Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are, on Wednesday, scheduled to discuss and vote on various ministerial matters, including demand of grants and working of Railways, Tourism, and Food Processing Industries ministries.
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:
Rajya Sabha | 3.09 pm
Discussion on Ministry of Railways continues.
P. Wilson of DMK says private trains are desired by Railways in prime routes. “Prime routes have been given to private players. If private players decide to carry only upper class passengers, then railways will lose revenue to a great extent. The Railways are building dedicated freight corridors. In the recent budget, the FM announced about monetizing these corridors. If these routes are put into use, then it will be run by private players. After privatisation, the prices of different AC chairs are increased.”
“The budget does not allow Railways to improve in Tamil Nadu.” He requests an ample amount be granted for rail networks in Tamil Nadu.
Dr. Banda Prakash of TRS says there was an assurance given that Indian Railways will improve rail connectivity in Telangana. “In July 2018, Rajnath Singh answered us that the govt is committed for the implementation. But now, an RTI activist applied to ask about the status. We got a reply that no more coach factories are required by Indian Railways and in the foreseeable future.”
Lok Sabha | 3.10 pm
Discussion on demands for grants under the control of Health Ministry resumes.
Dr. Rajashree Mallick appreciates the Narendra Modi-led Central government and the Odisha Government for effective Covid-management.
She demands second AIIMS in Sundargarh, Odisha, release of pending funds for medical colleges, increased support for more effective functioning of national health mission programme, a super-speciality hospital in Paradwip.
Member DNV Senthilkumar S. says it has been a consistent demand for increasing GDP share on health up to 4%, developed countries like UK have their GDP share on health up to 8%.
“Especially during the times of pandemic like Covid, we expected the government to increase its GDP on health to at least to what the national policy-2017 had recommended to 3%. Unfortunately, it is only 1.8%. The 15th Finance Commission had suggested allocation of ₹1,06,000 crore for health, compared to that a little over ₹71,000 crore has been allocated.
There is a slight increase this year compared to last year, but other departments have also been brought under it.
I appreciate the government’s initiative of vaccination drive, for developing country like India, vaccination should be made free.
During Covid we have noticed that a lot of Ayush drugs being used, there are very strong Ayush practitioners, like Ayurveda in Kerala, Siddha in Tamil Nadu, the problem is that we have to document all the evidence, there should be proper clinical trials and scientific evidence and budgetary allocation should be made on these Ayush drugs so that they can be exported after due approvals.”
Lok Sabha | 2.48 pm
Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar’s statement on India’s vaccine Maitri initiative
The thinking behind this initiative is that Indians we are naturally internationalists by virtue of our culture, traditions, heritage and history, we never seen a contradiction between the internationalism and nationalism that was the driver of our independence movement.
This experience has even further reinforced our internationalism, by creating a stronger solidarity with other nations who have similarly struggled for their freedom. In recent years, as democracy struck deep roots, we have found our own cultural expressions that define us in a diverse world, we have become even stronger voices of international cooperation and solidarity.
Many of us share these sentiments and belief, the challenge of policy making is to give that a shape.
In this respect, PM Modi’s vision has provided an overarching framework to make our goodwill meaningful in terms of practical initiatives and activities.
We already saw that in our humanitarian assistance and disaster response in Yamen, Nepal, Mozambique and Fiji, as a result in the recent years, India’s image has developed as a first and reliable first responder in the region.
We saw that too in critical negotiations of global importance like the Paris Agreement, where we had a key bridging role. Or indeed in the International Solar Alliance or the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, two notable initiatives envisioned by the Prime Minister. When it came to Africa, we raised the level of our cooperation very substantially at the IAFS-3 Summit in 2015. Our projects, training and presence has today spread widely across that continent. From the Caribbean to the Pacific Islands, the message has been clear that the Prime Minister of India not only has the willingness to engage them personally, but to back that up with concrete development programmes. It is this outlook of human-centric global cooperation that is the driving force of Vaccine Maitri.
Even as the Covid pandemic was in full fury, there were already global demands of our pharmaceutical and medical capabilities. If we could meet them, it was largely due to the extraordinary ramp up of our Covid-related capabilities with which the House is familiar. We are all cognizant of the low fatality rates and the high recovery rates that resulted from the Prime Minister’s leadership and the Government’s focused efforts. But there was an external beneficial impact of our capabilities as well.
