Firstly I would like to begin by offering my condolences to the entire nation on the loss of our former President, an impeccable scientist and more importantly a fine human being - Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. This most certainly is the end of an era. Among the scores of tributes and anecdotal articles on Dr. Kalam over the last few days, I came across a particular one mentioning his last proposed assignment to IIM Shillong students on ‘Finding innovative solutions to end Parliament disruptions’.
Off late an ‘Operational Parliament’ has become quite comparable to ‘Tolerance on Social Media’ – both on the verge of non-existence! This issue of a non-functioning Parliament has been bothering most of us over the last year and half. Both political parties, the one heading current government as well as the opposition, are culprits equally. The situation has reached such chronic proportions that another Anna Hazare campaign followed by a new political party might soon be on its way. Like many of us, all I have done is expressed my outrage on Twitter. But the aforementioned article got me thinking!
Is there an elixir that can make our honourable Members of Parliament (MP) stay inside the Parliament hall for more than 15 mins, before they hear the magic word ‘adjourned’ and go back to their homes enjoying their paid holidays? Surely the concept of ‘doing-the-job-you-are-paid-for’ is not rocket science for our MPs to comprehend.
Sloganeering & creating ruckus in the Parliament hall has become like the prayer we used to sing before start of school proceedings – a morning habit! Overweight MPs sprinting to the well of the Parliament hall, at a speed that would even leave Usain Bolt a little overwhelmed, has now become a regular morning exercise. These daily sprints & vocal exercises are making our MPs fitter but it’s the nation that is suffering! Here are my two cents of the things we can try to keep them at work:
- Carrot & Stick Approach: Recently read an article here that about 60 odd crores were spent on canteen food subsidy in Parliament over the last 5 years. While this caused some outrage on social media, I think there is a solid case of providing subsidies to only those MPs who can spend 8 hrs. in the Parliament without running around with posters/slogans and damaging infrastructure. An additional 5% discount can also be made available for listening to what the speaker says!
- Brute Force technique: Another option might be to employ bouncers outside the main Parliament hall whose sole responsibility would be to keep our MPs inside the room until they either kill each other during the course of their protests or the till end of day’s session (whichever is earlier :P). I am sure the Indian tax payers won’t mind few bills passed in Parliament at the expense of 10-12 bouncer’s salary.
- The ‘2 Birds - 1 Stone’ way: Considering the fact that most of the people supposed to attend Parliament are the same people attending BCCI meetings (albeit with no walkovers and adjournments) and their (vested) interest in cricket, we could ask Sachin Tendulkar to conduct cricket matches/coaching stints during lunch time within the Parliament premises for all MPs (having more than 80% attendance) & their kids. This will even ensure Sachin’s presence in the Parliament! :P
In case none of these above options succeed, I am afraid we would have to rely on our last resort – a simple but onerous 3-Step method:
Step 1: Find a sensible and level headed MP who thinks they should earn their salaries AND who is willing to go against his party on this.
Step 2: Induce him to introduce a bill in Parliament mandating minimum working hours of Parliament & MPs and linking salaries to their percentage attendance.
Step 3: Make sure this bill is labeled as ‘Reservation Quota’ and hope the rest of the MPs pass the bill without reading it!
While Step 2 & 3 still seem plausible, it’s finding the right man to carry out this task that’s a bit of a stiff proposition. Such a man hunt is best described by a PG Wodehouse gem - ‘one who has been looking for the leak in a gas pipe with a lighted candle!’ In other words futile.
But there is one particular quote of Late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam that gives me hope:
"We should not give up & should not allow problems to defeat us”
I hope that one day our Parliamentarians will show a bit of self-respect, honour the commitment they have made to the voters and Constitution of India and get back to work on their own. Until that day descends all we can expect is…
Arrive. Protest. Adjourn. Leave. Repeat!