Introduction: Why Youth Parliament
The law-making bodies are required to discuss various local, national and international issues and then make suitable laws on them. The members of these bodies present all points of views and try to represent all kinds of interests related to a problem. Eventually there is accommodation of various interests and a compromise decision is taken. An effort is always made to take such a decision as would please most and antagonise least. Such decisions are frequently taken by Parliament. The decisions of Parliament are important since they affect the whole country. Each one of us is affected by the decisions of Parliament. The decisions are the result of long drawn debates. For conducting debates in Parliament a detailed procedure of rules is followed. The rules are based on democratic principles. By these rules it is ensure that everybody gets a chance to be heard and a proper decorum is maintained in the course of discussion that goes on in Parliament. India's Long Democratic Tradition Democracy is not a new concept to India. India has a long tradition of tolerance of different views and creeds, which is the hall-mark of any true democracy. There is also considerable evidence of widespread existence of democratic institutions in ancient India. In the Vedic period the republics were called Gana-Rajyas. These Gana-Rajyas were autonomous and were governed by an elected Gana-Mukhya. The lichchhavi republics which came later, had four elected officials who ran the administration. Decisions were taken by voting on important issues. The elected representatives could be recalled if they neglected their duty.
Sabhas (General assemblies of the people), (Councils of elders) and Gram Sabhas (Village assemblies) were a common feature in ancient India. In fact, the Gram Sabhas continued to exist in some form or the other in spite of successive foreign invasions in the country. However, it must be admitted that the present democratic institutions that are in existence in the country, are a part of British legacy.
The Indian Constitution which came into force on 26 January, 1950, has set up a democratic form of government. By a democratic form of government is meant a government which is based on the consent of the governed. It is a system in which free public opinion is the main source of law and in which the government depends upon public opinion and responds to changes in public opinion. Democracy derives its vitality from the freedom of opinion and discussion which it tolerates. In democracy it is believed that truth emerges from the competition of ideas. The outstanding merit of democracy is that by making people voters and participating in public affairs, it compels people to consider public issues and form their opinion on them.
One of the rationales of democracy is that in it everybody gets a chance to be heard. All citizens have the right to express their opinions freely and thereby contribute to the taking of right decisions and passing of good laws that govern the country. In order to actively and meaningfully participate in the democratic functioning of our civic and political institutions, citizens are required to have certain competencies. Not on a few occasions do we observe that normal rules of discussion are violated by the people who manage civic and political affairs. Decorum which is essential for making any discussion purposeful, is flouted and participants are swayed by emotions. Many a time discussions become one sided in the sense that only the more vocal people present their views and others sit as silent observers. As a result various aspects of a problem are not presented properly, and consequently appropriate decisions are not taken. In some cases where every participant is on his/her toes to present his/her point of view, the very functioning of the institution is jeopardized owing to chaotic conditions prevailing in the deliberations.
It is, therefore, necessary that at school stage a suitable programme is devised to train students for their role as citizens in a democracy. Education should make students competent enough to consider public issues and form their opinion on them judiciously. Youth is a season of hope and aspiration. It is proper to take advantage of this and develop in our young students the necessary civic competence. A good citizen is supposed to be an expert in human relations.
This expertness is needed at a many points; in inter-group relations; across the table in discussion; in family affairs; in local and national affairs. The meaning of citizenship is not only confined to knowing rights and
duties, but also extended to areas of human behavior. WE must have suitable programme to train our students in the filed of human behavior.
In schools we give importance to individual scholarship rather than to group product. Our students are often taught debate and public speaking skills rather than skills of group dynamics. Many of us feel increasingly in adequate to cope with the problems of group life which are more pressing in the present-day world.
Why Youth Parliament
There are four techniques which are used to develop skills and attitudes to deal with problems of group life and which have received attention of educationists: (1) Group Discussion, (2) Sociodrama and Role-playing, (3) Use of Sociograms and other Devices of Sociometry, and (4) Application of Action Research.
There is a need to develop a programme in which elements of all the four techniques are used and integrated as far as possible. The Youth Parliament is a programme in which group discussion and role-playing techniques can effectively be used. Citizenship is not a subject; it is away of living. Therefore, its learning demandsappropriate practice in the living of it. Our approach has to be, not "What does a good citizen know?" but "what does a good citizen do, and what must he know to do it?" Citizenship education cannot be imparted merely by providing students with factual information. We have to think not only in terms of developing competencies in students but also in terms of influencing their attitudes which are essential for running democracy in the country on right lines. This is possible if we pay some attention to designing and organising purposeful activities for students' participation. The Youth Parliament is one of such activities by which we can impart some real citizenship education.
