ASSOCIATION OF PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARIANS

OF ASIA AND THE PACIFIC (APLAP)

EIGHTH BIENNIAL CONFERENCE

NEW DELHI, INDIA

18-22 JANUARY 2005

 

 

 

SESSION 4

21.1.2005 (1400 Hrs)

BRINGING PARLIAMENT NEARER TO THE PEOPLE: COMMUNICATING PARLIAMENT

 

 

 

KEYNOTE ADDRESS

by

 

N.K.SAPRA

Joint Secretary

Lok Sabha Secretariat

India

 

WHAT IS PARLIAMENT?

 

The term ‘Parliament’ is usually associated with the British system of parliamentary government, a system which has influenced the development of representative assemblies in many parts of the world. In pre-revolutionary France the word ‘Parlement’ was applied to courts of justice which were not representative bodies at all. The word itself is derived from the Latin ‘parliamentum’ and the French word ‘parler’ and originally meant a talk; and talking is, of course, what Parliaments do most of the time. The origins of Parliaments and similar assemblies can be traced back to many centuries. They are the central institutions of many systems of government. Although conceived in ancient times, they seem to be infinitely adaptable and their numbers have proliferated and developed many forms in modern times. The term ‘Parliament’ embraces many widely differing assemblies: the United States Congress, the State Duma of Russia, the Japanese Diet, the National People’s Congress of China, the Knesset of Israel, Sansad in India, to name just a few.1

THE ROLE AND FUNCTIONS OF PARLIAMENT

 

The role and functions of Parliament assume great significance in view of the basic principles and assumptions associated with parliamentary democracy. A parliamentary form of government acknowledges the fact that in this system, Parliament derives its power directly from the consent of the people expressed through periodic elections and that it exists to implement the will of the people. The parliamentary system also ensures the best possible participatory democratic system and active interaction between the people and their representatives. In this system, the Executive not only emanates from Parliament but is also accountable to Parliament for all its acts of omission and commission. This accountability of the Executive to Parliament is based on the principle that since Parliament represents the will of the people, it should be able to oversee and keep the Executive under control and constant surveillance.2

The role of Parliaments around the globe has transformed tremendously over the years. It is no more confined to enacting legislation only. Parliaments have now become multi-functional institutions. The Parliament of India is a depository of varied functions as delineated by the Constitution and, obviously, also of those powers and functions which inherently and conventionally rest with Parliaments. Like other Parliaments, our Parliament has also emerged as a multi-functional institution. It is the political nerve centre of the country, acting as a mirror of the society, accommodating the needs of changing times, shouldering responsibilities and engaging itself fully in the process of running our parliamentary polity. Parliament now performs a variety of functions. Some of the cardinal roles and functions of Parliament are: ensuring Executive accountability, law making, control over the Budget, constituent functions, representational role, educational role, informational functions, training and recruitment of leadership, besides other miscellaneous functions.3

NEED FOR COMMUNICATING PARLIAMENT

The pivotal role played by the Parliament in keeping a political system in a vibrant environment is well-acknowledged. The resilience of today’s polity and concern for people’s welfare, commitment to democracy, Rule of Law, political unity and national integration are all nurtured and ably expressed by the Parliament of a country. The contributions of the members, political parties, the Executive and the Media in enabling Parliament to perform its functions effectively have been substantial. All these have helped to maintain a high level of public trust in the institution. The efficient and effective functioning of the Parliament is an important requirement for achieving the goals of democratic governance.4

One of the most important elements that strengthens parliamentary democracy is the inherent presence of accountability where, in a collective sense, the Parliament, and individually, the members of Parliament are accountable to the people. For the Government to be accountable, transparency in its decision-making process is required. Transparency or openness helps in raising the quality of the decision-making process which, in turn, can improve in the face of constructive criticism. This transparency is brought about by the Press and the Media. Aptly called the Fourth Estate of democracy, the Media plays the all important role of acting as the watchdog of the people by reporting the actions of the Government and the Parliament and keeping citizens informed about all important issues and developments that are taking place. Besides creating awareness about the functioning of the Government, it also helps in ensuring accountability leading to the strengthening of democratic values and institutions. It is often said that the power of the Media, if positively used, is potentially the best instrument to sustain and enhance democratic systems.5

The relationship between the Parliament and the Media has often been a subject of intense discussion. The media acts as a vital link between the people and the political leadership. On the one hand, the Media conveys to the people a summary of parliamentary proceedings and informs about policies and programmes of the Government; on the other, it makes the political leadership aware of the pulse of the society by highlighting what people feel about specific issues, programmes and policies. It is now held that this two-way process undoubtedly strengthens democracy by making the process both accountable and responsive. Since the Press keeps the people informed of what is happening in Parliament, it is often called an extension of Parliament.6

