Select Speeches and Writings of Nehru

We chose it also – let us give credit where credit is due – because we approved of its functioning in other countries, more especially the United Kingdom.

So, this Parliament and the Lok Sabha became to some extent like the British Parliament and the British House of Commons, in regard to our rules of procedure and methods of work.

Parliamentary democracy demands many virtues. It demands, of course, ability. It demands a certain devotion to work. But it demands also a large measure of co-operation, of self-discipline, of restraint. It is obvious that a House like this cannot perform any functions without a spirit of co-operation, without a large measure of restraint and self-discipline in each group. Parliamentary democracy is not something which can be created in a country by some magic wand. We know very well that there are not many countries in the world where it functions successfully. I think it may be said without any partiality that it has functioned with a very large measure of success in this country. Why ? Not so much because we, the Members of this House, are examplars of wisdom, but, I think, because of the background in our country, and because our people have the spirit of democracy in them.

We have to remember what parliamentary democracy means, more so in this time of change and ferment than in ordinary times. Even when the old order is good, it has to yield place to a new one, lest one good custom should corrupt the world. Change there must be, change there has to be, particularly in a country like India which was more or less changeless for a long time, changeless not only because the dynamic aspect of the country was limited, restricted and confined by foreign domination, but also because we had fallen into ruts of our own making, in our minds, in our social framework and the rest. So we had to take our souls out both from the ruts and from the disabilities and restrictions caused by alien rule. We had to make rapid changes in order to catch up.

But, while change is necessary, there is another quality that is also necessary – a measure of continuity. There has always to be a balancing of change and continuity. Not one day is like another. We grow older each day. Yet, there is continuity in us, unbroken continuity in the life of a nation. It is in the measure that these processes of change and continuity are balanced that a country grows on solid foundations. If there is no change and only continuity, there is stagnation and decay. If there is change only and no continuity, that means uprooting, and no country and no people can survive for long if they are uprooted from the soil which has given them birth and nurtured them.

The system of parliamentary democracy embodies these principles of change and continuity. And it is up to those who function in this system, Members of the House and the numerous others who are part of this system, to increase the pace of change, to make it as fast as they like, subject to the principle of continuity. If continuity is broken we become rootless and the system of parliamentary democracy breaks down. Parliamentary democracy is a delicate plant and it is a measure of our own success that this plant has become sturdier during these last few years. We have faced difficult and grave problems, and solved many of them; but many remain to be solved. If there are no problems, that is a sign of death. Only the dead have no problems; the living have problems and they grow by fighting with problems and overcoming them. It is a sign of the growth of this nation that not only do we solve problems, but we create new problems to solve.

Speech in Lok Sabbha, March 28, 1957