Lok Sabha updates April 5, 2022 | House discusses Ukraine situation

Following two adjournments today after Opposition benches sloganeering on the recent fuel price hikes, the Lower House took up for discussion, the situation in Ukraine under Rule 193. Congress MP Manish Tewari and RSP MP from Kollam N.K. Premachandran expressed their concerns with regard to the evacuation operations and managing foreign policy from both diplomatic and economic standpoints. Petroleum Minister Hardeep Puri defended India’s evacuation mission in Ukraine, calling Op Ganga one of the best missions carried out anywhere.

Here are the latest updates:

7:51 p.m.

Shiv Sena MP demands Bharat Ratna for Birsa Munda

Rajendra Dhedya Gavit, Shiv Sena MP from Palghar in Maharashtra, demands Bharat Ratna for Birsa Munda for his contributions towards the tribal communities.

Bhatruhari Mahtab, BJD MP from Cuttack, asks for reservation for several tribes and castes in Odisha.

7:30 p.m.

What is ‘The Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2022’?

‘The Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2022’, already passed in the Rajya Sabha, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on April 5, 2022. 

The Bill amends: (i) the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 (the SC Order), and (ii) the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950 (the ST Order). The SC Order specifies the castes, races and tribes deemed to be Scheduled Castes (SCs) in various states and union territories (UTs). The ST Order specifies the tribes and tribal communities which are deemed to be Scheduled Tribes (STs) in various states and UTs.

Changes to the lists of SCs and STs in Jharkhand: The Bill amends the Schedule to the ST Order to include certain communities in the list of STs in Jharkhand. These are the Deshwari, Ganjhu, Dautalbandi (Dwalbandi), Patbandi, Raut, Maajhia, Khairi (Kheri), Tamaria (Tamadia), and Puran communities. Further, the Schedule to the SC Order is being amended to omit the Bhogta community from the list of SCs in Jharkhand. The community is instead being included in the list of STs in the State. - PRS 

7:15 p.m.

Everything boils down to election maneuvering and election strategy: DMK’s Senthikumar S.

“Whatever we see is appeasement and not being done for upliftment,” alleges DMK MP from Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu Senthikumar S., saying “similar Bill on Tripura was brought last week”.

7:00 p.m.

Suresh Kodikunnil calls for solving the real SC/ST issues

The Congress MP from Kerala said it is not wrong to add new communities to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe lists, but one must understand the real problems being faced by the SC/ST communities acrross the country.

Stating that the rights of Scheduled Tribes are under threat, he gave the example of the Par Tapi and Narmada River Linking Project, saying that the State government decided to go ahead with the project despite grassroot protests.

“This ecological disaster is likely to lead to the displacement of thousands of Adivasis, but the Tribal Affairs Minister is keeping quiet...so what is the Ministry’s role in protecting the interests of the tribal community?”

6:51 p.m.

Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda moves The Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2022, for consideration and passing

6:35 p.m.

General V.K. Singh intervenes in debate on Ukraine

The MoS for Civil Aviation says no one is here to seek credit; neither our External Affairs Minister wants credit, nor do those who went to Ukraine to evacuate citizens.

“As far as policy issues are concerned, the government has worked since 2014 to instil confidence among the public and the Indian diaspora that if something goes wrong, the Indian Government will always be prepared to help them.”

To the MPs raising examples of previous evacuations conducted by India, Mr. Singh says every situation is different and cannot be compared.

Talking about the civilian evacuation, he says that it is not a matter of taking credit but arrangements in neighbouring countries of Ukraine were made possible due to the talks PM Modi held with foreign heads of state.

Talking about the conflict, the Minister says war situations result in a lot of disinformation and different media show different picutres, but the country has a capable government and it should be allowed to do its work.

6:21 p.m.

Congress’ Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Ukraine situation

Mr. Chowdhury says the reason Opposition members discuss these issues is to give suggestions to the government and to alert them if something was lacking, this is our duty. It is the duty of the government to act in a crisis situation, but it doesn’t suit the administration to repeatedly take credit for it.

Calling the External Affairs Minister capable, the Oppistion MP poses the following questions to him:

“Does the Ukraine-Russia conflict really test India’s foreign policy resilience? What are the complications outlining India’s restraint? Will it affect India’s efforts to engage with Eurasia? Will India’s stance affect the growing synergy with the West, as well as the Quad in the Indo-Pacific?”

