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addresses at the conferment of the OUTSTANDING PARLIAMENTARIAN AWARDS
1997 AND 1998

A function to confer the Outstanding Parliamentarian Awards for the years 1997 and 1998 on Shri Pranab Mukherjee, member, Rajya Sabha and Shri S. Jaipal Reddy, member, Lok Sabha, respectively, was held on 17 December 1999 in the Central Hall of Parliament House.

The Vice-President of India and Chairman, Rajya Sabha, Shri Krishan Kant presented the Awards to Shri Pranab Mukherjee and Shri Jaipal Reddy. The Secretary-General, Lok Sabha, Shri G.C. Malhotra read out the Citations in respect of the Outstanding Parliamentarians. The function was addressed by the Vice-President, Shri Krishan Kant; the Prime Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee; the Speaker, Lok Sabha, Shri G.M.C. Balayogi; Shri Pranab Mukherjee and Shri S. Jaipal Reddy.

We reproduce below the texts of the Addresses delivered by the dignitaries on the occasion.

—Editor

ADDRESS BY THE SPEAKER, LOK SABHA,
SHRI G.M.C. BALAYOGi

Honourable Vice-President, Shri Krishan Kant, Honourable Prime Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Honourable Ministers, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Honourable Members of Parliament, Shri Jaipal, Distinguished Dignitaries and Ladies and Gentlemen:

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this function to present the Outstanding Parliamentarian Awards for 1997 and 1998, sponsored by the Indian Parliamentary Group, to Shri Pranab Mukherjee and Shri S. Jaipal Reddy, respectively, I am grateful to the Honourable Vice-President for having consented to present the Awards and address this august audience. I am also thankful to the Honourable Prime Minister for gracing this function and agreeing to address this distinguished gathering.

I am sure, it is a matter of immense satisfaction for all concerned that the Award is being given to two parliamentarians of great eminence who have enriched the discipline of parliamentary political science with their notable contributions in the House and outside.

Shri Pranab Mukherjee who gets the Award for 1997 is a charming and soft-spoken gentleman who has brought a quiet respect for politics through his clear and simple analysis and intellectual understanding of the issues before the nation. He is known for scholarly precision and perfection of his parliamentary work, both as member and Minister alike. Pranab da is a prolific writer too.

Shri Jaipal Reddy who gets the Award for 1998 is known for his quick repartee, sharp wit and deep wisdom which endear him to one and all. Even during his university days, Shri Jaipal Reddy exhibited all leadership qualities despite his physical disability which never came in his way of effective functioning. Groomed in the intellectual  tradition of free thinking, Jaipal Reddy distinguished himself as a member in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly. The experience gained there stood him in good stead in attaining a rare distinction in Parliament with his unmatched eloquence, aided by a sharp intellect that can analyse even the toughest issue with a quiet ease. His command over the language and elegance with which he speaks make him the envy of the best of speakers.

Both the Awardees have seen ups and downs in their political careers but never lost respect for parliamentary traditions. Whether on the Treasury Benches or in the Opposition, they have always strived to raise the level of debate in the House by logical presentation of their views with forceful arguments on the subject under discussion. They always abide by the Chair even if at times they may not entirely agree with its rulings. In this, they would always remain shining examples, worthy of emulation by the younger members. In these times when there is an impression that parliamentary standards are on the decline, the presence of stalwarts like Pranab Mukherjee and Jaipal Reddy is indeed reassuring.

Pranab da and Reddy garu held Ministerial positions in the Government with distinction and continue to play significant roles in national politics. All though, they have endeavoured to provide an able leadership and efficient management of the men and matters they dealt with. Shri Pranab Mukherjee’s expertise in economic and financial matters is acclaimed nationally and internationally and he has the rare distinction of being rated one of the best five Finance Ministers of the World in 1984. Shri Jaipal Reddy’s interaction with the media is an occasion celebrated by every journalist and as an articulate spokesman, he always excels. He can speak eloquently on any subject with equal ease and keep his audience captive. If there is any politician who has always come out of the tricky job of briefing the media with success, it is undoubtedly Shri Reddy.

