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A wise decision - The Observer

Editorial ()
12 February 1997

Title : A wise decision
Author : Editorial
Publication : The Observer
Date : February 12, 1997

President Shankar Dayal Sharma should be congratulated for
upholding the standards of parliamentary democracy by his
well-considered decision not to approve the latest government list
of nominees to the Rajya Sabha. Going by the reports he has
declined to approve the file as he has not satisfied with some of
the names shortlisted by the government. The President's action
should be perceived in the background of a well-established
practice by which the nominated category is only reserved for those
who are known by the generic term of intellectuals, that is,
individuals who have excelled in their chosen vocations -- be it
art, literature, music or dance. This has been an established
practice in all bicameral parliamentary systems and rarely ever was
the exclusiveness of this category tampered with.

The Rajya Sabha has thus been graced in the past by the presence of
some of India's finest minds which, needless to say, only lent
further credibility and glory to the upper house, in particular,
and to the country's parliamentary life in general. But, alas, as
about everything else in life, the parliamentary standards, too,
have been witnessing a steady decline both in terms of composition
and -performance.

It is often lamented that criminalisation of politics has virtually
turned both the houses of Parliament into a rogues' gallery with a
large number of members from the wrong side of the law occupying
them. But even in such a dark scenario, we have been able to
maintain the small patches of oasis where manipulation and real
politik have feared to tread. The nominated category has been one
such green patch; that is, until the ruling establishment, under
political compulsions, started treating it as a backdoor to sneak
in its favourite individuals who have not been able to make it by
winning the people's mandate. No doubt, some of the members who
figure in the latest government list are eminently qualified to be
nominated; but that would certainly not alter the fact that the
list, by and large, has failed to win the confidence of the head of
the state. The President, by holding it up, has only fortified the
ramparts of Indian democracy against any attempt at sly

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