UPSC 2017 Mains: Editorials Question for Answer Writing Practice – July 01

Today’s important editorials and articles from The Hindu, The Indian Express, LiveMint and other major newspapers for UPSC Mains exam preparation. Also find below some probable questions on the editorials for answer writing practice.

1. GST: A game changer for the Indian Economy

GST will be a game changer for the Indian economy-elaborate.

 

2. For a more representative House

There is a need of reforms to make parliament more effective and productive-elaborate.
Some keywords from the editorials for answer writing

Reform is urgently needed to make Parliament more productive and responsive

Parliament is supposed to be a union of exemplary orators, with a grass-roots touch.

Unfortunately, one is rarely inspired by the quality of India’s parliamentary debates nowadays.

Parliamentary debates, which once focussed on national and critical issues, are now more about local problems, viewed from a hidebound angle.

With meagre attendance by our Members of Parliament (MPs), poor quality of debates and mayhem marking the proceedings, there is seemingly little value that a parliamentary representative can add to the policy discourse.

Low productivity

  • In comparison with other countries most parliaments are in session throughout the year. While our Parliament lacks the power to convene itself, it should have a minimum mandated number of days to meet — with the National Commission to review the working of the Constitution recommending 120 and 100 days for the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, respectively.
  • Odisha has already shown the way, mandating a minimum of 60 days for the State Assembly to sit.
  • Without Parliament meeting often, it will be derelict in its duty to hold the executive to account.

Passing Bills

Meanwhile, political power continues to be a male bastion. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have not seen women MPs cross the 12% mark.

  • In 2012, India ranked 20th from the bottom in terms of representation of women in Parliament.
    • While the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments enabled the reservation of 33% of seats in local government, political representation by women candidates continues to be subdued, with no significant rise in the number of women MLAs in recent Assembly elections; women constitute less than 10% of the Assemblies in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry.
    • This needs to be changed dramatically, beginning with the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill (108th amendment) reserving 33% of all seats in Parliament and State legislatures for women.
  • Now, parliamentary legislation is often criticised for being hastily drafted and being rushed through Parliament in an ad hoc and haphazard manner.
    • In 2008, for instance, 16 Bills were passed with less than 20 minutes of debate. The non-passage of private member Bills doesn’t help either.
    • Only the second half of every Friday, during a parliamentary session, is devoted to debating private member Bills.
    • To date, only 14 private member bills have been passed.

Systematic approach

We need a systematic approach to legislative engineering and prioritisation —

  • the parliamentary committee, an unfashionable institution, long out of vogue, can assume institutional importance in this process.
  • For a backbencher MP, such committees offer a place to raise issues in the general public interest and conduct advocacy amidst legislative engineering.
  • As highlighted by the Law Ministry, we require a constitution committee.
  • Instead of constitutional amendments being presented to Parliament like ordinary pieces of legislation in the form of Bills, often at short notice, it would be desirable to have the committee conduct an appropriate priori scrutiny before the actual drafting of the proposal for constitutional reform.

On debates and research

  • Even the individual voting record of MPs remains unknown. With no record maintained of the voting record associated with each MP, it is difficult to distinguish their individual progressive or conservative nature, let alone their leadership abilities.
  • Currently, the Anti-Defection Act punishes MPs who deviate from their parties’ stated position, with the risk of losing their seats.
  • The Anti-Defection Act needs to be recast, and used only in the most exceptional circumstances, while allowing MPs free rein on their self-expression.
  • Parliament’s Library and Reference, Research, Documentation and Information Service (LARRDIS) 
  • We also need an institutionalised process to raise the quality and rigour associated with the budget scrutiny process.
  • India needs a parliamentary budget office, which can be an independent and impartial institution devoted to conducting a technical and objective analysis of any Bill with spending or revenue raising requirements.
  • India’s citizens need a more robust legislative system that offers public representatives — our MPs, Ministers and the Prime Minister — a greater sense of authority.

Parliament should be a space for policy and not for politics. We need to undertake reforms to ensure that it is recast as such.

 

3. Entering the age of GST

There is a need to address short term challenges in implementation of GST in order to derive the long term benefits-comment.