Democratic institutions facing crisis of credibility: Somnath

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New Delhi, Apr 14 (UNI) Observing that the biggest challenge before democratic Institutions today was to live up to the expectations of the people, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said that these institutions were facing a crisis of credibility.

''While taking pride in being the largest democracy in the world, we need also to introspect about the quality of democracy that we have achieved and see to what extent have various aberrations crept into it over the years,''the Lok Sabha Speaker said after distributing the 'Best Legislators Awards and the Ambedkar Ratna awards at a function organised by the Delhi Legislative Assembly on the occasion of the 117th birth anniversary Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar.

Stating that the greatness of legislatures was derived from and sustained by the sensitivity they demonstrated towards people's problems and the manner in which they were addressed, Mr Chatterjee, however, lamented that ''people have many unfulfilled dreams that they had expected our Democratic system to address''.

In this regard, he observed that ''there are justifiable reasons for sections of our people to be cynical about the culture of our politics in the country.'' ''The institutions associated with our democracy are not functioning in a manner evoking the respect and admiration of the people, particularly our youth,''said Mr Chatterjee at the function, presided over by Delhi Lt Governor Tejender Khanna with Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Leader of the Opposition in the Delhi Legislative Assembly Jagdish Mukhi as Special guests.

Referring to the frequent disruptions of the legislatures and politics of confrontation, the Lok Sabha Speaker said,''in the frequent incidents of disruptions of the legislature, and in the growing confrontational politics, our common people are perceiving a lack of seriousness in the political class in sustaining the democratic structure.

''The health of this structure is experienced by the people only through the efficacious functioning of each of the organs that constitute the larger system. It is, therefore, incumbent upon us not to do anything that would contribute to undermining people's faith in our institutions, particularly the representative bodies.'' Lamenting the fact that the incidents of unruly behaviour by members and disruption of proceedings of the House had increased in recent years, Mr Chatterjee said,''there are sections among the legislators who feel that good legislative behaviour is about effective disruption of proceedings of the House by unbecoming methods, frequently registering their presence in the well of the House and shouting slogans from there.'' Such incidents were accentuating the feeling of cynicism among the citizens, particularly among the youth, about the viability of the system of governance itself,'' he added.

Describing Babasaheb Ambedkar as a ''many splendoured personality'', Mr Chatterjee said, ''he played a remarkable role in shaping the destiny of free india and left an indelible imprint of his personality on various facets of our life and polity.'' He, however, regretted that even after six decades of Freedom, India was still far away from establishing the social Democracy that Babasaheb Ambedkar had visualised at the time of Independence.

''There are sections of our people still living on the fringes of our society, denied the fruits of scientific progress and the benefits of development,''the Speaker said.

At the function, the Lok Sabha Speaker gave away the best legislator awards to Ms Tajdar Babar for 2004, Mr Ramvir Singh Bidhuri for 2005, Dr S C Vats for 2006, Mr Bheesham Sharma for 2007 and Mr O P Babbar for 2008. Special awards were given to Mr S P Ratawal for 2008, Mr Surinder Kumar for 2008 and Mr G C Malhotrs (former Secretary General, Lok Sabha) for encouraging healthy discussions in the House.

The Lok Sabha Speaker also gave away the prestigious Ambedkar Ratna awards to Speaker of teh Delhi Legislative Assembly Prem Singh(2001-02), Dr P C Patanjai and Mr Gopal Paharia (2002-03), Mr R L Jain and Mr M P Singh(2003-04) and Dr O P Maurya and Dr Dharam Kirti (2004-05).

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