Children’s participation in decision-making is key to their development : Somnath Chatterjee
For five children from the Delhi schools who are part of the Gandhi Media Literacy Programme, it was a dream-come-true to first see the proceedings of the Lok Sabha and thereafter interview Shri Somnath Chatterjee, Hon’ble Speaker of Lok Sabha.
Speaking to the children on a wide range of issues, Shri Somnath Chatterjee said that the freedom of the press is an organ, which is basic for a democratic setup. He felt that the media should give more attention to issues affecting children’s lives and concerns as they are the mirror of the society and can influence public opinion.
Shri Chatterjee pointed out that there was no alternative to Parliamentary democracy and said that the aspirations of the people have to be respected, as they want to lead a decent life.
When asked about involving children in the Parliamentary Forum for Children, the Hon’ble Speaker said that children also have a right to develop, to play and think, as they are the most significant population and the future leaders. He said, “Members of Parliament should raise more issues related to children in the House focusing on concerns such as child protection and survival. ”
Observing that training children in media was a positive child participation endeavor, Mr. Chatterjee said that the Government could look into issues, which the child reporters raise through their media products and also through Members of Parliament, in the Parliamentary Forum for Children. “We should also encourage schools to organize mock Parliament in schools,” he said. “We can also look at the possibility of the Lok Sabha Channel organizing a children’s Parliament” adding further.
Mr. Chatterjee said, “Children’s participation is very important in the democratic process. Their issues cannot be neglected and they should be provided equal facility and opportunity to develop and grow. We should promote a culture where we listen to the voice of children.” He strongly asserted that children’s participation in the democratic set up is key to the development of a strong and powerful democracy.
Shri Somnath Chatterjee termed the issue of the 33 per cent reservation for women as a ‘failure’. He also asserted on the need of women to play a more pro-active role in preventing atrocities against them and removing evils like dowry. “It is unfortunate that even though India has made tremendous progress in every sphere of life, yet violence against women continues unabated,” he added.
He also added that women could better raise issues concerning them propelling the Government to take prompt action on concerns of women..
Talking further on democracy and the Indian polity, the Hon’ble Speaker said, “Bureaucracy is not to be despised. It is important part of our system and we should ensure that it contributes towards nation-building.”
Shri Somnath Chatterjee also supported the issue of Right to Recall and felt that this should come into effect immediately, as, “It is necessary to recall members who do not perform and who bring shame to not only the House, but the entire nation. “
He also felt that the Right to Information Act would only be effective, if it is not used for any ulterior purpose. He said, “People have a right to know”. While referring to the live telecast of the proceedings in the Parliament, he said, “The entire country is the visitors gallery, and people must know what happens inside the House”. “It is important for the members to develop a moral code of conduct and be responsible political party members,” he added.
On the question of the ongoing debate regarding ‘judicial activism’, the Hon’ble Speaker said, “Interference is not what the Judiciary should do. There is a lakshman rekha (border line), beyond which one should not go. There should be harmony between all the organs of the Government.”
Neethu Vincent (Class XI)