6:00 p.m.

Self-enumeration permitted in next Census: Home Ministry

MoS for Home, Nityanand Rai said that the upcoming census will be digital for the first time and people will have the option of self enumeration.

Due to the pandemic, the housing listing phase of the census and the exercise to update the National Population Register (NPR), which were scheduled to be carried out across the country from April 1 to September 30, 2020, were postponed.

"The forthcoming census is to be the first digital census and there is a provision for self-enumeration. The census 2021 and related field activities have been postponed until further orders due to outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic," said Mr. Rai in a written reply.

According to the previous schedule, the census would have its reference date as March 1, 2021, and in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, it would have been October 1, 2020. Currently, the census operation is on hold and the government is yet to announce the new schedule. -PTI

5:50 p.m.

India spent six-times more on infra along India-China border

Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai informed that the government has given six times more budget allocation for the development of infrastructure along the Sino-Indian border in Arunachal Pradesh -- from Rs 42.87 crore in 2020-21 to Rs 249.12 in 2021-22.

Mr. Rai that Rs 602.30 crore has been allocated in 2021-22 and Rs 355.12 crore in 2020-21 under the Border Infrastructure and Management (BIM) scheme to improve infrastructure along the international border with China, Myanmar and Bangladesh in the North East.

India shares a 3,488 km-long Line of Actual Control with China from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh. The Indian Army and China's PLA continue to engage in a stand-off in Ladakh since April 2020. - PTI

5:38 p.m.

Russia-Ukraine crisis one of the biggest foreign policy challenges, says TMC MP

TMC MP from Dum Dum, Sougata Ray says our big job was to bring back Indians; we did that but we need not have self-praised ourselves; it was our duty to solve the problem.

On India’s position on the conflict, he says: “We have repeatedly abstained at the United Nations, Security Council, General Assembly and the Human Rights Council. Mr. Jaishankar, who is ideally suited for the role, is walking on a tight-rope.”

“On the one hand he may be understanding that Russia has committed aggression..but on the other hand we have many ‘I owe yous’- Russia gave six vetos in our favour during multiple times of crisis,” says Mr. Ray. “But what has been lacking throughout this whole crisis is a pro-active role by the Indian government.”

5:11 p.m.

Civil Aviation Minister speaks on the Ukraine situation

“There was a time when two countries would fight and the impact of that would be confined to those countries but the world has changed today. When we live in an interconnected world as global citizens, then the impact of a situation happening in one country is felt in every country of the world,” says Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Union Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia speaks in the Lok Sabha during the second part of Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

Union Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia speaks in the Lok Sabha during the second part of Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Tuesday, April 5, 2022. | Photo Credit: -PTI

“We heard a lot of things like why were advisories not issued on time? I would to inform you that India was one of the few countries who issued an advisory first- on February 15, followed by advisories on February 18, 20 and 21,”

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge as the first citizen of India and became the protector of each and every Indian citizen; Hardeep Puri Ji and I got a call at 11:30 pm to be present in Delhi to go to Romania and Moldova. The PM told us that we should only come back when the last flight comes back with Indians.”

“I would like to inform my fellow honourable parliamentarians that a lot of countries wrapped up their evacuation missions and left Ukraine; India was the one to stay there till the last citizen came back,” says Mr. Scindia.

“I would like to thank the Romanian authorities for opening a small domestic airport for our planes and we could evacuate 2,000 kids directly from the country’s border. This was possible because the PM spoke to the President of Romania, who upon meeting us, said that no other government showed the kind of sensitivity that you did.”

4:40 p.m.

600 govt accounts hacked in last 5 years: Centre

Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur told the Lok Sabha that over 600 social media accounts of the central government were hacked in the last five years.

Representational image: cyber security

Representational image: cyber security | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Answering a query on the hacking of the government's Twitter handles and e-mail accounts, Mr. Thakur said since 2017, 641 such accounts have been hacked.

“Altogether 175 accounts were hacked in 2017, 114 in 2018, 61 in 2019, 77 in 2020, 186 in 2021, and 28 so far this year,” he said in a written reply.

Thakur said the information was made available by Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) to the Ministry of Electronics And Information Technology (MeitY). - PTI

4:32 p.m.

Law Minister intervenes in Russia-Ukraine debate

BJP’s Kiren Rijiju says that foreign policy is a “very very serious issue”.

