Renu Pokharna

Archive for the ‘Parliamentary Reforms’ Category

Change and its limits

In Corruption, Electoral Reform, Parliamentary Reforms, Politics on January 7, 2014 at 2:09 am

The Aam Aadmi Party has had spectacular success, of that there can be no doubt. But even its most hardened and committed supporters will agree that the government in Delhi will last only a few weeks — at most, a few months. It simply will not have the time or opportunity to prove its capability to govern. Its success has ironically thrown into sharp relief the best and worst of our current political system. It has established the vibrancy of our politics and the maturity of the electorate. At the same time, it has made clear the disjunct between the exercise of individual franchise and the delivery of stable governance. What one must question is the positive of a political system which enables the expression of protest but does not promote a steady and enduring government.

Kejriwal deserves the accolade of “man of the year”. His conviction, tenacity and simplicity are admirable. But compared to another “aam aadmi” who has also had comparable impact, albeit on a much larger scale, his limitations are obvious. Unlike Pope Francis, he does not have the mandate or experience to deliver. This is not his fault, but that of our political system.

Pope Francis was a little known Jesuit priest from Argentina called Jorge Mario Bergoglio. The cardinals of the papacy surprised the Catholic community by electing him the 265th successor to St Peter a month after Pope Benedict had roiled the church by resigning. At the time, the church was engulfed in a sexual scandal, the Vatican Bank was facing charges of corruption, papal institutions had hollowed and parishioners were leaving in droves. Pope Francis could not have inherited a more difficult chalice. His response was “aam aadmi” in character. He rejected the “lal batti” Mercedes and stayed with his clapped-out Ford Focus. He did not move into the apostolic palace but chose a two-room abode. He celebrated his 77th birthday with four poor people and a dog. His every action has exemplified humility and compassion. More substantively, he challenged conventional orthodoxy. He commented that the church was “obsessed” with abortion and contraceptives, and in response to a question on what he thought about gay priests, he replied “who am I to judge”. Further, he sidelined the traditional synod of bishops and appointed his own group of cardinals to advise him on bureaucratic and institutional issues.

The jury is still out on whether Pope Francis will succeed in revitalising the Church, and there is comment that he might be more style than substance. But what is clear is that this “aam aadmi” priest has the authority and tenure to convert intent into policy. He is the supreme unchallenged head of the Church and unless he decides otherwise, he will stay in that position for life. He can change the shape and content of the Church. In contrast, Kejriwal is shackled and will be fighting another election in a few months. The AAP deserves its moment, and whilst no one can or should dilute the significance of its achievement, it must not be surprised if “good” and “honest” people everywhere feel uneasy about the longer-term impact of its leadership in government. After all, it is in for the short haul; avowedly populist; without experience; and its economic programme does not hold up to rigorous scrutiny.

The AAP phenomena will be franchised. Civic groups across the country will be emboldened to take up political cudgels. The electoral response to these new political movements could be disproportionately strong, especially in urban constituencies. This is a healthy trend, as it will shift the contours and narrative of politics. It will upend conventional wisdom. No one in the Cong-ress or the BJP expected the AAP to do so well. Their belief was that the voter would ultimately cast her vote conventionally. The voter would not vote for a party that had no chance to win. “Why waste a vote,” would be the logic. I suspect this is no longer the refrain in party headquarters. The realisation must have dawned that the 60-million-odd new voters are singing to a different tune. They are fed up with the lack of governance and corruption. They do not like the political choices on offer and are looking for alternatives. This is all good. The shake up of old-style feudal politics driven by money and opportunism is long overdue.

At another level, however, this franchisee phenomena does raise some concerns. For two decades now, we have had coalition governments at the Centre, and it has become clear that coalition politics does not allow for statesmanship. It does not give leaders the room to take decisions that pay off in years rather than months. It is also a major reason for corruption. This is because of the required “give and take” and the compulsion to raise finance for the next election, not to speak of the individual impulse to make hay while the sun is shining. The silver lining has been that most state governments have been governed by parties with a clear and decisive majority. This has facilitated clearer (not necessarily cleaner) and better governance. The question, therefore, has to be asked: What if the politicisation of protest movements were to push state governments into the miasma of coalition governance? Would that be in the public interest?