There is, however, a big communication gap between the Parliament and the people, which needs to be bridged effectively, efficiently and at a very quick pace. The misconceptions in the minds of the people, who feel that not much substantial work is being done in Parliament and its other institutions, need to be removed. There is also an urgent need to highlight the positive aspects of the constructive work done by the Parliament. For example, legislations enacted on vital social and economic concerns, the Budget making process and control of the public purse, a variety of work handled in several Parliamentary Committees, grievance-redressal function, leadership and diplomatic role of Parliament often go unnoticed. There are a variety of means and modes by which the Parliament can be enabled to reach the doorsteps of the people. Some such means could be the Press and other Media; broadcasting and telecasting live the parliamentary proceedings and other parliamentary events and activities for making people aware about parliamentary activities; Public Relations exercises; easy access to information about Parliament; setting up Museum and Archives, conducting Youth Parliaments and competitions; facilitating research on parliamentary subjects; conducting refresher and orientation programmes for MPs, Media, etc.; organizing Conferences, Seminars, Symposia, Workshops; arranging formal and informal social get-togethers like sports events between MPs and others, etc. In bringing Parliament nearer the people, efforts made by private agencies, particularly the electronic media, is no less significant. For example, the crop of news channels which has emerged in the last decade has been quite proactive in offering a variety of competitive programmes, interviews, and group discussions on specific issues of social, political, economical, constitutional and parliamentary import. The discussions arranged at public platforms in particular and video conferencing help in building public opinion and even letting the Government assess the pulse of the nation before a legislation is initiated in the Parliament.

PRESS AND PUBLIC RELATIONS SERVICE

The Press is the standard vehicle for the dissemination of public opinion. It is again the Press which, as a popular medium, conveys to the people the substance of parliamentary legislation and discussion. The Press keeps the people informed of what is happening in Parliament. It is through the Press that Parliament gathers information which helps it to keep surveillance and ensure the accountability of the Executive to it effectively. It is the Press which struggles hard to unearth the administrative lapses, scandals and shortcomings, gives expression to public grievances and hardships and reports on how policies are being carried out and administration is affecting the people.

Most of the raw material for parliamentary questions, motions and debates come from the daily Press and this is an important tool on which a member often relies. In fact, it is generally the Press that provides the background needed to bring the work of Parliament in tune with the demands of the time. It is of paramount public and national importance that the proceedings of Parliament are communicated to the people who are interested in knowing what transpires within its walls because on what is said and done there depends the welfare of the community. The Press can discharge this function effectively only if it enjoys what is termed as ‘freedom of the Press’.7

Parliaments are, however, ready-made targets for criticism and their image is probably something less than ideal in several countries. Their activities are universally followed more closely than ever before by the public and the Media. Being human institutions, they are not always seen at their best. When they rise to great occasions and debate is statesmanlike, they can justly claim to function as the grand forum of the nation. When tempers fray and the proceedings are marred by disturbances, their human weaknesses are revealed. The Media are ever present to report what they believe is worth reporting, and through the most powerful of all the Media, television, the moods of Parliament and the behaviour of its members can be relentlessly followed.

The relationship between Parliament and the media is many a time a sweet-sour one. But regardless of conflicts between them on occasions, Parliament and the Media are inseparable components of democracy. Cooperation between them is indispensable in order to protect the public’s right to know and provide parliamentarians with the publicity on which they depend. For this reason, Parliaments invariably provide the Media with the facilities they need.

All Parliaments reserve Gallery space for journalists where they are allowed to take notes. In many Parliaments, special rooms are provided for the use of the Media, and interviewing and broadcasting facilities are also sometimes made available. In Israel, the Knesset provides foreign reporters with equipment for direct transmission to their own countries. In some Parliaments, general access to the facilities of the building is almost unrestricted. In Australia and Canada, for example, accredited members of the Press Gallery can have access to the parliamentary Library and the members’ Restaurant. In the British Parliament, parliamentary correspondents do not have unrestricted access to the Library and other facilities of the building, but they have their own Press Gallery accommodation and services. Special privileges are accorded to a select group of senior journalists known as Lobby Correspondents. They are the only media representatives allowed the right of entry to the Members’ Lobby in the House of Commons and the Peers’ Lobby in the House of Lords. In the United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives holds a daily Press Conference. Senators and Congressmen make statements and furnish documents to the Press as they see fit, and Congressional staff are assigned to the Press Galleries. In Yugoslavia, arrangements are made for daily contacts between deputies and accredited journalists. Facilities for holding Press Conferences and the issuance of regular Press releases are the services provided by numerous Parliaments.

