Studying the Indian legislature: what does question hour reveal?

Ayyangar, Srikrishna and Jacob, Suraj (2014) Studying the Indian legislature: what does question hour reveal? Studies in Indian Politics, 2 (1). pp. 1-19. ISSN 2321-0230

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This article explores legislator behaviour during the Question Hour in the lower house of India’s parliament (the Lok Sabha) over a 30-year period (1980–2009). It establishes that there is considerable variation in the volume of legislator activity, with some Members of Parliament (MPs) remaining silent throughout their tenures (even as opposition MPs over full Lok Sabha terms), while others use the Question Hour much more effectively. Surprisingly, the activity of government backbenchers is only a little behind that of opposition MPs. The article constructs stylized facts regarding the relationship of three sets of covariates with the number of parliamentary questions asked by legislators: personal characteristics of MPs, legislative roles of MPs and the states represented by the MPs. The picture which emerges is that there is a disjuncture between symbolic and substantive representation. Despite increased symbolic representation, some groups—such as women and Scheduled Tribe MPs, but not Scheduled Caste MPs—still participate below par. At the same time, Question Hour is used more effectively by other groups—men and upper caste MPs, but also younger MPs and those with college education. Further, we uncover some puzzling state patterns: MPs from Orissa, Gujarat and Maharashtra seem to participate more than MPs from Punjab, Tamil Nadu and the Northeastern states.

Item Type: Article
Authors: Ayyangar, Srikrishna and Jacob, Suraj
Uncontrolled Keywords: Legislature, political parties, Question Hour, representation, India, sub nationalism
Subjects: Social sciences > Political Science > The legislative process
Divisions: Azim Premji University > School of Development
Azim Premji University > School of Public Policy and Governance
Full Text Status: Restricted
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