Indian Decade

2G Scam Sinks Indian Parliament

An ongoing scandal effectively wipes out the entire winter session of India’s Parliament.

Stormy parliament sessions epitomize the hurly burly of Indian democracy. Over the last few years especially, it's been commonplace to see Parliament adjourn for days on end. But this winter session of Parliament has lowered standards like never before. The entire session, which adjourned sine die on Monday, was wasted over the alleged 2G spectrum scam, as the government and opposition parties tussled for months over demands for a Joint Parliamentary Committee inquiry.

PRS Legislative Research, a Delhi-based non-profit that’s essentially a resource hub for legislators, has said it was the worst of the 82 sessions held since the beginning of the 8th Lok Sabha back in 1985. PRS also stated that the Lok Sabha operated for only 5.3 percent of the scheduled hours, and the Rajya Sabha for a shocking 2.1 percent, for the entire session. Only seven of the scheduled 138 hours of business were actually conducted and some reports estimate that the washed-out winter session has cost the nation more than $37.7 million.

Clearly, the 2G spectrum scam highlights much of what's wrong with the way both business and administration is undertaken in India today.

The trail of corruption from the spectrum scam also threatens to engulf the reputation of many leading journalists, industrialists, bureaucrats and politicians in the country, thanks to the voluminous taped conversations of corporate lobbyist Nira Radia. Opposition parties must hold the Government accountable for letting such a preposterous scam go virtually unpunished. But ending a session on the anniversary of a brutal terrorist attack on India's Parliament—December 13, 2001—seems particularly ignominious.

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Really, those who wanted to demolish our Parliament on that day nine years ago must feel they needn't have bothered. We’ve managed to do a good job of wrecking it without their help.