It is within the authority of any parliamentary chamber to withdraw Press privileges in cases of impropriety. However, most Parliaments, in view of the importance they attach to their public relations, would be reluctant to take such an action. They also believe that the public would suffer more than the newspaper if the latter were deprived of its means of reporting on parliamentary affairs.8

Scenario in India

The Press and Public Relations work includes wider coverage of various parliamentary events, activities and functions of the Lok Sabha Secretariat, i.e. the lower House of Parliament. The work mainly involves maintenance of liaison with the print and the electronic media and various publicity organizations in both Government and the private sectors and is looked after by the Press and Public Relations Wing which was set up in April 1956. All matters concerning the Press Gallery of Lok Sabha, including consideration and issue of Press Gallery passes, providing facilities to the media persons covering proceedings of Lok Sabha and its other functions, dissemination of information to the public on the business transacted by the Lok Sabha and other allied matters were, as usual, handled by this Service.

The admission of newspapers, news agencies, electronic media and their representatives to the Press Gallery of Lok Sabha, grant of Central Hall and Lobby facilities, Press Gallery facilities to correspondents under various categories, increase in the quota of Press Gallery passes, allotment of seats, issue of annual/sessional/temporary Press Gallery passes, etc. are dealt with by this Service.

Presently, about 200 daily newspapers, news agencies and electronic media in various Indian languages are accredited to the Press Gallery of Lok Sabha and about 450 regular correspondents have got access to it. Of these, about 200 have access to the Central Hall where they can informally interact with the MPs/Ministers. Twelve Distinguished Journalists of long standing have access to the Lobbies. In addition, about 600 correspondents are given temporary facilities for covering the debates.

Facilities to the Media: The usual facilities provided free of charge to the Press Correspondents include supply of daily agenda, Bulletins, Reports/Statements laid on the Table of the House, access to Parliament Library, Audio-Visual Library, and a small Reference Library in the Wing for catering to the urgent reference needs of media persons, three Press Rooms in Parliament House for functional needs of mainly the official Media and news agencies, two Media work stations comprising several computers with internet facility set up in the Parliament Library Building for the journalists to file their stories. Photostat and local fax facilities are also provided to the correspondents for onward transmission of news items to their respective offices. In addition, polaroid photo-laminated passes and medical facilities in Parliament House/Parliament House Annexe are provided to the Press Correspondents.

Besides, the electronic Media have been granted facilities at designated spots in the Parliament precincts to interview MPs/dignitaries and seek their views on a variety of issues.

Press Advisory Committee: The Speaker, Lok Sabha appoints a Press Advisory Committee every year from amongst senior journalists accredited to the Press Gallery. This Committee, which acts as a bridge between the Parliament and the Media, presently comprises 27 members and broadly recommends: grant of accreditation to newspapers/news agencies/electronic Media and their representatives to the Press Gallery of Lok Sabha, issuance of temporary Press Gallery facilities, examines complaints made against any correspondent and suggests a suitable action, the facilities needed by the Media for discharging their duties and advise on any other matter sought by the Speaker from time to time. The PPR Wing provides Secretariat to this Committee.

The public relations functions of the Secretariat are also handled by the PPR Wing. It also acts as the Public Information Office and attends to enquiries from individuals and institutions for supply of general information on Parliament and parliamentary activities and reference materials and sources on parliamentary practices and procedure.

This Service also brings out a variety of publicity materials which include a set of 27 Information Folders giving information about various facets of parliamentary activities and a chart, mainly for distribution to educational institutions. Since 1999, the PPR Wing has been bringing out a Calendar every year. The Calendar for each year is on a different theme. Some of the themes were: Mural Paintings in Parliament House, Statues in Parliament House, Presidential Processions to Parliament and State Legislatures’ Buildings in India. The Calendar for the year 2005 is incidentally on Parliament Library Building, which aptly coincides with the conduct of APLAP Conference in New Delhi.

TELECASTING AND BROADCASTING OF PARLIAMENTARY PROCEEDINGS

Parliaments throughout the world have wrestled with the question of whether or not to allow the television cameras into the Chamber. Many have done so, but many more continue to hesitate or might not have even considered it. Radio broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings has proved less controversial, and the New Zealand Parliament was a pioneer in this field, having introduced it in its House of Representatives as long ago as in 1936. In the following year, it instituted continuous broadcasting of proceedings. In 1946, Australia introduced sound broadcasting of the debates in both Houses of Parliament, the broadcasts being governed by statute and controlled by a Joint Committee of both Houses. Regular sound broadcasting of the proceedings of both Houses of the British Parliament was introduced in 1978. The Parliament of the Solomon Islands is one of the smaller Parliaments whose proceedings are broadcast live by radio.

