India’s healthy democratic practice and the Company’s Act 2013
In democracy, the party in government is known as the ruling party and the party or parties constituting the rest are called the opposition creating a phobia that the opposition is only to oppose measures taken by the government, notwithstanding the merit of the measures or steps so taken benefitting the country’s population at large. This is only the literal meaning of opposition which often times reflect in letter and spirit in the center and the state legislatures. But in a true democratic tradition, on many pro-people measures, party politics should take a back seat and ‘opposition’ should perform as ‘responsible opposition’ and not ‘opposition’ in the literal meaning of the term.
After all, what politics should be about and what the aim is to be of politics in democracy are the well being of people, sub-charged by a keen competition of political parties for giving the maximum benefits to people not draining of them their benefits and dues. Stalling the legislation is ‘the opposition power’, but letting it run is the responsibility of the ruling party as well as the opposition. With better coordination and tolerance, both the opposition and the ruling parties move forward with measures benefitting people.
Company’s Act 2013:
After all. It is for the people, by the people and for the people, both of them have come to the assemblies as their representatives and for them only should they think and work. The recent passages of the Companies Act of 1956 are a welcome step signifying tolerance and concern by the principal opposition of India for the people at large which have ended three days of acrimony and disruption in parliament. The bill has now been cleared by both the houses of parliament and is awaiting approval by the president which will come soon.
In this case, both sides have conceded something and accepted the best as all six suggestions made by the standing committee led by Mr. Yashwant Sinha of BJP were accepted and incorporated in the bill as amendments, creating a healthy democratic transition of tolerance and concern of the ruling party and the opposition alike. Now, it is but natural on our part to expect similar action, tolerance and concern for the people's representative on the coming measures contemplated by the government so as to show to the world of very high democratic values our MPs have.
Matters of public interest:
The ruling party in order to transact meaningful business in the parliament has made amends to the defense minister’s statement on the Indian soldier’s killing in the Poonch border and made a great comeback to reality in announcing that Pakistani soldiers are behind the ambush, in turn, ended the Parliament logjam by accepting Antony’s correction and allowed the passage of the company’s Bill, both sides showing that they are not politicizing on matters of public interest.
Similarly, broad agreement and consensus have been reached by the BJP and UPA government on the passage of the Food Security Bill, Land Acquisition Bill and 26 percentages permission in FDI which will come up in Parliament for legislation. It is high time that a few more bills enlisted for the parliament are dealt within a sense of accommodation and the onus is on the government and the opposition alike.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR):
Now, coming to the Company’s Act of 2013, awaiting President’s approval one of the major changes contemplated is making it mandatory for companies to spend at least two percentages of their average profits for the last three years towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities provided the profits are five cores of or more? With reasoned explanations, the companies failing to comply with CSR rules can avoid action including penalty. However, companies are free to choose areas of work for CSR. The second provision of the law makes it mandatory for companies to include one-third of their board as independent directors for a five-year term with, at least, one of the board members being a woman.
The corporation must come out clean on the salaries of the directors, showing the difference between their salaries with those of the average employees. Provisions for faster winding of firms also find inclusion in the Act. Term ‘fraud’ has been well-defined in the Act and provides for a class action suit as a key weapon for individual shareholders to take collective action against errant companies.
The Act has a provision for setting up special courts for speedy trial and stronger steps to put a halt to corporate ills and for transparency in corporate governance. Serious fraud investigation officers have been given more statutory powers to deal with corporate frauds. April to March of each year is now the corporate fiscal year uniformly with so much provision in the legislation; India has perhaps become the first country in the world to give a statutory tag to Corporate Social Responsibility spending.
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