On May 13, 2012, the Indian Parliament completed 60 years since its first sitting. To mark the occasion, a special sitting of both Houses was organised on the day.
Recently, there has been much public scrutiny of the work of MPs and the functioning of Parliament. This document presents some information on the changing profile of MPs and the trends in the working of Parliament over the past 60 years.
Fewer under-matriculates, more post-graduates in Lok Sabha
The percentage of MPs without secondary education has decreased from 23 per cent in 1952 to 3 per cent in 2009.
The percentage of graduates has increased from 58 per cent in 1952 to 79 per cent in 2009 (This includes MPs with post-graduate and doctorate degrees).
More MPs have post-graduate degrees than in 1952. The percentage of post-graduates has increased from 18 per cent to 29 per cent.
Fewer MPs under 40, more MPs over 70 in Lok Sabha
There has been a noticeable shift in the age profile of MPs in Lok Sabha. The percentage of older MPs has increased significantly. In 1952, only 20 per cent of MPs were 56 years or older. In 2009, this figure had increased to 43 per cent.
In the 1st Lok Sabha, there was no MP over the age of 70. This number has risen to 7 per cent in the current Lok Sabha.
The number of MPs below 40 has decreased from 26 per cent in 1952 to 14 per cent in the current Lok Sabha.
Women MPs are younger than their male counterparts. At the beginning of the 15th Lok Sabha, the average age of women MPs was 47 while the average age of male MPs was 54 years. There were no women MPs over 70 years of age.
The current Lok Sabha has the highest number of Women MPs
Women constitute 11 per cent of the 15th Lok Sabha. In comparison, only 5 per cent of MPs in the 1st Lok Sabha were women.
Of the larger states in Lok Sabha1, Madhya Pradesh has the highest percentage of women MPs (21 per cent), followed by Uttar Pradesh (15 per cent) and Gujarat (15 per cent).
Though the percentage of women MPs has increased over the years, it is still lower in comparison to some countries. These include Sweden (45 per cent), Argentina (37 per cent), UK (22 per cent), and USA (17 per cent).
The Women’s Reservation Bill, passed by Rajya Sabha in March 2010, is currently pending in Lok Sabha. The Bill proposes to reserve one-third of the seats in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies for women.
In the 1950s, Lok Sabha met for an average of 127 days a year; in 2011, it met for 73 days
Lok Sabha met for an average of 127 days in the 1950s and Rajya Sabha for 93 days. This has decreased to 73 days for both Houses in 2011.
However, it must be noted that Departmentally Related Standing Committees were instituted in 1993. Since then, Parliament refers many Bills/ issues to these committees for detailed analysis. This work happens outside the scheduled sittings of Parliament.
The All India Conference of Presiding Officers, Chief Ministers, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Leaders and Whips of Parties held in 2001 had called for immediate steps to ensure that Parliament meet for a minimum of 110 days every year. It had recommended that this change be brought in through a constitutional amendment if necessary.
The number of Bills passed by Parliament has declined over the last few decades
The 1st Lok Sabha passed an average of 72 Bills each year. This has decreased to 40 Bills a year in the 15th Lok Sabha.
Parliament passed 118 Bills in 1976. This was the highest number of Bills passed by Parliament in a single year.
The lowest number of Bills was passed in 2004. In this year, only 18 Bills were passed by Parliament.
No Private Members’ Bill has been passed by Parliament since 1970
Every MP, who is not a Minister, is called a Private Member. Private Members’ Bills are Bills introduced by these MPs.
In Lok Sabha, the last two and a half hours of a sitting on every friday are generally allotted for transaction of Private Members’ Business, i.e., Private Members’ Bills and Private Members’ Resolutions.
Till date, Parliament has passed 14 Private Members’ Bills. Six of these were passed in 1956 alone.
In the current term of Parliament, 264 Private Members’ Bills have been introduced in Lok Sabha and 160 in Rajya Sabha. Of these, only 14 have been discussed in Lok Sabha and 11 in Rajya Sabha.