After half a century of our experiment with parliamentary democracy today we are at the crossroads of political history, even as we are entering a new millennium. Our politics is getting increasingly polarised and our institutions are getting increasingly politicised. All this makes it difficult to see issues except through a thick political fog and the view is too hazy to give us any clear picture of the reality. Under such circumstances, we need the able guidance of wise men who can see issues as they are, analyse them dispassionately, even if differently, and give us a clear picture. Such men are not available in plenty and the few we find need to be felicitated, not because they need it, but for our own sake.

Shri Pranab Mukherjee and Shri Jaipal Reddy are two such men who have enriched our national life, parliamentary institutions and political traditions with their wide and varied contributions in public life. Therefore, it is only appropriate that they are being conferred today with the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award. This is just another feather in their cap. They are doing us an honour by accepting it and enhancing its dignity by receiving it. By conferring this honour on them, we are recording for future generations our appreciation of their perspective and philosophy and their endeavours to strengthen parliamentary processes, democratic traditions and political values in public life.

I congratulate the Indian Parliamentary Group on its wise choice and I commend the recipients for the honour they have done to the IPG. It is our fond hope that traditions such as this will go a long way in instilling certain basic values in the minds of the people involved in public life in order to uphold the dignity of institutions and promote the spirit of democracy and probity, which are so essential to strengthen our social fabric and political resolve to build a brave new India.

Thank you.

Subsequently, the Secretary-General, Lok Sabha, Shri G.C. Malhotra read out the Citation conferring the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award, 1997 on Shri Pranab Mukherjee.

 

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AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING PARLIAMENTARIAN, 1997

PRESENTED

TO

SHRI PRANAB MUKHERJEE, M.P.

BY

THE VICE-PRESIDENT OF INDIA

CITATION

SHRI PRANAB MUKHERJEE has been in the limelight of national politics for over three decades. All through these eventful years’, he has impressed the nation and the people with his intellectual prowess, courage of conviction and political sagacity. His has been a multifaceted personality—an original thinker, a visionary leader, an eminent economist and a front-ranking political leader.

 

Ever since he entered the portals of Parliament in 1969, SHRI PRANAB MUKHERJEE has served the Institution in various capacities, in the process lending his rich and varied expertise towards strengthening the foundations of democracy. His parliamentary career has been marked by a deep regard and profound respect for the Legislature’s traditions and conventions. He has consciously endeavoured to uphold the dignity and decorum of Parliament and always stressed the need for a healthy and vibrant Opposition. An embodiment of the best traditions of parliamentary democracy as it has evolved in our country, he is held in high esteem for his intrinsic strength and extraordinary commonsense  and wisdom. His deep understanding of the operational dynamics of the parliamentary polity, unwavering commitment to the basic tenets of healthy political pluralism and thorough grasp of the rules and procedures of the Houses of Parliament have facilitated his wide acceptance as a parliamentarian non pareil.

 

During his long innings in the political life of the nation, SHRI PRANAB MUKHERJEE has played a leading role in shaping appropriate responses to various momentous events and grave crises before its polity, economy and society at large. Suave and soft-spoken but firm and unflinching in his beliefs and principles, he has espoused the national cause in various international fora with a rare finesse and singular aplomb. His reasoned thoughts and cogent arguments on diverse issues have earned him wide approbation from far and wide. As Union Cabinet Minister holding key portfolios and also occupying crucial decision-making positions at the national level, he played a signal role in laying down policies and in actualizing formidable objectives.

A celebrated parliamentarian that he is, conscientiously and ceaselessly striving to fulfil the varied roles expected of a committed representative of the people, it is only befitting that the Indian Parliamentary Group should bestow the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award, 1997, on SHRI PRANAB MUKHERJEE.

 

Indian Parliamentary Group,

Parliament House,

New Delhi

December 17, 1999

Agrahayana 26, 1921 (Saka)

 

 

The Vice-President of India and Chairman, Rajya Sabha, Shri Krishan Kant then Conferred the Award on Shri Pranab Mukherjee.

