Parliament proceedings updates | March 16, 2021

Congress MP Hanumanthaiah.  

The Rajya Sabha passed the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2020 and the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2020.

Both Houses saw multiple adjournments on all days of last week as the Opposition demanded a discussion on the rising prices of fuel in the country.

Here are the latest updates:

Lok Sabha | 10 p.m.

MP from Rajasthan talks about protecting Rajasthani language.

House extended till 11 p.m.

Raju Bista, BJP, talks about the discrimination of the Gorkha community. There is an apathy towards their culture, language and community, he says.

Pradeep Kumar Choudhary, BJP, demands a railway line from his constituency to New Delhi.

Kotha Prabhakar Reddy, TRS, says that there is a menace of monkeys that have been destroying crops of the local farmers.

Lok Sabha | 9.30 p.m.

The strikeouts demanded by the Opposition is declined by the House through a voice vote.

The Matters of Urgent Public Importance is being discussed.

Meenakshi Lekhi, BJP, talks about visiting the tribal community in Attathodu, Kerala, and seeing their condition. She says that there is a lack of sanitation and transportation. She says that an RTI report said Rs. 1 cr. per person was supposed to be assigned but they still live in deplorable conditions. She demands relief for them.

Rajendra Agrawal, BJP, demands constitution of a task force which would work alongside police to identify and recover stolen vehicles that might be used for anti-social purposes.

Kuldeep Rai Sharma, INC, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, talks about the mode of transportation through ships in the islands. He says that the 2 new ships that were supposed to be handed over to them, is instead being given to the navy. He demands that the ships be kept under Andaman administration.

An MP talks about the ESIC collections in his constituency. He says that the ESIC hospitals need to be restored Kamareddy and Sangara district.

C.P. Joshi, BJP, talks about the phone tapping incident in Rajasthan that 'violates constitutional values' and calls for a CBI inquiry.

Vijay Kumar Dubey, BJP, talks about the farming of sugarcane in Gorakhpur. He says that the govt. policies do not cover sugarcane crops that have been corrupted by unseasonal rains and diease and demands Central support.

Manish Tewari, INC, talks about the data leak in the Army. He says that the leak has led to compromising the LAC and LOC borders. He talks about the target by Chinese hackers. He talks about the threat of Chinese cyber warfare. He demands that the Defence Minister clarify the measures taken by Ministry to combat cyber warfare.

Gajanan C. Kirtikar, Shiv Sena, talks about the Northwest Mumbai fishing communities and the proposed shipping corridors. He says that the fishing communities will lose their livelihoods and settlements. He demands shifting of the shipping corridor.

Rahul Kaswan, BJP, talks about PMFBY and issue of wrong entries in bank and insurance portals by the companies. He demands that the govt. address the issue.

Lok Sabha | 8.45 p.m.

Rampreet Mandal, JD(U), says that there are no Kendriya Vidyalaya in his constituency and demands for one.

Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal, Education Minister, thanks the Parliamentarians for their feedback on the NEP. He says that he is happy that the speakers have expressed concerns along the same lines of enhancing India's educational capacities.

He says that the NEP will propel India to a global stage. He says that India was, is, and will be on the global forefront because of it's deep roots.

"It's true that people from across the globe used to come to India to study in the ancient world. The country has birthed so many visionaries, and if we see towards that direction, we can revive our glory. We have never treated the world as a market, but as a family. We know that in a market there are transactions, but in a family there is sharing," he says.

"The treasures of Education is the most valuable. No one can steal it. No one can touch it," he says.

Dr. Pokhriyal says that the pandemic has effected the governments' plan for education. 'But despite the pandemic we have done out best,' he said, giving out numbers.

On QS rankings, he says that the Indian higher institutions have not lacked. He points out to the corporate sector and says that all big companies have Indian leaders. "From Google to Microsoft, all big companies have leaders from students from the Indian soil," he says.

There are 20% increase in female students under PM Modi's leadership, he says.

We are bridging the digital divide through various projects like community radio with the support of State governments, he says.

Lok Sabha | 8.30 p.m.

Santosh Pandey, BJP, recites Sanskrit verses, says that India has lost its traditions. He says that although India gained 'Swaraj' but Modi has delivered the modern 'Swaraj'. He demands that a sainik school be opened in his constituency.

Saptagiri Sankar Ulaka, INC, demands grants for Odisha University and a creation of Chair on Tribal Studies. He names districts in Odisha where there are no mobile towers. He says that an inclusive ecosystem is needed to implement NEP.

Lok Sabha | 8.15 p.m.

Prabhatbhai Savbhai Patel, BJP, commends the NEP. Gopal Jee Thakur, BJP, demands that a Kendriya Vidyalay, IIT, IIM and IIIT be created in Darbhanga. He demands that Maithili language be announced as a protected language. He asks Sanskrit to be restored in colleges.

Jasbir Singh Gill, INC, says that the millionaires have not invested in Indian education. He demands that the govt. create a provision it to be compulsory for them to invest in the country's higher education. He also says that many languages have already become extinct and there is a need for the ones diminishing to be protected.

Lok Sabha | 8 p.m.

Shafiqur Rahman Barq, SP, says that there is no college and government school in Sambhal and it is vital for the poor sections of the constituency to flourish. He asks for Urdu to be protected.

Prof. S.P. Singh Baghel, BJP, says that an education policy was the need of the hour immediately after Independence. The constant 'invasions' on the country have destroyed the traditions of India, he says. He says that the Muslim parliamentarians of the Oppositions have been used as vote banks. He says that while the Western colonisers were destroying the traditional institutions of country, they were sowing the seeds for the Oxford University. He criticises the Congress for selective education.

Sangeeta Azad, BSP, says that SC/ST/OBC students should be given a greater access to education. "There is no equal pedestal in education. It's against the grain of Right to Education," she says. Ms. Azad points to the deficiencies of education, especially of female students, during the pandemic and alludes to the discrimination brought about by the digital divide.

Lok Sabha | 7.45 pm

Kaushalendra Kumar, JD(U), says that he is happy that the govt. has introduced an educational policy after 35 years. He acknowledges that there have been some deficiencies in providing education to the remote parts of the country during the pandemic. He demands that a world-class sports university be constructed in Nalanda. He demands that Patna University be given a central university status.

Balak Nath, BJP, says, NEP will aid in making Aatmanirbhar Bharat. He says that the previous govts have promoted 'Italian education policy' not 'Indian education policy'. He says that the NEP promotes indian heritage and history. He says that all schools should be run with CBSE model.

Lok Sabha extended till 10 p.m.

Lok Sabha | 7.30 pm

Dr. Mohammad Jawed, INC, says that the govt. has failed to allocate 6% of the GDP towards education. He says that the govt. has only increased price of GDP - Gas, Diesel and Petrol. He says that the number of girls dropping out of schools have only increased, while the govt. has only spoken about welfare of the girl child. He says that the state of education of Kishanganj is abysmal. He says that there are 11 blocks in his constituency that are 7 of them is bereft of colleges. "The govt. has failed to deliver on the promises it has made," he says.

Vishnu Dayal Ram, BJP, says that the Opposition has ignored the fact that there have been several budgetary allocations that have increased under the current govt. He says that 'youthful energy' is vital to steer the country towards change that the NEP promotes.

