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Questions for legislators

Questions for legislators
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First Published: Wed, Apr 22 2009. 09 00 PM IST
Updated: Wed, Apr 22 2009. 09 00 PM IST
Minimum attendance is compulsory, whether one is a student or an employee. Falling short can debar a child from a school or an examination. It can cost you your job. Minimum attendance is regarded as a necessary condition for learning or delivering on one’s work commitments. Right?
Similarly, universally, educational and other institutions expect their children or employees to stick to certain expected norms of behaviour. A rowdy child or a rogue employee is seldom tolerated. For instance, if a student or employee damages school or office property, a serious disciplinary view is taken of such conduct. One may even be expelled from the organization. Right?
Also, all professional positions require minimum qualifications or specific expertise. For example, a finance executive must be a chartered accountant, a senior educator must have a PhD (doctor of philosophy) and a surgeon must have a master’s degree in surgery. One cannot even enter class VII unless one has passed class VI. Right?
Again, most institutions have a retirement age for employees. The age for retirement takes many aspects into account, viz., physical health and mental abilities, providing for upward mobility and employment to younger sections of the population, demand and supply of expertise, and so on. For example, given the extreme shortage of trained manpower in higher education, the retirement age for engineering colleges and business schools has been steadily increased from 58 to 60 to 62 to now 65 over the years. The private sector also largely practises a retirement age. In fact, in the interest of good corporate governance, steadily pushed by the government itself, retirement age has also entered boardrooms. Right?
Finally, most courses of study are so rigorous that, by and large, one is not allowed to pursue two degrees simultaneously. Likewise, most organizations, the government included, do not allow their employees to engage in more than one job at a time. Imagine the pilot of your commercial flight as a part-time stock broker on the National Stock Exchange! You will surely be a worried commuter. Right?
Under the circumstances, isn’t it ironic that while the above are true for children and adults alike in all institutional walks of life, Indian legislature should be the only exception in the country that does not abide by any of the above requirements? Perhaps election time is the best time to ask some questions.
The abysmal attendance record of some of our celebrity parliamentarians—as measured by mere signing of the register and not by participation in the parliamentary proceedings—has been much in the news recently. Clearly, no attendance requirement applies to our representatives. Why?
Criminal background and behaviour, which may be unacceptable in students or employees in any decent school or organization, are perfectly acceptable for our parliamentarians. Why?
Our education minister does not have to be an educationist or the minister for urban planning an architect. Nor is it essential for a parliamentarian to be a degree holder in political science or have a record of public service. Why?
One would imagine that neither running of industries nor running of the state is a part-time job. How, then, do we expect industrialists such as Rahul Bajaj and Vijay Mallya to juggle their industrial empires with statecraft? Or a senior leader such as Sharad Pawar to juggle statecraft with cricket? Or a Govinda (incidentally, he did not attend a single parliamentary session in 2007) or a Jaya Prada to juggle their Bollywood careers with parliamentary sessions? But we have put them there as members of Parliament. Why?
While a 56-year-old colonel is too old to run his regiment, an octogenarian parliamentarian is not too old to run the country. Why?
Corporate governance is important, but not so country governance. Why?
The author is CEO, GMR Varalakshmi Foundation. Views are personal. Comments are welcome at yourviews@livemint.com
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First Published: Wed, Apr 22 2009. 09 00 PM IST