Need to raise number of parliamentary sittings to fulfill people’s aspirations Asks MPs to eschew populism and adopt principled stand for the good of society and country Media has a major role in holding Parliamentarians accountable to their people – VP Asks media and the Parliamentary institutions to synergize their efforts to strengthen democracy Presents 3rd Lokamt Parliamentary Awards to distinguished Parliamentarians
The Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu today said that Parliament must support constructive initiatives of the Government and suggest solutions to the challenges as they emerge as the government depends on the collective advice of the Parliament.
“The Parliamentarians should, therefore, be virtuous, mature and wise so that they can collectively be a body that guides the nation’s future in the right direction,” he said.
Addressing the gathering after presenting Lokmat Parliamentary Awards in New Delhi, the Vice President called upon Parliamentarians and the Media to actively take part in addressing social challenges like poverty, illiteracy, gender discrimination, and atrocities against women that were impeding the progress of India.
He opined that addressing these challenges was extremely important to take India on an inclusive path of development and to see that every citizen receives benefits from the growth process.
Stating that the media has a major role in holding Parliamentarians accountable to their people and that an informed citizenry was a precondition for a healthy democracy and a transparent and accountable Parliament, the Vice President called upon media houses like Lokmat to ensure this accountability by informing and educating people.
Shri Naidu said that as the Fourth Pillar of our democracy, media must take lead in sensitizing people on key issues and also in creating a positive environment for promoting social good and getting rid of social evils.
Pointing out that of late, certain aberrations like paid news and fake news, corporate influence and coloring news with political views of reporters and editors, Shri Naidu said that such trends need must be curbed at the earliest.
Stressing that media and the representative Parliamentary institutions must synergize their efforts to strengthen the democratic roots in the country and encourage a culture of constructive Parliamentary debates, the Vice President urged media to facilitate a healthy interface between all the stakeholders in parliamentary democracy.
Opining that people were keen to assume a role in constructive campaigns for social resurgence and nation-building, the Vice President said that Parliament and parliamentary processes must reflect people’s aspirations and there was a need to raise the number of sittings annually according to the needs.
Shri Naidu observed that it was the primary duty of elected Members to not only reflect people’s will but also provide guidance to the Government as well as people and avoid unruly behaviour. “Members must eschew populism for a righteous principled stand for the good of society and country,” he said.
He also stressed that Parliamentary Committees must actively supplement the debates in the Parliament.
Leader of Congress Party in Lok Sabha, Shri Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Members of Parliament, Shri Shard Pawar, Smt. Jaya Bachchan, Dr. Suagat Roy, Shri Tiruchi Siva, Smt Biplov Thakur, Smt. Supriya Sule, Smt. Kahkashan Parveen and Dr. Bharti Pravin Pawar, Former Secretary General, Lok Sabha, Dr. Subhash C Kashyap, National Editor, Lokmat Media Group, Shri Harish Gupta and Chairman, Lokmat Media Group, Shri Vijay Darda were among the dignitaries who graced the occasion.
Following is the full text of the speech –
“I am pleased to be with all of you today evening.
I am happy that the prestigious Lokmat group of publications has taken this initiative to facilitate the Members of Parliament for their performance in the Parliament. The founders of Lokmat Group the Darda family, has been closely involved in the national life with the Late Shri Jawahar Lal Darda ji being himself a freedom fighter. The name Lokmat was given by Lokmanya Tilak as he reposed faith in vernacular nationalist Press to faithfully give expression to public yearning for freedom. It is, therefore, appropriate that you are honouring eminent Parliamentarians who articulate public issues and give voice to the voiceless.
I am happy to note that a very eminent Jury led by senior Parliamentarian Shri Sharad Pawar ji and his equally seasoned Co-Chair, the former Secretary General of Lok Sabha Dr. Subhash Kashyap ji, has selected the Awardees on the basis of five fairly objective criteria – Participation in debates, number of Private Member Bills, Questions, Attendance and overall image of the Member.
I am particularly happy that you have instituted two awards for Women parliamentarians. I congratulate the eminent Awardees, who have a highly respectable and distinguished track record as Parliamentarians. They have set high standards in parliamentary etiquettes and decorum, in articulation of their views with eloquence, their deep insight and experience in governance and their sagacity in the matters of national interest.
The awardees cover a whole range from veteran national leaders like Dr. Manmohan Singh ji and Shri Mulayam Singh ji to prominent leaders from regional parties like Dr. Suagat Roy and Shri Tiruchi Siva and bright women leaders like Smt Biplov Thakur, Smt. Supriya Sule, Smt. Kahkashan Parveen and Dr. Bharti Pravin Pawar who have made a mark as parliamentarians.
Sisters and brothers,
We have chosen parliamentary democracy as the essential framework for our governance and, over the past seventy years, nurtured the system by strengthening the legislature, executive and judicial pillars that support it.