Lok Sabha | 7.15 pm

K. Ram Mohan Naidu, TDP, says that the state of elementary education is bad. He calls for a schedule for implementation of the NEP. He says that issue of sex education must be also be addressed. He demands for proper funding from Central govt. for building of educational facilities in Andhra Pradesh.

Jadambika Pal, BJP, says that NEP will enable accreditation and coordination between institutions. The policy will improve efficiency.

Lok Sabha | 6.50 pm

Mahendra Singh Solanky, BJP, says that the NEP is developed on a Scientific basis. He says that the educational system that has been changed from 10+2+3 to 5+3+3+2 will benefit the students.

Indra Hang Subba, SKM, says that the NEP should be implemented in phases. He points out that the ST community do not have access to higher and vocational education. He says that the syllabuses in CBSE, ICSE and central boards do not contain the history and culture of Northeastern States, and says that the rest of the country needs to be educated about the states so that there is more harmony and inclusion.

Rajya Sabha | 6.45 pm

Sushil Kumar Gupta, AAP, says that the students be given practical education in addition to theoretical education. He asks that private and public institutions also be involved in their education.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan responds to the Parliamentarians by saying that he has entered the 5th decade of his services in the health sector.

He says that the recognition given to allied health professionals does not do justice to the service. He says it is a historic Bill because it addresses the longest 'unfulfilled promise' of the people of India.

He says that the govt. has accepted 102 of the 110 recommendations made by the standing committee because it leads to the welfare of the country. The non-political nature of the Bill has helped the people come together and contribute to the policy.

On the penalties, he says that the govt. is careful of the existing professionals. He says they will be provisionally registered.

On shortage and incentives, he says that the Bill itself will give them an advantage. The standardised courses will enhance the employbility of the professionals and the filling of the vacuum of an institution that addresses the various concerns of the allied and healthcare professionals.

On Nursing, he says that a National Nursing and Midwife Commission Bill is in the works and the government will soon introduce it. 

He says that the Bill will address a global demand of healthcare. "It will benefit 8-9 lakh healthcare professionals in the country," he says.

The opposition doesn't demand division on the motion to send the bill to select committee. The amendments are adopted unopposed.

The National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2020, is passed by voice vote.

The speaker says that the Insurance Amendment Bill and NCR Amendment Bill will be taken up tomorrow.

Rajya Sabha is adjourned till 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

Lok Sabha | 6.20 pm

Asaduddin Owaisi, AIMIM, opposes the demands. He says that there have been no steps taken by the govt. to improve the education of minorities, and especially Muslim minorities. He talks about the high dropout rates and literacy rates due to economic constraints.

He demands that the AMU campus in Kishanganj be given more BSc courses. He questions why the Institute of Eminence status has been withheld for Jamia.

He says that the government is promoting homogeneity through the NEP. "What about questions of minorities, upliftment of Urdu, and the fact that the fate of education is dependent on individual contributions through cess and taxes?" He asks. 

He says that spending on education has decreased over union budgets and that highlights that the government is not serious about promoting education in the country.

Mr. Owaisi talks about the inclusion of Ramayana and Gita in the curriculum of the National Institute of Open Schooling but the absence of Quran, Bible and Guru Granth Sahib from the course, he says that it is a violation of Article 28 and that the government is looking to push Hindutva ideology in education.

He concludes by demanding that scholarship for minorities be based on individual demand.

Rajya Sabha | 6.15 pm

Sureah Prabhu, BJP, says it is extremely critical that all those who are involved in dispensing healthcare are regulated. He flags the issue of the existing professionals who would have not been registered under the new law. He encourages the education to be taken up online. He says that there should be a new abbreviation (designation) so that there is a sense of identity and pride for them.

Dr. Shantanu Sen, AITC, says the previous governments have been dissolving the professional institutions and replacing them with other centres in India. He says that it is a paradox in this case where both the institution and the commission is being constituted. He asks about the duration and time of the internship for the sudents. He says that States should be given more liberty.

Muzibulla Khan, BJD, says he supports the Bill.

Lok Sabha | 5.55 pm

Santokh Choudhary (INC) says "the NEP is full of high talk but it is not matched in the allocation in the Budget. Government doesn’t therefore appear to be serious about the NEP."

He flags the digital divide during the pandemic and says that the Government hasn’t taken these concerns seriously. "Reduced allocations for Scheduled Caste sub plans is something I flagged earlier too but it hasn’t been taken on board," he says.

Nihal Chand Chauhan, BJP, says that since childhood education is a vital part of a person's development. He thanks the govt. for introducing the Law.  He says 'e-vidhya package' will be important.

He flags the situation of government schools in villages. He says it is important to help the students in villages to compete with those educated in private schools in cities.

Rajya Sabha | 5.45 pm

Congress MP from Karnataka Dr. L . Hanumanthaiah highlights the importance of Allied healthcare workers, he calls them the 'frontline warriors'. 

"There are no provisions in the bill to equip the students with English speaking and other soft skills so that our professionals can be hired across the world," he says.

"The bill must take care of the rural youth." He says.

Ramgopal Yadav, SP, who heads the standing committee on the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2020, says, "I am grateful that 95% of the recommendations made by the standing committee of health have been accepted by the govt."

The sitting of Rajya Sabha extended till the disposal/passing of this Bill.

Lok Sabha | 5.40 pm

Kunwar Danish Ali (BSP) says "I support the demand for grants but the Finance Ministry is letting the education minister down by reducing the allocation for his ministry."  He says a school stands derelict in his constituency of Amroha. "We can’t be blind to poor net connectivity in rural areas and access to smart phones. The pain of these children is not hidden from anyone and many died by suicide due to this," he says, and asks "already existing universities are being neglected in terms of infrastructure why talk of new?"

He gives a historic background to Jamia Millia Islamia and says  in their centenary year they are being deprived of their dues. "Please announce a special grant of Rs. 100 crore for them," he demands. 

Please consider regularising coaching institutes that charge lakhs to students, he says.

Rajya Sabha | 5.31 pm

Health Minister moves The National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2020.

Dr Harsh Vardhan says that this bill has already gone through the standing committee.

Lok Sabha | 5.30 pm

R K Singh Patel (BJP) says "3000 years before India was Vishwa Guru and then foreigners came and destroyed our universities, temples and enslaved us. For a long time we were kept away from education, and that enabled the last colonisers , the British, to enslave us again."

He talks of Savitri Bai Phule in the cause of women’s education and commends PM on combat roles for women. He requests attention of the government on middle schools in rural areas and a permanent infrastructure for kendriya Vidyalaya in Chitrakoot.

Rajya Sabha | 5.20 pm

Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan replies. He dismisses the criticism that lack of doctors could be a hurdle in implementation of the law. "Internationally, also this law is progressive," he says.

On the demand to send the Bill to select committee, the Minister says, that extensive consultations were done before bringing the Bill. 

On the question of lack confidentiality, the Minister says, that the rules under the law will take care of.

"This amendment is not for the routine abortions, these are for special circumstances. The Opposition is only doing symbolic opposing," he says.

The opposition doesn't demand division on the motion to send the bill to select committee. The motion to send it to select committee was negatived by voice vote.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2020 is passed by voice vote.