India could meet the spiking requirements of hydroxychloroquine, paracetamol and other relevant drugs across the world. In fact, we supplied 150 nations with medicines, 82 of them as grants by India. As our own production of masks, PPEs and diagnostic kits grew, we made them available to other nations as well. This generous approach, so characteristic of our culture, was also extended to the Vande Bharat Mission. Starting from Wuhan, we brought back nationals of other countries while looking after our own.
The House would, therefore, appreciate that as we contemplated the prospect of vaccination against Covid-19, a similar approach was natural. Our domestic vaccination programme started in January 2021 and within a few days, we also started assisting our immediate neighbours.
The basis for doing so was the assurance that Prime Minister gave in his virtual address to the UN General Assembly in September 2020. On that occasion, he declared that India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis. We also offered to enhance cold chain and storage capacities for the delivery of vaccines. This approach is not only in keeping with our age-old tradition of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, as I have noted earlier. It is also the contemporary outlook of this Government to utilize India’s growing capacities for the benefit of humankind. As a prominent nation in an increasingly multi-polar world, the international community has greater expectations of us, and we, in turn, are prepared to demonstrate our willingness to shoulder greater responsibilities.
From the very beginning, India has always believed that the pandemic threatens the entire humanity and that the rightful response would be a collective one. Accordingly, as early as 15 March 2020, Prime Minister took the initiative to hold a meeting of SAARC Heads of Governments to fashion a regional response. An important outcome was the creation of the SAARC COVID-19 Fund that supported the early exchanges on this issue within the region. We then held workshops and training courses to strengthen capacities for handling vaccines and other aspects of public health and COVID-19 management. Most recently, that was followed up by a meeting of our senior health officials of the region on 18 February 2021. They shared the outcome of their deliberations with Prime Minister, who urged a special visa scheme for doctors and nurses, coordinating a regional air ambulance agreement, a platform for studying data on the effectiveness of vaccines and a network for technology-assisted epidemiology for preventing future pandemics.
Our efforts, of course, went well beyond the neighbourhood when it came to online training and capability building. The Ministry of External Affairs conducted 14 e-ITEC courses in partnership with premier institutions like AIIMS and PGI Chandigarh. There was even an exclusive one conducted in Bangla for Bangladeshi professionals. And one by Armed Forces Medical Services for the military doctors in South-east Asia. These 14 courses had a total of 1131 professional participants from 47 countries.
In planning and executing Vaccine Maitri, we are naturally guided by a determination to make a difference at a difficult moment for global society. Our reputation as the ‘Pharmacy of the World’ has been reinforced in that process. So indeed has the faith in ‘Make in India’. But more than the vaccines themselves, our policies and conduct have emerged as a source of strength for the stressed and vulnerable nations of the world. They can see that there is at least one major nation that truly believes in making vaccines accessible and affordable to others in dire need.
The House should be aware that the supply of vaccines abroad is based on the assessment of adequate availability at home. This is continuously monitored and takes into account the requirements of our domestic vaccination programme as it unfolds in different phases. An empowered Committee oversees this entire process.
Quite appropriately, Vaccine Maitri began in the immediate neighbourhood, starting with the Maldives, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, as also Mauritius and Seychelles. The extended neighbourhood followed thereafter, especially the Gulf. Supplying smaller and more vulnerable nations was then the logic of reaching out to regions from Africa to the CARICOM. There was also contracts that our producers have entered into with other nations, either bilaterally or through the Covax initiative. To date, we have supplied ‘Made in India’ vaccines to 72 nations across geographies.
The House should recognize the enormous feeling for India that our initiative has generated. Those sentiments have naturally been expressed by leaders and prominent personalities of many nations. But more than that, our Ambassadors feel every day the warmth of ordinary people across the world for India. In the truest sense, this has been people-centric diplomacy at work. The world sees not just the selfless outlook of India but also of the quality of our products and capabilities. The Covid pandemic has been a test of fire for all of us. But I can confidently state that even in the midst of a global crisis, the Prime Minister’s initiative of such deep friendship has raised India’s standing and generated great international goodwill for us.