The framers of the Indian Constitution deliberately chose the parliamentary democracy in which Parliament is the supreme law-making body and exercises financial and administrative control over the government. The parliamentary democracy is simple to operate and is intelligible to the people, because they are familiar with its working. During the British period the British government was compelled to introduce many representative institutions in response to the growing strength of the Indian National Movement. Many leaders were associated with local self-government. Indians played and increasing role both in the executive an in the legislative wings of provincial and central government. Though the number of people who participated in various field of government oat local and provincial levels was not very large, their influence was considerable. They had gained training and experience to work the parliamentary system, which explalins not only the ease and facility with which the system was introduced in this country but also the high standards maintained by the institutions.
The parliamentary system is both responsive and responsible. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar once said in one of his speeches in the Constituent Assembly debates: "There is both a daily and periodic assessment of the responsibility of government." Thus, after through discussion, the parliamentary system was accepted for the country and over the years the system has proved to be successful.
Along with the parliamentary system, the Constitution adopted the principle of adult franchise with an abundant faith in the common man. The introduction of the parliamentary government on the basis of adult franchise brings enlightenment and promotes the well-being of the common man. A government based on adult franchise is more likely to work for the social and economic welfare of the masses. adult franchise in India has given a voice and power to the teeming millions. Under the system of adult franchise the poor and the rich, the literate and the illiterate, all have the right to vote and the right to get elected to parliament.
Over the years the law-making procedure has become complex and, therefore, requires training and special effort to be conversant with it. Familiarity with the procedure is an imperative for effective and purposeful participation in parliamentary debates. While in the past the earlier experience gained by our parliamentarians in the various representative institutions at the local level, stood them in good stead, in recent years many young leaders have become members of parliament, without any corresponding chance to get requisite training and exercise at the local or state level.
Association of young leaders with the parliamentary activities is good for the country, but their purposeful participation depends upon their acquaintance with the procedure. Even political parties have feel the need for training and orienting their youth legislators. In the light of this development the scheme of Youth Parliament should go a long way in equipping future legislators for their role in the country's parliament and state legislatures.
Holding of mock sessions of parliament in schools and colleges in the country is quite an old practice. In these mock parliaments, there are certain deficiencies which reduce their general usefulness and effectiveness. Firstly, the mock sessions are not held according to the laid down rules and conventions of parliament mainly because the concerned teachers are not conversant with these rules and conventions. Relevant material on the subject is also not available to the school. Secondly, non issues and very often imaginary issues are chosen for discussions and for the question hour. An attempt is often made to mock the whole procedure in such a way that it proves to be a downright entertainment. The mock session often proves to be a farcial drama. Consequently, its educative content and its potentiality as a great educative device is completely lost. ON many occasions it turns out to be a fancy dress show.
The tradition of holding mock sessions has to be taken advantage of and at the same time there is a need to eliminate the deficiencies of 'mock parliament' and give it a more educative content. From this point of view a scheme of 'Youth Parliament' has been launched.
The composition, powers and functions of the Indian parliament are generally included in the course of study at the middle, secondary and higher secondary stages of schooling Knowledge of its procedure helps in developing an insight into the working of parliament and therefore the session of Youth parliament have a special importance in developing such an insight in the young students.
Thus, the purposes of Youth Parliament are as follows:
1. To make students understand the parliamentary procedure.
2. To develop in students an insight into the working of parliament
3. To make students consider public issues and form their opinion on them.
4. To train students in the technique of group discussion
5. To develop in students an ability to arrive at a decision after group discussion.
6. To develop them in them respect and tolerance for the views of others.
7. To develop in them an understanding that respect for rules is essential for conducting any discussion systematically and effectively.
8. To train students in group behaviour.
9. To make students aware of various problems facing our society and the country.
10. To develop in students the quality of leadership.
11. To make students understand the common man's point of view and express it in an articulated manner.
Youth parliament program was organized in the guidance of Smt Shalini Kushwaha (TGT Social Science) at Vidyalaya level .