Archive

Author Archive

Karnataka: Election trends and Assembly performance

April 26th, 2013 No comments

Elections to the 14th Legislative Assembly of Karnataka are scheduled to be held on May 5, 2013. Of the 224 assembly constituencies that will go into polls, 36 are reserved for Scheduled Castes and 15 for Scheduled Tribes. Voting will take place in 50,446 polling stations across Karnataka 1. In this blog, we analyse electoral trends between 1989 and 2008 and the performance of the current Karnataka Assembly.

Figure 1: Electoral trends since 1989, source: Election Commission of India, PRS.

In the last elections, held in 2008, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) formed the government, winning 110 of the 226 seats in the Assembly. The BJP has steadily increased its seat share since 1989: it won four seats in 1989, 44 in 1999 and 79 in 2004. The Indian National Congress (INC) had a 179 seat majority in 1989 (79% of the assembly) which fell to 34 seats in 1994. The INC subsequently increased their tally from 65 seats in 2004 to 80 seats in 2008. However, the INC continued to have the highest share of votes polled (except in 1994) even as its share of seats decreased.

The 1990s also saw the emergence of the Janata Dal (S) who won the 1994 elections with 115 seats. Janata Dal’s emergence is part of a broader theme of increased participation by regional parties in Karnataka. In 1989, 20 parties contested the elections, seven of which were national parties but in 2008, 30 parties contested, of which only five were national parties.

Performance of the current Assembly

As we approach the end of the term of the current Assembly, a brief look at its work from 2008 to 2013:

  • During its five-year-term, the Assembly sat for a total of 144 days, an average of 31 days each year. In comparison, the Lok Sabha in its current term sat for an average of 68 days per year. Among states, the Kerala Assembly sat for an average of 50 days, Haryana for 13 days and Rajasthan for 24 days, each year.

    Figure 2: Days of sitting – Karnataka assembly, source: RTI, PRS.

  •  Members of the Karnataka Assembly recorded an average attendance of 81 per cent for the whole term, broadly in line with the Lok Sabha attendance of 77 per cent. Nearly one in five members registered more than 90 per cent attendance. In comparison, members of the 11th Himachal Pradesh Assembly recorded an attendance of 95 per cent, while the attendance of the 12th Gujarat Assembly stood at 83 per cent.
  • Some of the significant Bills passed by the 14th Karnataka Assembly include the Karnataka Guarantee of Services to Citizens Bill and the Karnataka Ground Water (Regulation and Control of Development and Management) Bill.  In 2012, the Assembly also passed the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Preservation Bill.

The Budget: What happens next and some stats on what happened before

March 14th, 2013 3 comments

Authored by Vishnu Padmanabhan and Priya Soman

The Budget speech may have already been scrutinised and the numbers analysed but the Budget process is far from complete.  The Constitution requires expenditure from the government’s Consolidated Fund of India to be approved by the Lok Sabha (the Rajya Sabha does not vote, but can suggest changes). After the Finance Minister presents the Union Budget, Parliament holds a general discussion followed by a detailed discussion and vote on Demands for Grants. In the general discussion, the House discusses the Budget as a whole but no motions can be moved and no voting takes place.  In the 15th Lok Sabha, the average time spent during the Budget Session on general discussion has been 13 hours 20 minutes so far.

Following the general discussion, Parliament breaks for recess while Demands for Grants – the projected expenditure by different ministries – are examined by the relevant Standing Committees of Parliament. This year Parliament is scheduled to break for a month from March 22nd to April 22nd. After the break, the Standing Committees table their reports; the grants are discussed in detail and voted on.  Last year, the total time spent on the Union Budget, on both general and detailed discussion was around 32 hours (or 18% of total time in the session), largely in line with the average time spent over the last 10 years (33 hours, 20% of total time). A unique feature of Indian democracy is the separate presentation and discussion for the Railway Budget.  Including the Railway Budget the overall time spent on budget discussion last year was around 55 hours (30% of total time in the session).

Note: All data from Budget sessions; data from 2004 and 2009 include interim budget sessions. Source: Lok Sabha Resume of Work, PRS

During the detailed discussion, MPs can call for ‘cut motions’ to reduce the amounts of demands for grants made by a Ministry. This motion can be tabled in three ways: (i) ‘the amount of the demand be reduced to Re.1/’ signifying disapproval of the policies of that ministry; (ii)  ‘the amount of the demand be reduced by a specified amount’, an economy cut signifying a disapproval of the amount spent by the ministry  and (iii) ‘the amount of the demand be reduced by Rs.100/-’, a token cut airing a specific grievance within the policy of the government. However in practice almost all demands for grants are clubbed and voted together (a process called guillotining).

