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Lobbying is a very misconceived notion. It is the process of influencing the government at any level, whether administrative or executive, state or central or influencing a policy making procedure. It is an advocacy of opinions and thoughts that could potentially affect the decision made by the authorities.

This concept is often misapprehended as professional bribery. It is sad that it is co joined with that term. Some developed countries and developing countries have recognized this as a profession while some have made laws to legalize it, however India still stands at a position where this activity takes place, but the question of it being a positive act or not still hangs in the air.

In 2013, a Lok Sabha MP from Orrisa introduced a bill to regulate lobbying but it stands still just as everything else that is not understood by the people in power. Questions were raised and the authorities in power contemplated, in the end their defense was that it goes against the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 as according to the said act, bribery is strictly prohibited.

The basic structure of our constitution works as the backbone of the world's largest democracy, and any step taken in the contravention of so should be struck down, but in the complex process of understanding the wrong and right, even the dictionary definition, let alone the legal definition, that differentiates between the both was left unseen. A monetary transaction for the personal benefit of an individual is what qualifies as bribery where any act performed in the benefit of public interest is lobbying.

If we look at the reality, in every corner of this country there will always be someone misusing the chair for their personal gain by using money and influencing politics and law even though there is a law against bribery. This is something that is almost impossible to prevent in the current scenario. Countries like Canada, Poland, Taiwan, United States of America and Australia have legalized this activity and on the other hand countries like United Kingdom and Ireland have recognized Lobbyists and legalized this profession.

A mere right of speech and vocalizing interests which would be regulated and directed for the public in no way is a personal gain for an individual. Perhaps it's the regulation which is a hurdle as it would require time and resources but as we are aware that we have the largest constitution which means more laws governing comparative to other countries, no matter how strict the supervision at some point or other it is bound to be misused.

Instead of ignoring this activity and claiming it to be bribery, shouldn't it be recognized and used as a tool for benefit?
As one of the most debated topics, the words 'modern democracy' is brought up a lot. It has been stated that legalizing Lobbying could be a threat to modern democracy. In a country where an individual, who is in a position to influence the state under some limitations and directions, for the purpose of the state is in no way a harm.

Yes, a misuse is always possible but which right can't be misused?
There is always a possibility of it as there is a thin line between the both and that thin line consists of checks and balances, but the basic difference is that one represents 'buying power' whereas the other represents influencing the power. According to me, in a way the act celebrates democracy and recognizes an individual to speak of an interest in a certain scope. It is not performed under the table.

Let's take for example:
Triple Talaq, a very well-known and discussed topic in this culturally diverse nation. BMMA (Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan) stood against this discriminatory act happening against Muslim women and did everything in their power to influence the government to illegalize Triple Talaq. Women like Shayra Banno, Aafreen Rehman, Ishrat Jahan and many more who were subjected to this discrimination were provided with support and when Triple Talaq was banned, they were given justice.

BMMA worked as a lobbyist, yes and it resulted in the favour of public interest. BMMA supported and advocated for Hindu women in case of Shani Shingnapur Temple, where women were not allowed to enter. The organs of our government also work in checks and balances. The public servants work for the protection and implementation of law.

Because it goes without saying and is well understood that where there is a right, there will be responsibility and limitations and there will be people to exploit it but then there will also be a remedy. That is how a democratic system works.

Why has this principle been ignored in case of Lobbying?
The very first step of recognition has not taken place yet. It is known that this act is performed but no law has been made to legalize it and none has been made that illegalizes it. Abrogation of Art 370, one of the most strained times.

Both the sides had very diplomatically kept forward their interests to the central government. What we fail to understand is, the older the democracy, older the activity of lobbying. So, the statement that modern democracy may be harmed does not make sense, because if we look back at our history, some of the greatest decisions were not single mindedly taken but were instead influenced and given a direction.

If the democracy has somehow modernized with time, then why haven't the ideas? Democracy has the same elucidation it had when the Greeks developed the idea and shaping decisions in favour of public dates back to that same ancient time. Citizenship Amendment Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha by Amit Shah and very soon it became Citizenship Amendment Act 2019.

The bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha with 125 voted in favour of the bill and 105 were against the bill. Many people including some high signatories and many organizations who were against it played the role of lobbyists along with those who were in favour of it and they simply performed an act of campaign in order to influence the members of legislation to favour their interests instead of the other group. No monetary transaction that benefitted a single person took place. The difference between bribery and lobbying is oceans away from being opaque.

Democracy has been recognized and adopted whereas lobbying, which comes hand in hand with it, is performed but is rejected at the same time. It is time that the respected people sitting in authority acknowledge this fact. As we progress and move forward with time, we carry and develop new professions, but one which dates back to history should definitely not be neglected and dismissed.

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Kanika Dutt
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