“Many issues were raised that were unnecessary. Manish Tewary and Shashi Tharoor said certain things. There shouldn’t be disagreements regarding foreign policy. On foreign policy, there should not be any disagreement in the House,” said the Union Law and Justice Minister.”

“What should the government do? he asked. “When we don’t issue an advisory, there is a problem, when we announce that we have issued it, there is a problem. Then they (Opposition) say Minister don’t go and meet the kids stuck there and when we do send our Minister you ask: why are you chest-thumping?”

Mr. Rijiju adds: Try to imagine the circumstances in which the kids were repatriated. Ukrainians were busy with counter-offensive  Missiles flying overhead. In that circumstance, our diplomats worked to evacuate our students. Lakhs of people were leaving Ukraine that I saw myself. We are not taking credit.  Any other government would have also done the same.

“Around 23 thousand Indians were evacuated. Imagine the situation in sub-zero temperature and if anyone offers you a cup of tea in that situation, one remains grateful forever. The operation was done with the involvement of many people. Here people said Indian diplomats are good for nothing, they don’t work. There in Ukraine, they were working 24X7, feeding the kids, and securing their accommodation. And at such a time if responsible political leaders here at home say such things, it is problematic.”

4:21 p.m.

NCP’s Supriya Sule says war not an option

“Today even if we are pro-Russia or pro-whichever country we want in the world, today what is happening in Ukraine is unpardonable for anybody.... I mean what have those children, those women done that they are paying this price for?,” the MP asks.

“We talk about genocides, this is a genocide. So, what are we going to do? How do we bring in more peace with more dialog? What can India’s role be to protect both the nation and stop this genocide?”

Ms. Sule congratulates the External Affairs Ministry on the evacuations of Indians during the pandemic and for Op Ganga.

Talking about what was disappointing, she says the government did wonderful work but the “jingoism” that came at the end of it was unfortunate.

Highlighting Russian military imports to India, the Maharashtra MP says we constantly talk about Atmanirbhar Bharat, calling for reducing dependence and encouraging domestic companies.

4:13 p.m.

National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah on Russia-Ukraine situation

The Srinagar MP says Russia kept telling Ukraine to not have enemies around the former’s border and to be neutral, but Ukraine still joinded NATO and Russia felt threatened.

Talking about the way forward he says, “We must take major steps in de-escalating this war. Unless you do that we won’t be able to tell future generations about what you did.”

3:55 p.m.

Congress’ Shashi Tharoor says there is only one foreign policy and that is India’s, not of any political party

New Delhi: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor speaks in the Lok Sabha during the second part of Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

New Delhi: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor speaks in the Lok Sabha during the second part of Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Tuesday, April 5, 2022. | Photo Credit: -PTI

On Humanitarian situation and evacuation: The Thiruvananthapuram MP says there is no doubt that we are all incredibly grateful for the success of Operation Ganga and the return of 23,000 Indians back to India. “But it is to be pointed out that while we commend the embassy for having begun to register the students in Ukraine early in the process, it is also true that some other embassies were quicker off the mark in getting people out, and I think there’s no harm in admitting this.”

“We did not, for example, have enough domestic transport arrangements in Ukraine, a lot of the students had to walk very very long distances to get to the border points eventually and that is something we’ll have to bear in mind for future situations,” says the Congress member.

Talking about the positive side, Mr. Tharoor says the govt was very quick to make excellent arrangements in Ukraine’s neighbouring countries in order to fly our people out once they reached there, “but in getting them to those countries, I am afraid, we were perhaps found somewhat lacking.”

He also pointed out that the “publicity mongering” done by India in the neighbouring countries was unfortunate, while also appreciating India’s aid efforts to Ukraine.

On India’s stand at the UN: At the United Nations, we could have been stronger in language against Russia’s actions. We have a special partnership with Russia, we respect that, but in this instance, Russia has resorted to using force. We may owe the Soviet Union for its support, but that includes both Russia and Ukraine. In terms of India’s Defence imports and dependence on Russia, he says that the seller needs the buyer, as well as the other way around.

“Refusing to condemn Russia is not the same as endorsing Russia’s actions. We must also remember that Russia, which is a junior partner to China will be of major concern to India.”

3:42 p.m.