The conditions for a revolution are created when people feel alienated from and disgusted with the institutions of government and the quality of governance. These conditions translate into action when people with passion, leadership and language give expression and meaning to this feeling. The revolution endures if the new political structures and systems reflect and respond to underlying social and economic realities. Take, for example, the American revolution. The people felt alienated from the rule of colonial Britain and disgust at the gap between the reality of social hierarchy and the rhetoric that Americans were “born, the heirs to freedom” for decades before the revolution. They did not, however, take to the streets until George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson gave expression and organisation to this discontentment. The principles of the revolution have endured for over 200 years because the political system has in the main reflected and responded to the interests and aspirations of the American people. In similar vein, Kejriwal and the AAP have given language and meaning to the disgust felt by people towards traditional political parties. They have marshalled this disgust into a brilliant movement of protest. The first-past-the-post system of parliamentary democracy has not, however, given them the authority to deliver. The question that the AAP must thus contemplate is whether its impact might not be more enduring and positive if, rather than looking to govern and risking exposure as an emperor without clothes, it was to use its organisational skills to compel a review of the political system and better alignment to the longer-term demands of a pluralistic, diverse, young and subcontinental polity?

Indian Express, 6 Jan 2014

None of the above

In Bizarre Laws, Electoral Reform, Parliamentary Reforms on February 7, 2012 at 5:41 am

This clamour for right to reject is a muddled response to electoral issues

The “Right to Reject” proposals are again gaining ground in discussion. But there is something extravagant about the claims being made. While the proposal may not do too much harm, it is not at all clear it does much good. It is another instance of reform debates taking recourse to wishful thinking.

There are at least three versions of the right to reject on offer. The mildest version, proposed in the Election Commission’s letter to the PM, is an updated version for Rule 49 of the Conduct of Election Rules. Under this, voters can choose to have their abstention registered. Under current procedures, this abstention is not secret. The idea is simply to give voters a “none of the above” option. This has expressive value and is least disruptive. But it will not have any bearing on the outcome of an election. The other two proposals are more consequential. In one version, if more than 50 per cent of the electors choose a “none of the above” option, the election will have to be held again with a new roster of candidates. In another version, the election will be re-held if the number choosing “none of the above” option exceeds the number of votes garnered by the leading candidate. Then there are minor variations on the prohibitions the rejected candidates have to suffer.

It is not entirely clear what problem this is meant to solve. In discussions, one argument put forward is that it will lead to fewer criminals in politics. The logic for this supposition is not entirely clear. But a fair response to the worry about criminals in politics is this: if we are serious about removing criminals in politics, we need to get serious about the criminal justice system. Final convictions have to be secured in a reasonable amount of time. But to be a little more provocative, we need to ask why it is that in some cases people vote for so-called criminals? It is often because they provide services that often the state cannot – ranging from protection, to a visible ability to get things done. Condemning the choices without grappling with the circumstances that lead voters to make the choices they do is a species of easy moralising.

The second argument, expressed in Law Commission reports, is the concern that with plurality of candidates contesting, the winning candidate usually has a very low percentage of votes in their favour. If we could somehow require candidates to poll at least 50 per cent plus one vote, the system would be more representative. It would, so the argument goes, also diminish the role of caste etc., since every candidate would have to have broad-based appeal. But this argument is also too quick. First, if we really want a 50 per cent plus one rule, we need to openly discuss either runoffs, or Alternative Vote proposals, which the British just rejected. The Right to Reject has nothing to do with it. But we should also be cautious about the numerical fixation on 50 per cent plus. The claim that someone is our representative will always be endogenous to the rules of getting elected. Just because the rules require 50 per cent plus one, it does not necessarily mean that individual is more representative. It could mean other things as well. It could mean voters have had to compromise even more in making their choices. It could raise entry barriers into politics and cut down choices. This may not be sufficient to reject 50 plus one requirement. But we must get away from the idea that there is a set of election rules that does not generate its own externalities. Voting rules also have unintended and unforeseen consequences. Many well-intentioned reforms in places ranging from California to Israel have often produced worse outcomes. Tread cautiously.

But it is not clear negative voting has helped anywhere. In the US, some states have experimented; Russia had it, and abolished it. One simple reason is that under the 50 per cent rule, casting a negative vote makes sense only if you are confident that half of all voters agree with you. The middle class may have more contempt for politicians, but this is an extravagant assumption to make.

