The importance of the monsoon session
After a long hiatus, Parliament is set to reconvene in a truncated monsoon session from September 14 to October 1. This newspaper has consistently argued that the pandemic must not halt the functioning of India’s most important democratic institution — and with safeguards, public representatives must meet to discuss key issues facing the country, pass laws, and hold the executive accountable. The fact that both Houses will meet is positive.
But the key is ensuring that the session is productive. The government hopes to clear 11 ordinances in the session. The Opposition plans to raise questions on Covid-19 management, the Chinese incursion, the economic crisis and job losses due to the lockdown, the PM-Cares fund, the draft Environmental Impact Assessment policy, and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
All these issues — the ordinances, many of which are to do with economic policy reforms, and the more general political, economic, health, and foreign policy concerns — are critical for India’s future. It is the government’s right to introduce legislations, and while it is the Opposition’s duty to point out the loopholes in these laws, the arithmetic of the House indicates that they will get passed. For its part, it is the Opposition’s right to raise questions which may have undermined public welfare and national security, and the government’s duty to listen, respond, and refine its approach. This is the true spirit of parliamentary democracy. At a time when India is facing multiple crises, both the Treasury and Opposition benches must behave responsibly, be accommodative, and engage with each other constructively — Indian democracy deserves no less.