Title: Concerns Rise Over Undermining of Parliamentary Processes in India
In a move that has raised concerns about the state of democracy in India, the country’s parliament is currently holding a special five-day session. This session has sparked worries of potential undermining of parliamentary processes by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. The session, taking place in a newly inaugurated parliament building, is proceeding despite an opposition boycott.
The government released a “tentative list” of agenda items for the session, initially including five pieces of legislation. However, this number later increased to eight, leading to concerns about potential “surprise legislations” by the government. Of particular concern are two controversial pieces of legislation, one seeking tighter government control over the press, and the other concerning the Election Commission of India (ECI).
Fearing the erosion of democratic principles, opposition parties have formed an umbrella alliance called INDIA to fight for defending democracy. Among their suspicions is a possible name change of India to just Bharat, deemed an attempt to “decolonize” Indian minds and give dominance to the Hindi language.
Another contentious issue being raised is the government’s consideration of simultaneous elections at the federal, state, and local levels. The opposition argues that this move is undemocratic and a threat to federalism.
Critics argue that parliamentary sessions have become increasingly chaotic and unproductive, with protests and demonstrations by opposition MPs thwarting meaningful debate and consultation on crucial bills. The government has been accused of passing legislation without proper scrutiny and consultation, resulting in restrictions on free speech and an increase in state control over citizens.
The declining productivity and quality of parliamentary discussions are said to reflect the government’s disregard for democratic processes, according to experts. The controversy extends to the alleged undermining of India’s federal structure and fundamental rights, with several laws curtailing the powers of democratically elected governments, such as the one in Delhi.
In addition, the government has faced backlash for diluting the Right to Information Act and passing a controversial forest conservation amendment bill, against the protests of ecologists. Moreover, criminal law reform bills are raising concerns about potential consequences for civil liberties, human rights, and the justice system.
Adding to the ongoing tensions, the government has introduced a bill seeking to regulate newspapers, periodicals, and books. Critics argue that the proposed legislation is draconian and arbitrary, posing a threat to freedom of the press.
As the special session of India’s parliament takes place, these concerns over the erosion of democratic institutions continue to loom over the country. The ability to foster meaningful dialogue and protect citizens’ rights remains a pressing issue, raising questions about the future of democracy in India.
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