Television, being a visual medium, reveals a great deal more than sound alone. The arguments for and against televising Parliament have been exhaustive both in parliamentary debate, in Committee studies and in published articles. Television undoubtedly brings to the fore, the actual face of Parliament, but at least it is seen by the viewer as it really is and not simply as it is represented by others. The television camera in the chamber is an extension of the public gallery, bringing Parliament into the homes of all who care to tune in. It is always likely to transform parliamentary behaviour whether for better or worse, being in the hands of parliamentarians themselves. Television is a factor to be reckoned with in Parliament’s public relations. Whatever Parliaments do, it is here to stay and cannot be ignored.9

Of those Parliaments which have admitted the television cameras, only a few provide continuous live coverage of all the proceedings. They are Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Hungary, Iran, Scotland, UK and USA. The latest to join the select group is India. Most of the other countries permit live telecast of special events only and Highlights of the proceedings in the News Inserts.

Continuous live television coverage of a Parliament’s proceedings does not by itself guarantee that the public will have a balanced view of Parliament. Since its advent in the Canadian House of Commons, for example, public attention has largely focused on the daily question period, a period of confrontation between the Government and the Opposition Parties when parliamentary behaviour is seldom seen at its best. The House must, therefore, expect to be judged to a great extent by what goes on during this part of the parliamentary day.10

Position in India

In order to make the citizens aware of the deliberations in Parliament, the Lok Sabha Secretariat has taken several steps to record and telecast/broadcast the proceedings of its House with the help of the official Media, viz. Doordarshan/All India Radio. A beginning was made in this direction when, for the first time, the President’s Address to members of both the Houses of Parliament was telecast on 20 December 1989.

As a prelude to complete live telecast of parliamentary proceedings throughout the nation, a Low Power Transmitter (LPT) was set up in Parliament House on 25 August 1994 to provide for live telecast of Lok Sabha proceedings, within a range of 10 to 15 kms. from Parliament House. With the installation of another Low Power Transmitter, the Rajya Sabha proceedings are also being telecast live since 7 December 1994. The proceedings of the Question Hour of both the Houses are being telecast live on alternate weeks throughout the country on the National Channel of Doordarshan from 1100 hrs. to 1200 hrs. since 7 December 1994. With the launch of a new DD-News Channel, Doordarshan has been telecasting live the Question Hours of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha simultaneously on National Channel and DD-News Channel of Doordarshan on alternate weeks from the Winter Session of 2003. While telecasting the Question Hour of one House on the National Channel, Doordarshan is telecasting live the Question Hour of the other House on DD-News Channel.

All India Radio has been broadcasting the recording of the Question Hour of both the Houses on alternate weeks on their National Channel the same night. It has been arranged in such a manner that during the week, Doordarshan covers live the Question Hour of one House (e.g. Rajya Sabha) on their National Channel, All India Radio covers the recorded broadcast of the Question Hour of Lok Sabha that night. In the following week, it is vice versa.

Other important events like President’s Address to members of both the Houses, presentation of General and Railway Budgets and debates on Motions of Confidence/No-confidence in the Council of Ministers. Elections of Speaker and Deputy Speaker, oath taking by Members and certain other debates of national importance have also been telecast/broadcast live on the Primary Channel of Doordarshan/All India Radio.

Dedicated Satellite Channels for Live Telecast: In a significant landmark in the history of telecasting of our parliamentary proceedings, on 14 December 2004; two separate dedicated satellite channels for telecasting live the entire proceedings of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha nationwide were launched. The entire proceedings of the two Houses of Parliament are since being telecast live through separate dedicated satellite channels by Doordarshan.

The Audio-Video Unit which was set up in 1992 provides facilities for viewing/listening to the video records of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha debates, proceedings of national and international Parliamentary Conferences/Seminars/Symposia/Workshops, media persons and other visiting dignitaries.

This Unit of the Library preserves the Video (U-matic, Betacam and VHS) cassettes, Video Compact Discs (VCDs) of all Lok Sabha Debates, proceedings of national and international parliamentary Conferences/Seminars/Symposia/Workshops and other parliamentary functions, which have immense archival value for the parliamentarians, Media persons, scholars, academicians and even common people. It also looks after the work of selection and collection of audio-visual materials; accession, classification and preservation of cassettes of important parliamentary functions and events like Conferences, Seminars, Symposia and Workshops and telefilms on different aspects of parliamentary practices and procedures. Arrangements have also been made for dubbing of speeches of members into VHS cassettes/CDs on nominal payment.