Rajya Sabha | 2.19 pm
Discussion on Ministry of Railways begins.
Opposition members troop into the well of the house. AAP MPs protest against National Capital Territory Bill (Amendment) Bill, 2021 introduced in the Lok Sabha.
After the protest, Sujeet Kumar of BJD says that freight traffic should be rationalised and optimised, connectivity be improved in NE and J&K.
Ram Vichar Netam of BJP applauds Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, says that Mr. Goyal has done thorough work free of tension, despite the atmosphere of uncertainity. He says that a great service was done to migrant workers to help them reach their homes. All the special trains that ran in mission mode is not an easy task. He appreciates the Railway Minister’s unrelenting efforts.
Naranbhai J. Rathwa of INC says that before lockdown, when there was a discussion in Parliament on Ministry of Railways, we could always expect a new rail line or any new project for development. He says that now he feels the respect on the Ministry of Railways has come down. “In the last 7 years, the talk of privatisation has come up for Indian Railways. During UPA regime, railway infrastructure was improved. It is not that the Railways picked up projects after BJP came to power.”
“This is the first time private parties are allowed to run trains. This doesn’t help the poor. I don’t think the government can gain with this new move. Centre should not privatise Railways.”
Lok Sabha | 2.09 pm
Discussion and voting on Demands for Grants under the control of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for 2021-22
On allowing Ayurvedic doctors to do surgery
Dr Sanjeev Kumar from YSR Congress lauds the government efforts in containing COVID-19 despite lacunae. As a doctor, he argues Covid vaccine will be effective for 6 to 9 months. “The ₹ 35,000 crore for vaccination could be a waste. The money should be spent on primary healthcare.”
The YSR Congress MP questions the government policy of allowing Ayurvedic doctors to do surgery. He said it threatens the respectability of Indian doctors globally.
Dr Heena Gavit of BJP says, “If we had not gone for a complete lockdown, we can’t even imagine how it would have impacted in terms of infection.”
“In Jan 2020, there was only one testing lab in the country for Covid, in one year 2410 labs have been set up…now the situation is that India has conducted the second highest tests in the world.”
“An online training portal was launched for the training of frontline workers…60-million strong Covid warriors were prepared, Aarogya Setu App was introduced to strengthen the contact tracing process, evolving hotspots were identified for better management.”
“The work of vaccine research was also under way, as a result we now have two vaccines..ours is the world’s largest vaccination drive. R&D work for the vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech has been done in India under the aatmnirbhar programme.”
“Covid-19 vaccination utilises the infrastructure of the universal vaccination programmes, a unique CoWin platform has been set up for effective management of the vaccination drive, 2.10 crore have been vaccinated so far.”
“The Finance Minister announced a Centrally-sponsored health scheme with an outlay of ₹ 64,180 crore over six years to strengthen the primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare centres, along with the provisions for existing and future national institutions for cure of new and emerging diseases. Support is to be given to over 17,000 rural and more than 11,000 urban wellness centres.”
“Drinking water and sanitation is also important, around ₹ 60,000 crores have been allocated for that.”
Rajya Sabha | 2.00 pm
Rajya Sabha resumes.
Shakti Sinh Gohil raises point of order, permission is denied.
Our reputation as pharmacy of the world has been reinforced, says Jaishankar
EAM S. Jaishankar makes a statement: “As Indians we are naturally internationalists”. He makes a statement on Vaccine Maitri initiative. When it came to Africa, we raised the level of cooperation substantially. There was an external beneficial impact, India could manufacture HCQ and other medicines, supplied medicines to 150 countries. We brought back nationals of other countries from Wuhan. Vaccine progamme started in January 2021 and we started helping other countries. The basis of this was PM’s address to UN general assembly in 2020.”
“We also enhanced cold storage facility for delivery of vaccines. The international community has great expectation of us. As early as March 15, 2020, PM took the initiative of SAARC nations, the funds helped the region, on February 18 meeting of SAARC health officials, asked for a special visa scheme for doctors and healthcare, sharing technology. Exclusive session was conducted in Bangla by MEA for Bangladesh officials.”
“Our reputation as pharmacy of the world has been reinforced. Made-in-India vaccines supplied to 72 nations. Our ambassadors feel the warmth of people across the world.
Jairam Ramesh of Congress says: “I hope minister recognises the roots of 2014 success to the previous year. the FERA was set up in 1973, we had huge investments in science and technology in public institutes, Bharat biotech Covaxin was developed in an institute in Hyderabad set up 16 years ago by public funds. while we pat ourselves on our back, let us recognise there has been a continuity, the foundation laid in past few decaded. The minister knows this history very well.”
Binoy Viswam of CPI says: “We did not become pharmacy of India recently, charity has to begin from home. What about the poor in India? for them they can assure that help will reach?”
Anand Sharma of Congress: “We must place the contribution of our institutes built over decades such as ICMR. India became pharmacy of the world. We are the largest vaccine manufacturer.”
Jaishankar says: “You will recall the saying, success has many fathers. Too many fathers claiming success today. They want to praise the initiative but going about in a roundabout manner. All of us know the enormous efforts of government in getting vaccine prices lowered, lowest in the world, it is available to many people.”
Lok Sabha | 1.30 pm
Rajeev Ranjan (Lalan) Singh of Janata Dal (United) says, “This government has done excellent work. There will be Opposition and Ruling Party views but on certain issues there should never be any politics. Corona pandemic was one such issue but the Opposition was doing politics.”
Mr. Singh to Opposition: “You should ask for forgiveness for politicising the issue. You ridiculed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to boost morale by asking people to clap and beat pots and pans.”
The JDU MP says India has become self sufficient by making ventilators, by providing PPE kits, testing centres and kits, 1.5 million beds, 80,000 ICUs. “What were you talking about vaccine being abroad? Don’t we have international obligation?”
“Don’t create panic in this country, create self belief among citizens. Vaccine is our achievement and we will certainly spread it across the world.”
Lok Sabha | 1.00 pm
Lok Sabha resumes.
Congress MP Ravneet Bittu says Pakistan has increased the number of drones ever since the farmers’ protests started in Punjab. He said, “Punjab has come out of a difficult situation in the past with great difficulties. If Punjab goes back to violence, the government will be blamed.”
Mr. Bittu urges Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to intervene.
Papers being laid on the floor of the House.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents statements regarding supplementary Demands for Grants for Jammu and Kashmir and Puducherry.
The House will now start debate and voting on the Demands for Grants for Health and Family Welfare.
Manish Tewari is speaking from Congress, says, “The discussion is taking place at a time when the world is engulfed if not overwhelmed by the second wave of the virus. While China locked up its own cities, it kept open air travel and that’s how it spread.”
Mr. Tewari questions how a joint World Health Organization and China has absolved China. “WHO is currently chaired by India. I want to know if the WHO whitewash of China is with connivance of India,” asks the Congress MP.
“That’s why I was insisting on the presence of Health Minister during this debate. I hope India does not allow the proliferators of the virus and negligent China to go scot-free. That’s the biggest responsibility for India.”
The Congress said while only 3.48 core people have been vaccinated while 5.74 crore vaccines have been exported. “We need to question the vaccine lockdown.” He questions the imposition of complete lockdown instead of micro-containment strategy.
“Epidemiologists became economists and economists became epidemiologists”
“With the benefit of hindsight, we need to revisit strategy.” He said in the past one year, epidemiologists became economists and economists became epidemiologists. “While they couldn’t flatten the curve, they managed to flatten the economy,” Mr. Tewari said.
“Events of the past year have been forced us to take a relook at the laws (like Disaster Management Act and Epidemics Act),” he says and cites a 2017 bill that had factored in coronavirus-like situation.
“While we need to compliment doctors and frontline health workers for what they have done in the past one year, we have also seen stories of private hospital overcharging. We need a regulator who can regulate both public and private sector hospitals.”
“India’s health infrastructure needs ₹ 6 lakh crore to make it robust. Please work on a five year plan with State governments.”
“As of today, we use only 1 % of GDP used on Health. This needs to be stepped up to 3 %.”
Mr. Tewari argues to increase spending on research and says, “The lesson from the pandemic is that we should learn to coexist with nature. Thankfully, we managed to contain this virus but may not be able to contain the next one.”
Rajya Sabha | 12.45 pm
“613 old age homes are there in India, 30,000 old people stay there,” says Ramdas Athawale, MoS, Social Justice and Empowerment.
Tiruchi Siva of DMK asks if the old age scheme be extended to more districts, to which MoS replies: “8,000 villages to be covered in 2024.”
Rakesh Sinha of BJP asks if there will be any separate cell for trans genders in jail.
MoS Kataria says: “It is a good suggestion, we will consider it.”
Anil Desai of Shiv Sena asks, “When fuel prices have shot up, why is the Centre not decreasing the price?”
Dharmendra Pradhan says: “Why don’t you request Maharashtra CM to reduce the tax, highest tax being levied by Maharashtra government. I have family relations with Desai ji, very good chicken is cooked at his home, do not do politics here.”
Fauzia Khan of NCP asks if there is any plan to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
Dharmendra Pradhan says: “We have taken initiative to convert bio-waste from agricultural fields to fuel.”
Minister Hardeep Puri on being asked if the existing Parliament building will be given to ASI for preservation: “Once the new parliament is ready then this existing building will have to repaired and made available for alternate uses, no comprehensive thought given on what use this should be put to, several suggestions but no decision taken.”
Housing and Urban Affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri: “Some State governments will draw inspiration from Central Vista and make sure that all government buildings rather than be scattered all over, may consider this arrangement. It is an inspirational question, so far no demand from State government, but as it progresses, I expect State governments to take inspiration from Central Vista project.”
Ami Yagnik of Congress says that the number of buildings to be demolished for Central Vista has not been provided by the minister, but an affidavit has been given in SC. She asks, “Is the affidavit vague?”
Mr. Puri says: “The points mentioned reflect a narrative, only decisions taken and announced so far – 90 acres of hutments of 1942 variety are being removed and the offices there are being relocated to KG Marg and Africa Venue, all those people in those substandard offices since 1947 will be moved, we have taken a decision, all affidavits have a context. new parliament building to be completed by 2022, when we come to next step which is a central secretariat complex at that stage some of the buildings… not a single historical or iconic building will be building. Entire narrative was built, not a single of those buildings will go down, we will have to demolish few buildings but only when alternate offices have been constructed, the city will not come to a halt, why are you gettnig excited madam? You built Krishi Bhavan, Nirman Bhavan, substandard buildings they were, we will shift you to new parliament.”
Mr. Puri says: “It is an evolving plan, new parliament , central visa avenue and offices of central secretariat spread out, idea is to bring all those offices in central vista secretariat, will have space for 50,000 people, connected by underground tunnel, we have a master plan, still to take a final decision. rumours were spread that ₹ 27,000 crore will be spent, decisions will be taken step wise, along Central vista, nine buildings will come, PM’s residence and VP residence will be built.”
RS adjourned till 2 p.m.
Rajya Sabha | 12.35 pm
On ethanol blending programme
Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan saya that many countries took initiative to mix ethanol with petrol.
“From 2004-14, the ethanol blending programme was sidelined. Only 0.67% under ₹500 crore worth blending was done in 2014. This year, it has increased to 8.5% which is worth ₹18,000 crore. Ethanol is made from sugar molasses, so we made a policy for broken rice and corn that are in surplus production. This is being used for ethanol blending. We will increase it to 20% by 2024,” he says.
Rajya Sabha | 12.25 pm
On alleged abuse of sedition law
Chhaya Verma of Congress asks if there are any plans to amend 124 A IPC framed in 1860 by the British.
MoS Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy says that the Act was amended in 1948, and 1955. This is not a new Act. “We are going to make big reforms. A committee has been constituted to suggest changes to IPC, and we are seeking inputs from all,” he adds.
Ms. Verma says that there has been a 165% increase in sedition cases, of which only 2 % has ended in conviction. Are these fake cases? she asks.
Mr. Reddy replies: “Sedition was not tabulated in NCRB earlier. After the Modi government came to power, we started tabulating it separately. Crores of people comment on India’s integrity through social media… considering that, the cases are not much, only in double digits.”
