India’s MLAs are not asking enough questions : Report

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via  NIDHI ARUN (The Print)
India’s MLAs not asking enough questions, Bills rushed. But all our focus is on the Centre. State legislatures must ensure longer and more productive sessions. According to a report, 92 per cent of Bills in Karnataka’s previous assembly were passed within a week of their introduction, a trend seen commonly across India.
Most Indian states are run solely by their chief ministers along with a few trusted aides. Minister portfolios are not made very clear to the public, assembly debates seldom take place and Bills are passed without adequate discussion. This may create an illusion of efficiency, but it overlooks due democratic processes. Very few MLAs productively engage in issues beyond common civic concerns. Little rigour is applied to laws and policymaking at the state level and voters hardly care beyond elections. 

To a large extent, political and administrative analysis is disproportionately focused on the Centre and legislatures are often ignored.It has often been suggested that perks and privileges be tied to work as in the corporate sector. This may help things but it would also help if parties also put pressure on their MLAs to do their job if for nothing but to increase the prospects of re-election.

The lives of elected representatives in India are not always their own. They have to cater to the needs of law-making, their parties and their constituents.But on the first count, lawmakers in the states fall short according to a new PRS legislative research study, which shows that MLAs in India work an average of 28 days in a year (based on average number of days for which assemblies sat between 2011 and 2016).

At the bottom of the heap are lawmakers from Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Haryana. This is in sharp contrast to Lok Sabha members of Parliament, who notch up at least 70 days a year in the house(again based on data between 2011 and 2016), apart from the time they spend in their constituencies or working for their parties. Whichever way you look at it, 28 is an abysmal statistic.

Still, this is a reflection of how states are increasingly run these days and how the authority of state legislatures has been eroded over the years. The process of lawmaking is broken. Some assemblies have witnessed ugly scenes, even slugfests. Indeed, there is little debate and discussion in many state assemblies. Bills are passed in haste, often without the consideration and discussion that is their due.

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