The Audio-Visual Unit has acquired Linguaphone Courses in various Indian and foreign languages and has also added to its holdings audio-cassettes pertaining to classical/instrumental music and patriotic songs for use at various parliamentary functions. The various Linguaphone Courses (audio and video cassettes) are available for listening/viewing in the Viewing Room.

The Audio-Visual Unit has VHS cameras, editing equipment and a Viewing Room in the Parliament Library Building. With the help of the VHS cameras, the video crew of the Unit records all important parliamentary functions/events, including National and International Parliamentary Conferences/Seminars/Symposia/Workshops and various other events and activities. As a part of the modernization of A.V. facilities, a state-of-the-art studio and production control room (in digital format) equipped with post-production editing facilities are being set up in the Parliament Library Building. Video viewing arrangements would also be modernized by providing multi-media facilities. A number of domestic and foreign broadcasting and news agencies have been showing increasing interest in telecasting and broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings, events, functions, etc. because of their news value. Guidelines for recording, telecasting and broadcasting of the proceedings of Lok Sabha and supply of video cassettes or compact discs thereof to the members, Media and other interested persons, have been issued from time to time. Incidentally, many roadblocks for live telecast of the entire proceedings and/or providing footage to various agencies have since been cleared by the present Speaker of Lok Sabha.

Robotic Camera System in Parliament House/Parliament Library Building: In order to telefilm and telecast live the complete proceedings of Parliament in a better manner, a sophisticated modern robotic camera system and a studio have been set up in Parliament House. The system became operational with effect from the Winter Session of Parliament in 1997. Under the new robotic camera system, there are eight robotic cameras which are operated by remote control from the studio set-up in Parliament House.

A robotically-controlled TV set up has also been introduced for the purpose of coverage of the functions/events held in the G.M.C. Balayogi Auditorium and the Committee Rooms in the Parliament Library Building. Robotically-controlled Multi-Camera System and their Production Control Rooms have been set up for the Auditorium and the BPST Main Committee Room. A Mobile Unit has also been developed for on-line production of the events/functions in other Committee Rooms of the Parliament Library Building. The latest digital broadcasting quality equipment have also been installed in the Production Control Room.

Parliamentary Films: As an extension of telefilming and televising of parliamentary proceedings, video films are prepared on different aspects of parliamentary practices and procedures and related parliamentary topics, especially for the use of new members of Parliament and State Legislatures. These films also help in educating students, Media persons and others about various facets of the functioning of Parliament. Six parliamentary films which have been prepared so far are: (i) Private Members’ Bills; (ii) Parliamentary Questions; (iii) Parliamentary Etiquette and Manners; (iv) Financial Committees; (v) Enriching the Debates in Legislatures; and (vi) How to be an Effective Parliamentarian? Two films viz. ‘Parliamentary Etiquette and Manners’ and ‘How to be an Effective Parliamentarian?’ were also dubbed in Russian language and shown at the State Duma, Moscow, during an Exhibition on "Parliamentary History and Activities" set up as part of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of India’s Independence in November 1998.

This Service is in the process of preparing some more informative and educative films on the functioning of Parliament.

PARLIAMENTARY MUSEUM AND ARCHIVES

The museums and archives are today designed to function as treasure-houses and research centres. The concept of the functions and activities that appropriately belong to a museum and/or archives today, however, is very different from what it used to be 25 or 30 years ago. Modern museums and archives are expected to be places of learning, research and communication. They seek to preserve, interpret, educate, inspire and stimulate. In the best of the modern museums and archives, the collections have not only to be stored, cared for and meticulously preserved, but also to be intensively studied, displayed and explained.

In the evolution and operation of the constitutional system and parliamentary institutions, museums and archives have particular relevance. What the schools and colleges offer by way of instruction is inadequate and needs to be supplemented and enriched by the first-hand exposure which museums and archives and their trained staff alone can provide. While all over the world there are national or state level museums and archives devoted to a wide range of subjects and all the fields of fine art, science, history, government, etc., preserving a varied selection of paintings, art works, manuscripts of old scriptures and a large number of other antiquities, in the very nature of things they cannot afford to provide the necessary breadth and depth in a specific specialized area like that of Parliament.11

Although not much effort seems to have been made to create institutional frameworks for parliamentary museums and archives, in some countries, such as Australia, New Zealand and Uganda, setting up such an institution has already received attention. In the United Kingdom, there is no parliamentary museum or archives as such, but the Clerk of the Journals exercises overall responsibility for the preservation of all records. In Canada, the institution of the Public Archives has assumed responsibility for collecting historically valuable parliamentary papers accumulated by Prime Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament and Senators.12

