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3. Why Do We Need Parliament?

This chapter tells us about Indian parliament and its role.

Under colonial rule, the people had lived in fear of the British Government & did not agree with many of the decisions that they took, but they faced grave danger if they tried to criticise these decisions. But the freedom movement changed this situation. Back in 1885, the National Congress demanded that there be elected members in a legislative with a right to discuss budget & ask questions

  • The Govt. of India Act 1909, allowed for some elected representation, but did not allow for all adults to vote.
  • As citizens of a free country, after Independence, the dreams & aspirations of the freedom struggle were made the basis of the Constitution of independent India. This laid down the principle of universal adult franchise i.e., that all adult citizens of the country have the right to vote.
  • India became independent on 15 August, 1947.

3.1   People & their representatives

The very basis of a democracy is the idea of consent i.e., the desire, approval & participation of people.

  • It is the decision of people that creates a democratic government & decides about its functioning.
  • In principle, the govt. as well as other public institutions need to have the trust of its citizens.
  • People elect their representative to the Parliament.
  • One group from among these elected representative forms the govt.
  • The Parliament, which is made up of all representatives together, controls & guides the govt. So, people, through their chosen representatives from the govt & also control it.

3.2   The Role of the Parliament

Indian Parliament was created in 1947

  • Indian Parliament is an expression of the faith that people of India have in principles of democracy.
  • The principles of democracy are participation by people in the decision-making process & govt by consent.
  • The Parliament in our system has immense powers as it is the representative of the people.
  • The Lok Sabha is usually elected once every five years.
  • Country is divided into numerous constituencies, each electing one person to the Parliament.
  • Once elected, these candidates become Members of Parliament or MPs. These MPs together make up the Parliament.

3.3   Functions of the Parliament

3.3.1    To select the National Government

The Parliament in India consists of the President, the Rajya Sabha & the Lok Sabha.

  • For a Political party to form a govt., it must have a majority of elected MPs.
  • Out of total 543 elected members plus 2 nominated members in Lok Sabha, a party should have at least half the number i.e., 272 members for majority.
  • Opposition is formed by the parties opposing the majority party. The largest party amongst these parties is called the opposition party.

3.3.1.1         Lok Sabha

One of the most important functions of the Lok Sabha is to select the executive. The executive, is a group of persons who work together to implement the laws made by the Parliament.

  • Prime Minister is the leader of the ruling party in Lok Sabha.,
  • Prime Minister selects ministers from the MPs who belong to his party who take charge of different areas of govt. functioning.
Coalition Government

When it is difficult for a single political party to get the majority to form the govt., they join together with different political parties who are interested in similar concerns to from a govt. as Coalition Govt.

3.3.1.2     Rajya Sabha

Rajya Sabha functions primarily as the representatives of the states of India in the Parliament.

  • The Rajya Sabha can also initiate legislation & a bill is reqd. to pass through the Rajya Sabha to become a law.
  • The members of the Rajya Sabha are elected by the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of various states.
  • Rajya Sabha has 233 elected members plus 12 members nominated by the President.

3.3.2    To Control, Guide & Inform the Government

3.3.2.1     Question Hour

The Parliament, while in session, begins with a question hour.

  • The question hour is an important mechanism through which MPs can elicit information about the working of the govt.
  • This is a very important way through which the Parliament controls the executive.
  • By asking questions, the govt. is alerted to its shortcomings, & also comes to know the opinion of the people through their representatives in the Parliament, i.e. the MPs
  • Asking the questions from the govt is a crucial task for every MP.
  • The opposition parties play a critical role in the healthy functioning of a democracy.
  • They highlight the drawbacks in various policies & programmes of the govt & mobilize popular support for their own policies.
  • The govt. gets valuable feedback & is kept on its toes by the questions asked by the MPs.
  • This is one of the several ways in which the Parliament controls, guides & informs the govt.

3.3.3    Law-Making

The Parliament has people from different backgrounds Groups & people that were till now unrepresented, are beginning to get elected to the Parliament.

  • A representative democracy cannot produce a perfect reflection of society.
  • To ensure that the communities that have been historically marginalised are given adequate representation, some seats are reserved in the Parliament for SCs & STs.
  • Similarly, it has recently been suggested that there should be reservation of seats for women as half of our population is women.
  • The fact that we can ask questions & work towards answers is a reflection of strength & the faith that people is India have in a democratic form of government.

Important Questions

Q 1: Why do you think our national movement supported the idea that all adults have a right to vote?         

Under colonial rule, the people had lived in fear of the British govt. & did not agree with many of the decisions that they took.

  • But they faced great danger if they tried to criticised these decisions.
  • The freedom movement changed this situation & the nationalists began to openly criticise the British govt & make demands.
  • They demanded that there be elected members in the legislature with a right to discuss the budget & ask questions.

That is why nationalist movement supported the idea of universal adult franchise, so that the people can take part in the decision making of the country.

Q 2: Use the term ‘Constituency’ and ‘Represent’ to explain who an MLA is and how the person gets elected?

An MLA is the Member of Legislative Assembly. Each state is divided into different ‘Constituencies’. The MLA is the elected member who represents a particular constituency.

Q 3: Discuss with your teacher the difference between a State Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) and the Parliament (Lok Sabha)

 

Parliament (Lok Sabha) State Legislature Assembly (Rajya Sabha)
The Members of Lok Sabha are directly elected by the people The members of Rajya Sabha are indirectly elected

by members of various legislative assemblies

There are 542 members & 2 are nominated by the President There are 245 members, out of which 12 are nominated by the President
Its term is for 5 years It’s term is for 6 years
Lok Sabha can be dissolved by the President That is why, it is known as the Temporary House It cannot be dissolved because it is a Permanent House & 2/3 of its members retire after every two Years & new members join in their place

 

Vidhan Sabha (State Legislative Assembly) Parliament (Lok Sabha)
Vidhan Sabha is the lower house of the state Lok Sabha is known as lower house of the Parliament
The members of Vidhan Sabha are known as MLAs The members of Lok Sabha are known as MPs

Q 4: From the list below, identify the work of a State government and that of a Central government

  1. The decision of the Indian Govt. to maintain peaceful relations with China. (Central Govt.)
  2. The decision of the Madhya Pradesh govt. todiscontinue Board exams in Class VIII for all schools under this Board. (State Govt.)
  3. Introduction of a new train connection between Ajmer & Mysore (Central govt.)
  4. Introduction of a new 1,000 rupee note (central Govt.)

Q 5: Fill in the blanks

Democratic governments, in our times are usually referred to as representatives’ democracies. In representative democracies, people do not participate directly but, instead, choose their representative through an election process. These MLA’s meet & make decisions for the entire population. These days, a govt. can not call itself democratic unless it allows what is known as Universal Adult Franchise. This means that all adult citizens in the country are allowed to vote.

Q 6: Why do we have a system whre the representatives are elected for a fixed period and not for life?

We have a system where the representatives are elected for a fixed period & not for life. This is because –

  1. So that the elected representative may not become strong & try to misuse their powers.
  2. If we will choose a representative for lifetime, it will be against the democracy.

Q 7: Describe the ways other than participating in elections to express approval or disapproval of actions of government.

People participate in ways other than participating in elections & not just through elections to express approval or disapproval of the actions of govt. Three ways in which they do so are

  1. For the election of MLA, the area is divided into various constituencies of a state.
  2. Elections are held on the basis of Universal Adult Franchise.
  3. From every constituency, one MLA is elected.
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