Lok Sabha | 5.15 pm

Unmesh Patil (BJP) commends education allocation and NEP, and asks for Navodaya Vidyalaya in his constituency of Jalgaon. "Jalgaon is also the birthplace of Bhaskaracharya who came up with zero," he says and asks for a “maths city” commemorating him.

Srikrishna Lavu (YSRCP) speaks about digital divide especially in rural areas and points to reduction by 6% in the overall allocation for education in the budget. "How can we cover up what we lost in the last year? Can we implement NEP with these cuts in the budget?" He asks.

Rajya Sabha | 5.10 pm

Seema Dwivedi, BJP, says "All stakeholders have been spoken to unlike the opposition claim. No woman would so easily want to abort her child. But imagine, if a child is to be born with disabilities, it is the woman who suffers."

Lok Sabha | 5.00 pm

S.T. Hassan (SP) says: "PM had said that he wanted that Muslims should have a Koran in one hand, the computer in another but the MPQE in UP has not been supported. This programme was for quality education in Madrassas, teachers haven’t been paid, they were teaching 10,000 students. Neglect MPQRI program will hinder mainstreaming of Muslims in India. Please increase MPs quotas to 25 admissions in Kendriya Vidyalaya or remove it totally."

Ajay Bhat (BJP) commends NEP and education budget. Gives details on programmes of the government.

Anupriya Patel (Apna Dal) commends NEP and budget allocations, and raises the issue of digital divide during the pandemic and its effect on rural students. She says "smartphone ownership has increased to over 60% of all students but there are still a large number students who continue to be deprived. COVID-19 is not going away in a hurry and would request Minister to ensure access to every poor, rural student to a smart phone and data plan."

Rajya Sabha | 4.45 pm

P. Wilson of DMK says: "The only problem that we can see here is the right to have a bear a child is a fundamental right of the women. Why should she have to go to a medical board to terminate the pregnancy. My suggestion would be the medical board should have more women representatives. There is a shortage of doctors in rural community health centres. How will you address this problem? The woman should also have access to legal consultation."

I would request the Minister, to introduce a composite bill, taking all these suggestions on board, he says.

Ashok Siddharth of BSP says: "A woman should have the right to terminate pregnancy, especially if the pregnancy becomes a threat to her own life. Women who work in govt and non-govt jobs they should get leave with pay since a termination at six months can be as painful as a full term pregnancy. In rural areas, to get opinion of more than one doctor."

Binoy Viswam of CPI says: "This bill, in my opinion, needs to be improved. It should be send to select committee to make it more powerful and more meaningful. Women's right to abstain from procreation should be upheld. This bill doesn't uphold that right."

He asks "What is sexual autonomy? This includes right of reproduction. Decision making is a women's right not that of a medical board. The final word should be with the woman and not the board."

Lok Sabha | 4.30 pm

NEP addresses shortage in higher education seats: Tejaswi Surya

Tejaswi Surya (BJP) says this year posed a unique challenge across the world due to a once in a century pandemic.

"Many countries did not continue with classes and exams. The sole exception was India. Digital education and every mode possible way through TV, podcasts - India ensured that though schools stopped, education did not stop." He enumerates programmes launched during pandemic period.

"NEP will be the most far reaching and comprehensive reform in education in India. NEP puts an end to Macaulian system in place before. Primary education suffered to afflictions - accessibility and early education.

85% of mental development takes from 1-6 years so the NEP addresses. Pedagogy is also another issue - music, art, sports were all considered extra curricular. The NEP removes this artificial categorisation."

PG seats have increased by 75%

Mr. Surya says, "NEP addresses shortage in higher education seats. PG seats have increased by 75%. This NEP has emphasised learning in the mother tongue. Unfortunate that for generations have been judged on knowledge of English rather than what they actually knew. Three language formula encourages the promotion of Indian languages and also development of literature. I tell DMK and other parties that Hindutva is not Hindi.  It is the promotion of all Indian languages."

Veena Devi (LJSP) commends the NEP, but asks for Kendriya Vidyalaya in Vaishali, her constituency.

Diya Kumari (BJP) commends NEP. "Critical thinking and analysis, importance to mother tongue, skill based learning has been emphasised. In the NEP, setting up of National Research Foundation is also to be commended." She asks for an Eklavya model school in Kumbhalgarh, a Kendriya Vidyalaya in Rajasamand. 

Rajya Sabha | 4.15 pm

Ayodhya Rami Reddy (YSRCP) supports the bill but asks the govt to send it to select committee.

Chaudhary Sukhram Singh Yadav (SP) supports other opposition parties demand to send the bill to a Select Committee.

RCP Singh of JD(U) says: "I support the bill. The termination of pregnancy should be safe and facility should be available to the woman's doorstep."

Narendra Jhadhav (Nominated) says: The bill protects women's right to privacy. At the same time there are a few concerns about privacy of minors seeking abortion.

Fauzia Khan (NCP): "Shortest of specialist doctors are a reality. In rural areas getting opinion from two doctors for Medical Termination Procedure for gestation period of 20-25 week is nearly impossible. I would suggest that view of one doctor should be enough. Provision to create medical board is extra hurdle. This is also a violation of their privacy and dignity. My appeal will also be include transgender. The NCP has also asked the govt to send the bill to Select Committee."

K. Ravindra Kumar of TDP says: "There is huge shortage of gynaecologists. While implementing this law, the government should keep this in mind."

Sampatiya Uikey (BJP) says that this bill brings freedom for women and is another step for women empowerment.

Jharna Das of CPI(M) says this bill fails to address the problems of MTP act. "Section 3(2) maintains the prejudice against unmarried women. She also requests that the bill be sent to a select committee."

Priyanka Chaturvedi of Shiv Sena says: "While I commend the health Minister for bringing this bill. But it has not been looked closely. It is extremely demeaning, invasion of privacy if a woman has to go through the board of doctors. The govt says this bill has been framed using rights based approach. I would say no.

In rural areas where will you get doctors to form the the medical board. 77 % of the abortions are done outside the hospitals. Recent study of law school, 80 % of speciality doctors are not available in community health centres."

"Poor public health centres adds to financial burden for the women. This law should become a model for the world to follow instead of passing the law in hurry."

Lok Sabha | 4.00 pm

"Does this budget care for children who do not have smartphones, tablets?"

Faizal P.P. Mohammed (NCP) says: "My concern is about digital divide which has been more exposed by the pandemic. My area of Lakshadweep has very feeble net connectivity. We brought our children back for their safety during the pandemic but we were at a loss when online classes started."

"Does this budget care for the children who do not have smartphones, tablets? Our children are studying from NCERT text books where they are asked to imagine crossing a river when they are surrounded by the sea. There is no connectivity in what he/she taught and his/her surroundings. Text books should be tailored to local conditions and languages at least in primary."

Hasnain Masoodi (NC): "A narrative is being sought to be built up of comparison between what UPA did what NDA did, what Mughals did. Mughals had Birbal, Todar Mal around, so why keep pointing out pejoratively?"

The pandemic has exposed the digital divide, he says. He commended NEP but said deprived students should have been kept Front and Centre in this budget.

"There is a serious lack of infrastructure in this sector. Especially in J&K where sub-zero temperatures also exist. You gave NOC to setting up a university in Leh but not Kargil. Why the discrimination? Disadvantaged classes are getting more disadvantaged."

