To commemorate the glorious journey of 75 years of parliamentary democracy, 75 programmes are being planned across the country: LS Speaker

Bengaluru: On the second day of his two-day visit to Karnataka, Lok Sabha Speaker Shri Om Birla interacted with the Media today. Speaking on the occasion, Shri Birla said that the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav is being celebrated across the country. Shri Birla informed that to commemorate this glorious journey of 75 years of parliamentary democracy, 75 programmes are being planned across the country. He added that the goal is to make all democratic institutions from Panchayat to Parliament stronger, more empowered, and accountable.

Shri Birla also informed that active efforts are being made to ensure participation of citizens, especially women and youth, in the democratic process. He added that in this regard, efforts are underway to organise training and capacity building programmes for various stakeholders.

Speaking about the centenary year celebrations of the Public Accounts Committee, which is going to complete hundred years this year, Shri Birla informed that a Conference will be organized on 4-5 December in New Delhi. He added that in this event, public representatives from India as well as from other democratic countries have been invited.

Shri Birla also spoke about the Parliament Library which is also going to complete 100 years this year. Shri Birla informed that the Parliament Library is a rich repository of knowledge and information where a large number of rare books and documents are available. He added that the process of digitizing this library is currently underway. Shri Birla also said that very soon Parliament Library create suitable metadata to provide access to this digital library to the Members of State legislatures.

Shri Birla observed that the smooth and orderly functioning of all the democratic institutions is necessary to facilitate elected public representatives to fulfil the hopes and aspirations of the people. He noted that there is a need for an intensive discussion and dialogue on public issues so that the concerns of the people can be addressed. Shri Birla observed that elected legislative bodies should keep an effective watch on the Executive to fulfil the hopes and aspirations of the people. He added that in order to ensure this, the process of issuing a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is currently underway. Shri Birla further added that this SOP will be made available to all democratic institutions across the country. He also informed that this SOP will be in the nature of an advisory, which can be adopted as per the requirements of legislative bodies.

Shri Birla also spoke about the centenary year of the Presiding Officers’ Conference, which completed one hundred years on 15th September, same as the International Day of Democracy. This year Sansad TV was also launched on the same day as part of the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. Shri Birla expressed concern about the diminishing standard of discipline, decorum and decency in legislatures. He said that such unruly scenes not only lower the dignity of these institutions, but also lead to loss of faith in the very idea of democracy.

He informed that a Conference of Presiding Officers will discuss this subject soon, which would also see participation from Chief Ministers and other stakeholders. Shri Birla observed that the proceedings of the House should be carried out with discipline and dignity and according to the sentiments of the common people. He added that a comprehensive action plan to improve the efficacy and credibility of parliamentary democracy will be prepared in Presiding Officers’ Conference.

Expressing concern on repeated cases of disrespect to the Chair, Shri Birla emphasized that the Chair is custodian of all stakeholders in the House and its dignity should be preserved at all time. Speaking about capacity building of elected representatives Shri Birla informed that programmes are being organized for the capacity building of all public representatives from Panchayat to Parliament through the Parliamentary Research and Training Institute for Democracies (PRIDE), which is an institution of the Parliament. He added that PRIDE has also trained representatives of other democratic countries to strengthen democracy globally.

Shri Birla informed that Parliament is also actively working, for the empowerment of Panchayati Raj Institutions across the nation to strengthen democracy at the grassroots level. He added that as part of this initiative, a special outreach program has been designed to empower the Panchayat Raj representatives. So far, four editions of this outreach programme have been held in different parts of the country.

Responding to a query on pending petitions under the Anti-Defection Law in different parts of the country, Shri Birla said that the forum of the Presiding Officers’ Conference had constituted a Committee to look into this manner. He informed that the Report of this Committee has already been submitted and the Presiding Officers’ Conference is likely to discuss recommendations therein in its next Conference in Shimla next month. Exhorting the Media to work proactively in the process of strengthening democracy and democratic institutions, Shri Birla said that the Media has an important role in parliamentary democracy. He suggested that the proceedings of the House should to be covered in a positive manner and in the larger interest of the people.

Speaker of Karnataka Legislative Assembly Shri Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri and Secretary-General of Lok Sabha Shri Utpal Kumar Singh, were also present on the occasion.