A recent gathering of Parliamentarians in the city gave us a glimpse of something we rarely see nowadays – Parliamentary conduct. The participants were largely respectful of their political rivals, on occasion going so far as to praise them. Even the walkouts were staged with prior permission.
The occasion was the launch of a book titledIndia - The Future is Now (Wisdom Tree) at Taj Mahal Hotel. Edited by Shashi Tharoor, the book brings together the views of young Parliamentarians on subjects as varied as an assessment of the country’s national security situation, to a critique of the neoliberal path the country has taken. The contributors include Hamidullah Sayeed, Jay Panda, Jyotiraditya Scindia, M.B. Rajesh, Milind Deora, Poonamben Jat, Priya Dutt Roncon and Sanjay Jaiswal among others.
Introducing the book, Tharoor said, “The young parliamentarians who have authored the dozen essays in this book have taken on a broad sweep of the nation’s problems…the contributors span the spectrum from left to right, represent both the government and the opposition and hail from both rural and urban constituencies. Their essays offer a good idea of the range and breadth of what young Indians with an eye on the future believe matters as they navigate their way through the national political minefield.”
The ensuing discussion between the MPs outlined the challenges that the country faces, as dealt with in the book. While Jyotiraditya Scindia, Union Minister of State for Power, outlined the gap between power supply and demand, Jay Panda, BJD MP, made a case for increased infrastructure spending, comparing India’s stats to China’s. Poonamben Jat contrasted the experience of Gujarat with the policy paralysis at the Centre and Anurag Singh Thakur spoke, rather vaguely, of the threat posed to Indian sovereignty by cyber warfare.
The book also contains the cartoons of Sudhir Tailang, whose presence brought a certain levity to the proceedings. “Apart from Shashi Tharoor, this panel hardly inspires me. He has got the features for a cartoon,” he said.
Tailang also hoped the new generation of politicians will accord greater respect to cartoonists. “I have seen ten prime ministers come and go. But I have never seen as much muzzling of cartoonists. When Nehru inaugurated Shankar’s weekly, he said ‘Don’t spare me Shankar.’ If I had to get the magazine released by Mamata Banerjee, she will say ‘Don’t touch me. I will get you arrested.’”