Identifying Promising Parliamentarians: Child and Adolescent Welfare

The Constitution of India does not clearly define the role of Parliamentarians. However, through their position, MPs have the opportunity to catalyse change on both, the policy and the development front. Each MP brings their own expertise to the house through their understanding of Government machinery. Swaniti has interacted with a large, diversified pool of Member of Parliament (MPs) and has observed that most Parliamentarians demonstrate a strong interest in delivering development at the grassroots level. Some engage actively in addressing developmental concerns in Parliament floor and become ‘champions’ of change, while others possess the resources, will and influence to drive sustainable impact. These distinct groups become even more pronounced with respect to initiating steps in understanding and catering the issues around child and adolescent rights and welfare. Using Swaniti’s experience and prior engagements with elected representatives, a strategy has been adopted in order to engage MPs in discussions around issues focusing on overall development of children and adolescent, with specific focus on health, nutrition, education, WASH and protection.

In order to distinguish champion MPs, the identification framework evaluates parameters under a broad component of MPs’ engagements in Parliament. The attempt is to quantify efforts made by MPs towards their legislative duties. The analysis involves an in-depth assessment of each avenue that can be chosen by Parliamentarians to drive change; and subsequently aims to provide a comprehensive evaluation of these parameters deliberated together. This evaluation uses an integrated framework consisting of publicly available and frequently updated data, disaggregated to the level of the MP with objective information on their engagements in child  and adolescent welfare. 

Methodology

Data has been collected for each of the metrics for both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs separately, excluding both Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of State and recently resigned MPs from Parliament. Moreover, members of the two houses have been evaluated separately to accommodate varying time intervals and forms of data. For instance, data on questions asked by MPs in the Parliament is available across varying time intervals for Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. In order to account for the difference in time, MPs from the two houses have been assessed as separate groups keeping the parameters same. While Lok Sabha MPs have been evaluated for the 16th Lok Sabha from July 2014 to July 2018, Rajya Sabha MPs have been evaluated for the period from Session 239 to 246 i.e. 25.04.2016 to 10.08.2018 as 1/3rd of Rajya Sabha MPs retire every two years. The aim here was to maintain consistency with respect to the time period for the Rajya Sabha MPs.

While scoring, individual questions/debates/Private Member Bills (PMBs) have been marked 1 or 0.5; 1 for items that were directly and critically related to child and adolescent welfare and 0.5 for those that were partially important to the issue of child and adolescent welfare. The data collected across the ministries and section are focused on the issues of children and adolescents. The team identified keywords that cover the issue around child and adolescent health, education, WASH, malnutrition and protection. For instance, questions focusing on child nutrition/malnutrition such as questions around ICDS, malnourishment, ante-natal, schemes focusing on these areas (Mid-day Meal) were allotted scored. Similarly, PMBs focusing the five priority areas were scored in the range of 1 and 0.5. Similar procedure was followed for scoring officials debates both for Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. 

Once MPs had been scored for each metric, these scores have been internally normalised so as to equalise the importance of each metric. For instance, while the highest score in the Lok Sabha for ‘questions raised’ was 56, the maximum for ‘PMBs’ was just 6. Without normalisation, the framework would assign undue and disproportionate importance to ‘questions raised’. Finally, weightage has been assigned to each metric using the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP). AHP is a technique widely used in fields such as Government, business, industry, healthcare and others, for analysing complex decisions. It is based on principles of mathematics and psychology. To read more please click here. 

For example, if MP XYZ has asked 32 questions on child welfare and the top performer under questions has asked 64 questions; MP XYZ will be given a score of 0.5 under Questions. In the same way, the MP’s score is calculated and normalised for each vertical. Parallely, an Analytic Hierarchy Process is used to assign importance and weightage to each vertical. Finally, the MP’s score under each vertical is multiplied by corresponding weightage and summed up to obtain the final score. 

Assuming that MP XYZ has asked 32 questions, initiated 2 debates, introduced 6 private member bills, and has an attendance of 98 percent; the MP will obtain normalised scores of 0.5, 0.222, 1 and 0.978 respectively. These scores are then multiplied by the weights for each vertical, 19 percent, 27, percent, 47 percent and 6 percent respectively – which add up to give a final score of 0.683. The final scores of all MPs are then ranked to select the top performers. 

For further details on the process, methodology, parameter and AHP system, please click here