- Role of Parliament is to deliberate, discuss and decide but in recent times disruption has become a roadblock in parliamentary functioning. Comment (10)
- “The National Digital Health Mission is a step in the right direction for both patients and the healthcare system, but concerns around data privacy need to be addressed.” Examine. (15 marks)
1. Role of Parliament is to deliberate, discuss and decide but in recent times disruption has become a roadblock in parliamentary functioning. Comment
- There is a sharp rise in the time lost in disruptions and in the cost of running the Parliament. The 11th Lok Sabha lost 5 percent of its time to disruptions. This rose to over 10 per cent in the 12th Lok Sabha and 22.40 per cent in the 13th Lok Sabha. In the 14th and 15th Lok Sabha, at least 30 percent of the time has been lost to disruptions in session after session.
- In representative parliamentary democracy, parliament is at the centre of democratic processes. Parliament has a critical role in the governance process which becomes causality because of increasing disruptions in Parliament. Parliament in general has deliberative role, specifically it performs critical functions such as:
- Debating Function: The Parliament is the highest forum of debate in the country. Which makes it possible for the Parliament to analyse any or every issue that faces the nation. These discussions constitute the heart of democratic decision making.
- Legislative Function: The Parliament enacts legislation for the country. No law can be passed without due procedure established in the Constitution where Parliament’s powers have been enumerated.
- Enforcing accountability of executive: The most vital function of the Parliament is to ensure that the executive does not overstep its authority and remains responsible to the people who have elected them.
- Financial Function: The Financial powers of the Parliament, involve grant of resources to the government to implement its programmes. In democracy, the legislature has financial control over the government through budgetary process. If the Government of India proposes to introduce any new tax, it has to get the approval of the Lok Sabha.
- Representation: Parliament represents the divergent views of members from different regional, social, economic, religious groups of different parts of the country.
- Reasons for disruptions:
- Opposition has a significant role to play in the form of constructive criticism of the policies of the government & to provide an alternative government. However, there are instances where the opposition- irrespective of party in power at centre – have used parliament as a site of protest and not for debate.
- Fragmented Polity: Indian electoral system has been increasingly fragmented since 1970’s with the emergence of regional parties. This is also because of diversity in India. Even though it has been positive for deepening democracy by making Indian democracy more representative, there are certain unintended consequences of rise in regional parties. The regional issues find themselves in the form of protests within the parliament leading to disruptions.
- Quality of representatives in parliament is another reason why the parliamentary conventions as developed in the west are not followed in India. According to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms and National Election Watch, at least 34 percent of Lok Sabha MPs have self-declared criminal cases against them. About 22 percent of these face serious criminal charges. Such membership is likely to have reduced commitment to democratic conventions.
- Consequences of disruptions in Parliament
- Accountability of government is not duly enforced.
- Discussions withheld: Parliament represents the divergent views of members but disruptions tend to reduce these functions as there is reduced scope to raise issues of public concerns through parliamentary procedures like Questions, Motions, resolutions etc.
- Erosion of credibility: Disruptions also contribute to undermining the respect representatives ought to have in the eyes of the citizens.
- Financial Loss: With frequent disruptions Parliament the public exchequer loses crores of rupees
- Resort to Ordinances: Disruptions tends to Increase in resorting to ordinance as tool of law making using disruptions as pretext for not following due legislative procedure
- Increasing political awareness of citizenry about the role of parliament and how disruption tends to hurt public interest would help stem the frequent parliamentary disruptions.
2. “The National Digital Health Mission is a step in the right direction for both patients and the healthcare system, but concerns around data privacy need to be addressed.” Examine. (15 marks)
- Under the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) a unique digital health ID will be provided to the people, which will contain all the health records of the person.
- NDHM- A step in Right direction:
- The mission will enable access and exchange of longitudinal health records of citizens with their consent.
- The NDHM is a complete digital health ecosystem. The digital platform will be launched with four key features — health ID, personal health records, Digi Doctor and health facility registry.
- At a later stage, it will also include e-pharmacy and telemedicine services, regulatory guidelines for which are being framed.
- This will ensure ease of doing business for doctors and hospitals and healthcare service providers
- The Digi Doctor option will allow doctors from across the country to enrol and their details, including their contact numbers if they want to provide them, will be available.
- These doctors will also be assigned digital signatures for free which can be used for writing prescriptions.
- It will be voluntary for the hospitals and doctors to provide details for the app.
- The national health ID will be a repository of all health-related information of every Indian.
- Various healthcare providers — such as hospitals, laboratories, insurance companies, online pharmacies, telemedicine firms — will be expected to participate in the health ID system.
- This mission will create interoperability within the digital health ecosystem, similar to the role played by the Unified Payments Interface in revolutionizing payments, the PMO said.
- Citizens will only be a click-away from accessing healthcare facilities
- Data misuse – It is a challenge to secure the health data of the citizens along with other personal information to avoid a breach of the right to privacy.
- Leakages from health repositories – Technological advancement and high security to avoid any leakage of the data.
- Foreign surveillance
- Way Forward
- It must be ensured that the health records of the patients remain entirely confidential and secure.
- Data localisation - as suggested by BN Srikrishna committee
- Specific provisions for health data protection under the Draft Data Protection bill
- The failure of a similar National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom must be learnt from and the technical and implementation-related deficiencies must be proactively addressed prior to launching the mission on a pan India scale.