New Delhi, Oct. 16: If Rahul Gandhi takes his newfangled skill at public speaking to the Lok Sabha this winter session, he may find it easier to make himself heard, thanks to a Rs 6-crore sound system.
But Sachin Tendulkar, who should have more time to ask questions as Rajya Sabha MP after the November Test, will not discern any change as the Upper House hasn’t cleared funds for better amplifiers yet.
The installation of the Bosch-designed system in the Lok Sabha is the culmination of a long-winded process, one that began five years ago and even reached courts.
The Central Public Works Department (CPWD), which maintains Parliament House, got its first sanction from the Lok Sabha in 2008.
A global tender was floated and German companies Brahlar ICS — which had installed the existing system — and Bosch were shortlisted along with Denmark’s DIS.
DIS and Brahlar went to court alleging that the tender was tailor-made to suit Bosch alone. But the Supreme Court struck down the plea, and the contract went to Bosch last year for Rs 6 crore.
“Nearly 50 per cent of the work has been completed and we hope to install the entire system by November 19,” said a senior CPWD official.
Brahlar ICS had installed the existing system in 1996 at a cost of Rs 1.5 crore. CPWD officials said it had become old and prone to frequent snags.
“Normally, electronic equipment last seven to eight years and the sound system in the Lok Sabha had already exceeded that,” the CPWD official said. More important, Brahlar did not have a service centre in Delhi, which made servicing difficult and led to delays.
Bosch isn’t just promising better sound quality, it is also bringing hope of brighter, better electronic boards to display voting figures.
Giant plasma screens will replace the boards under the existing system that also saw members complain about voting buttons becoming too hard to press.
This led many MPs to claim their votes had not been recorded and of other irregularities. The new system is expected to minimise such problems, officials said.
Another area of improvement will be translation given that members are allowed to speak in any Indian language and the Parliament secretariat must provide interpretation services for the others.
In the earlier system, the interpreter sat in a glass box above the House floor and could hardly see the member speak. Under the new arrangement, the interpreter will be provided LCD monitors where they can see the member up close, enabling better translation.
Officials also promise other benefits. In the old system, cellphone signals sometimes disrupted the sound system. The new one promises to be free of such trouble. The use of cellphone isn’t permitted in the House but many members don’t follow the rule.
That does not mean Rahul can exclaim “nonsense!” — the word he chose to describe the aborted ordinance to protect convicted lawmakers — in the House. The word continues to be among those adjudged “unparliamentary”.