Japan has set up a Parliamentary Museum (The Kensei Kinenkan). It was opened to the public on 21 March 1972. The Museum, which is a subordinate body of the House of Representatives, has as its main purpose the collection and preservation of reference materials relating to Japan’s parliamentary politics.13 In Poland also, a decision has been taken to establish an organized Museum Exhibition within the Parliament buildings with a view to presenting the rich Polish parliamentary history. The institution, it is expected, would become a significant link in the activities aiming to document and popularize the history of the Polish Parliament.14

Position In India

Origin: The origin of the Parliamentary Museum and Archives can be traced to 1976, when as a part of the Parliament Library and Reference, Research, Documentation and Information Service (LARRDIS) of the Lok Sabha Secretariat, it was set up as the Parliamentary Archives of Photographs and Films to preserve an authentic and up-to-date pictorial record of the history of the institution of Parliament, its activities and on eminent personalities. In the years ahead, efforts were made to collect papers, objects and other materials connected with the Parliament and previous legislative bodies. It was done with a view to preserving the past and the present for the future by protecting from the ravages of time and neglect all the precious records, historic documents and articles connected with the Constitution and the Parliament and through them to make the history and growth of parliamentary institutions and the political system better understood. The outcome of these efforts led to the inauguration of the Parliamentary Museum and Archives (PMA) on 29 December 1989. After the inauguration of the Sansadiya Gyanpeeth, i.e. the Parliament Library Building on 7 May 2002, a permanent museum is in the process of being set up in a spacious Hall here.

Aims & Objectives: The basic aim of the PMA is to function as a treasure house and research and communication centre. In fulfilment of this aim, it has set its objectives to acquire, collect and preserve the following objects/materials connected with the Parliament and parliamentary institutions in India abroad: rare objects, relics, models, art works, paintings, photographs, audio-video tapes/cassettes/discs, computer floppies/CDs; gifts/other parliamentary antiques like old/historical furniture, pens, writing pads, wigs/dresses of parliamentary officers; official records, manuscripts, private papers of eminent parliamentarians; unpublished dissertations, etc. connected with the origin, growth, structure and functioning of the parliamentary institutions in India and their predecessor bodies.

The Parliamentary Museum and Archives at present has three distinct wings, viz. (i) Parliamentary Museum; (ii) Parliamentary Archives; and (iii) Parliamentary Photographs and Films.

(i) Parliamentary Museum: In the current phase of its growth, gift items presented to the Indian Parliamentary Delegations visiting abroad on goodwill missions and portraits of national leaders unveiled in the Central Hall of Parliament House, from time to time, are being added to the Museum collection. The collection of the Museum is so planned and exhibited as to give an integrated look and to provide a ready record of the developments, achievements, experiences, ideas, persons and events. The Museum is further divided into three sectors, viz. (a) History of Parliament; (b) Parliaments of the World; and (c) State Legislatures.

In due course, it will undertake other tasks directed towards the dissemination of information about Parliamentary Institutions and the projection of a proper image of and the encouragement of healthy respect for Parliament by stimulating interest in its growth, activities and achievements.

At present, the collection of Parliamentary Museum has models of 15 State Legislature buildings of India and 8 foreign Parliament buildings. Besides, blown-up colour photographs of 80 foreign Parliament buildings are available in the Museum. The other interesting objects added to the collections of the Museum include the Gown and Wig worn by the erstwhile President of the Central Legislative Assembly and personal articles of G.V. Mavalankar, the first Speaker of Lok Sabha. The Museum also has 1,079 stamps and 100 First Day Covers issued by the Department of Posts from time to time and stamps of various other countries of the world, ashes of Mahatma Gandhi in a silver-bronze container and 63 gift items presented by various Parliamentary Delegations, including a fragment of moon presented by a Parliamentary Delegation from the United States.

(ii) Parliamentary Archives: The Parliamentary Archives is mainly concerned with the acquisition, storage, systematic cataloguing and preservation of precious records, private papers of parliamentarians irrespective of their political affiliations, historical documents and other documentary materials for promotion and dissemination of research and other literary activities in the field of nation-building. It also acquires books on constitutional developments, parliamentary activities and books on and by former and present Speakers, members of Parliament and Secretaries-General for furtherance of academic pursuits. The Parliamentary Archives presently has a collection of 36,474 documents/private papers/correspondence of 61 eminent parliamentarians and freedom fighters on the working of Parliament and related matters. It also has a collection of 492 books on Constitution, parliamentarians and parliamentary activities.

