An eye on governance in India

The National Social Watch Report on Governance and Development 2013, released today in Delhi, highlighted that 31% of MPs in Lok Sabha has pending criminal cases against them. The average salary package of each MP is 68 times higher than the percentage income in the country and total value of assets of 4 MPs is Rs. 29.2 billion. 

This report was released by Honorable Justice Ananga Patnaik, Supreme Court of India and Shri Satyanand Mishra former Chief Information Commissioner, Central Information Commission.

Chief Guest Justice Ananga Patnaik said “this report gives an overview of our institutions”. He further added that giving only statistics would not work with parliamentarians and legislators.  Give them suggestions as well. They may not accept them today and tomorrow they will be accepted.

Guest of honour Shri Satyananda Mishra argued that through RTI millions of people are watching government in much more intrusive manner. 4 million Indians have applied for information from various government bodies.  While talking about Aam Aadmi Party he said “ 2 years back there was a massive protest against corruption at Jantar Mantar. Very people of that moment got elected. Of course, such moments are necessary but why they are not translating into credible action within the institution”.

NSW spokesperson Amitabh Behar said, “The value of Indian MPs’ pay and perks is higher than their counterparts in Singapore, Japan, Italy and Pakistan. In terms of the ratio of pay package to national per capita income, India ranks second after Kenya and pays almost double than the US. Political parties work less for and in Parliament to perform their designated functions as people’s representatives and legislators.”

Research director of NSW Dr. Bhaskara Rao said, “The employment generation in the process of development/industrialization has never been given enough attention. As a result, only 16.6 percent of work-force has regular employment. Others have to contend with self-employment (50.6 percent) and casual employment (33 percent) without any job or social security. A fifth of workers, who have full time employment, are not able to cross the poverty line.”

A wrap-up report of Budget session 2012 by the Delhi based Parliamentary Research Service (PRS) lists 88 Bills that were pending before the budget session 2012; of these, 51 were in the Lok Sabha and 37 were in the Rajya Sabha.

The report highlights that The UPA-II government continued to reduce the scope of the Union Budget (as measured by Total Expenditure from the budget) as compared to the size of the country’s economy (as  measured by the GDP) – Total Expenditure from Union Budget would shrink from 14.9 percent of GDP in 2012–13 (Budget Estimates/BE) to 14.6 percent of GDP in 2013–14 (BE), and the brunt of this conservative fiscal policy is likely to be borne mainly by the poor. 

Despite promise of the path-breaking food security bill, which is expected into operation during 2013–14, Union Budget outlay for Food Subsidy has been raised only marginally — from Rs. 86,707.5 crore in 2012–13 to Rs. 91,591.4 crore in 2013–14.

According to the economic survey 2011–12, actually, with one farmer committing suicide in every half an hour, agriculture became a way of crisis to majority of people in the country. As per the official data, one farmer committed suicide in every 32.75 minutes (half an hour) during last 16 years, i.e. 256,913 farmers committed suicides  between 1995 and 2010. It is the worst-ever recorded wave of suicides of this kind in human  history (Sainath 2011).

What is important is that the Union of India had obtained knowledge, documents and information that indicated possible connections between Hassan Ali Khan, and his alleged co-conspirators and known international arms dealers. The volume of alleged income taxes owed to the country, as demanded by the Union of India itself, and the volume of monies, by some accounts US $8.04 billion, and some other accounts in excess of Rs. 70,000 crores.


The key highlights of the report are as follows:

  • 577 hours and 442 hours lost in disruptions and forced adjournments in the 15th Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha sessions respectively
  • MPs pay package 68 times higher than the per capita income of the country;  paid higher than Japan, Singapore, Italy and Pakistan amongst others
  • 48420 and 32742 unstarred questions asked in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha sessions
  • Only 10% of starred questions were answered orally
  • Only 23% bills were passed as compared to the planned 94; 18% of bills passed in less than 5 mins in Parliament in the year 2011; Sensitive bills pending over a long time
  • Parliamentary committees unproductive too
  • 152 MPs (31%) with criminal cases in the 15th Lok Sabha; Nearly 17% of women MPs of the 15th Lok Sabha have criminal cases pending against them
  • Total value of assets of 542 MPs (Lok Sabha) is 29.2 billion, with an average of 53.8 million each
  • Stagnation in social sector spending from the union budget
  • One farmer committed suicide in every 32.75 minutes (half an hour); 256,913 farmers committed suicides between 1995 and 2010
  • Total Expenditure from Union Budget would shrink from 14.9 percent of GDP in 2012–13 (Budget Estimates/BE) to 14.6 percent of GDP in 2013–14
  • CAG Scrutiny of PPP; estimate 3,84,000 crore being implemented and no one to monitor?
  • Reach of the Judiciary remained low due to huge backlog and complicated processes
  • The number of pending cases has increased from 2.81 crore in 2004 to 3.17 crore in 2011
  • Rajya Sabha has longer pendency of bills which accounted for 37 pending bills in 2012
  • The amounts Rs.5,799.3 cr. in 2010-11 and Rs.9,963.9 cr. in 2011-12 allocated for about 2.5 lakh Local Governing Bodies looks peanuts compare to about Rs.4,000 cr. per annum allotted to about 800 MPs (as pocket money) under the local area development (LAD) programme

The parliament in India has emerged as an institution that fosters political competition that has over the years paved the way for the marginalized to obtain a share in political power. Yet, its efficiency, effectiveness and relevance has been compromised to an extent due to the developing parliamentary culture of disruption, which is considered the only effective method of drawing attention of the government by the opposition parties.

According to the report, budget-sessions, monsoon-sessions and winter-sessions each – saw the Lok Sabha working for an average of less than four hours of work per day during its 227 sittings in 852 hours, that is, less than two-thirds of scheduled six hours per day, losing in the process about 577 hours in disruptions and forced adjournments.  These nine sessions witnessed 4,224 starred questions and 48,420 unstarred questions being admitted and answered. While during the proceedings 139 government Bills were introduced and 119 were passed, 514 reports of the Parliamentary Committees, including Departmentally Related Standing Committees (DRSCs), were presented.

See the Overview of the Citizens’ Report on Governance and Development 2013 here.

National Social Watch (NSW) is a research and advocacy organization that monitors the functioning and efficiency of key governance institutions; their commitment towards citizens and practice of democratic values. As the national secretariat of the National Social Watch Coalition (NSWC), it steers a broad-based network of civil society organizations and citizens spread across the country. It also collaborates with Social Watch International.

For further information please contact:
Farha Iman
Advocacy and Communication Officer