ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Ethics of Parliamentary Language

Parliamentary language, which is often used as being synonymous with the “language of dignity, respect, and the one informed by ethical standards,” is gradually losing its sanctity and respect.

Parliamentary language, which is often used as being synonymous with the “language of dignity, respect, and the one informed by ethical standards,” is gradually losing its sanctity and respect. The column From the Editor’s Desk in EPW (13 August 2022) titled “What Constitutes the Dignity of Public Institutions?” calls for the need to reflect and introspect on the “new culture” of parliamentary debates in our country. The parliamentarians are supposed to set forth high standards in their conduct in the house as they serve as role models and a reference group for citizens in our society. It is unfortunate to see that they often seem to be engaged in an intimidating behaviour. The situation warrants attention as it is not only the members of the opposition parties but also of the treasury benches (including some ministers) who engage in such acts. Ours is a parliamentary democracy. The parliamentary arrangement is meant for resolving issues that arise from vast diversity and dissenting voices existing in our society. Parliament is meant for evolving a national consensus through discussion and debate. It is a defeat of this great institution if the space for debate and discussion is suppressed.

In a parliamentary democracy, it is expected that opposition party members would confront the government with uncomfortable questions and facts, and assemble at the well of the house raising slogans. Active and strong opposition is indeed recognised as a strength of democracy. It is the moral duty of those who are at the helm of affairs to listen to the opposition and provide them with satisfactory answers. However, it is disturbing to see that, especially those who are holding responsible positions often behave arrogantly—sometimes even trivialising and ridiculing the issues that the opposition members raise. The incident of a minister saying that her family members do not consume “tamasic” food items in a debate on inflation is still fresh in our memory. In recent times, the incidents of ministers exhibiting disproportionate anger and cynicism towards members of the opposition parties are on the rise in general. I fully agree with the viewpoint of the editor that such an intimidating body language and loud voices are an attempt to curtail the space for debate and suppress dissenting voices.

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Updated On : 4th Sep, 2022
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