(iii) Parliamentary Photographs and Films: This Section acquires, preserves, catalogues and displays photographs concerning parliamentary activities, including those relating to Parliamentary Delegations visiting India and foreign countries. It also caters to the needs of photographs and organises temporary exhibitions on different occasions. The Parliamentary Photographs and Films Section has acquired up-to-date pictorial record of the activities of Parliament and of eminent parliamentarians. The present collection of this Section has 10,104 photographs, 37 films, 106 video cassettes, 38 audio cassettes and 1,539 spool tapes.

Exhibitions: The PMA endeavours to organize exhibitions on various themes, depicting the ancient democratic heritage of India and its growth and development into a modern democratic institution, with the help of photographs, charts, diagrams, write-ups and quotations. Exhibitions are organized by the PMA after the constitution of each new Lok Sabha, on the occasion of Presiding Officers’ Conference every year and whenever the statue of a national leader is unveiled and installed in the Parliament Complex.

Setting up a Permanent Museum in PLB: The proposal for developing and setting up a permanent state-of-the-art museum on an area of 11,500 sq. ft. in the Parliament Library Building is under active consideration. The proposal envisages a world class high-tech museum, with the most impressive communication techniques and a dynamic display with flexibility of incorporating future additions in exhibit structures.

The plan being visualized by internationally renowned Museologists would take about 15 months after the work starts on the project.

BUREAU OF PARLIAMENTARY STUDIES AND TRAINING

Parliaments around the globe are now more conscious of their duty as well as the right to keep the people informed about the system. Walter Bagehot had, as far back as 1867, laid stress on the ‘teaching’ function of the British House of Commons, and the responsibility it has "to express the mind of the English people on all matters which come before it".15 In the present age when Parliaments deal with many more matters than ever before and are obliged to pay far more attention to the public’s right to know, it needs to be ensured that the public is properly informed by disseminating authentic knowledge about the working of the parliamentary system in a polity.

Various Parliaments offer a variety of training programmes to select groups, viz. the parliamentarians, administrators, experts, officers of Parliaments and Legislatures, school and college students, etc. Such training programmes may range from imparting basic knowledge about the system to a high specialized course, e.g. on the techniques of Legislative Drafting. Training about the working of a Parliament and its system is also imparted under several exchange programmes/arrangements. Some of the countries which offer parliamentary studies and training programmes under institutional arrangements include U.K., USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, Sweden and India.

The Indian Experience

The Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training (BPST), set up on 1 January 1976 as an integral part of the Lok Sabha Secretariat, is designed to provide the legislators and officials with institutionalized opportunities for problem-oriented studies and systematic training in the various disciplines of parliamentary institutions, processes and procedures.

The Bureau’s activities include holding of Orientation Programmes and Seminars for members of Parliament and of State Legislatures and Training and Refresher Courses for officers of the Secretariats of Parliament and of the State Legislatures in India. Appreciation Courses for senior and middle level officials of the Government of India, Public Sector Enterprises and probationers of various All-India and Central Services, organizing training, attachment and Study Visits of Presiding Officers, members and officers of foreign Parliaments as well as Government officers, academics, scholars, students and others.16

The Bureau also conducts two international training programmes for foreign parliamentary officials, viz. Parliamentary Internship Programme and International Training Programme in Legislative Drafting.

Arranging training, attachment and study tour opportunities for parliamentary and State Legislature Secretariat officials from India to foreign Parliaments also form part of the Bureau’s activities.

The Orientation Programmes for newly-elected Members of Parliament and State Legislatures are aimed at promoting a deeper understanding and appreciation of the constitutional role and position of the Parliament and the State Legislatures as representative institutions, familiarizing the members more closely with the parliamentary traditions, operational mechanism and etiquette in order to help them in making the best and the most effective use of the precious parliamentary time for more informed discussions with the ultimate objective of fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the people. These programmes consist of interactive discussion sessions on themes of parliamentary and procedural interest.

The Bureau also organizes Seminars and specialized Workshops for parliamentarians and parliamentary officers on various topics of parliamentary interest in order to promote better appreciation of the topic. Computer Awareness Programmes are organized for MPs and Secretariat officials to enable them to make optimum use of computerization.

Programmes for Foreign Parliamentarians include Attachment Programmes and Study Visits for Presiding Officers, parliamentarians and parliamentary Officers from abroad and those sponsored by CPA, UNDP etc. are organized by the Bureau on request.

