THE Parliament of India has moved to a new building. The old building was good, but not good enough for new needs. Hence the change -- at a huge expense. Yet, the difference between the old and new buildings is that of only the physical premises. In both the places, what will endure time will be the fine Parliament culture and tradition -- backed by history, beckoned by future. The shift that took place on September 19, 2023, thus, symbolises only a shift of premises while the paradigm continues -- of excellence of non-partisan conversation among ideologies and ideas, among parties and people, among objectives and obligations to larger purposes. All these form what India’s Parliament is
-- an institution of tremendous value to all of us. Even in the brand new premises, all this will endure time, go past smaller issues and give the country’s democratic polity an apex institution to guide the collective thought-process through debate, dialogue and even dissent.
At this hour, what matters is only this -- the enduring tradition of larger, wider, broader, deeper, higher, more intense conversation among the people of India -- ‘that is Bharat’!
When the two Houses -- the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha -- met for the last time in the old circular building, nostalgia was the dominant emotion. Yet, there also were reminders of tradition, of history, of what may be the road ahead. There, of course, were differing views as usual, but the common thread was of acceptance of the greatness of the parliamentary tradition of the country which is rightly and proudly described as ‘Mother of Democracy’ of the world.
No matter the differences that did surface on the last day in both Houses in bits and pieces, what mattered the most was the immortality of the thought of democracy that India has nurtured for 75 years in modern times, and for countless thousands of years in history.
History shows that India was no stranger to democracy in 1947; and that its history was replete with examples of highest principles of collective dialogue that marked the social, cultural, political, economic life of the country for thousands of years.
From now onwards, the new premises will invite an altogether new premise of democracy -- offering a promise to future generations that the people working in the building will always be the final protectors of the ultimate national interests; that they will often be working for common welfare for common interest that will travel far beyond petty self-interest. In other words, the work in the new building of Parliament will be a disinterested activity -- fuelled by the sublime goal of serving the nation beyond politics with narrow goals.
When the people in Parliament make this promise, they are only catering to the common popular wish of the Indian people. The common people have known that their Parliament has always served national interest in the right spirit. But they also have seen some ugly scenes marring the dialogue that is so essential to democracy.
The common people expect that the new building will help the people working under its roof to rise above petty politics and serve the genuine interest of the people without fear or favour.
This is no ordinary wish, one must assert. For, this wish is the core value of any polity under any system. In democracy, it is all the more critical to the survival of the system. India’s political community is known to understand this very well. But, most unfortunately, it has harboured within its folds some elements that are actually inimical to genuine national interests. The hope now is that the in the new building, such factors will be rebuffed beyond compromise. Upon this hope hinges the future of India through its greatly successful democratic system.