New Delhi, Sep 13 (UNI) While asserting that ''democracy is well and alive in India'', Finance Minister P Chidambaram today rued that the process of making laws in the country is extremely flawed, making it imperative for parliamentarians to rediscover the art of reasoned debate.
In his acceptance speech after receiving the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award of the year 2005 by President Pratibha Patil at a function in Parliament's Central Hall, Mr Chidambaram said 2005 appeared to have been a good year for parliamentary democracy ''when Bills were passed and there were lively and enlightening debates on matters of great importance.'' He said Parliament has two major functions: to make laws and to debate issues.
''On the first, we may have a respectable score but the process is deeply flawed. On the second, we need to rediscover the art of reasoned debate,'' he argued.
He said democracy is ''well and alive in India -- witness the millions who turn out at every election at every level. It is our recent experience with representative democracy that has cast a shadow of gloom.'' Mr Chidambaram also recalled the day when he first came to Parliament and the support and affection extended to him by his constituency, Sivaganga, in Tamil Nadu.
''I came with the belief that parliamentary democracy, especially representative democracy, is the apogee of humankind's urge to devise a model of governance that will reflect our aspirations -- life, liberty and equality; also, the pursuit of learning, excellence and happiness,'' he said.
Despite doubts and discordant voices, Mr Chidambaram assured his fellow parliamentarians, that he would continue to contribute his mite to make that belief into a reality.
Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who received the award for the year 2003, said people across the globe were proud of India's democratic traditions, which had been sustained and strengthened by Parliament.
While Mr Chidambaram was forthright in his observations on the recent happenings in Parliament, Mr Pawar preferred to make only an oblique reference.
''Today, I do not wish to dwell on recent events and happenings in the House. However, I feel that it is the responsibility of every member to discharge his duties very seriously and to the best of his abilities so as to justify the trust placed upon all of us by the people of the country,'' he said.
In his acceptance speech, Panchayati Raj Minister Manishankar Aiyar, who received the award for 2006, said that the country's greatest achievement in the last 60 years has been that they are a full-fledged democracy. ''It is a matter of great pride that today we have about 3.2 million elected representatives, 1.2 million of them being women at various tiers of democracy,'' he said.