There is also the curious paradox of expressing contempt for electoral choices, through the rhetoric of more choice. Ostensibly giving the right to reject gives voters greater choice: they have the choice to reject and express exasperation. But in reality the choice argument is more complicated. One rather subtle point about elections is the moral importance of the simultaneity and independence of voting. My expression of preferences should not depend upon knowledge about how others have voted; and it should be based on broadly the same possible information. Only then have votes got equal value. Administering a right to reject in a way mimicking the simultaneity requirement is not going to be easy. Second, the issue of preferences is also not that straight-forward. Just because voters reject a set of candidates does not automatically mean that a second set has enhanced their choice or produced something closer to the illusory idea of their real preferences. Since you cannot test the transitivity of preferences along two different choice sets, it is a bit too quick to claim that the choices exercised on the second set are somehow more authentic than the first.

One possibility with negative voting, particularly the third variant, is that it could penalise good candidates. At least now in campaigns, we discuss sops and promises, however illusory. But under negative voting there may be huge incentives on part of weaker candidates and parties to ensure good candidates get disqualified. Finally, since party structures remain important, the significance of getting rid of one set of candidates is not as clear as people suppose; the individual characteristics of MPs now matter less. We need better institutionalised parties more than negative voting.

We need to discuss serious issues: party systems, election finance, decentralisation. We have created huge anomalies by aspiring for proportional outcomes out of a first past the post system. But the clamour for negative voting is distraction. I may not happen to agree with much of what goes on. But at some level I have to acknowledge that my arguments have lost. Having lost, I ought not to blame the rules, or construct the voters as helpless victims of bad rules. Politics is the slow boring of hard boards, as Max Weber said. But India’s privileged, having failed to do the requisite manual labour of politics, and elicit trust, now place excessive faith in new rules.

The writer is president, Centre for Policy Research, Delhi

 

2 Feb 2012,  Indian Express

Put MPs on par with CJs: House panel

In Parliamentary Reforms, Politics on December 12, 2011 at 10:43 am

The Parliamentary Committee on Privileges has suggested that the status of Members of Parliament should be on par with Chief Justices of the High Courts in the Warrant of Precedence. This implies that they be placed at serial 17 in the order of precedence.

The report of the committee, headed by Congress MP in Lok Sabha P C Chacko, was tabled in the House on Wednesday.

The Committee registered its displeasure over the fact that Members of Parliament were placed at the end, Number 21, of the Warrant of Precedence, “much below their status and lower to persons not holding constitutional offices and even bureaucrats”. Those featuring at Number 17 include not only Chief Justices of High Courts, but also chairpersons of CAT, Minorities Commission, National Commission for Scheduled Castes and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, besides Puisne Judges of high courts.

Interestingly, if pushed up to Number 17, the MPs will be ahead of Cabinet ministers of state governments, who are currently ranked at Number 18.

The committee sought to get former Speakers of the Lok Sabha on to the Warrant of Precedence at the same level as Union Cabinet ministers, former prime ministers and Leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. Former Speakers of the Lok Sabha do not figure in the list yet. The Speaker is presently placed at Number 6, along with the Chief Justice of India.

The panel referred to what it called “recurrent instances” of protocol violations and discourteous behaviour by government officials while dealing with MPs, and said, “Due courtesies and regard are not being shown to MPs by government officers.” The committee was of the view that there was a need for a consolidation of circulars issued on different subjects by various ministries and departments of the Central government from time to time. The committee endorsed a draft revised consolidated circular, prepared by the DoPT in consultation with the Cabinet Secretariat, to be sent to state governments and Central ministries on the issue of extending due courtesy to MPs.

A penal clause had been inserted in the revised circular under which “violations of these instructions would entail departmental inquiry and punishment to the guilty officials as per rules”.

The committee called for permission to MPs to use red beacon lights atop their vehicles and recommended that the Ministry of Surface Transport issue a notification on this count.

 

1 Dec 2011, Indian Express

Making the government account for itself

In Electoral Reform, Parliamentary Reforms on December 10, 2011 at 9:42 am

In a parliamentary democracy, Parliament’s Question Hour is of utmost importance to keep tabs on the executive. Questions to ministers by members on the floor of the House can expose inactivity, lethargy or perfidy of a government department, or identify the downside of governmental action.