Parliamentarians and legislators are a critical part of our democratic edifice and systems. They represent the growing aspirations and changing expectations of people. They have an onerous responsibility to lend a patient hearing to public voices and give expression to the views that shape national development.
Parliament is a great source of authentic information on public policies and the state of the nation. Its debates provide an insight into complex national issues and project multiple perspectives on each of them. It is an institution of public information and education.
Sisters and brothers,
India is a great experiment in democratic governance about which we need to be legitimately proud.
Ours is now the world’s largest and one of the most dynamic, vibrant democracies in the world.
We are a democracy that had set ambitious goals and has been striving to achieve them.
Ours is a democracy that had opted for a democratically elected representative government based on universal adult franchise with equal voting rights to women.
Its federal character accommodated the multiple diversities within a united country.
Our parliamentary democracy has continuously responded to the changing aspirations of our people by amending the Constitution 103 times till now.
After attaining political democracy, attaining economic and social democracy has been the persistent endeavor of successive governments.
Dr B. R. Ambedkar defined democracy as “A form and method of Government whereby revolutionary changes in social life are brought out without bloodshed.”
The revolutionary changes we have already brought in and need to further bring in are being brought about through the Parliament as well as through the executive and judicial actions.
The President of the Constituent Assembly, Dr. Rajendra Prasad had said in his valedictory address “Whatever the Constitution may or may not provide, the welfare of the country will depend upon the way in which the country is administered. That will depend upon the men who administer it.” He admitted that, “After all, a Constitution like a machine is a lifeless thing. It acquires life because of the men who control it and operate it, and India needs today nothing more than a set of honest men who will have the interest of the country before them.”
Sisters and brothers,
The quality of our polity depends on the quality of the people at the helm of affairs in the legislatures, government and the judiciary.
If the Parliamentarians debate, discuss and decide on issues of public interest without malice or rudeness.
If the executive wing implements policies and programmes in a time-bound, cost-effective, result-oriented manner with the sole objective of promoting public good and national development.
If the judiciary adjudicates dispassionately on crucial issues of law and justice with the constitutional ideals in view, only then can we make significant qualitative progress in our democratic journey.
In a parliamentary democracy the elected Members should not only reflect people’s will but also provide guidance to the Government as well as people.
Members must eschew populism for a righteous principled stand for the good of society and country.
As Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan said “If we merely reflect public opinion on the plea that we are concerned with winning votes, then what we say in Parliament will be tripe, platitude and demagogy. The decisive consideration should not be whether we do anything popular but whether we do the right thing.”
It has been my appeal to the electorate to choose their representatives on the basis of their character, calibre, capacity, conduct and commitment. The predominance of caste, creed, criminality and cash will erode our democratic fabric.
Even the Government depends on collective advice of the Parliament. The Parliament must support constructive initiatives of the Government and suggest solutions to the challenges as they emerge. As Thirukkural says “A Ruler should assess and choose carefully the association of virtuous, mature and wise.” The Parliamentarians should, therefore, be virtuous, mature and wise so that they can collectively be a body that guides the nation’s future in the right direction.
In a country as varied as ours, there will be differences of opinions and views. In a democracy, differences of opinion are source of strength. As a result of debates, our decision making process becomes more inclusive and more relevant for a diverse nation like ours.
What we need to do is to discuss in a cordial atmosphere, an atmosphere of patient and respectful understanding of each other’s view point.
What we need is the dignified conduct that serves as a model for other legislative bodies. Informed debate should become the order of the day.
Sisters and brothers,
The media too has a major role in holding Parliamentarians accountable to their people. An informed citizenry is a precondition for a healthy democracy and a transparent and accountable Parliament. Media houses like Lokmat can ensure this accountability by informing and educating people. As the Fourth Estate of our democracy, you have an important role to play in sensitizing people on key issues and create a positive environment for promoting social good and getting rid of social evils.
Of course, of late, certain aberrations have crept in like paid news and fake news in the media. Corporate influence on media organisations and the political views of reporters and editors are occasionally coloring the news. These trends need to be curbed.
Sisters and brothers,
Our country is on a growth trajectory in many spheres. However, there are a number of social challenges like poverty, illiteracy, gender discrimination and atrocities against women that are impeding progress. We must address these challenges and ensure that the democratic path we have chosen is followed in letter and spirit and that each and every citizen benefits from the growth process.
People are keen to assume a role in constructive campaigns for social resurgence and nation building. Our Parliament and parliamentary processes must reflect these changes. There is a need to raise the number of sittings annually. The Parliamentary Committees must actively supplement the debates in the Parliament.
As we move ahead on the path to realise democratic objectives and constitutional ideals, I believe that media and the representative Parliamentary institutions ought to synergise their efforts to strengthen the democratic roots in the country and encourage a culture of constructive Parliamentary debates. I welcome the effort by the media groups like Lokmat to facilitate a healthy interface between all the stakeholders in parliamentary democracy.
I once again congratulate the award winners and hope their contributions to parliamentary democracy will inspire other Parliamentarians to follow their example.