The 17th Lok Sabha’s Performance: Challenges and Concerns

The new Parliament building in India, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, represents the ambitions of 140 million Indians. However, as the 17th Lok Sabha enters its final year, its performance is being scrutinised.

Performance of the 17th Lok Sabha

  • Sitting Days: The 17th Lok Sabha has met for 230 sitting days. If it falls short of breaking the record for the shortest full-term Lok Sabha (331 sitting days in the 16th Lok Sabha), it will be the shortest full-term Lok Sabha since 1952.
  • Bills Referred to Committees: The number of bills referred to Parliamentary Standing Committees has decreased. Only 45% of all measures submitted in Parliament since 2004 have been referred to committees. This means that comprehensive analysis and evaluation of new laws may be reduced.
  • Legislative Output: In the 17th Lok Sabha, the number of bills introduced and passed has decreased. So far, 131 of the 150 legislation introduced have been passed (excluding Finance and Appropriation legislation). The diminishing trend raises concerns about the Lok Sabha’s legislative output.
  • Budget Deliberations: The 17th Lok Sabha’s most recent Budget session was one of the shortest since 1952. The short amount of time allotted to addressing financial issues, notably the Budget, raises worries about the depth of investigation and deliberation on crucial fiscal issues.
  • Debates on Public Issues: The number of debates held in the Lok Sabha during the 17th Lok Sabha’s duration has been low. There have only been 11 short-term debates and one half-hour discussion, showing a limited channel for meaningful parliamentary debate on issues of public interest.
  • Delayed Deputy Speaker Election: Despite a constitutional provision mandating the election of a Deputy Speaker, the 17th Lok Sabha has yet to elect one, despite the fact that it is in the penultimate year of its five-year mandate. This delay raises issues about constitutional compliance and the smooth operation of parliamentary procedures.

Why has the 17th Lok Sabha’s productivity been so low?

  • Protests and disruptions: Opposition parties disrupted and protested frequently during the 17th Lok Sabha, resulting in significant time loss and lower productivity. The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the National Register of Citizens (NRC), and farm legislation were among the primary concerns that caused interruptions.
  • Lack of Consensus: Although the ruling party had a large majority in the Lok Sabha, there was still a lack of consensus on several vital topics, causing important bills and legislation to be delayed.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic also contributed to the Lok Sabha’s low productivity, since numerous sessions were delayed or cancelled due to safety concerns.
  • Speaker’s Decision: The Speaker of the Lok Sabha’s decision to bar opposition MPs from raising specific concerns sparked protests and interruptions, significantly lowering the house’s efficiency.
  • Shorter Sessions: Compared to previous Lok Sabhas, the 17th Lok Sabha had shorter sessions, which contributed to poorer output. Many key proposals and topics were left pending because to a lack of time to adequately analyse and debate them.

Concerns about the performance of MPs in the old Parliament building

  • Low Parliamentary Engagement: The low number of sitting days raises worries about MPs’ ability to properly participate in legislative proceedings and handle the country’s varied difficulties and issues.
  • Reduced Legislative Scrutiny: The decline in the referral of bills to Parliamentary Standing Committees raises concerns about the full examination and evaluation of proposed legislation.
  • Legislative Productivity: The 17th Lok Sabha’s legislative productivity is hampered by a decline in the number of bills introduced and passed. This may impede MPs’ ability to address crucial issues, propose new policies, and implement necessary reforms, stifling progress and development.
  • Budget Discussions Are Limited: The truncated Budget sessions and restricted time allotted for financial discussions raise worries about the depth of analysis and deliberation on crucial fiscal issues.
  • Debates on Public Issues are low: The low number of debates held in the Lok Sabha raises concerns about the complete discussion and analysis of issues of public importance.

The New Parliament Building: A Chance for Efficiency

  • Responsible Parliamentary Behaviour: Parliamentarians should prioritise constructive and meaningful debates, establishing a culture of respect, collaboration, and consensus-building. It is critical to shift away from disruptive techniques and towards real debates that address our time’s complicated governance concerns.
  • Disruption Reduction: Long periods of gridlock and disturbance impede Parliament’s regular operation. Efforts should be taken to keep disturbances to a minimum and to keep conversations focused on critical subjects. To encourage more disciplined and productive parliamentary behaviour, rules and procedures can be revised.
  • Improving Communication and Participation: The new Parliament building, which is equipped with modern facilities, provides potential for improved communication and participation. Members should make effective use of these resources to engage people, provide information, and solicit input, building a more inclusive and participatory democracy.

@the end

The performance of MPs in the 17th Lok Sabha is critical in driving good administration and articulating the Indian people’s goals. MPs must embrace their position as caretakers of democracy, keeping accountable to their constituents and cooperating to construct a better future for India.

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