The ability of Parliament to effectively carry out the responsibilities that have been entrusted to it by the Constitution is hampered by a reduction in its productivity. As a concerning trend in the Indian polity, the average productivity of Parliament has been on a decline. Productivity here can be understood by the number of working hours in both houses of the parliament, as well as the number of bills passed in each session of the parliament. According to PRS Legislative Research, the 17th Lok Sabha (2019–2024) witnessed a mere 42 per cent productivity. The situation has worsened over the last six months with the 17th Lok Sabha likely to record the lowest number of sitting days since 1952.
The 2023 monsoon session is witnessing frequent interruptions due to protests and disruptions by members of parliament. The newly formed opposition alliance Indian National Development Inclusive Alliance (‘INDIA’) as well other parties, have been major disruptors. While the opposition parties have the right to express their demands to the government, the disorder in the Indian Parliament has become the present-day order, reducing the productivity to a new low.
The number of working hours for which both houses of the Parliament function is witnessing a major decline, signalling a worrying trend. Between 2019 and 2022, the working hours of Lok Sabha declined by more than 29 per cent and Rajya Sabha declined by nearly 21 per cent. Even with the lower working hours, in the 2023 Budget session 44.3 percent of the Lok Sabha hours went towards “Non-Legislation”, while 56.6 percent of the Rajya Sabha hours went towards “Non-Legislation”.
Who is to be blamed?
The repeated adjournments of the Parliament seem to have no immediate resolution. The government has accused the opposition of being obstructionist, asserting that their protests are aimed at derailing the legislative process. On the other hand, the opposition parties have accused the government of being dismissive and insensitive towards their legitimate concerns.
Way ahead for the Indian Legislature
The takeaway from these findings, to conclude, should be that legislative procedures should precede political agendas. In a building that represents the democratic values of India, the focus should instead be on having a discussion which is conducive to the progress of the country. A constructive and engaging environment is necessary in order to tackle the challenges that stand before India.
Ratika Khanna/ New Delhi
Contributing reports by Dharma Teja and Sakshi Rai, Researchers at Polstrat.
Infographics by the Graphic Design Team at Polstrat.
From Polstrat, a non-partisan political consultancy which aims to shift the narrative of political discourse in the country from a problem-centric to a solutions-oriented approach.