Achyutananda Samanta (BJD): "Pandemic has taught us that investment in health and education is most important and urgent. Support to private educational educations is to be commended. But the work required in the grassroots has increased manifold as witnessed by what happened during the pandemic. Teacher training, digital development and nutritional requirements are important points. My constituency Kandhamal is an aspirational district it needs more Kendriya Vidyalaya, Sainik schools."

"Education is a sector that will always need reforms due to its ever evolving nature. To tackle the challenge in India , the focus should be on industry ready work force and innovation. Delay and controversy mark appointing vice-chancellors. This process should be relooked."

Manickam Tagore (INC) speaks in Tamil.

Rajya Sabha | 3.45 pm

"The stigma about abortion should be removed"

Bhagawat Karad (BJP) speaks in Marathi, says that with Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the maternal mortality rate will reduce.

Dr. Santanu Sen (AITC) appreciates the bill, says: "The intent of this bill is appreciable as it recognizes the right of the woman. At the same time, there are issues that need to be taken care off. It doesn't say anything about sex workers. Section 5(a) of the bull violates the confidentiality clause. 56 % of abortions are illegal in our country. The stigma about abortion should be removed."

"A fastrack court must be set up to deal with the cases. A minor rape victim may not realize about pregnancy within the stipulated period. And can't wait for the normal courts to take a call."

"Institutional delivery has to be made mandatory." He also asks the government to send the bill to a Select Committee.

Mamata Mohanta (BJD) speaks about the bill, gives her maiden speech in the House. "The medical facilities in the rural areas are not up to the mark to implement this new law. While, I support the bill, I would urge the government to ensure that the medical personnel strictly follow the protocol."

Lok Sabha | 3.30 pm

Every hour one student commits suicide: Ritesh Pandey

Dulal Chand Goswami (JDU) commends minister for NEP. "This will create fundamental changes in the field of education in the coming years. In the pandemic the education departments faced challenging times. But minister managed things well."

"Katihar is part of 112 aspirational districts and I request minister to start a Kendriya Vidyalaya and a Navodaya Vidyalaya. Patna University was set up before independence and completed its centenary in 2017. We had requested that it gets recognised as a central university. I am repeating that same demand here. Hindi as a medium of instruction in technical education should be encouraged."

Mr. Goswami gives details of Bihar government’s policies and programmes in education.

Kotha Prabhakar Reddy (TRS) welcomes NEP. "Linkages should be encouraged between educational institutions for research. Technical upgrades needed for digital education. Finance to be provided for children to study abroad," he says. He welcomes the three language formula. "Tracking of dropouts must be done. Aanganawadi schools must be merged with primary schools. TRS-led state government will cooperate." He demands set up of IIM, IIT etc. in Telangana.

Ritesh Pandey (BSP) says, "Higher education is a gamble in India, if you are a male, upper caste then you have won the education lottery in this country. Societal discrimination is rampant in access to education. The pandemic has exposed just how difficult the challenges are for the deprived sections to access education. Only 21% women have access to education. It shows the hollowness of the government’s claims on women empowerment."

"Will the government do anything to improve the reputation of government schools? None of the districts in this country have any good government college of note. All are suffering an impairment in facilities. Classes are empty. Teachers are not being hired. Lakhs of people want to be teachers but not being recruited. Only 30% of schools have access to computers. Only 12% have Internet. In this environment the NEP was introduced."

"We need to spend more on education. Every hour one student commits suicide, since government schooling and education fails them. It’s a matter of shame for this House."

Rajya Sabha | 3.17 pm

Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020

House takes up Bill for Consideration and Passing: Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan: "India was one of the first countries to legalise abortion. It was in Sept 1964, the then govt had set up a committee to legalise the abortion. Based on their recommendations 1971 this act came into being. Before 71, both the abortion seeker and those conducting the operation were liable under the law."

"In the last one decade, there has been several writ petition seeking permission to abort at fetal stages. There have been 26 petitions in SC and more than 100 petition in state High Courts. We held extensive consultations with all stakeholders."

"The bill will ensure dignity, autonomy and justice to women who want to terminate the pregnancy."

The Health Minister reads out the conditions under which abortion beyond the present approved gestational age. "This includes, if there are dire threat to the mother's health; or it can be proven that the child she is carrying will be born with serious disability; or if pregnancy was result of sexual assault.

This is a long awaited bill. The Lok Sabha passed the bill last year."

Congress leader Pratap Singh Bajwa moves motion to send the bill to Select Committee.

 Amee Yajnik (Congress) says: "In 1971 when the parent legislation was brought, it was a progressive bill back then. And now 50 years later this amendment bill has brought in. We welcome the bill. But there are certain lacunae."

Lok Sabha |3.00 pm

Discussion and voting on the Demands for Grants under the control of Ministry of Education for 2021-22

Chinta Anuradha (YSRCP) commends Minister for NEP. She says that technology must be utilised as enablers to learning. She talks of digital divide in rural areas and asks that ISRO must be roped in to provide classes via TV. "We need an increase in allocation to public education to 6% of GDP. Post the bifurcation of AP and Telangana, the former is left bereft of institutes of education. YSRCP has been demanding funds for the same."

Ms. Chinta gives description of Jagan government’s initiatives in education including scholarship, bursaries etc. She requests for financial support for AP government in the field of education. Talks about success of YSRCP in local body polls in AP.

Arvind Sawant (Shiv Sena) commends NEP but says some lacunae remain. He points to reduction in allocation for education in this Budget and for Centrally Sponsored Schemes. "Our population has increased so overall allocation increased compared to previous years, does not mean this government has increased per capita allocation."

"Travelling through tribal areas, almost no one had smart phones, or wifi, or even electricity. Education was hit badly last year. We speak of compulsory education for 6 to 14-year-old children, but now all children go to pre-school where capitation is charged."

"This government wants to hand over everything to private sector via PPP . Please take responsibility in something at least? Health, education is the responsibility of the government. Quality and opportunity of education should be uniform."

"Many of our children are intimidated by the use of English in higher education. Mother-tongue is important and it’s inclusion in NEP is appreciated but it’s not available for UPSC. Primary education should be taken care of as it’s the basis of all reform."

Grants for support staff have been stopped, says Mr. Sawant.

"Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is dismissed in our history books in one page, while pages are devoted to Hitler. History of our heroes and heroines like Savitribai Phule should be taught in schools. Drop out rates are also a matter of concern.

 

Rajya Sabha |3.00 pm

In reply to the discussion on the working of the Ministry of Jal Shakti, as commotion goes on in Rajya Sabha, Sasmit Patra in the Chair says, "Only the Minister is going on the record", and asks Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekawat to conclude.

Mr. Shekawat hails Telangana government for providing tap water to each and every household. In Gujarat too he said 83 % coverage, in Himachal Pradesh 76 %.

War of words erupt between Congress Punjab MP Pratap Singh Bajwa and BJP MP from UP Neeraj Shekhar.

Mr. Shekawat says: "I am a son of Rajasthan. I was sad that my competence was questioned." Sasmit Patra in the Chair asks the Minister to conclude and he concludes.

