- Climate Change
- Water and Sanitation
- Monsoon Management
- Agrarian Crisis
These are just some of the several issues covered in about 30 lectures that have been organised by the Lok Sabha for our Members of Parliament in the last decade.
Contrast this with the event that Haryana Assembly hosted on 26 August in Chandigarh - a sermon by a Digambara Jain (a Jain sect that believes that the sky is enough to cover their bodies and refuse to wear clothes) monk in which, not one but several of, his parochial views were aired and endorsed.
What wrong did musician Vishal Dadlani commit in saying that this was a mockery of democracy.
The monk, Tarun Sagar, addressed the assembly on the first day of the Monsoon Session. He was seated on a dais that was positioned above the seats of the MLAs, the Speaker, who is the supreme authority with respect to all matters pertaining the House and even the Governor, the constitutional head of the state.
If that was not enough, Sagar's sermon itself was feudal, patriarchal and anti-democratic.
Even though he had been invited by the government, the entire House listened to his sermon in rapt attention! Now if that doesn't qualify to be mocked, then what does?
Some of Sagar's views are downright silly and deserve condemnation even if they would have been aired at a private gathering of his followers.
That he was invited to say this in an elected house is especially unfortunate.
Going against not just the spirit of the Constitution of India but the entire democratic ethos, Sagar firmly placed religion over politics and even drew a misogynistic analogy to illustrate his point.
KEJRIWAL'S RAP ON DADLANI'S KNUCKLES
Dadlani - singer, songwriter, music director and formerly a very vocal member of the Aam Aadmi Party - was quick to slam this disgraceful event.
The tweet that he was forced to delete carried a clever pun on the words "monk" and "mockery" of democracy.
The hashtags were hilarious but a bit too clever by half considering that mainstream politicians would have refrained from such comments, even if they would have criticised the event. So, Dadlani could have been chided for those.
But what happened instead was a shocking statement from AAP Chief Arvind Kejriwal
Kejriwal didn't just stop there. He went on to disclose completely unnecessary information that he knows Sagar personally and his family listens to his discourses on television regularly.
Does Kejriwal "deeply respect" Sagar's views that "religion is husband and politics is wife"? Or that "religion must be used to restrain politics"? Or that "it is every wife's duty to accept the discipline laid down by the husband"? Or that "ek baar galti kare wo agyaan, do baar nadaan, teen baar shaitan and jo baar baar galti kare wo Pakistan!"
SO, DOES KEJRIWAL ENDORSE SAGAR'S VIEWS?
We don't know what does the Delhi chief minister feel about the monk's golden words because he didn't tell us. He made no comment on the inappropriateness of a religious leader delivering a retrograde sermon inside the assembly.
What he only chose to comment on was Dadlani's mocking it.
The message was clear - that the monk must not be mocked and that this stand needed to be put out in the public domain with emphasis.
Three things are clear from Kejriwal's defence of Sagar and his sermon -
The AAP chief is no different from the Haryana government and all those MLAs who respectfully lent their ears without raising an eyebrow.
Arvind Kejriwal has no qualms about mixing his personal religious beliefs with his politics.
Kejriwal wants all members of his party to also share his set of beliefs and if they don't - they should just shut up.
Dadlani is a gritty character and it is surprising that he chose to meekly surrender by apologising for his tweet and also quitting the party.
Though he did add a rider to his apology, tweeting that his problem was with "religion in governance".