World’s biggest democracy at work

ticket Lok SabhaIt took me three stamps and four signatures at the multiple security checks, five times of scanning the invitation card and four times frisking to get into Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament of India. Seriously, no exaggeration. Doing it once thoughtfully would serve the purpose of security better, I think, but who am I to give advice? Anyway, the frisking was so inattentive that I was able to smuggle my pen and papers inside.

On the visitor’s gallery literally nothing was allowed. Like choosing your own seat. Or sitting cross-legged. Or whispering. Or taking off your shoes. Every time someone tried, one of the many watchdogs (one for every seven visitors) corrected us sharply and threatened to throw us out. Lucky me there didn’t seem to be a rule against writing. So I could quietly take down notes.

Down below the regulations didn’t seem to be so strict. As soon as the group of parliamentarians from Papua New Guinea – visiting India to see democracy at work – had been welcomed by the speaker, the house fell apart. Everybody was shouting, opposition as well as government parties. I didn’t even understand what the controversy was all about.

Lok SabhaAfter about five minutes most of the parliamentarians quieted down and the question hour could start. Later on Prateep, with whom I visited Lok Sabha, explained to me that this was in fact the first time in the monsoon session – already some weeks old – that the question hour was allowed to be held.

Until this day, parliament was characterized by adjournments – on the first ten days, Lok Sabha lost 88 percent of it’s sitting time. They hardly ever got to work, didn’t pass a single bill, because opposition hindered any kind of discussion by disrupting the house over and over again. Reasons for their shouting and screaming was: the decision on a separate Telangana state, alleged land deals by Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra, Chinese incursions, killing of five Indian soldiers along the Line of Control, mission coal scam files, the hike in fuel prices  and maaaaany other issues.

The speaker already threw 13 people out this session. But what do you do if half the house is agitating?

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