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Sumitra Mahajan adopts a unique way to motivate young MPs

Last Modified Saturday, 5 August 2017 (18:14 IST)
New Delhi: In what could a first of its kind, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, used a novel, but informal way of enhancing the interest and participation of young in the functioning of the Parliament. After a sumptuous dinner at her sprawling bungalow on the Akbar Road, in the Lutyens Zone of the capital on Thursday night, she chatted with 34-40 MPs--both men and women--and their spouses. What were the selection criteria? Well, they all should be under 40 years of age. 

Apparently, the occasion was to celebrate recent weddings of some of the MPs, but the two-hour event also had a soft agenda. Ms Mahajan asked all of them five questions related to their Parliamentary work and those who ' passed the impromptu test' , got gifts, including beautifully designed rare copy of India's Constitution which is written in calligraphy. The Constitution's copy is said to be much more precious than what is available in the market, published by private publishers  sources said.

The first question was how many young raised questions, during Zero Hour, Question Hour or through debates, about issues concerning the youths of the country? 
The second question was about larger public good. She asked : did you use parliamentary rules and various provisions to raise issues of public interest? What she meant was the use of rules like 193 or 197 or the half hour discussion or calling attention motion, etc. for raising issues related to public at large.
A more serious question that the Speaker asked was about Bills that are introduced in the Parliament to later become law. How many of you read the draft Bills, a copy of which is sent to your residences ?, Mahajan, herself an eight-time MP from Indore asked the younger lot. The 16th Lok Sabha has seen many first timers winning the elections and becoming MPs. Many of them are young.

A voracious reader herself, Mahajan then asked the MPs, if they visit the Parliament library, issue books or spend time to look for references in the rich library to enrich their knowledge while participating in various discussions and debates.

Her last question was about the Speakers' Research Initiative (SRI) which she started in July 2015. The SRI was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to help MPs gain widespread exposure from domain experts on wide ranging subjects. Workshops were organised under the SRI on education, agriculture, health, SDGs, parliamentary practices, powers of the judiciary, legislature and the executive and so on. In many of these events she has been present herself to listen to subject experts.

Sources said that cutting across party lines, MPs such as Dushyant Chautala (INLD), Tarun Gogoi and Deependra Hooda (Congress), Dr Shrikant Eknath Shinde (SS), K Kavita (TRS), Rama Mohan Naidu (TDP), Varun Gandhi, Riti Pathak, Dr Heena Gavit, Savitri Phule (all BJP), among others, attended the dinner and got prizes from Mahajan for giving the correct replies and showing great interest in the day to day Parliamentary functioning. One of the women MPs from Southern state said that though she did not win the coveted copy of the Constitution, she was happy to be part of the exercise. 
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