Deepening Democracy: Need for Capacity Building
Like any other organization, in the case of democratic institutions too, officers and staff working in the Legislative Bodies require training and exposure to acquaint themselves with the latest developments, so that they can assist elected representatives to perform their manifold roles efficaciously. Parliamentarians of today have varied functions to perform, apart from their conventional representational role, more so in the context of the Parliament itself evolving as a multi-functional institution. Parliamentarians have to be well-versed with issues like the primacy of Parliament in a democratic polity, procedural mechanisms available to them to raise matters on the floor of the House, practices and procedures of the Parliamentary Committees, privileges of members and the House, parliamentary conventions, traditions and etiquette, etc., if they have to emerge as effective representatives. They also have to be thoroughly familiar with the importance of bicameralism, the legislative and budgetary processes, Legislature-Executive relations and the relationship among the Organs of State. Besides, they have to have a sound understanding of the functional dynamics of parliamentary institutions, how to secure Executive accountability to the Legislature in all its manifestations and the pulls and pressures of democratic politics.
All these call for continuous efforts to facilitate capacity building among members of Parliament, besides parliamentary staff. This becomes all the more important in an increasingly information-driven world order wherein the utmost emphasis has to be laid on the development of informed parliamentarians, and parliamentary officials who can adequately support them. Since effective and efficient working of Parliaments calls for constant upgrading of the skills of the parliamentary staff in particular, there is a need for their extensive as well as intensive training. Such measures will assist Members of Parliament and parliamentary staff to maintain the highest standards of professional excellence.
It has also to be appreciated that there are various stakeholders who make a parliamentary democracy work successfully. Besides parliamentarians and parliamentary staff, these stakeholders include the media, the Civil Service, the academic community, including students, and the citizens at large. In the course of its evolution, parliamentary democracy has evolved several highly specialized procedures and processes, of which legislators, policy-makers, administrators and others should have a good knowledge. And it is only the institution of Parliament, which can impart such knowledge to all stakeholders of democracy. Thus, the onerous task of conducting relevant studies and enabling the required orientation and training of the stakeholders primarily falls on the Parliament itself.