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India’s Silenced Parliament

With India facing a raging pandemic, an economic crisis, and mounting security threats, its parliament has a vital job on its hands when it reconvenes in mid-September. But the legislature risks being reduced to a noticeboard for the decisions of a government that does not like to be questioned.

NEW DELHI – After a nearly six-month hiatus, the Indian parliament will reconvene in mid-September at a time of deepening national crisis. But I fear that it may be unable to hold the country’s failing government to account.

Parliament is obliged to meet now, because India’s constitution limits the gap between sessions to six months, and the COVID-19 pandemic has forced all sessions to be suspended since March. With 4.5 million cases to date, India is now the world’s second worst-affected country, surpassing Brazil and Russia and behind only the United States.

Moreover, infection rates are rising, especially in rural areas where testing had not been adequately extended earlier. Fortunately, the COVID-19 mortality rate remains relatively low, at 55 per million people, representing just 1% of deaths from all causes.