The government’s accountability is ensured through a variety of parliamentary procedures; however, Question Hour is one of the most effective instruments in the hands of MPs to ensure continuous assessment of the government. While advocating the parliamentary system for India, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the principal architect of our Constitution, observed: “The daily assessment of responsibility, which is not available under the American system is, it is felt, far more effective than periodic assessment, and far more necessary in a country like India.”

Of all the means of investigation at Parliament’s disposal, asking questions is the easiest way for MPs to get information about public matters, and it is their unfettered right. Nothing can weaken Parliament’s control over the executive more than the abolition or curtailment of this right. Rule 38 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Rajya Sabha states that unless the chairman of the Rajya Sabha so directs, the first hour on every sitting shall be kept for asking and answering questions. A similar provision exists for the Lok Sabha.

However, of late, disruption of this crucial Question Hour has become a disquieting feature of both Houses. Asking a question is both a right and a privilege of a member of Parliament. There have been instances when the presiding officers have cautioned members for disrupting Question Hour, thereby encroaching on the right of other members to ask questions or listen to ministers.

Question Hour is the best instrument to test ministerial competence. Ministers are meant to be aware of every aspect of their ministry’s working. If she or he fails to satisfactorily respond to a question, it embarrasses the minister and puts the government in an awkward situation. No other procedure has such potential to leave a minister standing alone, defending the government’s policies. The questions keep the government alert. The fact that ministers cannot refuse to answer parliamentary questions, unless in the interest of the nation, underlines its importance.

From time to time, the rules have been amended to render Question Hour more effective. Time management is crucial, so that maximum questions can be devoted to oral answers. Here are some of those changes:

Crisp questions and replies are necessary — a question should be concise and factual rather than laden with opinion and argument. To cover more starred questions during Question Hour, the chair has, on many occasions, ruled that the members should put up pointed questions, free of verbiage and long prefatory references. Ministers have also been exhorted to fully answer questions in a direct and succinct manner. Questions should aim to elicit more information rather than attack the government.

Mounting supplementaries on a few questions had resulted in only those starred questions being taken up in the House, leaving many important issues untouched. However, it was once decided that “a member in whose name a starred question is admitted will be allowed two supplementaries and if there is another member whose name is clubbed with the member for that question, he or she will be allowed one supplementary. Thereafter, only two further supplementaries will be permitted on that question”. This was a notable innovation, often enabling all 20 starred questions to be raised. It has also been ruled by the chair that no point of order should be raised during Question Hour, nor should any clarification be sought from the minister. There is also an amendment that limits the number of starred questions a member can ask — it has been brought down from three (once as a first questioner and twice by clubbing) to one.

Since a lot of time, effort and money are involved in the preparation of an answer to a question, absenteeism during Question Hour defeats its purpose. A recent innovation by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari has now amended the rules to ensure that even if the main questioner is absent, the chair would allow three supplementaries to that question. This step will go a long way in streamlining procedure.

Other suggestions that have been mooted include shifting Question Hour to another time — being the first hour of the day, Question Hour is frequently disrupted when MPs are agitated over some issue. Upset at the frequent adjournments during Question Hour, the Rajya Sabha chairman directed, in March 2011, that such matters be raised at 11 am and the Question Hour be moved to the first hour after lunch from 2 to 3 pm. However, disruption of Question Hour continued, and the chairman decided, after consulting party leaders, to move it back to its previous 11 am slot from August 2011 onwards.

There have been demands from some quarters that the duration of the Question Hour may be increased to accommodate more questions. The Lok Sabha speaker, Meira Kumar, mooted a similar idea in the recently held Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth. However, the move is yet to break any ground.

The efficacy of Question Hour as an accountability mechanism depends on how members, cutting across party lines, utilise it. Questions asked in Parliament not only have a bearing on the policy decisions of the government, but have on several occasions even resulted in the setting up of commissions and courts of enquiry. However, with the overall sittings of Parliament per year going down and frequent disruptions and suspension of parliamentary business, the instrument has been weakened, in effect.

 

6 Dec 2011,  Indian Express

Rough draft of a bill

In Parliamentary Reforms on June 17, 2011 at 7:02 am

The joint committee for drafting the Lokpal bill has, among other things, brought much attention to lawmaking itself. What indeed is the process of enacting a law? And what therein are the points of engagement with citizens and civil society?