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ADDRESS BY SHRI PRANAB MUKHERJEE

Respected Rashtrapatiji, Honourable Prime Minister, Honourable Speaker, Shri Jaipal Reddy and my fellow parliamentarians:

I express my gratitude to the Indian Parliamentary Group for conferring the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award on me for the year, 1997. I accept this distinction with humility. I feel proud and privileged to be associated with the galaxy of distinguished parliamentarians like Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee; former Prime Minister Shri Chandra Shekhar, Shri Indrajit Gupta and Shri Somnath Chatterjee who were selected for this award in the past.

The Parliament of India is a unique institution which not only functions as the Sovereign Legislature of India but also represents the aspirations of millions of people of this great country. When we enter the portals of this temple of democracy, we become the chosen servants of our people. Debating skills, command over language, mastery over facts, ready wit are all qualities to be a good member of Parliament. But more important than that is the commitment to the cause of the people and the devotion with which we serve that cause.

That the members of the Selection Committee had chosen me for this honour overwhelms me and I thank them for their generosity and kindness. In parliamentary democracy, governance is through the process of consent. The Executive requires the approval of Parliament for its actions and is accountable to the people through Parliament. Therefore, every member of Parliament has to give parliamentary work overriding priority over other business. People elect their representatives to voice their concerns not only on general issues but also on issues relating to their constituencies. It is not possible to solve the individual problems of every constituent but the common problems of the constituency have to be taken up for redressal. The political Executive and members must discharge their responsibilities.

Legislation and taxation are two major jobs of Parliament. Under our scheme of things, the Executive is totally dependent on Parliament, specially the Lok Sabha, on all matters relating to money and finance. The Executive cannot impose a levy or collect any tax, incur any expenditure or withdraw any money from the Consolidated Fund of India without the approval of Parliament. No law can be made by the Executive without the consent of Parliament. Therefore, parliamentarians must devote time and undertake their work with utmost seriousness. It is unfortunate that the role of Parliament in these matters has been diluted. It is not a healthy trend. In the early years, nearly two-thirds of the total time of Parliament was spent on legislation and Budget. But nowadays, not more than one-third of the total time is spent on these issues. This trend must be reversed.

With the introduction of the Parliamentary Standing Committee system, the scrutiny of Expenditure and Budget of various Departments have improved but the system requires to be made more effective. The time of Parliament must not be wasted on frivolous issues and disruption of parliamentary work should be avoided scrupulously. Interruptions and interventions permitted in parliamentary debate must be done in a dignified manner. Strict adherence to the rules framed for the conduct of orderly business in the House must be ensured. In this connection, we should observe in letter and spirit the declaration which we ourselves adopted in the Special Session held to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of our Independence.

Before concluding, I again thank the Selection Committee for bestowing this honour on me. It marks a high point in my quarter century stay in Parliament, specially so as it is for the first time this honour is being conferred on a serving member of the Rajya Sabha. This will inspire me to give my best to this august institution in the years to come.

Thank you,

The Secretary-General, Lok Sabha, Shri G.C. Malhotra, then read out the Citation conferring the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award, 1998 on Shri S. Jaipal Reddy.

The Vice-President of India and Chairman, Rajya Sabha, Shri Krishan Kant then Conferred the Award on Shri S. Jaipal Reddy.

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ADDRESS BY SHRI S. JAIPAL REDDY

Honourable Vice-President, Shri Krishan Kantji, Honourable Prime Minister Shri Atalji, our Honourable Speaker, Shri Balayogiji and Distinguished Colleagues :

The conferment of this coveted award has given me immense joy, what is more, immense job satisfaction. As a parliamentarian, I could not have asked for more. It has also given me some kind of trepidation. I have been amongst a more docile members of the Parliament. I am afraid, I will be further domesticated by this award. I hope and trust, the Treasury Benches will not try to tame me with the flaunting of this Award.