Digvijay Singh says: "Minister started his 75 minute speech with Vishnu Puran. That was only for five minutes. Rest of his speech was Modi Puraan." This concludes the debate on Jal Shakti Ministry.

Lok Sabha | 2.30 pm

The Union budget (Second Stage): Discussion and voting on the Demands for Grants under the control of Ministry of Education for 2021-22

"What we did in 6 years, Congress hasn’t been able to do in 55 years"

Shashi Tharoor says that an estimated 23% teacher posts are lying vacant under samagra shikshaa abhiyaan. "Budget does not have any funding to address this situation. Qualified teachers leaving government institutions, joining private institutions. We do not make it attractive enough for teachers to stay on in government institutions."

He complains against Kerala govt withholding incentives for PhD scholars. "The UGC gives one recommendation while state governments differ. That needs to be addressed by the Centre. Our regulatory bodies are restricting learning rather than facilitating. It is disappointing to note that the allocations for higher education have fallen by ₹1000 crore. I want to stress that the prominence given to National Testing Agency etc may lead to a top down approach and may compromise autonomy of institutions and will alter the character of our institutions."

It is an assault on our souls and idea of india and will deprive access to students to a space where class, caste divisions can be transcended. We need to fund government universities to embrace the most deprived sections of societies."

"Research and innovation fund also fallen by 25%. Underwhelming allocations have let down the minister’s own hard work. Your own government has let you down, Mr. Minister. You only got half of what you demanded. Education ministry needs more resources."

Sanjay Jaiswal (BJP) says, "My UPA counterpart speaks well but hasn’t been accurate. He has failed to point out what his government where he was minister of state for education did when in power. It is the job of defence minister to set up Sainik School not the education minister."

On March 12th, PM flagged off celebrations for 75 years of Independence at Dandi. And the NEP and the education budget is aimed at making india Vishwa Guru by 2047.

"What we did in 6 years, Congress hasn’t been able to do in 55 years."

He commends education minister on NEP. "20% hike in allocation for digital e-learning. This budget has stressed on the development of youth. This year too ₹ 10,000 crore allocation for research shows the importance placed on it."

Sanjay Jaiswal adds, "Medium of instruction to be in mother tongue is important for the cognitive development of children. Poshan Abhiyan is an important component for development of children and a holistic approach has been taken. 43,72,000 enrolment under RTE for 2020-2021, a leap from before."

"India is the first country where QR coded learning material and books are available.

15th finance commission’s incentive to top three state governments on the basis of work in education is to be commended.

NCERT’s decision to reduce the weight of school bag is important."

"Western interpretation of our history has impaired our children’s understanding of our history. Children don’t know about the Battle of Saraighat but know which Mughal did what in which nook and cranny. I commend the education minister in attempting to reform this via NEP. Setting up of Higher education commission and its funding is another good move. We need to worry about encouraging as many people as we can to go into research," says Mr. Jaiswal.

He asks for revival of basic schools set up by Kasturba Gandhi since 1938. "You must do something about coaching centres, progressively these centres are going into even middle and primary classes. We must ensure no one should mention s medical and engineering coaching till class X. This is important for the all-round development of youth."

M. Dhanush Kumar (DMK) speaks in Tamil.

Rajya Sabha | 2.30 pm

We will soon have a repository on water quality across India: Jal Shakti Min

Gajendra Singh Shekawat says: "Today 52 districts have 100 % tap water. Digivijay Singh had said that SC/ST households should get primacy, if only he had read the guidelines, he would have appreciated the Narendra Modi govt.

"We have started work on water quality. Everyone knows how to get blood tested. But no one is aware on where to go for water quality test. We have given five water testing kits in each village. We will soon have a repository on water quality across India.

Mr. Shekhawat rakes up Bengal example. "When the Jal Jeevan Scheme began only 3 % household used to get tap water. More than half of the funds remains unutilised. The tapped water connection rose by 20 % in rest of the country, but in Bengal this increase was only 3 %. We have already launched Swachh Bharat-2 for complete sanitization. Those villages or districts declared themselves ODF free now they will comply with complete sanitisation."

"I can say with responsibility from Gangotri till Haridwar any one can drink water directly from Ganga," he adds.

He claims that population of Dolphins and Hilsa fish has increased by manifold in Ganga.

"Questions were being raised on the minister(himself)  competence and acceptance citing various figures of non-utilisation of funds" Mr. Shekhawat said. He blames the opposition-led state governments for the unspent funds.

Opposition leaders question Mr. Shekhawat's speech, and call him out for making a political speech, instead of talking about working of his ministry. Commotion in Rajya Sabha.

Lok Sabha | 2.10 pm

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal now moves the Demand for Grants for Railways for 2021-22.

Lok Sabha passes the motion for the Demand for Grants for Railways by voice vote.

The Lok Sabha starts discussing Demand for Grants for Human Resource Development.

Shashi Tharoor starts the debate, appreciates the long due National Education Policy but expresses concern over cuts in the education budget. Allocations have been betrayed the expectations, Mr. Tharoor says.

Rajya Sabha | 2.00 pm

RS proceedings resume.

"Climate change has arrived"

Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat responds to the discussion on the working of Jal Shakti Ministry, held in the upper House on March 15. He says water is essential for survival of all beings and quotes Vishnu Puran.

"A human can survive on water for 15 days without food. I was born in Jaisalmer, have experienced the shortage of water firsthand. I have seen mothers and sisters walking miles to fetch water,"  says Mr. Shekhawat. "The women carry water in pots on their head for lifetime. Only 4% potable water available. India has many challenges. The dangers of climate change is being felt across the world, climate change has arrived. Rainfall patterns have changed."

"The water availability in India 50 years ago, remains the same, but the rainfall pattern, cloud burst is a matter of concern. If anyone understood the problem in this country, then it is PM Narendra Modi."

Minister attacks Shakti Sinh Gohil of Congress that he remained in power for 55 years but kept smiling at the plight of people and adds that he did not have the farsightedness.

Mr. Shekhawat says, "2.5 lakh representatives in gram sabhas were sent personalised letters by PM to conserve water. Such meetings were held in 2 lakh villages. 256 districts were identified, officials were sent to these districts and were apprised on afforestation, water conservation etc. From March 22, Jal Shakti Abhiyaan in over 700 districts, will be inaugurated by the PM."

"Due to water shortage, the GDP can be impacted by -6%. We will require double the water in 2030 that we require today."

"Tanker mafia in Kuttch and Saurashtra was active earlier, I am sure that the mafia is known to Digvijaya Singh. When Narendra Modi became CM of Gujarat in 2001, first time if anyone worked to plug shortage was done by Modi ji. Gujarat shines because of robust water availability." He gestures that Congress got zero in panchayati raj elections. 

"From 2014-19 many schemes were launched to help people, it was not to appease any community or help a votebank. He tells Digvijaya Singh that you were forced to go on 10-year retreat by the people, still you have not been accepted. You challenged me?

Out of the 18 crore 30 lakh rural households, only 3 crore 23 lakh households could get drinking water, PM announced that by 2024 all households will get water."

Lok Sabha | 1.45 pm

The Union Budget (Second Stage): Discussion and voting on the demands for grants under the control of the Ministry of Railways for 2021-22

Cong MPs Shashi Tharoor, Ravneet Bittu were among the MPs asking questions. BJP's Satyapal Singh, RLP Hanuman Beniwal, SP's Shafiqur Barq raising questions related to their constituencies.

