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MPs should pay for inaction

It is time that India's parliamentarians adhere to a 'No Work, No Pay' rule. The winter session of Parliament is possibly one of the worst ever in terms of productivity with almost every day being adjourned with no work done.

On Thursday, such was the pandemonium during the debate on 51 per cent foreign direct investment in the multi-brand retail sector that they awarded themselves a four-day holiday until Wednesday.

Combined with Saturday and Sunday, our parliamentarians shall end up getting a 6-day holiday. And for each day they did not work, they will get paid an allowance funded by taxpayers.

The 15th Lok Sabha has been one of the least productive since 1985, and certainly the most disrupted. The total productive time, according to the think thank PRS Legislative Research it has been at a dismal 72 per cent, while the total productive time from the 8th to the 12th Lok Sabha was over 100 per cent.
 
If anything, the behaviour of our parliamentarians shows complete disregard for two things: one, for the institution called Parliament, and two, for those who have elected them in the hope that they will debate and discuss topics of national importance. Clearly, they seem to have missed the point.

The fault, to be sure, is on both sides. A rudderless government did not even include its own alliance partners in the decision over the FDI in multi-brand retail, leave alone the Opposition.

The BJP-led Opposition, on its part, did nothing to thaw the cold war. Consequently, the chaos in Parliament is due to both sides ganging up against the Congress, the majority constituent in the UPA government.

This session holds more than a few lessons for the nation. One, voters need clarity on what their representatives stand for on various issues.
 
Two, the government needs to shed its arrogance on issues of national debate. Three, parliamentarians need to be held accountable for their actions, or, in this case, their inaction.

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