Formulating a Parliamentary Productivity Index to capture the extent of Parliamentary disruptions
In July 2016, Vidhi conducted a study and released a report on ‘Disruptions in the Indian Parliament.’ The report attempted to study the structural and substantive reasons behind the disruptions occurring in the Parliament. It also studied cross-jurisdictional practices relating to Parliamentary practice and procedure, as well as the debates conducted in these countries, wherever accessible. It identified some key reasons around why disruptions remain prevalent, and suggested reform measures to ensure higher levels of productivity and constructive debates in the Parliament.
A key aspect that emerged from the report was the need for devising measures for popular accountability as a means of minimising disruptions in the Parliament.
The report ‘Parliamentary Productivity Index’ builds upon this recommendation, whereby a Parliamentary Productivity Index (‘Index’/‘PPI’) has been formulated to measure the number of disruptions caused by an individual MP in Parliament and the time lost to such disruptions. The Report also provides a ranking list of the most disruptive MPs in certain sessions of the Lok Sabha. The variables employed to create the Index and the ranking list, reasons for choosing them (and not others), and the limitations of such an exercise are detailed in this Report.
Using a sample size of 100 days spread over some sessions of the 16th Lok Sabha, the Index measures the productivity of a session of Parliament. The avowed aim of the PPI is to highlight certain practices commonly observed in Parliament which are inconsonant with a well-functioning and responsive democratic institution. Created on the basis of available data, the PPI represents the productivity of the debates – both qualitatively and quantitatively. In devising this Index, Vidhi’s report quantifies, to some extent, the productivity of the Houses of Parliament. The variables used are the time allocated and spent on different orders of business, and the frequency of disruptions in debates.
Based on an analysis of the official uncorrected text of Lok Sabha debates, the Report also lists the five most disruptive MPs for the Winter Session of 2013-14, and the Monsoon Session of 2015 of the Lok Sabha.
The purpose of the PPI and the Ranking List is to make disruptions in the Parliament a mass public concern. The objective of presenting data on productivity in the Parliament in a simple and accessible form as well as providing a list of five most disruptive MPs per session is to create systemic disincentives for MPs to disrupt Parliament.
Disrupting Parliament endlessly, without engaging in meaningful debate, should neither be publicly acceptable nor politically rewarding. Sensitising the public about the true extent of disruptions will bring about general unacceptability of this practice. This should, ideally, compel MPs to modify their behaviour in Parliament. While such behavioural change will necessarily be time-consuming, through mechanisms such as the PPI which combine data analysis with easy-to-understand outcomes, a welcome start can be made.