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Millennium Post

Age no bar, behaviour is

In a democracy, old age is a matter not of concern but of strength. When India celebrated its Parliament reaching 60 on 13 May, the honour and pride that came along was justified. Democracy is an institution and like some other finery of life, institutions are supposed to attain maturity and ripeness with age. The Indian Parliament is no exception. For a country as big, varied and complex like India the Parliament stands like an epitome of the country itself, calling into its bosom elected members from the farthest corners of the country and making them part of a whole, giving them a voice and addressing their concerns. This is what it is meant to be; this is what it was envisioned as and that is what it has, more or less, served to be in the sixty years. In other words, the Indian Parliament has served its august purpose of being a pillar of its charming, if chaotic democracy. Even the most hardened critics of the system cannot but accept this fact.

However, institutions also decline with age. There are a thousand organisations and institutions that have lost their value, their charm and their magnetism over ages. There is perceptible and indeed understandable fear that the Indian Parliament too, whose hallowed portals were once graced by men and women of tall standing, of understanding and education and with a generosity of soul, is now becoming a distraught and disfigured body of scuffling, restive and inherently corrupt members. They are often found guilty of the most sordid violation of law, virtue and socially acceptable behaviour. There is a clear disconnect with people and an increasingly popular sense of cynicism that Parliament is out of tune with the real crises and real problems of the country. The thoughtless disruptions, walk outs, absenteeism, lack of genuine and effective debate and the endless retinue of graft charges against its members have made many perceive it as an unruly primary school at best and a dreadful menagerie at worst. Ironically, over the years, this factor has strengthened the media and the judiciary.

This in itself is not wrong but in a democracy, as they say, each pillar is unique and important in itself and none can and should function at the cost of the other. The PM, the finance minister and other important members of the current Parliament have made loud appeals to improve matters but unless the crop of the members and their sense of belonging in the process of democracy improve, little could be done. Each member elected to its seat, should know and realise the magnitude of his responsibility and legacy. Otherwise we may soon succumb to a spectre of superannuation, not only of its members but of the Parliament itself. That surely none of us would want to even think of.
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