Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Catch them young, watch them grow ;)

Latest one printed by the Indian Express (if you want to access it directly, here you go: )

'These Questions of our Age'

Seventy per cent of India’s population is under 35 years of age. Only three per cent of the 14th Lok Sabha (constituted in May 2004) falls in that demographic. (Manvendra Singh and Rahul Gandhi have passed the 35-year mark.) Inevitable questions spring to mind. Who are they? How do they perform?

Five of the 16 MPs belong to the Congress, all from political families. They are all well-educated with substantial financial backing, and the public has high expectations of their performance as parliamentarians. Lok Sabha archives reveal that Jyotiraditya Scindia and Milind Deora lead with 237 and 159 questions respectively. The others lag behind. Jitin Prasad has six questions to his credit, Deepinder Singh Hooda has three and Sachin Pilot has none.

In contrast, the BJP has only one candidate who perpetuates political dynasty: Dushyant Singh, MP from Jhalawar, Rajasthan. He has tabled 407 questions in Parliament. Of the others, Adityanath Yogi of Gorakhpur, UP, is perhaps the most politically astute. His call for dwelling places for rickshaw drivers and employment for those evicted from government lands, which they had encroached on, has stood him in good stead with the common people. He openly seeks votes in the name of Hindutva, going so far as to publicly declare, “I want Muslim votes too, but wash them in Gangajal first.” Yogi has asked 90 questions in the Lok Sabha. The MP from Ganganagar, Nihal Chand Chauhan has asked 44 questions on various subjects, while Khiren Rijiju, who is worried about of a separatist movement starting in Tawang, which is part of his constituency, has 72 questions to his credit.

The Samajwadi Party has two political heirs: Mulayam Singh Yadav’s son, Akhilesh, who has asked 15 questions, and nephew, Dharmendra, who has asked none.

The BSP’s Mohammad Tahir Khan, from Sultanpur, UP, had opposed the Delimitation Commission’s proposal to eliminate the Sultanpur Lok Sabha Constituency and suggested instead that Amethi be purged, earning the wrath of the Congress, in September 2006. Khan wants to concentrate on poverty elimination and has raised issues 256 times in Parliament. The BSP’s other young parliamentarian, Ashok Kumar Rawat from Misrikh, UP, seems to have his focus set on the welfare of SC/STs and has tabled 229 questions in the House.

Finally, there are only three women on the list. Susmita Bauri’s entry into the Lok Sabha (from Vishnupur, UP) represents for the first time the CPI(M) joining the dynastic bandwagon, as they needed a dalit woman to fill her mother’s seat. She has raised 11 questions so far. Ranjeet Ranjan of Sahasra, Bihar, of the LJSP, has 15 questions on record. Radhika Selvi of Tiruchendur, Tamil Nadu, was absorbed into politics by the DMK after her husband was shot dead. She banks on the sympathy vote, not on debate regarding core issues in the state. She has asked three questions.

These facts reveal much about the emerging face of our democracy. First, that not all our elected leaders are actually active in the Lok Sabha. Coming from a political family does not necessarily translate into being politically active, even if that gives an inherent comparative advantage. While parties are certainly free to groom dynasties, ideally this ought not to be done at the expense of other competent entrants. Second, that almost half the MPs in our list belong to the SC/ST/OBC categories indicating a healthy representation of those communities. Third, that expediency should not be the main reason for parties to put up women candidates. Fourth, that there is only one Muslim in the list.

Thus the composition of this list suggests that political parties do not do at the ground level what they fight for at the national level — consider, for instance, the low representation of women and Muslims.

In the final analysis, it is we, the people, who are responsible for choosing who will represent us in Parliament. As such, we must be mindful of our MPs’ performance both inside and out of Parliament. If it appears that they are non-performers or break the law, we should not grant them another term. Call it consumer consciousness, if you will. Our first time representatives must use these five years to learn and train themselves as parliamentarians and politicians. For us, the electorate, these years are the time to keep track of how the MPs develop. We get a chance only once in five years. Complacency will make us a captive audience in our own democracy.


Anonymous said...

Pretty neat research there. What got my goat: When I heard LK Advani hoped to be the PM if the Opposition won the next elections! Crazy 80-something should rest, but then who decides and takes charge is the question. Our leaders are a generation too gone, its turning into a bit of a problem. The Samajhwadi Part depresses me. 'Consumer consciousness' must prevail.

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Anonymous said...

Hmmmm.... interesting thoughts...
well, for the most part the biggest problem today (though people will have a hard time admitting it off hand) is that the political world has become such a quagmire and in many ways resembles the mob (or "family" if you prefer) mentality, that the young people who are educated and could make a difference are afraid to make that step in to it... thats why so many of the young faces are political family faces (whether they become seriously active or not).
Ours is the worlds largest democracy, but its far from what it was meant to be. This may be the idealist in me speaking, but we need to clean up the system before we can expect to make any real change...

Oh yeah, and Jerry makes a good point, our leaders are not just a generation gone though, theyre a time period apart from the rest of us!

rossoneri said...

if half are sc/st i think others are not represented properly! and all above 75 should be shot.

Anonymous said...

well said..i think yr views r as beautiful as u r ...

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Anonymous said...

great idea, this one.. asking questions... why don't people just ask more questions. I don't know if these numbers will be used in elections for accountable MPs or if the masses will know them. I think it would be interesting to see ministers scrambling to ask questions, inadvertently getting more done.

Anonymous said...

hey imagine muslim quotas? probably not, but woman quota could work?!

Anonymous said...

interesting idea to explore the contribution of our young MPs to main stream politics. In case you choose to ever explore this area more, perhaps there are other areas to dwell on more than just the no. of questions a member asked.

for eg. jyotiraditya scindia's multitude of questions could be because the topic being hotly debated is his area of work/speciality at the central/party level

lack of questions could also mean time spent at the constituency (though i admit they probably need to balance that with time at the parliament)

having said all that, its quite likely you could well arrive at similar conclusions in terms of their political contributions, that those who are seen here as more active, might well have contributed more politically

was rather surprised at the sachin
pilot number. Let me know if you profile one of your favourites, would make for an interesting read, i'm sure

556 HB