In 2012, 92% of demands for grants were guillotined. The grants for Ministries of Commerce and Industry, Health and Family Welfare, Home Affairs and Urban Development were the only grants taken up for discussion. Over the last 10 years, 85% of demands for grants have been voted for without discussion. The most frequently discussed demand for grants come from the Ministry of Home Affairs (discussed in 6 of the last 10 sessions) and the Ministry of Rural Development (5 times).  Demand for grants for Defence, the largest spending Ministry, has only been voted after discussion once in the last 10 years.

Source: Lok Sabha Resume of Work, Union Budget documents, PRS

If the government needs to spend any additional money, it can introduce Supplementary Demands for Grants during the year.  However if after the financial year government spending on a service exceeds the amount granted, then an Excess Demand for Grant has to be introduced and passed in the following year.  The Budget process concludes with the introduction and passage of the Appropriation Bill authorising the government to spend money from the Consolidated Fund of India. In addition, a Finance Bill, containing the taxation proposals of the government is considered and passed by the Lok Sabha after the Demands for Grants have been voted upon.

The LAMP Fellowship: a unique insight into Indian policy-making

February 19th, 2013 3 comments

In 2010, the Legislative Assistants to Members of Parliament (LAMP) Fellowship was conceptualised by PRS Legislative Research, creating a unique platform for young Indians to engage with policy making at the national level. The Fellowship, a first of its kind in India, provides an opportunity for youth passionate about public policy to work with a Member of Parliament. Launched in collaboration with the Constitution Club of India, the Fellowship began with 12 Fellows and has now grown to include more than 40 young men and women from across India working with MPs from across political parties.


The Work                                                                                                          
The bulk of the Fellow’s work focuses on Parliament. On average, Parliament passes 60 Bills a year.  These Bills, covering a wide range of issues from food security to criminal laws, represent the government’s policy choices.  Informed debates on legislation are therefore critical.  Parliamentarians also use the floor of the House to discuss and debate urgent matters of public interest. The LAMP Fellowship provides young Indians with the opportunity to do legislative work through a 11-month professional engagement with an MP. Fellows are exposed to critical issues in public policy through which they will acquire knowledge about policy, parliament and governance structures, develop analytical abilities and hone leadership skills.
The Fellow typically supports an MP by providing research inputs for: policy and legislative debates, parliamentary Questions, standing committee meetings, and framing private members’ Bills.  Beyond Parliament, MPs have to focus on their constituency; LAMP fellows may work on issues at the constituency level.  Many Fellows in the current cohort have also had a chance to visit the parliamentary constituencies, often travelling with the MP to meet district officials and engage with constituents. Visits usually include a trip to the site of a centrally-sponsored scheme, engaging with public health officials, or attending panchayat meetings.  Some Fellows also assist their MPs with media-related work like drafting press releases and preparing research for public appearances.

Policy Exposure
The LAMP Fellowship is enriched by various workshops, seminars and discussions providing greater exposure to public policy. The current cohort have already engaged with experts like former Director General, CAG Amitabh Mukhopadhyay; social activists Reetika Khera and Harsh Mander; policy practitioners Nitin Pai of The Takshashila Institution, Laveesh Bhandari of Indicus Analytics and former Chairman of TRAI  Nripendra Misra; and leading JNU academic,  Niraja Gopal Jayal.

“At LAMP, there is no ‘typical’ day at work. Each day comes with new tasks, new challenges. My work for my MP has forced me out of my comfort zone to explore and understand an array of subjects.” – Kavya Iyengar, LAMP Fellow 2012-13

Fellows also get the opportunity to interact with organisations from various sectors like Google India, UNHCR and BCG.   For instance, this year’s Fellows participated in the iPolicy workshop for young leaders, organised by the Centre for Civil Society.  Last year, the Indian School of Business (ISB) Hyderabad hosted LAMP Fellows for a 3-day residential leadership development workshop, led by professors and guest speakers, including former RBI Governor, Dr. YV Reddy.
The LAMP Fellowship provides policy exposure but also guarantees a truly distinctive year: no two LAMP Fellows have the same experience. Every MP will have different research demands; LAMP Fellows have to be flexible, self-motivated and hungry to learn.  Work can be challenging but also hugely rewarding. Previous Fellows have used the Fellowship as a launch pad, pursuing further studies at top Universities like Yale, John Hopkins, and Oxford and embarking on careers in political consulting, public relations and think tanks. Some Fellows have even continued to support the work of parliamentarians, pursuing their area of interest like media, policy and constituency development projects.

India’s vibrant democracy is constantly confronted by complex, urgent and important challenges. The Fellowship provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to understand these challenges and, perhaps, even help overcome them.  Be a part of the solution, be a LAMP Fellow.
Tags: