After a three-day break, both Houses of Parliament reconvened on Monday.
The Upper House was adjourned for the day over the non-inclusion of as many as 40 lakh people in the draft list of Assam's National Register of Citizens. The issue was discussed in the lower House as well.
The Lok Sabha passed The Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2018, and the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
Here are the live updates:
Kiren Rijiju responds. POCSO is gender-neutral and this law pertains specifically women. On special courts and forensic facilities, Home Ministry is pursuing it.
Mr. Premachandran suggests the government could have called for a special session. He accepts government's reason for promulgation of ordinance and withdraws his statutory motion.
The Bill goes for voting.
Amendments brought by Premachandran, Mamataz Sangamitra, Bhartruhari Mahtab, and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury are rejected through voice vote.
The Bill is passed. House adjourned.
Mamataz Sanghamitra raises a questions. She is a gynaecologist expresses reservation on swab test.
Supriya Sule and a Left member insist the law to be gender-neutral to include transgender children and boys.
Sreemathy Teacher asks if Nirbhaya fund will be utilised for child victims.
Ranjeet Ranjan asks what about women who are above 16 and less than 18 years of age.
Will it be possible to provide women judicial officers in all courts, asks a member.
House is extended till the Bill is taken for voting.
MoS Kiren Rijiju responds. He thanks all the members who participated in the debate.
What can be more urgent for a government than the safety and security of women, asks Mr. Rijiju. Let every parent question their son on his conduct, he says.
He agrees with members that mere law won't do to combat crimes. He goes on to explain the salient features of the Bill.
On why the term of woman is used instead of girl, he says it is on lines with the IPC.
Deputy Speaker M. Thambi Durai is in the Chair. He says the Ministry must publicise the law in all languages.
For the first time we have a women safety division under Home Ministry. The National Mission for Women Safety will be created, he says.
As Mr. Rijiu explains the amendments proposed, he is confronted by opposition with clarification. The Chair says let him complete first and then questions can be asked.
Dr. Mamataz Sangamitra (Trinamool) says the punishment changes according to age. Rape is rape irrespective of age, she says. She says gang-rape must be separated from rapes as they are pre-planned, purposely done for revenge among other reasons.
Ninong Ering (Congress) says the Bill seems to be in conflict with the POCSO Act. He asks how the death penalty be implemented. He also fears this would mean the victim might be killed by the hands of perpetrators. The Bill is silent on witness protection. The social stigma also have to be dealt with.
Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) says he opposes the Bill. Quoting a court ruling, he says death penalty wouldn't be a deterrent for rape cases. Even the Justice Verma committee didn't recommend death for rape. The Law Commission also favours death penalty only for terror.
Our ratio for judges is 10 per one million judges. This Bill is only a symbolism. Why can't the government set up a child-friendly courts? Why not improve the female police personnel in stations. It's only 7.2 per cent. The government is only being reactionary, he says.
If this Bill become law, we will be with Saudi Arabia, Iran and China. Maybe Sharia is on the way, Mr. Owaisi says.
What we require in the change in the mindset of men. Laws will not stop rape, change in mentality of men can stop rapes, says Mr. Owaisi.
C.N. Jeyadevan (CPI) speaks in Malayalam.
Meenakshi Lekhi (BJP) says some people repeatedly speak on Kathua but are silent on cases of Kerala and Assam. Quoting a Sanskrit shloka, Ms. Lekhi says God stays only where women are respected.
She justifies the Ordinance saying it will repose faith on judiciary. She also says the appeals must be decided in six months. This will ensure speedy delivery of justice.
Koushalendra Kumar (JD-U) says his party supports the Bill.
Renuka Butta (YSRCP) says though the Constitution doesn't discriminate anyone in the name of religion, caste or gender but reality is different. She narrates how she broke down when saw the condition of a child rape victim in her constituency.
Women have been victims of torture from child immemorial, she says. Even police torture women when they approach them, she says.
A. Sampath of the CPI(M) speaks in Malayalam.
Deputy Speaker interrupts him, saying that the House will extend its working hours by an hour to pass the Bill.
Supriya Sule of the NCP says she represents 21st century India. She asks if we are becoming a regressive society. She cites the Kopardi rape and murder case.