The Training Programmes for the Officials of Foreign Parliaments include the following prestigious programmes:

Parliament Internship Programme : The aim of this seven-week programme is to provide to the foreign parliamentary officials an opportunity to exchange ideas in the context of their own experiences in their Legislatures and to make them aware of the culture and ethos, traditions and working of the political parliamentary system on India. The participants are drawn from the India Technical and Economic Cooperation/Special Commonwealth Africa Assistance Plan and the Colombo Plan. 21 such programmes have since been conducted.

International Training Programme in Legislative Drafting: The purpose of this Programme is to assist the legislators of developing countries in drafting Private Members’ Bills; so far, 20 such programmes have been conducted.

Appreciation Courses for Govt. Officers and Probationers of All India Services are organized with the aim to provide to the participants the desired exposure to the parliamentary culture and institutions for enabling them to appreciate better the nature of their role and place in the overall context of the parliamentary system.17

FACILITATING RESEARCH ON PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM

AND INSTITUTIONS

Parliaments the world over have been extending access for researchers and scholars to the holdings of their Library and allied services. The purpose of granting such functional facilities is that research on specified parliamentary topics is not hampered for want of original sources, besides enabling the scholars to present an analysis on the basis of accurate and factual information and data. Many Libraries of Parliaments also extend certain facilities like providing free photostat facility, consultation of original and rare documents, referring to audio-visual materials and other archival records relevant to the research study. In most of the countries, research on such topics is funded either by the individual researcher or by the universities/NGOs/private or statutory bodies.

The Indian Scenario

The Parliament Library, like other Parliaments, grants access to the Library to bona fide scholars, academicians, and researchers for doing original research on parliamentary and constitutional subjects and extend certain other facilities to them during inter-Session periods.

Since 1996, Lok Sabha Secretariat has been granting two Research Fellowships, one each in Hindi and English every year, for conducting original studies in any of the following fields with a view to better understanding the functioning of our Parliament, to identify the changing nature and role of our Parliamentary Institutions and to suggest alternatives in the light of the experiences in the democratic countries: (i) Parliamentary Institutions/Systems (including State Legislatures) - Evolution and Development; (ii) Parliamentary Rules, Practices and Procedures; (iii) Committee System; (iv) Communication between Parliament and the People; and (v) Modern Techniques of Service and Support Systems of Parliament.

Since 1996, seven Fellowships for writing books have been awarded to the scholars/media persons on the topics as detailed under : (i) Communication between Parliament and the People (in Hindi); (ii) Coalition Politics and its Impact on Parliamentary Institutions (in English); (iii) Role of Committee System of Indian Parliament in Development (in English); Impact of Live Telecast of Parliamentary Proceedings (in Hindi); (v) Intra – Governmental Relations in India (in English); (vi) Dynamics of Federalism in India (in English); (vii) Consensus or Confrontation – The Role of Parliament’s Departmentally–Related Standing Committees(DRSCs) (in English).

Since 2001, three Fellowships for writing Monographs on the following subjects, viz.: (i) Lessons from the Stormy Debates in Indian Parliament (in English); (ii) The Role and Responsibility of Parliament in Nation Building (in English); and (iii) A Study of the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) in Himachal Pradesh (in English).

A Fellowship Committee appointed by the Speaker, Lok Sabha, from time to time, invites applications, scrutinizes them and makes recommendations for the award of Fellowship. The Committee is assisted in all its work by the Press and Public Relations Wing.

REFERENCES

 

1. LAUNDY, PHILIP: Parliaments in the Modern World. Hants (England), Dartmouth 1989, p.1.

2. SAYEED, P.M.: ‘Parliament –A Multi-Functional Institution’ in Fifty Years of

Indian Parliament by G.C. Malhotra. New Delhi, Lok Sabha Secretariat, 1992. p.24.

3. Ibid., p.25

4. Ibid. p.33

5. NAIDU, M. VENKAIAH: ‘Parliament, Members and the Media’ in Fifty Years of Indian Parliament, op. cit. pp. 637-638.

6. Ibid., p.639

7. LAUNDY, op. cit, pp. 129-131

8. MALHOTRA, G.C.(Ed.): Kaul & Shakdhar’s Practice and Procedure of Parliament. New Delhi, Metropolitan, 2001, p.1083

9. LAUNDY, op. cit. p.133

10. Ibid., p.135.

11. JAIN, C.K. : Parliamentary Museum and Archives, New Delhi, Lok Sabha Secretariat, 1993, pp. 1-2

12. Ibid., p.2.

13. Ibid., p.2-3.

14. Ibid., p.3

15. BAGEHOT, Walter, : The English Constitution. Fontana, Collins, 1963, p.152.

16. LOK SABHA SECRETARIAT: Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training, New Delhi, 2002, p.1

17. Ibid., pp. 2-9