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India’s Silenced Parliament

Summary:
With India facing a raging pandemic, an economic crisis, and mounting security threats, its parliament has a vital job on its hands when it reconvenes in mid-September. But the legislature risks being reduced to a noticeboard for the decisions of a government that does not like to be questioned. NEW DELHI – After a nearly six-month hiatus, the Indian parliament will reconvene in mid-September at a time of deepening national crisis. But I fear that it may be unable to hold the country’s failing government to account. Reclaiming American Greatness Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images  The Q-ing of the West

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With India facing a raging pandemic, an economic crisis, and mounting security threats, its parliament has a vital job on its hands when it reconvenes in mid-September. But the legislature risks being reduced to a noticeboard for the decisions of a government that does not like to be questioned.

NEW DELHI – After a nearly six-month hiatus, the Indian parliament will reconvene in mid-September at a time of deepening national crisis. But I fear that it may be unable to hold the country’s failing government to account.

Parliament is obliged to meet now, because India’s constitution limits the gap between sessions to six months, and the COVID-19 pandemic has forced all sessions to be suspended since March. With 4.5 million cases to date, India is now the world’s second worst-affected country, surpassing Brazil and Russia and behind only the United States.

Moreover, infection rates are rising, especially in rural areas where testing had not been adequately extended earlier. Fortunately, the COVID-19 mortality rate remains relatively low, at 55 per million people, representing just 1% of deaths from all causes.

But if lives have not ended, livelihoods have, owing to draconian but ineffective lockdowns introduced in March. GDP collapsed by 23.9% year on year in April-June, making India the world’s worst-performing major economy. Unemployment is rife – some 21 million salaried jobs have been lost during the pandemic, and millions more in the informal sector, especially among day laborers, who are now unable to make ends meet. Small and micro enterprises are being shuttered throughout the country. And the millions of migrant workers who trudged home in despair during the lockdown have found themselves no better off in their home villages’ stagnant economies.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government seems utterly helpless to stop the economic meltdown, as if paralyzed by the plummeting indicators in every sector. A

Shashi Tharoor
MP for Thiruvananthapuram. Author of 17 books. Former Minister of State,Govt.of India. Former UnderSecretaryGeneral,UnitedNations. RTs do not imply endorsement

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