She says an unsafe society causes girls to drop out from schools and colleges. Ms. Sule asks the Minister to include boys in the Bill. She asks for localised village committees as vigilance groups.
Ravindra Babu says that the judicial system is heavily biased against girls and women. He says that rape survivors should get free education and guaranteed employment.
The next Member, K. Vishvehwar Reddy of the TRS lauds the Bill, citing NCRB data, saying that crimes against children and women are on the rise. He says the foreign media is rubbing salt into our unbearable shame. The rape in J&K makes big headlines in The New York Times , he says.
He also says that the Bill is not gender-neutral. He says he supports the Bill.
'Why are laws not gender neutral'
Pinaki Mishra (BJD) says his party supports the Bill but wants the scrutiny from Standing Committee.
He claims the POCSO has not succeeded since the pendency of cases are higher. He also claims the definition of rape is not gender-neutral. Why are boys kept out of such laws, he asks.
Only 0.7 per cent of cases awarded death punishment. Post-Ordinance speedy trial was ensured, but when will the rapists be hanged, he asks.
I have never seen a rich man going to the gallows. Over 85 per cent of death row convicts are poorest of the poor, he says.
Ravindra Babu of the TDP says women are cursed from “womb to tomb. He says that medieval punishments need to be meted out.
Don't your officials know English, Roy asks Rijiju
Sougata Roy (Trinamool Congress) also supports the Bill. We had to wait for a Nirbhaya to amend the laws. We had to wait for a Kathua to amend the Criminal laws. We have to wait for the lynchings and Supreme Court ruling to discuss lynching. Parliament must think ahead of time, he says.
Dr. Roy points out glaring mistakes in the Bill. Victims under 16 years are being called as women. They are girls. Gang rape is referred as crime involving one or more persons... it must be two or more. Don't your ministry officials know English, he asks.
"I got representation for many lawyers saying death penalty are not a deterrent for rapes. This is not being blood thirsty. Such people (accused) don't deserve any mercy or sympathy," he says.
Dr. Roy lists out statistics on rapes. BJP members object to the selective highlighting of cases.
T.G. Venkatesh Babu (AIADMK) welcomes the Bill and lauds the merits of the Bill. The perpetrators of such crimes don't deserve any human rights or mercy, he says.
One girl/woman is raped every 29 minutes. There is a large increase in the number of rapes being reported.
Voyerism, stalking and harassment at workplace must also be brought under this Bill.
Mr. Babu advocates for sex education. Setting of egalitarianism and equity will help in tackling such scenario.
Mr. Babu also reminds the House that the Women's Bill passed by the Rajya Sabha is still pending here.
'Not death penalty, but higher conviction rates will deter rapes'
Ranjeet Ranjan (RJD) is the next speaker. As a mother, I always think in such cases death must be the punishment. But as parliamentarians, we must take hasty decisions. Even though capital punishments must be rarest of rare cases, such laws are needed when tiny children are subjected to abuse.
She narrates her own experience. She recalls how she saw how a tiny girl was raped, her vagina was torn and bleeding. She says she took the child to a doctor, who gave three layers of stitches. But the FIR increased the age of the victim and decreased the age of culprit. She points out the lacklustre attitude in police stations towards rape. She also claims forensic labs are available only in a few States.
She says the culprit had fleed to Nepal and due to her involvement in the case, police acted on it and arrested him.
Ms. Ranjan also talks about Muzzafarpur shelter home rapes. Instead of fighting for justice, we are disputing on the number of rapes in the shelter homes. She wants the government to fix accountability on police and doctors who helped the culprits.
In over 96 per cent cases, the perpetrators of rape are known to the victims. She also points out the low conviction rates in these cases. She fears the death penalty would add more pressure to the victims.
During the trial, the young victims are being subjected to dirty questions even after she was subjected to medical tests. The child victims must be kept out of these ordeals, she says.
A witness protection scheme must be added to the Bill, she says.
Kirron Kher (BJP) accuses the Opposition of selectively highlighting rape cases for political gains. She says she welcomes the Ordinance and the Bill.
She recalls the amendments made after the 2012 Delhi gang rape. Despite this legislature, rapes continue. A more stringent law is required and this Bill fills the gap. She says the perpetrators of such heinous crimes don't deserve lesser punishment.
She lauds a clause which says the previous history of the victim's sexual acts need not have to be considered in case of rapes. The Section 346 were grossly abused by the accused and the new insertion will ensure the law is not misused.
She also says we mustn't stop with laws. Physical examination continues to be the prime testament in rape cases.
Of privilege and Point of Order
RSP member N.K. Premachandran continues to speak on his resolution and on the Bill. He says the reason of bringing up the Bill was after the brutal rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in a temple in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar says Mr. Premachandran cannot talk beyond the merits of his resolution and cannot take much time since he is a one-member party.
As the mover, I am entitled to speak, Mr. Premachandran retorts. The Chair allows him to make concluding remarks.
BJP member Nishikant Dubey raises Point of Order. He says Mr. Premachandran can only talk on the constitutional validity and cannot talk on the Bill.
Sougata Roy (Trinamool) comes in support of Mr. Premachandran. He says Mr. Dubey's Point of Order cannot hold ground as Statutory Resolutions don't fall under it.
Kalraj Mishra is in the Chair. Mr. Premachandran concludes his speech.
What are the amendments being made in Criminal Law Act?
The Bill provides for stringent punishment of a jail term of minimum 20 years or life imprisonment or death for rape of a girl under 12 years.
As per the Bill, for the crime of rape of a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, which can be extended to imprisonment for the rest of life.
Minimum punishment for rape of women has also been increased from rigorous imprisonment of 7 years to 10 years, which can be extended to life imprisonment.
It provides for speedy investigation and trial, which must be completed in two months.
There will be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years.
Now, the clauses amended by Rajya Sabha in the State Banks (Repeal) Bill is taken up for voting. The Bill as amended is passed.
The Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 2018 is taken up for discussion. N. K. Premachandran moves Statutory Motion against the Ordinance. MoS, Home, Kiren Rijiju moves the Bill and seeks support to pass the Bill.
Mr. Premachandran says though he agrees with most parts of the Bill, he is against the Ordinance. Six Ordinances were promulgated in 2 1/2 months. Even the President and Governors cannot frame laws. This is bestowed to the parliament and ordinances surpass it.
Mr. Premachandran says the amendments are the need of the hour.
Shripad Yesso Naik, Aayush Minister, responds. He assures the House that only eminent persons related to the field will be appointed in the Council and interim Board.
We brought the Ordinance to avoid further delay of appointment of members. Elections were delayed due to administrative reasons, he claims. The purpose of the Ordinance and Bill is limited to felicitate the admission process and a comprehensive Bill be brought soon.
Mr. Naik responds to Karan Singh Yadav’s remarks saying that he understands why Mr. Yadav spoke the way he did.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress asks why colleges that don’t meet minimum standards are allowed to induct students. He also brings up the case of Ramji Singh.
The Statutory Resolution is withdrawn.
The Bill is taken up for clause-by-clause consideration.
Motions moved by N.K. Premachandran and Mamataz Sangamitra are rejected through voice vote.
Amendments brought by the government is accepted.
The Bill is passed.
Who is Ramji Singh?
The name of Ramji Singh featured many times during the debate on The Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2018. But who is this Ramji Singh?
In October 2016, the CBI arrested Dr. Singh, the president of Homoeopathy Central Council and one Harishankar Jha, an alleged middleman for accepting bribe to the tune of Rs. 20 lakh to grant licence to a college in Gujarat. Dr. Singh got bail two months later.
Dr. Singh, during his tenure as the Vice-President was accused of accepting bribe to increase the number of seats in some colleges. He was subsequently acquitted in 2016.
Citing the cases against Dr. Singh, the AYUSH Ministry has brought the Bill to reconstitute Council within a year.
Dhananjay Mahadik (NCP) claims as many as 38 colleges were granted licence without proper scrutiny. The CBI has not yet decided Dr. Ramji Singh as guilty, then why close down the Council, he asks.
Karan Singh Yadav (Congress) claims there is an hidden agenda behind bringing up the amendments to Homeopathy Council. This government is only interested in making all councils as rubber stamps. If the real reason was corruption, the government should have brought the Bill on the day the CBI booked the Council chairperson, he says. He continues to speak even after his time has ended. Speaker says it won't go on record and asks next member to speak.
Nihal Chand Chouhan (BJP) says homeopathy can cure dengue, malaria and chikungunya.
Sreemathy Teacher (CPI-M) also asks why the ordinance was promulgated. She calls it undemocratic.
Ms. Sreemathy says the services of homeopathy doctors can be utilised in rural health. Kerala is following this effectively, she says.
The extension of the term can be curtailed if elections are conducted six months prior to the ending of the term. She also suggests the terms must be restricted to two.
She also says post-graduate courses must be conducted in all subjects. Also the number of representatives must be reduced to one person per State. She also suggests grading of homeopathy colleges.
Boora Narasaiah Goud (TRS) says what is needed is the integrity of persons is needed in the Board of Governance and not just integrity of homeopathy.
Dr. Goud is also a medical practitioner. He is a gastrointestinal surgeon. He is the fifth doctor to participate in the debate. Dr. Goud also highlights fake advertisements in the name of homeopathy. These advertisements are against medical ethics. Government must check these advertisements, he says.
He also urges the minister to bring a homeopathy institute in Telangana.
Ravindra Babu (TDP) uses his time to trace the origin of homeopathy. Homeopathy ran into trouble in Germany, the place where it originated. Did Germany ban homeopathy? If this is true, the government should constitute a body to find out why was it banned before deciding to expand it in India.
The Council has been having issues for over one and a half years. We had four sessions in between. Then why was an ordinance promulgated, he asks. Here is one TDP member who has completed his speech without taking up the Special Category Status!
Shrikanth Shinde (Shiv Sena) says the charges levelled against the Homeopathy Council is similar to the Medical Council of India. Considering the similarities, the government must bring a comprehensive regulation for all streams of alternative medicines on the same lines of National Medical Council Bill.
Dr. Shinde is an orthopaedic practitioner.
Every year over 5000 Homeopathic doctors pass out only from Maharashtra. As per the Bill, those colleges who haven't registered themselves with the new Council will be deemed unauthorised.
Rabindra Kumar Jena (BJD) the Homoeopathy Central Council Amendment Bill has procedural issues.
He also wants the government to recommend Dr. Prafull Vijayakar's name for the Padma awards. He also wants the Board not to be filled up with retired bureaucrats but should appoint eminent persons from the field to lead the Council.
He also says the proposed bridge course as unnecessary. Both Homeopathy and Allopathy are two different forms of medicines and one practitioner need not practice the other form.
Dr. Ratna Nag (Trinamool) also criticises government for promulgating ordinance in a hurry. Why do you need an interim one-year government control when you want reconstitute the Council, she asks.
Dr. Nag is also a medical practitioner.
In the past decade, Homeopathy has not got it's due. How much funds have been allocated to the field, she asks. Kolkata is the hub of Homeopathy medicine. The needy and poor have faith in this form of medicine and it deserves more importance, she says.
Dr. K. Kamaraj (AIADMK) is the next speaker. He says Homoeopathy is the second most followed system of medicine, even though some accuse it as "pseudo-science." There are around 223 colleges for Homoeopathy in India, of which 50 don't have recognition. Quoting the AYUSH Minister, Dr. Kamaraj asks how is it possible to run unauthorise colleges when a Council checks the functioning of medical colleges.
Dr. Kamaraj wants to know at what stage the investigation pertaining to bribery charges of the Homoeopathy Council Chairperson. The Homoeopathy Council must have selected a President within three months before the term ends.
Dr. Kamaraj claims the existing Act was sufficient to tackle all issues, but the government hasn't acted well.
A democratically-elected Council has been abolished, he claims. On one hand the government wants to bring in bridge course to allow alternative medicine to practice allopathy, but also admits the issues in AYUSH Ministry itself.
He also takes potshots on government taking the ordinance route.
What is the Bill about?
The Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2018 was brought in to replace an Ordinance that amended the 1973 Act.
The Bill seeks to provide for the supersession of the Central Council with effect from May 18, 2018. The Central Council will be reconstituted within one year from the date of its supersession.
In the interim period, the central government will constitute a Board of Governors, which will exercise the powers of the Central Council.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who moved motion opposing the Bill claimed the government of "using parliamentary ordinances as political ordinances to saffronise the establishments."
Lok Sabha reconvenes. The Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2018 is taken up for discussion. The Bill was already moved on Thursday and Congress member Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury too moved a motion against the Bill.
Dr. Manoj Rajoria (BJP) speaks in favour of the Bill. He says the Bill is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision to upgrade medical education. Dr. Rajoria himself is an Homeopathy medical practitioner. He seeks to ally fears of members who had earlier said the Centre is planning to remove the autonomy of the Council through this Bill.
Dr. Rajoria says he is a post-graduate in Homeopathy. We spend 10 years in studies just like allopathic doctors, but there are very few hospitals for us to do internship, he says.
Rajya Sabha reconvenes. Trinamool members raise the issue of NRC again. M. Venkaiah Naidu, in the Chair disapproves the conduct of members. "I want to hear the issue during the Zero Hour. On my request, the Home Minister was here. But what happened here?" he says and adjourns the House for 10 minutes and subsequently for the day.
Students from Delhi's Manav Sthali school got an opportunity to interact with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh when he came out of the Parliament after the first half of the session.
The children were visiting the Parliament premises as a part of an educational field trip.
Arvind Sawant (Shiv Sena) talks about the Raighar bus accident. He requests the government to provide financial assistance to the victims' families.
M. Srinivasa Rao (TDP) seeks reservation for Kapus in Andhra Pradesh. The AP Legislative Assembly has already passed the Bill, but it is yet to approved by the Central government.
Karan Singh Yadav (Congress) reads out a ''suicide note'' written by a college girl in Rajasthan. Jodhpur AIIMS has witnessed three suicides in the last year. He wants a CBI probe.
The Lok Sabha to meet again at 2:15 pm
Ranjeet Ranjan (Congress) says applicants are randomly alloted places to write Railway Recruitment Board examination. People from Bihar are being made to write examinations in Hyderabad, Mohali students are sent to Chennai, she claims. When exams are being given online, why not write in their hometown, she asks.
Sathyabama (AIADMK) speaks in Tamil. She talks about the problems faced by handloom weavers.
Elumalai (AIADMK) also speaks in Tamil. He says the work to upgrade the Puducherry-Krishnagiri National Highway is yet to be completed. He says he has raised the issue several times during Zero Hour but little progress has been made.
Santosh Singh Chowdhury (Congress) also speaks about non-completion of a flyover on the National Highway.
Ajay Mishra (BJP) says while India manufactures 30 per cent of global generic drugs, only seven per cent is consumed domestically. He suggests the government to come up with an app and website where the equivalent generic drug's name and price appears when a user gives the branded drug's name.
Other prominent issues raised during the Zero Hour are recent killing of several college teachers in Raighar bus accident and proper implementation of MSP hike.
Nishikant Dubey (BJP) accuses the Standing Committee of sitting on his proposal on imported gold.
Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) says the quality of imported pulses must be checked before procuring them. The Minister says he will look into it.
Shashi Tharoor (Congress) wants government to sanction more funds to contain sea erosion and also to tackle floods.
NRC draft and the names left out
In the Zero Hour, Trinamool member raises the issue of National Register of Citizens in Assam. Sudip Bandhopadyay says over 40 lakh people have not been added to the list. Where will they go? This is a torture to these people. Fresh revision must be made. Why the NRC is being carried out only in Assam? The government should take it up with all priority, he says.
Congress leader Mallikharjun Kharge says he fully support Mr. Bandopadhyay. It is the right of these 40 lakh people. They are our citizens and cannot be harassed this way, he says.
Mohammad Salim (CPI-M) says citizens should not be discriminated in the name of religion or language. You are going to dump these people in camps calling them stateless, he says and demands a separate discussion.
Jayaprakash Narayan Yadav fears violence and human rights abuse.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh the NRC is a long-pending demand of the people of Assam. Such Foreigners Tribunals have been constituted before. It is being carried out under the monitoring of the Supreme. Accusations on Union government are baseless. There will be time to raise claims and objection, he says. A SoP will be readied on claims and objections. Even after this exercise, people are not satisfied, they will be allowed to raise it before the Foreigners Tribunal. He requests the Opposition not to politicise a sensitive issue.
Rajya Sabha adjourned till 2 pm immediately after it was reconvened as members raise the issue of draft NRC.
Ram Charita Nishad (BJP) asks if the government has plans to include unorganised workers under social security schemes. Santosh Singh Gangwar, MoS for Labour, says over 40 crore unorganised workers are outside the provident fund scheme. We are working on how to bring them under EPFO.
Question Hour ends.
Of Eminence and Jio Institute
Question Hour continues in Lok Sabha. Prasun Banerjee (Trinamool Congress) asks what are conditions posed for Jio Institute before granting Letter of Intent for granting Institute of Eminence (IoE) under greenfield category.
The criteria includes five-year plan on infrastructure, academic, research among many aspects onsidered. The government was kept at the arms length. The Empowered Committee headed by N. Gopalaswami made the decision, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar says.
Why Bengal universities weren't considered? Mr. Javadekar says it didn't figure in the first list but will be added subsequently.
Sougata Roy (Trinamool) recalls how C.V. Raman got Nobel Prize working in a small laboratory. He says more than money and infrastructure, eminent people are needed and brain drain should be stopped. The process of IoE has been vitiated by introduction of Jio. What efforts are you taking to bring professors from abroad? Are you reconsidering the decision on Jio? he asks.
Mr. Javadekar says he saw 12 young professionals working in IICER, Pune. There is brain gain also happening, he says. On the issue of Jio, no reconsideration of decision.
Will reservation continue in these IoEs, a BJP member asks. Reservation policy will continue, the minister says.
Outside the House, Trinamool members raised the issue of lakhs of people being left out of the draft NRC list released in Assam. Rajya Sabha Member Sukhendu Sekhar Roy sought response from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wondering what will now happen to the 40 lakh people who have been excluded from NRC list.
Is a National Testing Agency necessary?
Mausam Noor (Congress) wants to know if the government has fixed responsibility on the proposed National Testing Agency. Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar says "Yes, paper safety will be ensured and accountability will be fixed, he says.
Will the government provide training for rural students who may find this method new? Mr. Javadekar says the tests will be done in computer but it's not online-based. From September, students will be allowed to take practice in 3000 centres.
Rajendran (AIADMK) asks if the upcoming IIT-JEE and NEET will be taken up by National Testing Agency. Students are sharp. They can cope up, but we are starting training since September, Mr. Javadekar says.
M. Thambidurai asks if these tests are really necessary? Students will be concentrating only for these entrance examinations. The standard of education will definitely go down. This will only lead to mushrooming coaching centres. Don't you have trust in the State government? He also highlights the issue with translation. Even the courts say there is anomaly in conducting such tests, he says. Only elites will get into such institutes, he claims.
Mr. Javadekar says the issues are important. Only IIT-JEE and NEET are being conducted by the Centre. Only 24 lakh students take these exams. Rest are being taken care of the State government, he says.
Lok Sabha continues with Question Hour. Tourism Minister Alphons Kannanthanam lists out schemes implemented in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Jithender Reddy (TRS) remarks the first day is so spiritual that every member is speaking on temples and other places of worship. He also wants to know the details pertaining to Telangana. The Minister submits a written reply, as requested.
Rajya Sabha adjourned
In Rajya Sabha, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vijay Goel, reads out the agenda for the week. As the Chair proceeds to Zero Hour, various members raise issues with the draft NRC being a prominent one. Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu says he has requested the Home Minister to make a statement, but that doesn't cut ice.
The Trinamool Congress had given a notice for suspension of business for the discussion, but the notice was rejected.
House is adjourned till 12 noon.
Sreemathy Teacher (CPI-M) asks a question on government's PRASAD scheme. An acronym for Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spirituality Augmentation Drive, the Tourist Ministry's initiative to promote the rich heritage and cultural history of the country.
Ms. Sreemathy lists the prominent temples in Kannur, her constituency. She recalls how the late Jayalalithaa would visit the Rajarajeshwara Shiva Temple. She wants to know if Kannur will be part of the PRASAD scheme.
Alphons Kannanthanam, MoS Tourism, says the Kerala government hasn't approached the ministry with such a proposal. Other schemes have been started in Kerala, he adds.
This is the first question answered by Mr. Alphons, who became a minister in September 2017.
Rajya Sabha Chairperson announces the demise of former member Thangaraja Pandian. House observes two-minute silence in the memory of the departed soul.
Lok Sabha proceeds with Question Hour.