NCERT Class 8 Civics Chapter 3 - Why Do We Need a Parliament? Notes

Chapter 3 - Why Do We Need a Parliament? Notes

1. Why should People Decide?
• India got independent on 15 August 1947. People from various backgrounds joined the struggle and they were inspired by the ideas of freedom, equality and participation in decision-making.
• Under colonial rule, the people had lived in fear of the British government and did not agree with many of the decisions that they took. But they faced grave danger if they tried to criticise these decisions. The nationalists began to openly criticise the British government and make demands.
• In 1885, the Indian National Congress demanded that there be elected members in the legislature with a right to discuss the budget and ask questions.
• The Government of India Act 1909, allowed for some elected representation. While these early legislatures under the British government were in response to the growing demands of the nationalists, they did not allow for all adults to vote nor could people participate in decision making.
• The decision of people matters in a democratic country because:
→ A democratic government is run by the consent, approval, and participation of the people or citizens.
→ The people in a democracy are the citizens and they are an integral part of any democracy.
→ The people elect a few candidates who represent their collective voices in the Parliament.

2. People and their Representatives
• The take-off point for a democracy is the idea of consent, i.e. the desire, approval and participation of people.
• It is the decision of people that creates a democratic government and decides about its functioning.
• The basic idea in this kind of democracy is that the individual or the citizen is the most important person and that in principle the government as well as other public institutions need to have the trust of these citizens. How does the individual give approval to the government? One way of doing so, as you read, is through elections. People would elect their representatives to the Parliament, then, one group from among these elected representatives forms the government. The Parliament, which is made up of all representatives together, controls and guides the government. In this sense people, through their chosen representatives, form the government and also control it.

3. How does the individual give approval to the government?
• One way is through elections.
• People would elect their representatives to the Parliament, then, one group from among these elected representatives forms the government.
• The Parliament, which is made up of all representatives together, controls and guides the government.
• In this sense people, through their chosen representatives, form the government and also control it.

4. The role of the Parliament
• The Indian Parliament was created after 1947.
• The Indian Parliament is an expression of the faith that the people of India have in principles of democracy.
• These are participation by people in the decision-making process and government by consent.
• The Parliament in our system has immense powers because it is the representative of the people.
• Elections to the Parliament are held in a similar manner as they are for the state legislature. The Lok Sabha is usually elected once every five years.
• The country is divided into numerous constituencies. Each of these constituencies elects one person to the Parliament. The candidates who contest elections usually belong to different political parties.
• Once elected, these candidates become Members of Parliament (MPs).
• These MPs together make up the Parliament. Once elections to the Parliament have taken place, the Parliament needs to perform the following functions:
→ To select the National Government
→ To Control, Guide and Inform the Government
→ Law-making
• To select the National Government
→ Parliament of India consists of the President, the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha. After the Lok Sabha elections, a list is prepared showing how many MPs belong to each political party.
→ For a political party to form the government, they must have a majority of elected MPs. Since there are 543 elected (plus 2 Anglo-Indian nominated) members in Lok Sabha, to have a majority a party should have at least half the number i.e. 272 members or more.
→ The Opposition in Parliament is formed by all the political parties that are not part of the majority party/coalition formed. The largest amongst these parties is called the Opposition party.
→ One of the most important functions of the Lok Sabha is to select the executive. The executive is a group of persons who work together to implement the laws made by the Parliament.
→ The Prime Minister of India is the leader of the ruling party in the Lok Sabha. From the MPs who belong to her party, the Prime Minister selects ministers to work with her to implement decisions. These ministers then take charge of different areas of government functioning like health, education, finance etc.
→ Coalition refers to the alliance formed by political parties after elections when no party has been able to get adequate seats to form a clear majority.
→ The Rajya Sabha functions primarily as the representative of the states of India in the Parliament. The Rajya Sabha can also initiate legislation and a bill is required to pass through the Rajya Sabha in order to become a law. It, therefore, has an important role of reviewing and altering (if alterations are needed) the laws initiated by the Lok Sabha. The members of the Rajya Sabha are elected by the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of various states. There are 233 elected members plus 12 members nominated by the President.

• To Control, Guide and Inform the Government
→ The Parliament, while in session, begins with a question hour.
→ The question hour is an important mechanism through which MPs can elicit information about the working of the government. This is a very important way through which the Parliament controls the executive.
→ By asking questions the government is alerted to its shortcomings, and also comes to know the opinion of the people through their representatives in the Parliament, i.e. the MPs. Asking questions of the government is a crucial task for every MP.
→ The Opposition parties play a critical role in the healthy functioning of a democracy. They highlight drawbacks in various policies and programmes of the government and mobilise popular support for their own policies.
→ The government gets valuable feedback and is kept on its toes by the questions asked by the MPs.
→ In addition, in all matters dealing with finances, the Parliament’s approval is crucial for the government. This is one of the several ways in which the Parliament controls, guides and informs the government.
→ The MPs as representatives of the people have a central role in controlling, guiding and informing Parliament and this is a key aspect of the functioning of Indian democracy.
• Law-Making
→ Law-making is a significant function of Parliament.

5. Who are the People in Parliament?
→ Parliament now has more and more people from different backgrounds. Example: There are more rural members as also members from many regional parties.
→ Groups and peoples that were till now unrepresented are beginning to get elected to Parliament.
→ There has also been an increase in political participation from the Dalits and backward classes.
→ It has been observed that representative democracy cannot produce a perfect reflection of society. There is a realisation that when interests and experiences separate us it is important to ensure that communities that have been historically marginalised are given adequate representation.
→ With this in mind, some seats are reserved in Parliament for SCs and STs. This has been done so that the MPs elected from these constituencies will be familiar with and can represent Dalit and Adivasi interests in Parliament.
→ Similarly, it has more recently been suggested that there should be reservation of seats for women. This issue is still being debated. Sixty years ago, only 4% of MPs were women and today it is just above 11%. This is a small share when you consider the fact that half the population are women.
→ It is issues of this kind that force the country to ask certain difficult and often unresolved questions about whether our democratic system is representative enough.
→ The fact that we can ask these questions and are working towards answers is a reflection of the strength and the faith that people in India have in a democratic form of government.

6. The full form of EVM is Electronic Voting Machine. EVMs were used throughout the country for the first time in the 2004 general elections. The use of EVMs in 2004 saved around 150000 trees which would have been cut to produce about 8,000 tons of paper for printing the ballot papers.

7. The Parliament of India, also known as Sansad Bhavan, is the supreme law-making institution. It has two Houses, the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha.

8. Rajya Sabha is Council of States, with a total strength of 245 members, is chaired by the Vice-President of India.

9. Lok Sabha is House of the People, with a total membership of 545, is presided over by the Speaker.

10. Qualifications for becoming the member of Rajya Sabha
• Citizen of India
• 30 or more than 30 years of age
• Be a parliamentary elector in the State in which he is seeking elections
• Others as prescribed by Parliament from time-to-time
• For 6 years, as one-third of members retire every 2 years

11. Qualifications of becoming the member of Lok Sabha
• Citizen of India
• 25 or more than 25 years of age
• Must not hold any office of profit
• He must not unsound mind/insolvent
• He must be registered voter in any parliamentary constituency

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