Kill Bill

  • A journalist hurled a shoe at Chidambaram when he refused to answer a question related to Jagdish Tytler’s
  • A school principal threw a shoe at Naveen Jindal because he was fed up of the congress policies
  • A suspended Cop threw a shoe at Omar Abdullah during the Independence Day function
The media said it’s the anti politician rage, the critics said it’s misusing the democracy, it’s debated, discussed for a couple of  weeks. And then something else happens, the “Slap” happens. There is a very strong underlying message and that is people are showing their dissent and are ready to show it openly without any fear or inhibitions. Jayram Ramesh had to face a similar wrath when he introduced the BT Brinjal bill.
Heard Loud and Clear
Why do such incidents happen ? Why does a debate on a nuclear bill take higher priority than any other regular media masala ? Because it’s controversial and controversy, be it in politics, be it in cinema or be it in cricket, or be it in personal life, it always is generating curiosity. And if you think why do controversies happen, most of the times it’s due to lack of communication amongst the participants. He said, she said, they said and then the media says and when the media says, it’s heard by every body, loud and clear. In the recent 2-3 years, there have been so many such incidents especially around proposals for new bills.

The Bill

Simply put, a bill is a draft law that the parliament proposes to make. When approved by parliament, the bill becomes an Act. The lifecycle of a bill goes through

  • Introduction Stage
  • Discussion Stage
  • Voting Stage

While the different stages are self explanatory, the discussion stage needs special mention here. This is the stage where, the bill is subject to discussions/debates/amendments/ and this is done by and large via a Standing Committee and/or by seeking general opinion. This stage is really critical as there are subject mater experts outside of the parliamentary structure who can provide valuable inputs that can help make the bill serve the purpose for which it’s really intended for. This in other words can also be called “socializing” the bill. Socialize with peers, with subordinates, with superiors and the people for whom it’s intended for. The constitution clearly laid out this in black and white leaving no ambiguity.

In this day and age of technology, such consultations , if well led by the government, can bring in the desired effect of involving the right people in the drafting process. The BT Brinjal is a very good example where only through active participation from the people, the environmentalists, NGO’s etc a moratorium on the release of Bt brinjal was placed by the then environment minister. The RTI bill was another example where through active public consultations the bill took the form a very powerful law. But in both these examples, the consultations didn’t happen automatically i.e. they didn’t happen because the constitution said so, they rather happened because the government was forced to do so.

The Government’s view of a bill

The government seemed to have defined it’s own life cycle for the bill.

  • Introduction Stage
  • Voting Stage
With no or very limited Discussion stage. I personally am aware of two bills where public consultations were sought within a month and that too in a language that was not local to the region. Now what good is this going to do unless the government is just trying to go through mere formalities and save itself some difficult questions in the future. When the bill gets introduced in the parliament without the second or the discussion stage, the bill faces umpteen road blocks, not just from the people alone, but also from the opposition, from the Special Committees and literally from everyone other than the ruling party.
A Shameful Act
The drama surrounding the nuclear bill was another unforgettable incident for these very reasons. The showdown involved bribing the ministers with money being exchanged in the house of the parliament, a real unforgettable day in Indian History. It put the whole country to shame.

Kill Bill

The bill has been reduced to a mere revenge taking game played between the opposition and the ruling party where most of the time is spent to “Kill Bill”, rather than to socialize, understand, debate, discuss, contribute and formulate the bill for the general good of everybody. Any bill presented by either civil society or the parliament today receives stiff resistance. As I said its the Kill Bill notion. when it gets to the parliament.

Hundreds of crores of rupees are wasted when the parliament sessions are disrupted. Instead if the government spends even 5% of that money in educating, socializing the bills and it’s important aspects, it will help reduce the controversies , increase transparency and also  smoothen the whole process leading to some meaningful debates in the parliament.

The current winter session is really important as the government is supposed to introduce the “Lokpal Bill” in the parliament. Hopefully, things don’t get sidelined, don’t need another “Kill Bill”, else the shoe gates, the slap gates and who knows what other gates will be opened.


One thought on “Kill Bill

Add yours

  1. nice article Suresh. But hope we can navigate through the pessimism into a clearing…. This is coming close to on the heels of the classic debate topic –
    “To change policies, we need good politicians And to get good politicians we need good policies”.

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