India: Bye-bye policy paralysis: Modi's Parliament high on output

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Long symbolized by pandemonium and policy paralysis, the Indian Parliament is back to legislating under the incumbent government led by Narendra Modi, if indications from the second session of the Lok Sabha are anything to go by.

A report compiled by Motilal Oswal says the second session of the 16th Lok Sabha has witnessed more bills passed, more sittings, fewer interruptions, more work hours, more time spent on legislation and more broadbased participation, compared to Lok Sabha sessions under the previous government.

Data shows that the in the second session of the 16th Lok Sabha (the first was devoted to the oath-taking ceremony), the Parliament passed a total of 12 bills compared to eight and six in the 15th and 14th, respectively, under the previous two UPA governments.

“Apart from the budget and other finance related bills (including Delhi budget) the three most significant bills passed were (i) the Securities Laws (Amendment) offenders and take measures against promoters of Ponzi schemes), (ii) the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill (that seeks to broadbase selection process for appointments of higher Judiciary from the current Collegium system), and (iii) Repealing and Amending Bill, 2014 (that seeks to do away with archaic laws),” Motilal said.

The Parliament also made some progress in introducing changes in labor laws, including (i) Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2014, and (ii) Apprentices (Amendment) Bill, 2014, the brokerage said, while lamenting the deferment of the Insurance bill (which seeks to up the foreign investment limit in the sector from 26 percent to 49 percent) and which has been referred to a select committee that will submit a report in the next session.

“In comparison with past two Lok Sabhas, the current Lok Sabha has made a good beginning,” Motilal said. The ratio of time lost due to interruptions also came down drastically. “Although the Lok Sabha lost about 14 hours due to disruptions, it more than made up the loss by sitting extra for 28 hours and 10 minutes. In the Rajya Sabha, 34 hours were lost due to interruptions and adjournments, but it made up by late sittings and skipping the lunch recess, accounting for 38 hours,” according to Motilal.

The current Lok Sabha sat more hours during its second session than any of the previous three. Yet, the average time taken per bill was less than the previous two Lok Sabhas of the UPA regime. This enabled more bills to be cleared. The picture was similar for the Rajya Sabha.

According to the report, the current Lok Sabha session was also marked with an increase in time allocated on legislation in comparison with other business. “This bodes well for both improving the quality of legislations passed and the consensus building process that have gone in to legislating.”

Finally, another feature of the last session of the Parliament was the broadbasing of the participation in debates and discussion. “Whereas the share of women MPs remained same at 11 percent in the last three Lok Sabhas, only the last session, their share in debate time exceeded their seat share. Similarly, first time MPs made their voices heard both among regional as well as national parties.”

SOURCE: MoneyControl, August 19th 2014: http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/politics/bye-bye-policy-paralysis-modis...