A government bill may be introduced by a minister, and a private member bill by any member of Parliament. We focus here on government bills, as private member bills have rarely been passed. Only 14 private member bills have been passed by the Indian Parliament, the last one in 1970.

Government bills are drafted by the administrative ministry and vetted by the law ministry. During this process, the ministry may hold public consultations and also obtain views from other relevant government departments. The bills are discussed by the cabinet, which then agrees that these may be introduced in Parliament. Even the Lokpal bill needs to go through these steps, including cabinet approval.

A bill is introduced in either the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha through a motion (first reading). At this stage, any member may object to the introduction on limited grounds; for example, that the bill violates constitutional provisions, or that the subject is in the state list. Parliament may also vote to stop the introduction of a bill. For example, in 2009, several Rajya Sabha MPs objected to the introduction of a bill that required judges of the Supreme Court and high courts to declare their assets. The law minister decided not to press for introduction, and later brought a bill that addressed the concerns.

Most bills are referred to the relevant standing committee of Parliament. These committees have members from both the Houses and are required to examine the provisions of a bill and report back to Parliament. Usually, standing committees ask for public feedback, and also invite some stakeholders and experts for oral deposition. This process provides a good opportunity for civil society to express and explain its perspectives on a bill. There have been several instances when a committee has recommended significant changes to a bill. For example, after examining the civil nuclear liability bill, the standing committee on science and technology recommended amendments. Though these recommendations are not binding, the government often takes them into account and makes suitable changes.

The bill is then brought back to the House for consideration (second reading). At this stage, MPs discuss the bill in detail, including the consequences of various provisions. Following the discussion, each clause of the bill is voted upon, and any MP may move amendments to the clauses.

This is followed by the third reading, when the bill is taken up for passing. At this stage, the bill (as amended in the second reading) is voted upon. After the bill is passed, it is taken up by the other House for the second and third reading. Then the bill has to obtain the assent of the president, following which it becomes an Act.

It is important to note that all bills are not referred to a standing committee. In some cases, a bill incorporates recommendations of a committee on an earlier bill. However, there are several instances when the standing committee system is bypassed. In the current Lok Sabha, about 30 per cent of the bills were not referred to standing committees. These include a bill to amend the competition act and another to revise the salaries of MPs. There are also instances when one of the Houses decides to form a select committee to examine a bill. A recent example relates to the Prevention of Torture Bill. The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha and passed by the House without referring it to a standing committee. The Rajya Sabha, however, decided that the bill needed detailed examination and formed a select committee, which recommended several amendments.

Once an act is passed, the government makes rules that determine some of the details. For example, the Rules under the Information Technology Act were notified recently, which lay out standards for cyber cafes and content on the Internet. These rules may also be examined by a parliamentary committee or discussed (and amended) by Parliament.

This process of enacting a law provides several opportunities for citizens to engage with the system. These include making representations to parliamentary committees as well as to individual MPs and political parties.

It is important for citizens and civil society to understand and engage with the process, so that their views and concerns are heard and examined by Parliament. There is a further need to examine and voice any issues that arise from the rules and regulations notified by the government. Only an engaged and vigilant citizenry that uses constitutional mechanisms can strengthen the freedoms and promote welfare expected of a liberal democracy.

The writer is with PRS Legislative, Delhi

 

Indian Express, 15 June 2011

The MPs you don’t see

In Parliamentary Reforms on April 27, 2011 at 11:54 am

The introduction of direct telecast of parliamentary proceedings has probably had a major, and hitherto unexplored, impact upon the public psyche. While some MPs imagine that their antics in obstructing the work of Parliament, for instance preventing the Women’s Reservation Bill or demanding the formation of some JPC, may endear them to their constituents, I believe that the conduct of some parliamentarians has actually exposed the entire system to public obloquy.

News reports which blazon headlines about how the entire Union budget was passed in one minute without any discussion, after Parliament had been stalled for days, or about how important legislation was pushed through amidst a din of slogan-shouting, further add to the impression that Parliament has degenerated into complete chaos.

