THE ENDURING SIGNIFICANCE OF INDIA’S PARLIAMENT AFTER 60 YEARS
As India celebrates the 60th anniversary of its Parliament, a senior official of its upper House, the Rajya Sabha, reflects on how much India and its parliamentary democracy have accomplished – and how much remains to be done.
Shri S.N. Sahu in New Delhi. Shri Sahu serves as Joint Secretary in the Secretariat of the Rajya Sabha, India’s upper House. He is a former senior official and Press Secretary to the late President of India, Shri K.R. Narayanan, and a former Director in the Prime Minister’s Office. The views expressed here are his personal views.
building. Indians always were in favour of shaping their destiny by democratic means. One of the demands put forth
Shri S.N. Sahu
The commencement of the functioning of the Parliament of India on 13 May 1952 was not only historic but also an unprecedented event in the annals of representative government in the world. Never had a country as vast and diverse as India and with such widespread illiteracy and mass poverty attempted to introduce democracy for nation-
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by the Indian leadership to the British colonial authorities during the freedom struggle was the introduction of more representative institutions. Distinguished leaders from all fields were unanimous that India could be governed and, more importantly, its society could be changed along progressive lines only by democratic methods. India is proud that it has survived
as a parliamentary democracy without sacrificing the rights and liberties of the people thanks to the struggle to set up parliamentary institutions which date back to the 19th century. India has marched ahead today as a democracy primarily because of the strength and support of ordinary people of this country.
A substitute for revolution By embracing parliamentary democracy India has avoided violent methods for social change. A former Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Shri K.R. Narayanan, described Parliament “as a mighty substitute for a bloody and violent revolution”. By preserving parliamentary democracy India preserves peaceful methods of social change. India’s Parliament has embodied
the vision of our leadership to peacefully transform a country which was plundered by colonial rule and which suffered from a hierarchical caste structure described by Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the principal architect of our constitution, as “graded social inequality”. It is a by-product of the vision of our leaders who sacrificed for our freedom. Shri K.R. Narayanan, a former President of India, said Mahatma Gandhi gave India’s