Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Legislating in the time of Fisticuffs

The opening Day of the Maharashtra State Assembly, yesterday, saw scenes which took me back many many years. About 45 to be precise.

The children in our locality were on their guard against a particular fellow. He didn't like to be crossed, and almost always got his way on the common playing grounds frequented by us. He was kind of big for his age, and a smile would play across his face when he spied someone getting uncomfortable around him. His language was intimidatory, we heard words whose meanings we didn't know and were afraid to ask, and as he got older he associated with what are often described in India as lumpen elements. His speciality was threatening children who cribbed about him in school. A lot of teachers tried but gave up reforming him, hoping he would be forced to leave school, either for his very poor academic performance, or for proof of undesirable activities.

Many such uncontrollable individuals exist across all strata of society today. For many such folks, there has been missing or unwilling parental guidance in their formative years, while the parents were busy pursuing the lustre of the lucre. Intense competition in education and jobs has made for desperate attitudes. We see increasing news reports of grown individuals with children taking illogical drastic decisions in moments of stress, destroying innocent lives. Newspapers are full of seemingly secure individuals writing suicide notes about inability to handle financial problems, and ending their lives. We see youths, enamoured of that which is reflected abnormally in movies, violently attacking anyone who tries to negate their amorous advances, and getting their introduction to jails, police and courthouses.

And the papers are full of folks advising, advertising, and conducting "counselling" and "help lines", now that the root cause is being realized.

I think time has come, to have such facilities for those that wish to represent us in Parliament. Our legislators are badly in need of counselling, and training.

Papers are full of asset declarations of these folks, followed by articles questioning the abnormal rise in some peoples' assets. The government makes a great virtue of asking for these details , and then stuffs that information into its own corrupt archives. No questions asked.

Similar to IAS probationers having orientation camps at the Mussourie Institute, I suggest that the first 3 months of every legislators term be spent in such a place. That they be taught and trained in communication, common courtesies, routine office procedures, legislative rules and behaviour, enlightened management of MPLAD resources with 6 monthly mandatory reporting on the same, and methods of anger management.

Introduce an evaluation at the end of 3 months, and then decide whether to extend the probation or confirm the person as a legislator. These guys get life long pensions for being elected as legislators and attending a complete single duration of the legislature.

I have known of primary school teachers, who served all their careers in far flung villages, who were made to run around for their pensions in their old ages. I have known of capable young folks whose probation was extended because of an insecure boss. And I have known of people whose designations have been blatantly arbitrarily downgraded by authorities, pointing to some arcane rule , while the "authorities" themselves get into a dither and threaten strikes over a slight change in their own designations.

We have no right to expect our children to learn to behave , with leaders such as those observed in action recently, setting such useless examples.

And this is not only an Indian phenomenon.

It has happened, in Taiwan, where someone went on a slapping spree in their Parliament, even Russian Duma legislators eyeballing each other before a sudden facial hit, in Prem Chopra style. It has even happened in the Ukrainian Parliament in the best Bollywood film style, Politicians in Seoul's National Assembly , arguing about a media bill and its passing resort to fighting , while in some legislatures, even Judo finds a place. It has happened in the Alabama, USA Senate, with blows felling suited senators.

Just in case you are shockingly "impressed" with the above, be ready for what is erroneously labeled below as an Indian Parliament fight , but is certainly not so.

But the scene could be played out in any of the state legislatures across the country. (Which it actually is)

Watch this :

World's largest democracy in a free for all ?



  1. Yesterday's goings-on in the assembly were shameful- but by no means an exception. And I do not think that anyone really cares about the stated issue- choice of language in which to take the oath.

    Our legislators have simply got into the horrible habit of creating a ruckus whenever possible! Training sessions are not a bad idea- at least worth a try!

  2. Unbelievable ! There are actually other countires in the world where politicians are as shameless as in India ? About yesterday's happenings, what they are really doing is trying to attract attention and draw importance based on their sheer muscle power...baLee to kaan piLee. I really don't think any counselling or training will work...kaaran zoplelyala jaaga karta yeta, zopecha soang ghetlelyala nahi !
    I like your manner of writing. I happened to stumble on this blog somehow and I'm glad I did. You are a 'cool' (to use the current collegian lingo) old lady :)
    I read a couple of your previous posts and liked them too.
    Thanks :)
    Oh...and by the way, the profile pic rocks ! :D

  3. This is so shameful. And we have these episodes atleast once a year, somewhere in the country. I like your idea of training sessions.

  4. It was with a sense of Deja Vu that i viewed yesterdays pics.

    We have seen this happen in the TN assembly. In the UP assembly and everywhere else.

    I guess the need to imitate the film stars starts at the heart of Government !

    The assembly is on. Perhaps the speaker must call the assembly to order with this statement :

    "Its showtime folks" !

  5. This is so shameful. Some time back kande batate pan phekle hote na? Disgusting! And these guys get elected over and over again. Coz people have no other choice but to elect from the people who are contesting elections. And almost everyone who is contesting belongs to this same category of disgusting people. What to do? The law makers will never change the requiremeents for basic qualifications to contest elections nor will ever strict actions be taken to ensure discipline in the parliament. This whole this is so messed up.

  6. I am not very optimistic about anything changing at all. We might
    be successful in setting up more blue chip companies, probably win another oscar and Olympic medal in the coming years, but this politics and parliment will stink for ever.

  7. And we vote them to power...

  8. And we vote them to power...

  9. Politicians are the same the world over. While we haven't had a 'free for all' in our Congress it has been close with fists flying on one occasion. Hypocrisy, giant egos, greed are universal among those in power. Infantile politicians and bad behavior are synonymous.

  10. Similar to IAS probationers having orientation camps at the Mussourie Institute.....
    Great Idea! But guess what, the idea will die before it is implemented because there will be arguments and fights over which language this training should be in.

    I think goondagiri has become an important qualification to become a politician these days. Once Manmohan's generation of politicians retires, the whole house will be like a den of goondas and matters will only be settled through fisticuffs and not debates.
    The solution is for mor educated people to get into politics but then these goondas will make life difficult for them.

  11. Manju This maramari sruff in the legialature is a modern phenomenon, after education started taking a backseat in everyday life. Something to think about .....

    Wanderer Thank you for your comments, and welcome to the blog ! Yes, I too think the profile picture rocks :-) though I suppose I should specify that it is totally unconnected to the attitude of the legislators.

    Shilpa Sometimes I think the trainer for these chaps may just resign or run away. Or worse, become a legislator himself ....

    Kavi I guess this is the Brawn Age. Not that everything was pure "brain" earlier, but the mix was in favour . Its pure "maramari" now.

    Enchanted What is really worrisome, is that parties we once respected (relatively speaking), now select these goonda types as candidates, to shore up numbers in the legislature. I guess we get the government we deserve..

    Praveen We are chronic rule-breakers. Which is why things will not change.

    IHM If we vote at all. The choice is sometimes no choice at all.

    Darlene You know I wish they had a separate country for these guys. All the mafia elements from the world could live there and have a good time throwing things around....

    Usha Yes, the language problem had not occurred to me. So true. And educated types wont succeed unless they buy mines in weird countries, have thousands of benami properties, have specialized personal ICU's and finally, erect statues to themselves at public cost. Where does the question of serving the people come in ?