However, the truth of the matter is that while drama and political theatrics are a colourful part of our parliamentary system, our Parliament and our MPs actually conduct a great deal of serious work during discussions in various committees of Parliament where legislation, demands for grants and major issues of policy are discussed in great detail. The greatest asset of the committee system in our Parliament is the general atmosphere of harmony in which the committees function, usually in a spirit of serious thought and considered consensus. It’s a great pity that the Indian public is mostly unaware of the commendable work that is actually being carried out by the various committees of Parliament.

As chair of the standing committee on law, justice, personnel and public grievances, it was my privilege to submit the report on the controversial Women’s Reservation Bill. In our committee, we had heated discussions, but the discussions always shed more light than heat. We heard the evidence of a large cross-section of stakeholders, and ultimately presented a report to Parliament, strongly recommending the passage of the bill, but two of our members added notes of dissent. The point was, our committee succeeded in achieving what Parliament as a larger body could not do, namely to rationally discuss the issue and arrive at a conclusion (which included contrary points of view).

On issues like the appointment of judges or judicial accountability, or the filling up of vacancies of SC posts in government service, the degree of unanimity in the committee is quite spectacular. Therefore, in this general atmosphere of gloom about the nature of our parliamentary system, the public needs to understand a little about the largely successful functioning of the committee system in Parliament.

The work done by Parliament is not only varied in nature, but considerable in volume. The time at its disposal is limited. It cannot, therefore, give close consideration to all the legislative and other matters that come up before it. A good deal of its business is, therefore, transacted by what are called parliamentary committees. Parliamentary committees are of two kinds: ad hoc committees and standing committees. Ad hoc committees are appointed for a specific purpose and they cease to exist when they finish the task assigned to them and submit a report. Core committees which keep Parliament functioning are, naturally, the Business Advisory Committees of both Houses, which decide the work to be transacted by Parliament, and other House committees which play a crucial role in monitoring the functioning of the executive, notably the Public Accounts Committee and the Committee on Public Undertakings, among others.

A full-fledged system of departmentally related standing committees (originally 17, now increased to 24) came into being in April 1993. These committees cover under their jurisdiction all the ministries/ departments of the Government of India and their functions are: consideration of demands for grants; examination of bills referred to them by the chairman of Rajya Sabha or the speaker of Lok Sabha; consideration of annual reports; consideration of national, basic, long-term policy documents presented to the House and referred to the committee by the chairman, Rajya Sabha, or the speaker, Lok Sabha, as the case may be. These committees do not consider matters of day-to-day administration of the concerned ministries/ departments.

The standing committee system is a path-breaking endeavour for parliamentary surveillance over administration. The committees are also expected to provide necessary direction, guidance and inputs for broad policy formulations and in achievement of the long-term national perspective by the government. They sit during, and between recesses of, Parliament, and examine in detail the functioning of ministries. Their reports are tabled, and while not binding upon government, they have immense value in terms of their recommendations. The most fundamental benefit of these committees is that while they consist of MPs from both Houses and all parties, they do not generally function on party lines, and there is no voting, only provisions for notes of dissent. There is therefore immense scope in these committees for individual members to make contributions in terms of policy and legislation.

Generally, MPs make an honest effort to ensure that the working of the ministry be as effective as possible. In most cases, the working of the committees is a heartening feature of our parliamentary system, because MPs do hold shared views, irrespective of party affiliation, and do tend to achieve consensus on a wide variety of issues. The standing committees should, and do in fact, look upon the executive government in the light of a partner in ensuring accountability, transparency and effective implementation of policy and legislation. However, it is my considered opinion that the bureaucracy is a determined roadblock in the collection and free flow of information. Since ministers are not generally summoned before committees, it is usually senior bureaucrats who present the views and working of the ministry to the committee, and more often than not the information provided is obfuscatory and dense in nature, mostly tending to be a defensive and supercilious presentation on the topic at hand. In other words, a presentation of the annual report of the ministry.

In these circumstances, it becomes difficult for MPs to sift through the chaff, and many MPs have felt that it would be useful to have outside experts available. In fact, experts are sometimes invited to give their views. However, the final problem lies in the fact that the vast majority of the recommendations are not implemented by any government, thereby rendering the valuable work done by the committee rather pointless. A triumph of red tape and bureaucracy over elective and participatory democracy.

Indian Express, 26 April 2011