Members of Parliament and Ministers of Government

30/06/2009

Once a Member of Parliament (MP) becomes a Minister of the Government, he is expected to devote his full time to the running of the affairs of his Ministry and he is to think of the requirements/development of the whole country and should not pay any special attention to his constituency. As Member of Parliament representing a particular constituency, he is expected to look after the interests his constituency. Thus a person cannot do justice to both the offices of MP and the Minister. Therefore, it is reasonable to make the MP to resign his membership of Parliament to take up the office of the Minister. The vacancy of MP in his constituency can be filled either by holding a bye-election or by some other means. The question whether the Minister should have voting right in the Parliament or not can be decided by the Parliament. In India at present 50-60 constituencies do not receive full attention of their MPs, they having been made Ministers. They do not speak in the Parliament as Member of his constituency.. There are a few countries where the above mentioned system is prevalent. To introduce the system in India, the constitution needs to be amended. The system can be experimented for 10-15 years and subjected to a thorough review thereafter to decide on continuation or discontinuance of the system

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India’s membership in regional/international groups

20/06/2009

In the past India used to be a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth and Non-aligned Movement. But now, one has lost count of the number of organizations or groups in which India is a member or with which India is associated with. Of course, some other countries also have become members of many regional groups, but in the case of India, some of the groups do not seem to be natural. In some cases, there is more to give than to take.

India spends a lot of time and energy of not only the officers but also of Ministers and Prime Minister and President in preparing for and attending the numerous meetings and summits. When more important and urgent work is awaiting VIPs and VVIPs in India, they are made to travel to foreign countries to attend to these meetings. India already has its Embassies and High Commissions and has good bilateral relations with the members of the groups. India can deal with the individual countries without additional efforts through its Missions.

It is time to review the usefulness of India’s membership in or association with some of the following groups in terms of additional trade, investment, political support etc.

  • Bay of Bengal Initaitve for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)
    • Member countries: Bangladesh, India, Myammar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan, Nepal
  • Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC)
    • Member countries: Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Iran, South Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, Tanzania
  • India, Brazil and South Africa Diaglogue Forum (IBSA)
  • Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC)
  • Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
    • Member countries: China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan (India has observer status)

Domestic issue of a foreign country

16/06/2009

In a foreign country, if Indian citizens are robbed not because they are Indians, but because they have money and any other nationals may also be robbed if opportunities are there, then it is a domestic issue of law and order of the foreign country. If, however, Indian citizens in a foreign country are attacked or even discriminated, because of their Indian origin, this cannot be considered a domestic issue. Even if persons of Indian origin holding foreign passports are discriminated in the foreign country because of their Indian origin, then also, it cannot be a domestic issue. It should be treated as a bilateral issue and the Goverment of India has to take up the issue with the foreign country. In the case of local people also, if a foreign country denies them the basic human rights, the international community has to consider ways like economic sactions for restoring the human rights.

This needs to debated in India to arrive at a conclusion and may not be left to the government alone to take decisions and act accordingly.


Democracy and Dynastic Rule

10/06/2009

When late Indian Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, of Congress Party gave important party positions to her son, opposition parties agitated against the attempt to bring in dynastic rule. At that time, Mrs. Gandhi asked why the country should lose the services of her talented son, merely because he was her son. She claimed that as an individual, her son had the right to do whatever he wanted to, whether to be in politics, business or agriculture. Since then, the states of Haryana, Punjab, Bihar, Orissa, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh have seen relatives of politicians – sons, sons-in-law and wifes – occupying positions of dignitary in party or government.

The latest instance is that of Chief Minister Mr. Karunanidhi of Tamilnadu appointing his son Mr. Stalin as the Deputy Chief Minister. There does not appear to be any opposition to this in the party. The D.M.K party seems to have made it a policy to nominate the wife or son or daughter of deceased members of parliament (MP) or members of legislative assembly (MLA) for elections in the mid-term poll.

In India there are innumerable cases of MPs, MLAs, State and Central Ministers and political party leaders grooming their relatives to succeed them. These politicians use the following logic: the son of an industrialist succeeds his father as the Managing Director or Chairman of the company. Why should not a politician’s son become a politician, that too with the acceptance of the people?

Dynastic rule agitates against the spirit of democracy. Even during the days of the Kings, the people would not have had any objections to the Prince succeeding his father. In some countries, while people want a particular leader to continue to be in power, the constitution of the countries have prescribed a limit of two or three terms for the President/Prime Minister. This is with a view protect democracy and to prevent dictatorship. In this spirit, it may be worthwhile to debate whether some restrictions should be placed on the children and other relatives of political leaders entering politics in order to protect democracy. Of course, after a few years – 3 to 5 years – of retirement of the leaders from politics, their relatives could get their right to participate in politics.


India – Irrigation

07/06/2009

While the Government of India has a ministry for water resources, many state governments do not have separate ministries for irrigation or water resources. In some state governments, Public Works Department looks after irrigation. That too mainly on regulation like opening and closing of the dam water. It would be useful if each state government had a separate ministry for irrigation. In addition to constructing new dams and canals, this ministry should have the following responsibilities;

  1. Linking rivers in the state. There is no need to mix this issue with linking rivers of the country as a whole.
  2. Creating links among lakes and between lakes and rivers.
  3. Lake management including deepening lakes and continuously desilting them
  4. Creating new lakes to ensure that each village has a lake
  5. Water management including draining rain water in pits and other shallow water into the nearby lakes. Water left in pits evaporates and it does not recharge ground water.
  6. Keeping the lakes and rivers clean
  7. Cleaning waste water and then using the same for irrigation without letting into the lake. This will ensure that lake water is not contaminated and this water can be used for drinking after purification.
  8. Cleaning river banks and ensuring that no garbage is dumped there
  9. Sanctioning loans for digging irrigation wells including bore wells. If lakes have water, digging wells will not lower the water table. It is wrong to ban new bore wells, as was seriously thought of by government sometime ago.