BJP MP Tapir Gao asks if the Railway Minister knows where Arunachal Pradesh is located. This was in the context of MPs across party lines making demands.

We need a high-speed bullet train from south India to north India, says Prabhakar Reddy.

Rajiv Pratap Rudy discusses land for railways in North Bihar.

Pratap Sinha thanks Railway Minister for satellite railway for Mysuru, says that the State govt will give the land for free and wage 50% of the cost only for the construction of new broad guage rail, but not for constructing a satellite railway station. He requests Mr. Goyal for funds for the land.

Among MPs, BJP's Ram Kirpal Yadav got up and said he would speak only for a second. Speaker Om Birla smiled and said, "I won't give you a more than a second."

Speaker says, all the members have been given a chance to speak and asks if there are any MPs who want to say anything. He then asks Minister Piyush Goyal to speak.

Mr. Goyal assures that he will give all the MPs written reply, thanks the Speaker for ensuring large scale participation.

Lok Sabha | 1.15 pm

"Railways got rid of all the unmanned level crossings in broad guage"

Mr. Goyal says: "The work on Udhampur-Srinaga-Baramullah project in J&K has been undertaken swiftly, the necessary investment has been made...by 2022-end or early 2023, the project is expected to be completed and Kashmir-Kanyakumari link will be fully established through rail line."

"This budget, 4.5 times the previous amount has been allocated for investments in Bihar. In Uttar Pradesh, the proposed investment is 11 times the amount given from 2009 to 2014."

"The country's first vertical lift Pamban bridge in Tamil Nadu will be completed by December 2021, it will connect Ram Sethu.

815 bridges have been security audited, the level of transparency is such that all details are being provided to the common man through publicity boards."

"By January 2019, the Railways got rid of all the unmanned level crossings in the broad gauge system."

On the routes where we notice the issue of wait-lists, we run clone trains. We have been running 30 such trains. On the issue of high-speed trains, the Minister says if the railway gets the required support from Maharashtra, the country will get a world class Japanese tech high-speed train and the network of such trains will be expanded further. Only 24% land has been acquired for the high-speed train in Maharashtra, it is 95% in Gujarat and land also acquired in Daman Diu.

Work is under way on seven to eight projects of high-speed trains. Wi-fi facility is being provided at 5,961 railway stations, the service is for free in the first 30 minutes. The budget allocation for Punjab in 2021-22, compared to the amount given from 2009 to 2014, is ₹ 2,262 crore (10 times). For Chhattisgarh also, the investment has increased almost 12 times, to over ₹ 3,000 crore, compared to the investments made from 2009 to 2014."

Opp MPs seek clarification after the Railway Minister's reply.

Rajya Sabha | 1.00 pm

"Price rise has declined"

MoS Finance Anurag Thakur says, "Consumer food pricing index are showing month on month decline, cereals declined by 0.14 %, vegetables by 0.19%, in 2020-21, ₹ 11,800 crore earmarked for price stabilisation."

"Price rise has declined on an average in the past seven years, 2013-14 the inflation was in double digit, these days it is much less."

"We have increased MSP and working towards doubling the income of farmers, between 2009-14, the inflation rate was above 10%."

MoS Finance says MSP has increased, import of pulses has also decreased.

RS adjourned till 2 pm.

Lok Sabha | 1.00 pm

Goyal discusses railway projects

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal says: "The railway has started catering to new sectors like automobile. Dedicated freight corridor was a great plan, but was being implemented slowly..After the Narendra Modi government took over, it was improved....the project is monitored every week. Over 600-km line has been completed, by March, work on about 400-km stretch will also be completed. Three more dedicated freight corridors are being rolled out."

"In Kerala, the amount being spent has been increased 2.5 times...in the State, no project takes off as land is not allocated for them, I have details of nine projects involving 548-km stretch...only 8 km have been completed. Should we, like previous governments, only announce projects, what purpose will it serve...In Madhya Pradesh, the investment has been increased 12 times in this budget compared to 2009-14, the reason being that whenever we contact them, they immediately take action and provide land."

"In Andhra Pradesh, we want to expedite the projects...however, we want necessary cooperation from the State government. In Tamil Nadu, the investment in this budget is 3.5 times the amount allocated from 2009 to 2014. In Uttarakhand, the amount has been increased 23 times compared to the allocations from 2009 to 2014."

Mr. Goyal adds: "In West Bengal, we are ready for all the required investment. However, in all the projects in the State there is no cooperation. In 1974-75, a project was approved and even after 45 years, just about 42-km of the 110-km planned stretch have been completed...land for which money has been paid is not being provided, we are now trying to recover the money."

The Minister says the Railway needed the required support from the State government in Maharashtra for expeditious implementation of projects.

Rajya Sabha | 12.40 pm

Members question the Finance Ministry

51% lending during COVID-19 period was through private sector banks, says MoS Finance Anurag Thakur.

The share of PSBs was 31%.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman responds: "Cost business is growing, many more citizens are approaching private banks, the ease of doing business will have to be extended to all customers."

Anil Desai of Shiv Sena asks, "What kind of government business is given to private banks?"

Minister Ms. Sitharaman says the RBI guidelines will be applied on the new banks also.

Naresh Gujral of SAD asks, "RBI is the regulator but so many banks have collapsed. What steps to strengthen the regulatory regime?"

Minister says, "We have been engaging with the RBI to ensue that the regulatory framework of RBI is strengthened, there should be an internal mechanism also."

Ami Yagnik of Congress asks, "When CSR funds are mandated by law, they are not supposed to be source funding for government schemes. Do you have any data on CSR funds used by the ministry?"

MoS Finance Anurag Thakur says, "When this Act was framed in 2013, no provision was made to make record of implementing agency, we have made the provision since April 1. There should be no myth that government projects are funded by CSR funds. CSR funds are used to develop projects in nearby areas. 60% fund is spent through implementing agency, clear directions on sectors that it could be spent. CSR funds not being used to fund government programmes."

Ami Yagnik says that there should be a dignified response, not to corner credit, the matter pertains to the country.

MoS Finance Anurag Thakur says: "Laws are changed, we tried to remove the anomalies in laws passed. Impact assessment report to be given by companies on CSR funds above ₹ 10 crore."

Lok Sabha | 12.30 pm

"Railway has started catering to new sectors"

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal says: "The government and the private sector will have to work together to ensure a better future for the country...the effort is to increase freight loading by 70-80% by 2024-25. We turned the Covid-19 crisis into an opportunity. We have made astute investments for better results. The Railway is a 168-year-old institution. It is said that Spanish Flu spread through railway after it entered Mumbai Port. Had the rail operations not been suspended, Covid would have spread across the country. During Covid-19 lockdown, more than 60 lakh migrant labourers were ferried back home. The RPF personnel served the passengers, over 2 crore meals were given. Food grains, coal, fertilisers and medicines were transported by the train across the country. There was no talk about shortage of food grains. There is a 3.5% growth in food grain production, it would not have been achieved without availability of fertilisers..there was a time when people had to protest for fertilisers.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, Railway officials remained on duty, the locomotive pilots remained at work round-the-clock. The Opposition would also appreciate the Railway family for its splendid work during the Covid crisis." The Minister condoles the death of all the Railway officials who died due to Covid-19.

