While the Centre has been in the spotlight for a decade now ranging from various issues. For example, the budget session is always the highlight of the year when almost every news outlet broadcasts it live, experts and pseudo-experts are called upon for debates, discussions,  comments and lately for gimmicks. 

More than a week passes over and almost every news-hungry citizen consumes the budget from TV, YouTube, Newspapers etc. The same is the case when controversial bills like CAB, Farm bills are brought into the houses. A major attendance is recorded, heated debates take place, the opposition always walks out in so-called protests and what spikes the viewership even further is when the session is questioned unto its undemocratic nature. 

Then there are days when we tune in specially to hear someone speak just because their oratory skills are worthy or very unapologetic views are presented. This was seen during Home Minister Amit Shah’s speech on CAB, almost every speech of Mahua Moitra, Asaduddin Owaisi tearing the CAB etc

Notice something here? I didn’t mention the State Assemblies for once. How many times have you watched and analyzed the State Budget as we do for the Union Budget? How many times have we watched our local representative speak in the State Assemblies? How many times have we acted like a watchdog to check if the State is working in the right direction in implementing Central schemes, drafting state policies etc?

The answer will be a few times if not NEVER

 

Sharing the Blame 

State Legislatures

In a living democracy, a nation stands on its pillars. The concept of pillars supporting democracy is similar yet different for many. Some say it has 3 pillars, some 4 and some even more than 5. I don’t know whose views I’m resonating with but let’s paint the picture, shall we? 

Mine has 4 pillars that stand on the bedrock. The pillars are Legislative, Executive, Judiciary and Media. The bedrock is we, the citizens. Now, when we talk about any issue concerning the fundamentals of a democratic nation I believe we share blames from all fronts. But how?

Firstly, the bedrock. We as citizens have shown uttermost disinterest towards the State Legislature. Some of us watch parliamentary sessions solely for entertainment purposes. Now if we stop holding the government accountable then why should they care?

Secondly, the media. There must be no debate when I say this that Indian media has dropped to its all-time low and is crashing further. As we are surrounded with many alarming issues like employment, economy, Chinese aggression, education etc these issues seem too petty. 

A very small and independent part of online media is trying its best at journalism. It’s not feasible for them to take up these issues or echo them to us

Thirdly, the judiciary. Now courts cannot and should not meddle with matters of State Assemblies but at desperate and alarming times like these, they have the constitutional right and power to do so. With the Fundamental Rights, there are many more Articles that present the roles and duties of a state.

Like for example Directive Principles of the State Policies. Though these Constitutional Articles are not enforceable by courts as stated in Article 37 but needless to say they are primary for governance. You can understand these as Fundamental Duties of Government towards the society as a whole if I put it in layman’s terms. Like, Article 40 talks about organization of village panchayats at village, block and district levels. What say this is not adhered to?

Lastly, the legislative and this we will talk as a separate point altogether

 

State Legislatures’ Report Card

It’s hard to say why exactly such a behavioral pattern is noticed. And it will be highly judgemental of me if I conclude based on my personal opinions. Very vaguely it can be said that it’s because lack of transparency, accountability, established norm, disinterest etc

Here are some facts, since 2001 the Uttarakhand Assembly has held 16 sessions on average. This number went as low as 7 in 2004. If you’re not shocked yet then let me clear the fog a little more. On average 16 days of session took place out of the 365 days of a year.  Just 16 days of talks, debates, discussions etc. Though the Legislative Rules and Procedures 2005 mandates it to have at least 60 days of session for an efficient and democratic function. 

State Legislatures

Same is the condition for other states as well. Numbers go as low as 1-2 sittings ONLY. According to data, some states have a decreasing pattern over the years while some State Legislatures have significant growth. Kerala had 40 sittings in 2015 which grew to 151 in 2017. 

Karnataka was too a part of this trend but not for long. In 2019, it had just 18 sittings. For Karnataka, the number never crossed 50 but the irony is that in 2012 it too mandated at least 60 sittings a year. States like UP and Rajasthan have quite a declining trend with low averages. Rajasthan went from 31 in 2015 to 25 in 2017 while UP went from 27 to 17.  What should be bothering is the fact that many members remain absent whatsoever.

The matters roll a little further when states like Gujarat and West Bengal don’t make their sessions publically available. They don’t have an accessible archive nor do they broadcast which is people’s right. And can be said it’s the first nail on transparency and accountability. 

 

Why Do State Legislatures Matter? 

Remember the federal structure of our nation as described in The Preamble. While Central seems important, State subjects are way more important to you. There are 61 subjects in the state list and 52 subjects in the Concurrent List where states too have a say. 

If your state’s primary issue is education then your state government has the responsibility to solve it. How does State Legislatures solve it even if they don’t discuss ideas, formulate policies, brainstorm problems and unique solutions, criticize the government enough to wake it up etc. 

Imagine a state that was hit by cyclones for two consecutive years. The center releases relief funds, then what? Then the central government formulated some beautiful policies for you but what if your state doesn’t implement them the right way. Will you benefit? 

Many important subjects such as education, healthcare, police, etc come under the state list.  Sure, you elected them, trust them, they work for your welfare but there’s always room for improvement. 

 

Read Also: Men’s Rights is also Human Rights

 

Anubhav Kumar Das

Anubhav Kumar Das

Anubhav is the owner of Forever Pieces. He is a published author and poet. He is a part-time freelance writer and maybe found strumming the guitar for gigs on festive weekends. Besides all these, he is also an exhibited artist and photographer.

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