2021 in numbers: Productivity in Parliament
Parliament worked longer than last year, but not by much. Here are charts to explain its functioning.
The suspension of 12 Members of Parliament (MPs) from the Rajya Sabha in this year’s winter session led to regular arguments between the government and opposition parties. The MPs were suspended because of their conduct in the monsoon session held in August, which was itself cut short by two days. How well did the Indian Parliament, often called the “temple of democracy”, function in 2021? Here are three charts that show this.
Despite the suspension of MPs and the early adjournments, both actions criticized by opposition parties, 2021 was not the least productive year in the Indian Parliament. This is because without any vaccines available and with little knowledge about the nature of the Covid-19 pandemic, Parliament barely functioned in 2020. With a lockdown in place, the budget session was adjourned on March 23 last year when it was scheduled to go on until April 3. When parliament reconvened for the monsoon session, question hour, when MPs ask and receive answers from the government, was not held. The winter session was not held in its entirety. The 169 hours and 133 hours of work the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha did in 2020 was the lowest since 2015, the earliest year for which data of all sessions is compiled by PRS Legislative Research on its website. In comparison, the two houses have worked 236 hours and 179 hours respectively this year. While this is an improvement over last year, it is still the 3rd lowest number of hours the two houses have worked since 2015.
Since the overall time spent by MPs in the Parliament itself was less, the time for which question hours functioned was also lesser than usual this year, higher only than in 2020 and 2018. The time spent on legislation in the lower house fared even worse, higher only than in 2020. However, Rajya Sabha spent the 3rd highest number of hours since 2015 on legislation.
How was productivity in different sessions of Parliament? Productivity here is calculated as actual sitting hours as a percentage of planned sitting hours. The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha had 107% and 90% productivity in the budget session this year. The budget session is usually the most productive session of the year and frequently sees over 100% productivity. Perhaps that is why the budget session this year was only the 5th most productive one since 2014 for both houses. The 12 MPs who were suspended for the entire winter session faced this action because of their conduct in the monsoon session. It was indeed one of the least productive monsoon sessions since 2015, with the lower and upper houses productive for only 21% and 29% of the planned sitting hours. The winter session was not as bad. With 77% and 43% productivity, it was at least more productive than the winter sessions in 2018 and 2016.