Mr. Goyal says: "When the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, we decided to set up Covid care centres...it was because of the Prime Minister's foresight that the Railway explored the possibility of converting rail coaches into care centres/isolation coaches...there was no cure for Covid. 5601 coaches were converted into care centres, 80,000 beds were prepared to meet any exigency. The coaches could be taken anywhere, to far off places, in case of any requirement. They were used at several places."

"The situation was contained effectively across the country, therefore these centres were not used that much. However, the care centres were available as a dependable back-up. Taking advantage of the Covid-situation, we worked on increasing the speed of freight trains, now they would run at double the speed and provide better services to the industrial sector. Business development units have been opened to reach out to the prospective customers for freight services."

"From September last year to February, every month, the freight loading by Indian Rail despite Covid-19 have created a record, this will benefit the country for years to come, it will strengthen the exports, reduce the input costs," the Minister added.

 

Rajya Sabha | 12.20 pm

Members question the Health Minister on vaccines

Sukhram Singh Yadav of SP asks, "When will all Indians get vaccinated?"

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan says, "Vaccines to foreign countries are not being sent at the expense of Indian citizens. A healthy balance is being maintained. Yesterday, 30 lakh people got the vaccines. The criteria has been fixed according to WHO and other international standards, it is a dynamic process. Anyone who wants a vaccine, can register on portal and get vaccinated, vaccine is free in all government hospitals, private hospitals can only charge ₹ 250, ₹ 100 has been fixed for hospital arrangements."

"5.94 crore doses of vaccine are sent to foreign countries till now. Science should benefit everyone."

Mr. Yadav asks if people above 60 can be vaccinated at home.

Minister says, "This issue has been flagged to us. In hospitals, people are kept under observation for 30 minutes after getting vaccinated. This matter will be raised before the expert committee, if it does not compromise their health, it can be considered."

Shantanu Sen of TMC asks about the efficacy of the vaccines.

Minister says national expert group are abreast of all developments within and outside the country.

Anand Sharma asks about the efficacy and coverage of the vaccines against U.K., South Africa and Brazil variants of COVID-19.

"This information is already in public domain. We have access to genome sequencing data. Right now, experts are clear that a particular vaccine is effective against virus mutation," says Mr. Vardhan.

Minister says ₹ 35,000 crore is allocated for vaccines in the budget.

On Ayush Ministry

"The world is praising the Ayush Ministry's efforts in boosting immunity during the COVID-19 period," says Ayush Minister Kiren Rijiju.

In our country, Ayurved treatment is not new, surgery is a part of it, has been going on since centuries. The process of surgery to be done by Ayurvedic doctors has been clearly defined in a notification. Mr. Rijiju says the traditional medicine system under Ayurveda is well defined, the surgery process is proven, will work in tandem with the Health Ministry.

What is the fate of the patient? asks Congress MP.

"As far as allowing surgery to continue (by Ayurveda doctors), there is no issue, it is not a question of allowing one group of practitioners in another, this is not a question of overlapping," says Mr. Rijiju.

 

Lok Sabha | 12.15 pm

"Railway has prepared the National Rail Plan-2030"

The Chair allows members to take up issues under Rule 377.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal thanks all the members for the debate on budget grants to Railway, assures all of them to consider the issues raised by them. "All our officials till late on Monday night...noted the issues raised by all the 53 members and the responses were also prepared...I will share the responses to the respective members. We are striving to make the Railway the engine for growth, meet the passengers' and industries' expectation, keeping all these in mind...with a different perspective, we have worked over the past seven years under the leadership of the Prime Minister. Many members said several projects were pending since long, we faced problems in this area only, in the past project announcements were made but necessary allocations were not made. In terms of investment, in 2004-09, it was about ₹ 1.25 lakh crore...it increased ₹ 2.30 lakh crore in 2009-2014."

"However, in 2014-19, during the Narendra Modi government, about ₹ 5 lakh crore was invested in Railway. Recently, the amount has been increased to ₹ 2.15 lakh crore for just 2021-22."

Indian Railways will never be privatised: Goyal

"Railway has prepared the National Rail Plan-2030 under which 68 projects have been earmarked as super critical for expeditious work, all necessary requirements of farmers and other various sectors have been taken into consideration and project wise, elaborate planning has been done instead of just distributing funds. Many accuse us of privatisation, Indian Railway will never be privatised, it is India's property. However, road is also a national property, but no one stops the vehicles from plying...private buses should also ply, it will benefit the country. Likewise, if rail lines have been laid...shouldn't there be our effort to provide better facilities to the passengers, for which there can be private investment. We have developed a large number of railway stations. All stations now have toilets, we are now trying to provide the same facility for the specially enabled."

"₹ 230 crore is being invested to develop and beautify Amritsar station, about 50 such stations are being modernised across the country. I understand that there is private investment in this area, we should welcome it."

Lok Sabha | 12.05 pm

"About 10 lakh employees of nine PSU banks are on strike"

Congress MP Ravneet Singh says about 10 lakh employees of nine PSU banks are on strike as they fear privatisation and loss of their jobs.

"Former PM Indira Gandhi had nationalised the banks so that common man could benefit from that. Financial security of the country will be compromised by the privatisation of banks. The private banks will not think of the betterment of the poor. They only want profit making... if we are suffering losses, so be it, at least the poor is getting benefited," he says.

Papers being laid on the Table.

 

Rajya Sabha | 12 noon

Question hour begins

Health minister Harsh Vardhan says 75 medical colleges are sanctioned across the country. 157 medical colleges in various stages of development, till 2014 there were 50,000 MBBS seats in the country, 30,000 seats added in the past six years.

Priyanka Chaturvedi of Shiv Sena asks whether government has any plan to gather knowledge about medicinal plants from tribal people. Minister says one of the institutions in Himachal Pradesh has been assigned the job.

Rajeev Satav of Congress asks how many SC/ST/OBC/girl students participated in the Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana? Science Minister Harsh Vardhan says, "These schemes are talent based and we look for students who are keen to read science, irrespective of caste and gender. We do not classify the talented students on that basis."

Minister says the number of SC/ST students has been laid on the table of the House.

Lok Sabha | 12 noon

On Telangana's turmeric farmers

Congress leader N. Uttam Kumar Reddy brings up the issue of a turmeric board in Telangana.

"Farmers have been agitating for a turmeric board in Telangana. Nearly 80% of the turmeric in the world is produced in India and 50% of that in a single district in Telangana. The land has been allotted for the board by the earlier government. There is no market intervention in turmeric, and so farmers are investing ₹1.5 lakh per acre for this... why has the board not been set up?" asks Mr. Reddy.

Union Minister responds that if the State government sends a recommendation in this regard, the Centre will take necessary action. He says that for the benefit of turmeric farmers, new varieties are being provided to them for higher production, and a park is being set up. There is already a board for many spices, no need for a separate board for it right now, he adds.

MP B.N. Bache Gowda proposes constitution of a national level turmeric board. Union Minister says an office has already been functioning for overseeing projects related to turmeric, and nearly 5,000 farmers of Khammam and Varangal have already been linked to it.

