicameral system, consisting of two houses: the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha.
    • The Rajya Sabha is the upper house, composed of members appointed by the President and elected by the state and territorial legislatures.
    • It has a maximum strength of 250 members, with 238 members being elected and 12 members appointed by the President.
    • The Lok Sabha is the lower house, composed of directly elected members, with a maximum strength of 552 members.

    Organs of Indian Parliament

    The Parliament of India has several organs, including:

    • The President: The President of India is the constitutional head of state and is elected by an Electoral College composed of members of both houses of Parliament and the legislative assemblies of the states.
    • Vice-President: The Vice-President of India is elected by members of both houses of Parliament and serves as the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
    • Speaker and Deputy Speaker: The Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha are elected from among its members and preside over its proceedings.
    • Chairman and Deputy Chairman: The Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha are elected from among its members and preside over its proceedings.

    Importance of Parliament

    • The Indian Parliament is the supreme legislative body of the country and is responsible for making laws and policies that govern India.
    • It serves as a platform for representatives of the people to voice their opinions and concerns and to hold the government accountable for its actions.
    • The Parliament is also responsible for controlling the nation’s finances, including the imposition of taxes, the management of public funds, and the preparation of the national budget.

    Key challenges of Parliament:

    • Political polarization: The political polarization between different parties in the Parliament has lead to gridlock and prevent meaningful legislation from being passed. This can result in a lack of progress on important issues and a failure to address the needs of the people.
    • Lack of attendance and participation: Many members of Parliament fail to attend sessions regularly, leading to a lack of participation in the legislative process. This can result in a lack of accountability and a failure to represent the views and interests of the people.
    • Disruptive behavior: Unparliamentary behavior by members of Parliament often disrupts the functioning of the House and prevent meaningful debates and discussions from taking place. This can result in a lack of progress on important issues and a failure to address the needs of the people.
    • Corruption:It remains a major challenge for the Indian Parliament, as some members may be influenced by money or other incentives to vote in a certain way resulting in legislation that benefits a select few rather than the general public.
    • Lack of representation: The current system of representation in the Parliament may not accurately reflect the diverse views and interests of the people resulting in a lack of representation for marginalized groups and a failure to address their needs and concerns.

    Way Ahead

    • Bridging the gap: The relationship between the judiciary and parliament is crucial in any democratic system of government as both institutions play important roles in ensuring the rule of law and protecting the rights and freedoms of citizens. 
    • Strengthening attendance and participation: It can improve the functioning of the House and can be achieved through measures such as fines for absentees or incentives for regular attendance.
    • Encouraging constructive debate: It can improve the functioning of the House and can be achieved through measures such as allowing members to freely express their views and opinions, and creating a culture of respectful disagreement.
    • Addressing corruption: Addressing corruption is crucial for it to function effectively and can be achieved through measures such as increased transparency, accountability, and penalties for corrupt behaviour.
    • Increasing representation: Increasing representation for marginalized groups through measures such as reserving seats for underrepresented groups, or implementing a more proportional representation system.
    • Enhancing transparency and accountability: This can be achieved through measures such as regular reporting on the activities of the Parliament and increased public access to information about the legislative process.

    Source: TH