T N ASHOK
Parliament Not One of Different and Hostile Interests, But Assembly of A Nation With Common Interest – Kerala Governor and former SC Chief Justice Satasivam
Kerala Governor P Satasivam quoted the famous Political theorist and philosopher Edmund Burke to say: “Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; it is a deliberate assembly of one nation with one interest”. It was an obvious reference to frequent disruptions seen in parliament due to filibustering techniques by opposition to block government agenda. Demonetization was a case in point that paralyzed parliament.
Satasivam was speaking as the chief guest at a function organized by the Chennai based NGO Prime Point Foundation and its e-magazine PreSense that awarded nine Members of Parliament for their outstanding performance in debates, discussions and raising questions of public interest.
The Nine MPs constituted Six MPs from Lok Sabha and three from Rajya Sabha. They were given awards for their outstanding performance under different categories by the governor. Present on the occasion was the Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal, who himself won the award successively for three years and was elevated to the status of a Maha Sansad Ratna.
The Nine Members of Parliament (MPs) – six from Lok Sabha and three from Rajya Sabha – bagged the Sansad Ratna Awards for 2017 for their outstanding performance in the just concluded 16th Lok Sabha in April this year.
The Chennai based NGO was partnered by IIT , Madras, the engineering institute of excellence in organising the award . The awards were instituted by the foundation on a suggestion given by the then President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam that good work by peoples representatives in parliament should be recognised and awarded.
The Kerala Governor observed that society holds different views about politics and parliamentarians. People who are not aware of the significance of parliamentary procedure, tend to criticize the long discussions without realizing that the nation derives its policies through these deliberations.
Though democracy allows a space for dissent, we have reached a stage where dissent is viewed as unpardonable and is even used against people, the governor said which had far reaching comments on quite a number of political developments as well as in the legal firmament.
Satasivam said that it was worthwhile recalling Rashtrapatiji’s recent remark about the need to recognize the Argumentative Indian instead of the Intolerant Indian. I feel that our Parliamentarians should volunteer to foster healthier and more constructive debates in society by strongly correcting the pessimistic trends in our political discourses.
The former chief justice also observed that a parliamentarian fulfills the most significant duty of leading the ‘nation building’ activity in any democracy. With the introduction of the MPLAD scheme, every Member now gets the added responsibility of directly ensuring development in the constituency. As the author of the Constitution Bench [5 Judges] of Supreme Court of India who gave the verdict upholding the constitutional validity of the MPLAD scheme, I have the personal satisfaction of having been party to the rise of a new development culture in our country, he said .
As a person hailing from farming community and originated from a remote village in Tamil Nadu, I am aware of the welfare measures being implemented by our MPs and MLAs in their constituencies. However, I would like to suggest that the developmental initiatives of MPs should give more impetus to projects that promote renewable energy in society. It would also be good if the active attention of Members turned to projects that would benefit groups like Trans-genders, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
In this context, he said that the Sansad Ratna Awards would ultimately benefit our society; as such recognitions will encourage Parliamentarians to think of more innovative development initiatives.
The Nine MPs who won the awards were: Shrirang Appa Barve, Shiv Sena- Mavel – Maharashtra), Rajeev Shankar Rao Satav, INC – Hingoli –Maharashtra and Dhananjay Bhimrao Mahadi , National Congress Party – Kolhapur – Maharashtra, were selected by a jury committee for awards under different categories of debates, questions, discussions etc.
Bhatruhari Mahtab ,Biju Janata Dal – Cuttack – Odisha, N K Premachandran , Revolutionary Socialist Party , Kollam , Kerala , were selected for special awards by the jury committee for their excellence in quality of debates and other parliamentary proceedings. K Srinivasan , Chairman of the Prime Point Foundation , said Dr Heena Vijaykumar Gavit, the youngest MP of BJP from Nandurbar, Maharashtra was given the award under the Womens MP category. This is the 2nd time she has won the award after NCP’s Supriya Sule who had won this award twice in previous years.
The foundation honoured outstanding Rajya Sabha members who had retired the previous year after the completion of their full six year term. This year Sanjay Raut , Shiv Sena, Maharashtra, K N Balagopal, CPI-M Kerala and Dr T N Seema, CPI-M Kerala were nominated among the Rajya Sabha MPs who retired in 2016 after putting in an outstanding performance highlighting issues of public interest before the government
The jury headed by Anandrao Adsul, veteran MP from Shiv Sena comprised the Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir, and Arjun Ram Meghwal , Minister of state for Finance, selected the winners. Co-terminus with the awards, a national seminar on politics, democracy and governance was held with leading figures of politics, journalism and educationists attending.
Hindu’s Editor Mukund Padmanabhan spoke at length about Journalism , new threats and challenges it faced. He saw the internet as the biggest threat to print. In the United States where journalism was vibrant a number of print publications were closing down and only the strong and credible such as New York Times or Washington Post were able to survive the onslaught of internet. TV networks, websites, Facebook and twitter were breaking news faster than print media. So the Print media had to present the news in a more featurish style adding more elements to the news that had already been broken.
The Minister of state for finance Arjun Ram Meghwal said that with the advent of the Sansad Ratna Awards a healthy competition had emerged among MPs particularly the younger lot to perform better raising the level of debates and also representing problems faced by public in a cogent manner demanding government intervention. Dr Sudarshan Padmanabhan , associate professor , IIT, described how technology was making sweeping changes in the manner in which we were communicating these days.
M R Madhavan, President PRS Legislative Research , Delhi, which actually collates data for the eligibility and criteria for selecting the MPs for awards, spoke about how the Indian parliamentary system could be made more effective by introducing a lot of changes taking cue from the recent trends in British parliamentary system .
Two separate sessions preceded the conclusion of the function. There was a session on the National Vision for 2022 for agriculture. Dr Anbumani Ramadass, MP, former health minister, coordinated the session and said government should come out with a separate agriculture budget.
Outlays for agriculture should increase substantially most speakers said. Better forms or water management and irrigation should be introduced. Those who spoke were: Mr S S Rajasekhar, Managing Trustee of National Agro Foundation ( son of former agriculture minister C Subramaniam), Ramon Magasasay Award Winner Rajendra Singh, who has also won the Nobel foundation’s Stockholm Water award (considered equivalent to Nobel prize), S Rangnathan , General Secretary, Tamil Nadu Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare association. The session was coordinated by PreSense Editor Ms Susan Koshy, a former General Manager of IDBI.
Another session on Tamil Nadu Vision 2022 was also organised to project an image of development for the state in the future in terms of production, manufacturing and exports. Those who spoke were Dr Mariazeena Johnson, Pro Chancellor , Sathybhama University , R Nataraj, IPS, (retd) Aiadmk MLA former DGP of Tamil Nadu police, PTR Palanivel Thiagarajan, DMK MLA, KT Raghavan BJP. The session was coordinated by veteran Tamil journalist R Nurullah, VP of Sansadratna awards.