BJD’s Pinaki Misra commends the Non-Aligned Movement

“There is no question that the Non-Alignment, which has been the bedrock of our policy for the last 75 years plus, has stood us in good stead,” says the MP from Puri, Odisha.

“I am Glad the govt has stood up to hectoring by the US, by officials and even US President Biden who called India’s position shaky. Their own policies have been shaky.”

On India’s stance on the situation, Mr. Misra says that India must watch the Russia-China axis which will be stronger now. “There is also an enhanced expectation that India must play peacemaker, PM should play a proactive role in a ceasefire in the war.”

3:38 p.m.

The Union Petroleum Minister says on fuel price hike: “India has not increased petrol prices as much as other countries..while the US and others have increased y 50%, we have increased only by 5%.”

3:30 p.m.

Petroleum Minister Hardeep Puri talks on Russia-Ukraine situation

 New Delhi: Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri speaks in the Lok Sabha during the second part of Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

New Delhi: Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri speaks in the Lok Sabha during the second part of Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Tuesday, April 5, 2022. | Photo Credit: -PTI

Mr. Puri says he was one of the special envoys deputed to Ukraine’s neighbour countries after Russia’s military operation started.

“Anyone who has even a nodding acquaintance with issues of foreign and security policies and those who watch global hotspots will know the determination required to be made when situations of tension are escalating….timing is of the essence.”

On questions raised by Opposition MPs about the evacuation missions, he says: “We prepared for the evacuation early in January. Some criticised our advisories for not being strong enough. Truth is that 4,000 people left on basis of advisories, rest stayed for a number of reasons, including those worried about their colleges canceling their attendance.” 

Mr. Puri defends the Central Govt against allegations it didn’t evacuate students directly from Ukraine but neighbouring countries. He says many students were brought out on buses organized by the govt, adding that the PM was speaking to other leaders at everypoint.

Lauding the evacuation mission, he says: “Op Ganga was one of the best, most efficient evacuations undertaken any place, anywhere.

3:15 p.m.

DMK’s Sumathy Thangapandian says India must become negotiator between Russia and Ukraine

New Delhi: DMK MP Thamizhachi Thangapandian speaks in the Lok Sabha during the second part of Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

New Delhi: DMK MP Thamizhachi Thangapandian speaks in the Lok Sabha during the second part of Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Tuesday, April 5, 2022. | Photo Credit: -PTI

The Chennai South MP says: “West may criticise us but India has walked a tightrope on its policy. We must adorn the role of negotiator between Russia and Ukraine.”

She argues that while the members appreciate Op Ganga, they must point out that students had to reach the border on their own, and it was thus not an evacuation operation but a “transportation operation”.

On the education of medical students who have returned from Ukraine, she says: “We oppose NEET regulations that make it hard for students to study in India and are forced to go abroad.”

Insisting that India must make a choice, Ms. Thangapandian says that Russia is targeting civilians, hospitals etc. and India must take up who has moral responsibility for the crisis.

“India cannot be Hamletian, wondering to be or not to be. The PM is speaking of vasudhaiva kutumbakam (the world is one family), but then India must speak truth to power.”

The MP asks how Russia can say it is De-Nazifying Ukraine?

“How is this possible when Zelensky belongs to a Holocaust victim family? Russia has also breached its BRICS obligation, as reported in The Hindu last month.”

2:50 p.m.

BJP MP Brijendra Singh appreciates India’s evacuation efforts

“Efforts put in by the government and MEA in coordinating with Russia, Ukraine, and neighbouring countries are commendable,” Mr. Singh says.

He says that a medium needs to be worked out by the Government to ensure students back from Ukraine complete their education.

On India’s stand on the crisis, he says: “India has taken the same stand with Russia in previous conflicts too. We are also well placed with Quad partners. Despite CAATSA sanctions, India went ahead with the S-400..our policy has been consistent.”

2:35 p.m.

Congress MP Manish Tewari says the Govt’s actions with students onboard flights undid the goodwill generated by the operations

While commending the Govt for the evacuation, Congress MP Manish Tewari pointed out that the Govt has a long tradition of evacuations including those undertaken in Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya etc. However, he expressed his regret with respect to “chest thumping” with students onboard the evacuations made to raise slogans praise the Govt. The MP stated this undid the goodwill generated by the operation.

2:05 p.m.

