Have empty rituals become substitutes of principles on which our parliament and democratic system stands? Whom actually do our governments, any of them represent?
Where did India stand in the comity of nations earlier and what is our role in international affairs now? These are few of the questions raised by former Union minister Jaswant Singh in his latest book .
"In each parliament session there is still a joint sitting, an address and a formal announcement of our government's programme but all sadly now not so inspiring. I am assailed by gnawing doubts about functioning of our parliament and about our democratic system," says veteran leader in the book in an article titled 'Irrelevance of Parliament and its MPs'.
"The audacity of opinion-Reflections, journeys and musings," by Amaryllis publications is the compilation of essays written by Jaswant Singh over the years on a broad spectrum of issues which he says, India has been facing in the past and which continue to exist even today.
At the function where the book was launched, Jaswant Singh however evaded the question about the recent session of parliament been stalled by his own party. "Parliament in our theory is the custodian of liberties, a watch dog body over misgovernance, a check over the executive, infact its no longer so. " he said adding, " The theoretical system of 'checks and balances' has lost nearly all its balance, the only check there is with the government, a check of their own incompetence'.
Singh, who having served eight terms in Parliament has witnessed different phases of Indian politics during his career says, " There is a corresponding parliamentary myth that those of us who sit in the parliament as representatives of people, meaningfully influence the government's thinking."
"If, as we all know, the ruling party is not able to do so, for reasons which are by now, obvious enough to the whole of the country, then how on earth is the Opposition expected to do that?" he asks.
Recalling the time when he penned down these articles, Singh says " I am greatly struck as to how these issues have remained constant over decades. Is it because we do not have the ability to change or we are comfortable with the disorder of the present."
According to Singh, "Democracy is the most unsatisfactory form of govt' until as Churchill as said 'You start examining others'". "Unfortunately whenever we talk of a reform of the system, we rarely go further than suggesting, either alternative ways of counting these votes or of a different apportioning of the consequent seats in the legislature, or of actual system of governance, through which we wish to translate this people's will into executive action" he says.
The book includes essays on wide spectrum of issues touched by Singh in his writing over the years like Assam accord, terrorism in Punjab, the challenges of diplomacy, the politics of secularism, credibility stakes, PM's trip abroad and much more.
However the book is not just a compilation of serious and analytical pieces of writings by him but also pieces laced with wry humour like 'Sex and public life', 'Raid Raj', 'Bureaucrats and Bureaukrats', 'Rama-Ravan' elections, 'Brass tracks to Brass flaps' among others.
Singh who has authored twelve books including 'Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence' and 'A call to honour in service of emergent India says " In the very writing of all articles, is implicit arrogance. But there is yet another elemental quest, and not simply arrogance. The quest of finding answers to the challenge of our times which continue to trouble us even today."