Question Hour over.

Lok Sabha | 11.55 am

Union Minister Giriraj Singh, on a query about PMMSY funds to Bihar for farmers, says over ₹20,050 crore funds was earmarked for five years, and that the funds would be released on receipt of proposals.

On fishing harbours in Kerala

Member Shashi Tharoor says fishermen of Kerala are facing problems.

"We have five major fishing harbours... what the fishermen need is small fishing harbours," he says. Can hubs of economic activities be shifted to smaller harbours, he asks.

The Union Minister says: "In Kerala, we have earlier also given landing centres. In every villages we are establishing sagarmitra centres. We are working in coordination with the State government."

Rajya Sabha | 11.45 am

On MPLAD funds

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman says she has recieved several representation on MPLAD funds (that were stopped due to COVID-19). The commitments made for financial year 2019-20, the year before the pandemic occured, will be fulfilled, she says. "For the year 2020-21 and 2021-22 no new commitments under MPLADS will be entertained. Money has been cleared from MoSPI and finance ministry... that money will be immediately spent at districts where commitments were made for the year 2019-20. Contact the district authorities for details," she says.

Anand Sharma of Congress says parliamentarians were not consulted while taking away MPLAD funds.

Rajya Sabha | 11.40 am

Sanjay seth of BJP says that due to shortage of forensic doctors in hospitals, postmortem is not done properly. In most cases, safai karamcharis do the postmortem and doctors merely sign on the reports.

He says that the seats for forensic doctors should be stressed in medical colleges.

On caste-based census

Manoj Kumar Jha of RJD asks why there is no caste-based census this round. "The previous exercise was scrapped. Now we are talking about sub-categorisation of OBCs? Where is the data? Caste census should be done in Census 2021. We should know about the social status of a person selling vegetables," he says.

Chhaya Verma (Congress) says that the Prime Minister announced in 2019 that a caste-based census will be done. "Crores rupees have been spent. They take decisions when it suits their friends, they can count who all has a TV or fridge, but why cannot they do caste census?" she asks.

Rajya Sabha | 11.40 am

On fisheries

Animal Husbandry Dairy and Fisheries Minister Giriraj Singh says the Fish Farmers Producers Organisations are being strengthened.

"From sea to inland, there is about 25% post-harvest (fish) wastage. Cold storage chain is being arranged, the government plans to reduce the wastage by 5-10%," he says.

Mr. Singh adds that the Fish Farmers Producers Organisations are being strengthened. Special emphasis is being given on trout fishing, says the Minister in response to a query about the measures being taken in Jammu and Kashmir.

On reviving sick industries

Member E.T. Mohammed Basheer seeks information from the government on the steps taken to revive sick industries and for ensuring complete utilisation of installed facilities.

Minister Prakash Javadekar says there is always an effect to ensure that the units, which can be revived, are revived. Some of the units include Hindustan Steelworks, MTNL/BSNL.

Lok Sabha | 11.35 am

Sanjay Singh of AAP says that another chance should be given to UPSC candidates who were unable to attend exams as they were affected by COVID-19.

Rajya Sabha | 11.30 am

On lag in COVID-19 vaccination

Shakti Sinh Gohil of Congress points out that the COVID-19 cases are rising at alarming rate. "Only 0.35% of population has been vaccinated so far. At this rate, it will take 18 years to vaccinate the entire population," he says, adding that the vaccination rate should be sped up.

Chairman says government has to take care of various aspects of the vaccine drive.

Rajya Sabha | 11.25 am

On Myanmar refugees

K. Vanlalvena of MNF brings up the issue of Myanmar refugees.

Due to military coup, nearly 1,500 police personnel from Myanmar have entered Mizoram, he says. "They were standing with the protestors. MHA has issued directions to stop them. They are our brothers, sending to Myanmar will mean killing them. Being the biggest democratic country in the world, we must ensure restoration of democracy in Myanmar, kindly request MHA for a renewed policy," he says.

To this, the Chairman says that it is not a democratic right of any foreigner to come here and demand anything.

Rajya Sabha | 11.20 am

On bank employees strike

Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge brings up the issue of bank employees strike.

He says that lakhs of employees of nine banks have been on strike for past two days, and this has affected businesses and common people.

On March 17, general insurance companies are also going on strike. On March 18, LIC employees are going on strike against privatisation, he says, adding that around 13 lakh people work in these banks.

There are 75 crore bank account holders in these banks, and yet the government has decided to privatise these banks without consulting the stakeholders, he says. "This impacts the livelihood of 13 lakh employees. People in reserved category are eligible to get jobs in these banks, Indira Gandhi nationalised these banks, this empowered anyone to open an account in a bank. Even the 2008 bank recession could not impact India due to nationalised banks. The government should speak to the bank employees sitting on protest," he says.

Chairman asks parliamentary minister to look into the matter. Mr. Kharge continues to speak amidst mild disturbance in House.

Lok Sabha | 11.15 am

On Sedition Law

As climate activist Disha Ravi's case comes up, BJP MP Meenakshi Lekshi asks if a chargesheet has been filed on the case. MoS Kishan Reddy says that there is no chargesheet till now, and a discussion can be had after one is filed.

On crop loss due to locust attacks

Shardaben Anilbhai Patel (BJP, Gujarat) raises the issue of crop loss due to locust attack, and asks that the damage payment to farmer be increased.

Minister Kailash Choudhary lists the measures taken to control the locust attacks, including the spraying of material from helicopters and importing supporting machinery from the United Kingdom. He says measures would be taken on receipt of information from the State. "Every State has State  Disaster Fund, whenever the funds are required, States concerned may approach the Centre. The government is committed to compensating the farmers for the damage to their crops," says the MoS. The Agriculture Minister also assures that all necessary steps will be taken.

Rajya Sabha | 11.10 am

Zero Hour begins.

Mamata Mohanta of BJD says that along NH 49, a 10 km forest area should be constructed. Meanwhile, BJP member Bhagwat Karad speaks in the House in Marathi.

Lok Sabha | 11.05 am

Lok Sabha proceedings begin.

MP Anumula Revanth Reddy (INC, Telangana) questions the rise in sedition cases in recent years, and says that a discussion is needed on this serious issue.

MoS Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy says that the previous governments never kept separate data on sedition cases, and had instead hid it in other data. Mr. Revanth Reddy remains dissatisfied with the Minister's answer.

Rajya Sabha | 11 am

Rajya Sabha proceedings begin.

M. Venkaiah Naidu, Chairman Rajya Sabha says India has taken many steps to reduce the number of tuberculosis cases. He asks members to support TB control measures.

Parliamentary standing committee reports on ministries of education, women and child development, sports, law and justice, coal and steel, defence, finance, labour, social justice and empowerment laid on the table of the House.

 

Lok Sabha

Bill for Consideration and Passing

  • The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2021

Discussion and Voting: Demands for Grants

Ministry of Railways, Education, Health and Family Welfare, and Road Transport and Highways

Rajya Sabha

Bill for Consideration and Passing

  • Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020
  • National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2020

Discussion and Voting

Ministry of Jal Shakti, Railways and Tourism and Food Processing Industries.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 12:02:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/parliament-proceedings-live-march-16-2021/article34080317.ece

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