No more bad behaviour from Indian MPs

Vol 5, PW 21 (05 Dec 01) People & Policy

No longer will journalists and television viewers be treated to the familiar sit-ins, sloganeering, ripping up of microphones, storming of the speaker's podium, fisticuffs and other disruptive tactics by rowdy Indian MPs in parliament.

In their place will be orderly proceedings, with members bowing courteously to the speaker while entering and leaving, not carrying in mobile phones and generally behaving themselves. What sparked this transformation Reform from within! On 25th November, in a rare show of unity, over 300 representatives from almost all political parties met in parliament and decided it was high time that elected representatives behaved with decency and not like monkeys in a zoo! Present were prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, state chief ministers from across India and opposition party leaders.

They came to discuss Discipline and Decorum in Parliament and Legislatures of States and Union Territories. The gathering saw an outpouring of yearning for the 'good old days' of parliamentary proceedings after independence from Britain in 1947 when MPs showed common courtesies to each other.

After the day-long session an exhaustive code of conduct of some 60 'Do's and Don'ts' was produced. Extracts: Legislators shall supply a copy of a government document, paper or report to the presiding officer in advance and indicate the portions they wish to quote They must desist from angry expressions or interrupting a member who is speaking Punishment ranges from admonition, reprimand, censure or withdrawal of the offending member from the house for minor offences to automatic suspension from membership for a specific period for grave misconduct

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