Introspection and critical analysis required whether we acted promptly: RSP MP N.K. Premchandran on evacuation of students from Ukraine

The Kollam MP whilst congratulating the Govt for Operation Ganga stated to make the entire evacuation process better, it should have taken “early cautious steps”. He added that first advisory issued by the Govt of India and the Embassy in Ukraine on February 15 lacked clarity and direction. He compared the advisory to that of the United States, issued on February 11, which explicitly asked its citizens to forbid travel to the country and American citizens in Ukraine to leave immediately. He referred to as a strategic flaw’ of the evacuation process.

He told the house that Donbas, Kiev and Sumi instead of those in Western Ukraine where, he stated, there was no conflict or fighting.

Mr Premchandran asked the Health Ministry to take initiative in resolving issues concerning the future of the evacuated medical students. He also praised Navin Shekhappa’s parents donated their late son’s body for medical purposes.

On the diplomatic front, Mr Premchandran stated he agreed with External Affairs’ Minister’s stance on the Ukraine. He however, pointed to U.S. President Joe Biden’s criticism on India’s stance calling it shaky and cautioned on attempts to circumvent financial sanctions placed on Russia. He added India’s absenation from voting at United Nations Security Council and the United Nations General Assembly on aggression by Russia bears the potential to upset the anti-Russian camp with concerns of India losing its democratic credentials. He added that India’s statements lacked condemnation of the attack.

2:00 p.m.

Lower House begins proceedings post adjournment

House takes up discussion on Ukraine. MPs N K Premchandaran and Manish Tewari to speak on the issue.

12:14 p.m.

House adjourned till 2 P.M., second adjournment in a single day

Speaker Rajendra Agrawal adjourned proceedings of the lower till 2 P.M. following recurrent sloganeering and display of banners by members of the opposition. They were protesting against the recent fuel price hikes.

Prior to the adjournment, Srinagar MP Farooq Abdullah was raising his concerns about the Jammu & Kashmir Public Services Commission (JK PSC). He stated the commission served a seven-day notice for conducting the mains exam instead of thirty. The Srinagar MP added that several states had an eligible age criterion between 37 and 42 years, the decision to reduce the age would affect several applicants in the state from taking the exam.

12:00 p.m.

House commences post adjournment with MP Rajendra Agrawal in the chair

The lower house resumed post adjournemnt with Meerut MP Rajendra Agrawal in the chair. Opposition continue to raise slogans and show banners in protest of the recent fuel price hikes.

11:25 a.m.

Amid sloganeering by opposition benches, House adjourned till 12 p.m.

The opposition benches, since the commencement of the session, have been raising slogans and seeking a discussion with respect to the recent fuel price hikes. MPs from Telangana have also been demanding the Central Govt commence procurement of rice from the state.

The lower house was taking up question pertaining to food processing and rural development in the country.

Opposition members reached the speaker’s chair before the adjournment was called.

11:05 a.m.

Telangana MPs raise banners asking the Central Govt to process rice procurement

Several MPs from Telangana displayed banners seeking procurement of rice by the Central Govt. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti-led State Govt in Telangana has been insisting the Govt 90% of paddy produced in the state should be procured by the Central Govt alongside completing the balance procurement of rice of the last Rabi season.

The Centre has stated that it had enough stock of parboiled paddy to last for four more years. Therefore, they would not be able to procure more than what has been promised by central procuring agency, Food Corporation of India (FCI).

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11:00 a.m.

Proceedings commence with the Question Hour in Lok Sabha

Proceedings commence with opposition benches sloganeering and demanding a rollback of the recent fuel price hikes. Leader of Opposition and Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury asked the chair to take up discussion on the same.

10.30 a.m.

List of Business

1. Union Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar to introduce The Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Amendment Bill, 2022.

2. Arjun Munda to move The Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2022, for consideration and passing.

3. Parliamentarians to raise a discussion on the situation in Ukraine.

4. Papers and Reports to be laid on the Table

5. Question Hour

10.00 a.m.

Day 15 recap

The House passed the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022, after it was introduced and debated in the session. Union Home Minister Amit Shah addressed the House on the Bill, after which several Opposition MPs rose against it, raising questions and concerns.

Responding to the discussion on the bill, Mr. Shah said, “I request those worrying about the human rights of prisoners to also worry about the human rights of those who are affected by criminals. You are worried about robbers, rapists....but this is the Narendra Modi government; it is our duty to care about the rights of the people who abide by the law.”

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