Convictions not determined by government, but by the courts, he says.
K.T.S Tulsi of Congress asks why the 160% increase in sedition cases in 2019? In 2019, 94 were arrested of which only two were convicted. All others were faulty cases. How is the govt. going to stop using 124A to muzzle freedom of press and speech? he asks.
Mr. Reddy replies: Centre does not order any State to take action under this law. This law has been in existence in Congress time. In Congress-ruled Rajasthan, nine cases of sedition were registered in 2015.
States lodge these cases, Centre does not give any direction, he says.
Manoj Kumar Jha of RJD says if a large number of people are getting acquitted, do you plan to train policemen to differentiate between critique of nation and critique of government?
Mr. Reddy replies that the government has never lodged any false cases against anyone, be it the anti-CAA protests or the farmers’ agitation.
Centre did not take any action… people are free to say anything, we do not stop anyone, he says.
Rajya Sabha | 12.20 pm
On crimes against Dalit women
Ayodhya Rami Reddy of YSR Congress asks if the government is considering providing assent to the Disha bill passed by Andhra Pradesh.
MoS Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy replies that many steps have been taken by the Central government to prevent crimes against SC/ST women. He says that 190 special courts have been constituted for SC/ST women, and the Centre is committed to their welfare.
G.C. Chandrashekhar of Congress asks how the government is planning to curb crimes against Dalit women in nine States? Mr. Reddy repeats that law and order is a State subject, but adds that the Centre has changed relevant Acts to aid the State policies.
Rajya Sabha | 12.15 pm
On IIM faculty selection
Priyanka Chaturvedi of Shiv Sena says that the quotas have not been in IIM faculty selection. MoS Rattan Lal Kataria says that the govt. will look into the matter.
Also read: Over 60% OBC, SC positions vacant in IIMs
Ram Kumar Verma of BJP asks as to what action will be taken against States who don’t take action against atrocities on SC/STs. MoS Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy replies that law and order is a State subject.
Rajya Sabha | 12.10 pm
On educational support for SC/STs
Shamsher Singh Dullo of Congress raises a question on the scam in scholarship funds set aside for Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe students.
MoS Rattan Lal Kataria replied that now, post-matric scholarship to SC students will be in 60:40 ratio. The amount has increased to ₹60,000 crore from ₹1,000 crore in past five years, he says, adding that over 4 crore Dalit students will benefit from this.
Ram Chander Jangra of BJP asks if Centre considering direct loaning by banks to students of backward communities. Mr. Kataria says that a loan of ₹2 lakh is provided to select students.
Rajya Sabha | 12 pm
Question Hour begins.
On schemes for SCs
L. Hanumanthaiah of Congress enquires about specific schemes for upliftment of Scheduled Caste population in country. Rattan Lal Kataria, MoS of Social Justice and Empowerment, replied that ₹1,36,000 crore has been allocated for schemes related to SCs this year.
To this, the Congress MP asks if there has been any survey done on the number of people uplifted. Mr. Kataria replies that such data is collected during Census, and no such separate survey has been conducted.
Rajya Sabha | 11.50 am
On gender pay gap
Amar Patnaik of BJD speaks on the gender pay gap in India.
Article 39 of the Constitution promises equal pay for men and women, but gender pay gap exists in our country, he says.
“We rank 149 in economic participation. The economic gender gap is larger than political gap. Women are paid 34% less than men. A woman is projected as caretaker of family… this stereotype remains and is popularly knows as motherhood penalty,” he says.
“Iceland has done [much to reduce the gap] through legislation. There, more women are now in positions of decision-making. Like the women reservation bill, it should be made compulsory for men to take paternity leave, this will bring parity,” says Mr. Patnaik.
Other issues raised include the rising number of ATM frauds, the fake call centres of banks on Internet, the lack of banking facilities in rural areas, and encroachment of land around Chandi temple in Meerut region.
Rajya Sabha | 11.40 am
On a new U.P. High Court Bench
Vijay Pal Singh Tomar of BJP says that U.P. needs another High Court Bench.