The Honourable Speaker has kindly referred to my physical disability. May I hasten to add that in my own career I have found my political non-conformity a greater handicap than physical deformity. It shall be my endeavour to utilise this Award not as one of the laurels to put on, nor as one of the oars to rest on, but as one of the spurs to move on.

This Parliament of ours is a big brain stormer. It is a great shock absorber. No one is equipped with such encyclopaedic erudition as to give more than what he can take from Parliament. It imparts two great virtues: one, intellectual modesty; the second, ideological moderation. All of us who come with our respective tunnel-vision to Parliament, go back with horizons broadened, with vision expanded. It was Shakespeare in Hamlet who said, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”.

The truth of this profound epistemological statement is hammered home everyday in Parliament when you encounter people who are more learned, more articulate, more erudite than yourself. Friends, I have found life beyond ‘Zero Hour’, which witnesses the din of partisan contention; I have found life not only to be voluminous but also to be luminous.

I am sure this life beyond Zero Hour can be made even more luminous if only the proceedings of post-Zero Hour are better reported. The image of a Parliament can go up with better reporting, I feel.

I do not like to take more of your time. I am indeed grateful to everyone concerned. I hope I will not allow myself to be tamed by the Award.

Thank you very much.

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ADDRESS BY THE PRIME MINISTER,
SHRI ATAL BIHARI VAJPAYEE

Respected Uprashtrapatiji, Honourable Speaker, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Shri S. Jaipal Reddy and my Distinguished
Colleagues in Parliament:

We have gathered here to confer the Outstanding Parliamentarian of the Year Award on Shri Pranab Mukherjee and Shri S. Jaipal Reddy, both of whom richly deserve this distinction. To recognise the honour and talent in both Houses of Parliament irrespective of party affiliations shows that the vibrancy of our parliamentary system reflects our commitment to democracy. This is all the more so at a time when democratic structures and parliamentary systems are facing crisis in some countries.

Friends, Parliament is the corner-stone of our Republic that will complete fifty years next month. What makes it more relevant is that it offers a platform for both Government and the Opposition to debate national issues. Parliament can also be a powerful instrument to forge consensus and cooperation. I have always held that governance, specially in a country as large and diverse as ours, is more than a question of parliamentary arithmetic. Effective governance is possible when Government and the Opposition work together to make parliamentary democracy a success.

Our Parliament has a tradition of informed, but at times heated debates. It is this debate that often helps Government to rectify and refine its policies. But no matter how heated the debate or how divergent the views of the Government and the Opposition are, the dignity and decorum need to be maintained. Otherwise Parliament cannot fulfil its role. Shri Mukherjee and Shri Reddy are two parliamentarians who have sat on both Treasury and Opposition benches. Irrespective of which bench they have sat on, they have participated in debates in their own inimitable styles. Shri Mukherjee is professorial, Shri Reddy is never at a loss for wit and humour. Both, however, come well informed, both can on occasions use barb with deadly effect, but rare is the occasion when they have not raised the level of parliamentary debate in which they have participated. Their reasoned arguments had helped members get a better understanding of the issues involved. Government too stands to gain from their contributions.

I have known Shri Mukherjee for many years. His vast experience in Government gives him an advantage which, I must say, he puts to good use now that he is in the Opposition. With nearly three decades of parliamentary experience to his credit, Shri Mukherjee enriches the Rajya Sabha with his presence. He richly deserves the Outstanding Parliamentarian of the Year Award for 1997.

Shri Jaipal Reddy is one of our younger colleagues having made his Parliament debut in 1984. It is indeed a fitting tribute to his skills as a parliamentarian. In this relatively short span of fifteen years, he has been selected for this Award for 1998. Both in the Lok Sabha and in the Rajya Sabha, Shri Reddy has demonstrated his ability to debate diverse issues with clarity, passion and wit. His robust interventions are ample evidence of the robust health of our Parliament.

