The Parliamentary Forums, which was first constituted in 2005, mainly aimed at providing a platform and forum of discussion to the members of Parliament to interact with the minister (concerned with the topic for which the forum is constituted, for ex- Health Minister), the experts and key officials from the nodal ministries with a view to have a focused and meaningful discussion on critical issues with a result-oriented approach for speeding up the implementation process.
As these forums include experts from both the country and abroad, they provide adequate information to the members of Parliament about the key areas of concern of the subject of discussion. So after being equipped with the latest information, knowledge, and technical know-how, the members are enabled to raise these issues effectively on the Floor of the House and in meetings of the Departmentally-Related Standing Committees (DRSCs).
These Forums also prepare a data-base with the help of data on critical issues from ministries concerned, newspapers, the internet, United Nations, reliable NGOs, etc. So, by having a better understanding of the issue concerned, the members could meaningfully participate in the discussions of the forums and seek clarifications from experts or officials from the Ministry Present in the meetings.
Different Parliamentary Forums
The First Parliamentary forum in India was constituted in 2005, which was the Parliamentary Forum on Water Conservation and Management. At present, there are 8 Parliamentary Forums:
- Parliamentary Forum on Water Conservation and Management (2005)
- Parliamentary Forum on Youth (2006)
- Parliamentary Forum on Children (2006)
- Parliamentary Forum on Population and Public Health (2006)
- Parliamentary Forum on Global Warming and Climate Change (2008)
- Parliamentary Forum on Disaster Management (2011)
- Parliamentary Forum on Artisans and Crafts-People (2013)
- Parliamentary Forum on Millennium Development Goals (2013)
- The Speaker of the Lok Sabha is the ex-officio President of all the Parliamentary Forums except the Parliamentary Forum on Population and Public Health.
- The ex-officio President of the Parliamentary Forum on Population and Public Health is the Chairman of Rajya Sabha, whereas the President is the ex-officio Co-President.
- The Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, the Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, the concerned ministers, and the Chairman of Departmentally-Related Standing Committees are the ex-officio Vice-Presidents of the respective forums.
- Each forum may consist of a maximum of 31 members (excluding the President, Co-President, and Vice-Presidents). Out of these 31 members, a maximum of 21 members could be from the Lok Sabha, and a maximum of 10 members are from the Rajya Sabha.
- Members, other than the President, Co-President, and Vice-President of these forums are nominated by the Speaker/Chairman from amongst the leaders of various political parties/groups or their nominees, who have special knowledge/keen interest in the subject.
- The duration of the office of the members is co-terminus with their membership in the respective Houses. A member may also resign from the forum by writing to the Speaker/Chairman.
- The President of the forum appoints a member-convener for each forum to conduct regular, approved programs/meetings of the forum in consultation with the President.
- The meetings of the forums are held from time to time, and as may be necessary, during the Parliament Sessions.
Functions of the Parliamentary Forums
We’d be discussing, in brief, the principal functions of the different Parliamentary Forums-
Parliamentary Forum on Water Conservation and Management
The principal function of this forum is to identify the problems relating to water and make suggestions or recommendations for consideration and appropriate action by the Government and the organizations concerned. Moreover, the forum also organizes seminars and workshops to create awareness for conservation and efficient management of water.
Parliamentary Forum on Youth
The main function of this forum is to deliberate upon the strategies to leverage human capital in the youth for accelerating development initiatives. And to develop awareness among the public leaders and at the grassroots level about the potential of youth for effecting socio-economic change.
Moreover, the members of the forum also interact with the youth representatives and leaders in order to better appreciate their hopes, aspirations, concerns, and problems.
The forum also considers the ways for improving Parliament’s outreach to different sections of youth in order to reinforce their faith and commitment to democratic institutions and encourage their active participation in democratic activities.
Parliamentary Forum on Children
Their function is to enhance awareness and attention of the Parliamentarians towards critical issues affecting children’s well-being so that they may provide due leadership to ensure their rightful place in the development process. And to provide a platform to the Parliamentarians to exchange ideas, views, experiences, expert practices in relation to children, in a structured manner, through workshops, seminars, orientation programs, etc.
They also work to enable the Parliamentarians to interact in an institutionalized manner with the specialized UN agencies like the UNICEF and other comparable multilateral agencies on expert reports, studies, news and trend analyses, etc.
Parliamentary Forum on Population and Public Health
The Parliamentary Forum on Population and Public Health deliberates on strategies related to population stabilization and matters concerned with it. They also discuss and prepare strategies concerning Public Health.
The Forum is involved in creating greater awareness in all sections of the society, particularly at the grassroots level regarding population control and public health. They also interact with international organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Population Fund, and the academicians and government agencies concerned with the issue.
Parliamentary Forum on Global Warming and Climate Change
The main function of this forum is to identify the problems relating to global warming and climate change and makes suggestions and recommendations for consideration and appropriate action by the Government/Organization concerned to reduce the extent of global warming.
They deliberate upon the ways to involve the members of Parliament to interact with specialists of national and international bodies working on global warming and climate change with increased effort to develop new technologies to mitigate global warming. Moreover, they are also involved in finding ways to involve the members of Parliament to spread awareness to prevent global warming and climate change.
Parliamentary Forum on Disaster Management
The forum is involved in identifying problems related to disaster management and making suggestions and recommendations for consideration and appropriate action by the Government/Organizations concerned to reduce the effects of disasters.
They discuss and find ways to involve the members of Parliament to interact with the specialists of National and International Bodies working on disaster management with an increased effort to develop new technologies to mitigate the effect of disasters. And to discuss the ways to involve the members of Parliament to spread awareness about disaster management.
Parliamentary Forum on Artisians and Craftspeople
The main function of this forum is to enhance awareness and attention to Parliamentarians towards critical issues affecting artisans and craftspeople so as to preserve and promote traditional art and crafts through various mechanisms. The forum provides a platform for the Parliamentarians to exchange ideas, views, experiences, expertise, and best practices in relation to artisans and craftspeople, in a structured manner, through Workshops, Seminars, Orientation Programmes, etc.
The forum provides Parliamentarians an interface with civil society for highlighting issues related to craftspeople and artisans, including inter-alia, the Voluntary Sector, Media and Corporate Sector and thereby to foster effective strategic partnerships in this regard.
They also enable the Parliamentarians to interact in an institutionalized manner with the representatives of various union ministries, Government Organizations like Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), the Council for Advancement for People’s Action and Rural Technology (CAPART), Coir Board, and other related Organizations. Moreover, the forum holds discussions on matters such as the preservation of art and traditional craft and the promotion of artisans and craftspeople with experts and organizations at the national and international levels.
Parliamentary Forum on Millennium Development Goals
The function of this forum is to review and enhance awareness and attention of the Parliamentarians towards critical issues which have a bearing on the achievements of goals set under Millenium Development Goals by 2015.
They provide the Parliamentarians an interface with civil society for highlighting issues related to Millenium Development goals such as eradication of poverty, hunger, achievement of universal primary education, reduction of child mortality, promotion of gender equality, and empowerment of women, combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.
The Forum helps the Parliamentarians to interact in an institutionalized manner with the specialized UN agencies and other comparable multilateral agencies, studies, expert reports, news, and trend analyses, etc, regarding the achievement of millennium development goals.