He says: The State has 23 crore population, and the area is also huge. Over 9 lakh cases are pending in the HC, of which 50% cases belong to 22 districts who have been protesting for another Bench.
The U.P government has recommended twice for another HC bench in U.P, he adds.
Rajya Sabha | 11.35 am
On drug pricing
Vivek Tankha of Congress brings to the attention of the House the exorbitant price of drug for spinal muscular disease.
“There is a disease called spinal muscular disease for which there is only one drug. Around 2,500 children are born with this disease. The drug for this is manufactured in the U.S. and costs ₹16 crore. Out of ₹16 crore, ₹7 crore is tax,” says Mr. Tankha.
There is a little girl called Shrishti in Bhilai who is on ventilator. Her parents are desperate for help, he says, adding that we cannot depend on ‘draw of lots’ to help these children.
He says that the government should bargain and get a better price for these drugs, and that the tax waiver should be made compulsory for such drugs. There should be a revolving fund with States, and CSR should also be used for this purpose, he adds.
Rajya Sabha | 11.30 am
Make tech giants pay for news, says BJP MP
BJP’s Sushil Modi says the government must make Google, Facebook and You Tube pay to traditional media for using their news content.
“Media makes heavy investment in gathering news, and they deliver credible information. Advertisement is their main revenue. But a large share of revenue is cornered by these tech giants now, and because of this, print media and TV channels are facing financial crisis,” he says.
Mr. Modi adds: “We should follow the Australian model by which they compelled Google to pay for using content of news media, now France and other European countries are also making similar laws. Government should enact a law to compel Google to pay for news.”
Rajya Sabha | 11.20 am
On housing for construction workers
Mahesh Poddar of BJP calls attention to housing situation of construction workers
Some farmers are protesting at Delhi borders, they are constructing permanent structures, while we do not pay attention to construction workers who spend their lives under tin sheds, he says.
“During coronavirus pandemic, their living condition have come to the nation’s notice. Portable houses should be constructed for the construction workers,” he says.
On deteriorating standards of public discourse
K.T.S. Tulsi of Congress points out the deteriorating standards of public discourse.
“Young people look up to us as role models. Would not name anybody, but I place these statements before you to make your own judgement. Even the most reprehensible crime like rape is justified by some warped logic,” he says.
Chair asks that some of his comments regarding this be expunged.
Rajya Sabha | 11.15 am
On recognition of freedom fighters
Muzibulla Khan of the BJD says that many freedom fighters in India have not got due recognition.
“When Kashmir was attacked by Pakistanis, Biju Patnaik was sent on rescue mission. He fought for independence movement of three countries — Russia, Indonesia and India. A leader like Biju babu did not get Bharat Ratna… he should get it,” sas Mr. Khan.
On tourism in Marathawada
Fauzia Khan of NCP asks that special attention be paid to Marathawada area in Maharashtra.
She says that generally, the percentage of tourists for religious purposes is said to be 30-35%. However, in Marathawada in Maharashtra, there is Shirdi which is visited by many people who revere Sai Baba, Patri at Parbani which is said to be the birthplace of Sai Baba… so special attention needs to be paid to this area, she says.
Lok Sabha | 11.10 am
Lok Sabha adjourned over BJP MP’s death
Lok Sabha Speaker and members condoled the untimely death of BJP MP from Himachal Pradesh Ram Swaroop Sharma. Sharma was found dead in his apartment at around 6.30 a.m. He was the elected MP from Mandi.
Speaker Om Birla informed the House of the incident, and after obituary references, he adjourned the House for two hours.
Sharma used to stay in Delhi with his PA and cook. He was under medication.
Lok Sabha has been adjourned till 1 p.m. today.
Rajya Sabha | 11 am
Rajya Sabha begins.
Laying of the Committee Reports and Statements are in progress.
Zero Hour commences.
Jharna Das Baidya (CPIM, Tripura) raises the issue of subsidised and unsubsidised price of LPG. She says that the hiked prices are intolerable for the common man.
Discussion and Voting: Demands for Grants
- Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
- Ministry of Road Transport and Highways
- Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
Discussion and Voting: Working of the Ministy
- Ministry of Railways
- Ministry of Tourism
- Ministry of Food Processing Industries