May 13, 2013

Nagalim: Orientation Program For Legislators On Parliamentary Practices

An orientation program for legislators was held on May 10 in Nagaland. Among other things, the need for consultation and the lack of women’s representation were discussed.

Below is an article published by the Morung Express:

Nagaland Governor, Dr. Ashwani Kumar, today [May 10] said that Naga society has the “innate proclivity” of taking decisions democratically through public consultation process right from the village level. Addressing the orientation programme for legislators on Parliamentary practices, gender issues and information technology here at Niathu Resort, the governor said that parliamentary traditions are being put to test in many states of the country, but Nagaland has no compulsion to join this trend given its heritage and history. Kumar said this is because of the innate proclivity of Naga society of taking decisions democratically through public consultations, their independence of thinking and grass root democracy. “This culture of consultation has to be strengthened in the State Legislature too, because it is the constitutionally designed consultative chamber”, he said.

The governor also said he has been told that the hall marks of the functioning of Nagaland Legislative Assembly have always been “dignity, decency and decorum.” He expressed confidence that the “3 D’s” would be reinforced in the current life of 12th legislative assembly and that the legislators would add new values and provide an absolutely new direction to the state of Nagaland.

Stating that it is a matter of great interest for the whole country that the people of Nagaland have given a “decisive mandate” to a single party alliance, the governor also complimented the DAN government led by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio for running the state for three consecutive terms.

Kumar said this indicated that the people of Nagaland want political stability, peace and all-round progress and so they voted for a strong government which can change their lives and transform Naga society.

“Now it is time for all the legislators led by the Speaker, Chief Minister, the Ministers, the Parliamentary Secretaries and the leader of the CLP to redeem the trust that the people have reposed in all of us. I urge you to provide a new direction to Nagaland and its people. I am sure all of you will take this mandate of the people seriously and do everything possible to fulfill their aspirations”, he said.

Kumar said that the objective of the orientation programme is to ensure that the legislators are empowered to use their legislative acumen to transform Naga society and come up to the expectations of the people. The governor further said that of all the pillars of democracy, the strongest and central pillar is the Legislature, which is capable of providing leadership not only to the government but the entire society.

Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio in his welcome address said that the legislators, having being elected by the people to be their leaders, cannot afford to remain ignorant of rules and regulations. Rio said that unless one knows the rules and procedures of the state assembly, one cannot be a good and effective legislator. “Not to speak of first timers, many MLAs who had done several tenures remain ignorant of the basic assembly procedures and rules governing assembly questions etc., although we deal with them during every session”, he said.

Underscoring the need for legislators to re-orient the practices and procedures in the assembly, the Chief Minister said that he has come across many instances in the past assembly sessions where many questions were not properly framed or classified, resulting in wastage of time, energy and resources. “A proper application of mind by the legislators and a proper interpretation and enforcement of the rules and procedures of the House is the need of the day”, Rio added.

Resource persons of the orientation programme and their topics included former Lok Sabha Secretary General, Dr. Suhash C Kashyap (Legislative procedures; former Lok Sabha Secretary General, PTD Achary (Questions procedures), Lok Sabha Secretary General, GC Malhotra (Budgetary procedures), N Sinha (Sensitisation on gender issues) and programme officer, IT&C, Nagaland, Asono Mor (NeGP & eGovernance).

Nagaland minister for Roads & Bridges and Parliamentary Affairs, Kuzholuzo Nienu, chaired the programme and Speaker, NLA, Chotisuh Sazo gave the concluding remarks. Fifty one of the total 60 legislators attended the programme.

Gov for women ‘representation’

Nagaland Governor, Dr Ashwani Kumar has expressed his personal opinion on the conspicuous absence of women legislators in the Nagaland Legislative Assembly. 

On the topic “Gender issues” included in the orientation programme for legislators on Parliamentary practices, gender issues and information technology, the governor said that one parameter to judge modern society is the equality of women with men and that voices of women must be adequately reflected in all forums of democratic governance.

 “It is heartening to note that 91.22% women voted in the February 2013 elections as against 89.82% men. You all know that women constitute 48.21% of the total population and 49% of the electorate in Nagaland as per the available figures.” The governor said that since 1964, women in Nagaland have been trying to enter the Legislative Assembly, but all in vain. Kumar said in 1969, two women contested; in 1987, three contested; in 2003, three contested; in 2008, four contested and in the 2013 assembly election, two women contested but could not succeed.

“The only occasion was when a woman Rano Shaiza became a member of the short-lived 6th Lok Sabha from March 1977 to August 1979. It will be in my interest to know your personal and party views on this subject”, the Governor told the all-male legislators.