I warmly congratulate him on being conferred this Award. I commend the Indian Parliamentary Group for instituting this Award. It is both in recognition of talent and an inspiration for others. Above all, it is a tribute to our parliamentary democracy.

Thank you.

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ADDRESS BY THE VICE-PRESIDENT OF INDIA AND CHAIRMAN, RAJYA SABHA, SHRI KRISHAN KANT

Honourable Prime Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee; the Honourable Speaker, Shri G.M.C. Balayogi, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Shri Jaipal Reddy, the former Awardees and the Winners, Shri Chandra Shekhar, Shri Indrajit Gupta, Shri Somnath Chatterjee, Honourable Members of Parliament and former Members of Parliament, and Ladies and Gentlemen;

We are assembled here today to honour two of our distinguished colleagues, Shri Pranab Mukherjee and Shri Jaipal Reddy and to acknowledge their contributions to the Parliament and the nation. The epithet, ‘Outstanding Parliamentarians’ could not have been more appropriately applied. Pranab Babu, as he is affectionately known and, Jaipal ji, are outstanding, not in similar ways but in ways quite uniquely dissimilar.

It is an uncommon capacity of the parliamentary institutions to allow commonality and uniqueness to subsist and prosper at the same time. To a lay observer, parliamentary institutions may appear singularly unmanageable, even disorderly, but to an alert observer, Parliament demonstrates an extraordinary capacity for resolution of contradictions, creation of common ground amidst conflicting ideologies and viewpoints. It is an outstanding reflecting surface for the nation’s moods.

Most outstanding parliamentarians share an extraordinary sensitivity to the moods of the nation. They become the Parliament’s lightning-rod to sensitise the nation’s highest Legislature to the expectations and dreams of the millions whose mandate gives them their legitimacy.

Several commentators have spoken about the worldwide decline of the Parliament as a truly representative institution. It is argued that the representative form of the legislative institutions are not sufficiently representative as the hiatus between the people and the institutions has been progressively widening. It is this hiatus which weakens democracy and saps vitality and energy from the institutions. The outstanding among us–men and women of exceptional talent, wisdom and vision–help narrow this hiatus and prevent the acute divergence between the parliamentary institutions and the general will.

I remember the Parliament in the early years of India’s Independence, when many members, both in the Government and the Opposition, were, what Pandit Nehru had called as the ‘children of the Indian revolution’. There were those who sleep-walked through their tenures in Parliament. Many contributed only sporadically but there were also those who attracted the attention of the contemporary generation—of admirers and critics alike—through their outstanding work. The names of Acharya Kripalani,  Shri Hiren Mukherjee, Prof. Ranga, Shri Nath Pal, Dr. Rammanohar Lohia, Shri H.V. Kamath, Pandit Govind Ballab Pant, Babu Purushottam Das Tandon, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee naturally come to mind. Shri M.C. Chagla records in his autobiography that these parliamentarians and several others were exceptional by any standard of reckoning. He notes that the best parliamentary speakers were more in the Opposition
Benches than in the Treasury. Prof. Hiren Mukherjee, a great parliamentarian himself, in his Memoirs, lavishes fulsome praise on many of his contemporaries. With their views and ideologies, he strongly differed and yet he deeply admired their work. He calls Shri Syama Prasad Mookerjee, for whose ideology, Prof. Hiren Mukherjee had no compassion–the most accomplished of Indian parliamentarians.

The outstanding among the parliamentarians have their own distin-guished way of making their mark. When we speak of Pranab Babu, the picture of a vastly experienced man, extremely well-read and well-versed in parliamentary business and practices, with a sharp eye for detail, readily comes to mind.

This picture emerges from how he is generally seen and heard in public and on the floor of Parliament. But there is another side of him which surfaces during small meetings, the likes of which the Presiding Officers often hold in their Chambers. In this, you see a Pranab Babu willingly offering his advice and his services to subserve the larger interests of parliamentary business, decorum and dignity. He effortlessly rises above narrow political considerations, without ever weakening the commitment to his Party and his ideology–the hallmark of a redoubtable parliamentarian.

Shri Jaipal Reddy has reasoned eloquence as his forte. Very
often you hear his opponents attacking his position with the prefix, ‘this is not the Jaipal Reddy we know’. It is said, reason is an intellectual’s strength, as well as his weakness. But such is Shri Jaipal Reddy’s personality that his opponents admire him regardless of whether they score a point against him or when he scores a point against them. His long innings in the politics of Andhra Pradesh has endowed his considerable qualities of mind with uncanny perceptions about the life in rural India.

Both Pranab Babu and Jaipal Reddy are no prisoners of dogma. They are pragmatic politicians, to whom the nation’s interest is paramount. While they were in the Government, both were valued for their skills in administration and their capacity for innovative but pragmatic policies, as well as their power of persuading others to their own viewpoint.

I think one distinguishing mark of a great parliamentarian is that his or her point of view is appreciated even by those who differ with them. In Parliament, you soon come to realise that everything and its opposite is true. Democracy creates chasm between political beliefs and then, with equal ease, facilitates construction of a bridge over them. The Outstanding Parliamentarians, the exceptional public figures, are the keystones of the bridge-arch.

It is interesting that Outstanding Parliamentarians chose some very distinguished methods for making their presence felt. Shri S. Satyamoorthy, before Independence, specialised in asking supplementaries and was nicknamed ‘Supplementary Satyamoorthy’. But his supplementaries were of one line or two lines, at the most. Shri Madhu Limaye made points of order a formidable weapon in his armoury. Shri H.V. Kamath became known for his ‘amendments’, prompting Prof. Hiren Mukherjee to draw a comparison between Shri Kamath’s idol, Netaji Bose and Shri Kamath himself in these words: “Some are born to shake empires and some to move amendments.”

Indian Parliament has surprised even those with profound knowledge about the working of parliamentary institutions. There is a certain distinguishing uniqueness about the Indian Parliament which shapes the role of its leading members, in ways far different from other similar institutions elsewhere in the world. Perhaps, this uniqueness derives from the topical Indian trait of consensus and compromise in the interest of larger causes. Morris Jones, that fine observer of Indian Parliament, expressed bewilderment at the main Opposition Group in the early Parliament of India, being the essentially non-parliamentary Communist Party. Western observers were amazed, sometimes even dismayed, that the nation’s highest Legislature never felt threatened by the streets. The Left and the Right would argue, differ, threaten and yet, when it came to the nation’s larger interests, shook hands. It is people like Shri Pranab Mukherjee and Shri Jaipal Reddy who give expression to our core value of consensus and co-existence in order to attain their compromise for larger objectives.

Lord Halifax once cynically observed that state business was a cruel trade and good nature was a bungler in it. In the Indian Parliament, good nature is never derided. On the contrary, it is admired and respected. Much of the respect which Shri Mukherjee and Shri Reddy receive from colleagues is for their outstanding qualities as human beings–honest, sympathetic, considerate and sincere. People with such qualities do not necessarily have to speak to be heard; the language of their silence at times is, in itself, sufficiently eloquent.

For the outstanding members, Parliament is an exceptional opportunity for service. They do not establish a dialogue with history but, as Nehru once said, are grateful for the opportunity to serve. Such parliamen-tarians shun grandiose posturing aimed at catching the next day’s newspaper headlines. Their silent work does far more than the rabble-rousers’ vituperation. One man who immediately comes to mind is Shri E.M.S. Namboodripad. He was rated as a force in legislative debates and exchanges, in spite of a life-long speech impairment.

These Outstanding Parliamentarians remind us that reason and temperance in speech are far more powerful and effective than decibel levels and aggressive mannerisms. A Hiren Mukherjee, a Kriplani, a Dange or a Hirdaya Nath Kunzru could make themselves heard even when they never raised their voice beyond a decent level. Others could raise theirs and yet went unnoticed. Civility is a universally admired virtue.

I congratulate both my colleagues for receiving this distinction which shall be the last in this Millennium. May their example inspire us all.