(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
September 05, 2010
THE WEEK IN PARLIAMENT
SABHA passed the contentious Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill on
25. The Left parties fought it tooth and nail in the house, forcing
a number of amendments to the obnoxious bill. CPI(M) leader Basudeb
described it as pro-US, saying it was drafted primarily to serve the
KEPT IN DARK
speaker said our target for nuclear power generation by 2035 is 40,000
which we have developed three-phase technology from uranium to
thorium. But importing 40 atomic reactors would block our indigenous
development of nuclear plants based on thorium which is abundant in
the bill clause by clause, Acharia said clause 6 imposed a cap on
But there is no cap in
Under the present Atomic Energy Act, only a government or public sector company can operate a nuclear power plant. But clause 7 of the bill sought to facilitate the private sector’s entry in this field. However, the government has kept the operators’ liability low and is thus out to subsidise them.
About clause 17, Acharia said it was amended further and when there was a suggestion in the standing committee for strengthening the clause, the government surreptitiously added the word ‘and,’ which changed the entire meaning of the clause. Then, after an uproar, the government removed the word ‘and’ and put another word ‘intent’ which further weakened the clause. But who will be able to prove a supplier’s intent? The government’s intent, of course, is to indemnify the supplier because of outside pressure. The speaker then wanted to know why the government is making one change after another to absolve the suppliers. Moreover, the government intends to join the convention on supplementary compensation which protects the suppliers. Acharia warned against this move.
August 26, Lok Sabha had a discussion on the
at a round-table conference on
Rajya Sabha, Brinda Karat, CPI(M), moved a Calling Attention Motion on
faced by disabled citizens and need for an administrative-legal
framework to meet
their requirements. She said the disabled in
The member said we look at the disabled as objects of charity. We have got so many laws but, she asked, is anybody held accountable under a single law for discrimination against the disabled? They face inbuilt barriers. Shops, hospitals etc are not disabled friendly. Hence the constitution has to ensure constitutional guarantee against discrimination against disability.
The laws in our country still look at disability as a medical problem. It is a problem of definition. There are different types of disabilities and, within the framework of rights of the disabled citizens, we have to look at the specific needs of individuals suffering from specific types of disability. It is good that the government has accepted the demand for a separate law instead of going in for amendments to the present laws. The eleventh plan talked of fixing three per cent of all funds for the disabled, but it is not implemented. Anomalies in the constitutional, legal and administrative structures, which act as worst types of barriers for the disabled, must be removed. Identification of the disabled must be made simpler. A universal identity card must be provided so that disabled citizens can access their rights anywhere in the country.
Rajya Sabha had passed the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill 2010. From the CPI(M) side, P Rajeeve and Brinda Karat participated in the discussion. According to Rajeeve, the prevalence of corruption in the Medical Council of India showed the ministry’s failure in governance. The central government was fully empowered to remove the president or any member of the council, but it did not take any steps to remove the corrupt Dr Ketan Desai from the MCI and allowed him to continue as president even from the jail. If the government had acted upon the Delhi High Court judgement of 2001, dissolution of the council could have been avoided. The government was not ready to implement section 30 either. Health is a state subject and the government should have discussed it with the state governments before dissolving the MCI. The unilateral action of the central government is a threat to the federal character of our country. Institutions like MCI are products of progressive initiatives but the government has always tried to curb their autonomy and accountability.
The member said the bill intended to curtail the democratic character of the council. Official members of the council have no accountability; six of them have been vested with the authority of the government. They have been given the powers to give final orders. Some members represent the private sector. Private institutions are now main players in health sector. The Medical Council may become their handmaid. Opposing the bill, Rajeeve also pointed out that the existing structure did not reflect the federal structure of our country.
Brinda Karat said the bill set bad precedence by abolishing a council’s autonomy and it would be damaging to the federal character of our institutions. In the name of fighting corruption, they dissolved the council itself. The bill removed each and every single representative from the Medical Registers of states. It also removed all avenues of an appeal. Doctors in the Indian Medical Association are advertising products of multinational companies, which they know is unethical. If you talk of reforms, the member said this is an area where action is needed.
Rajya Sabha has passed the Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill 2010. Supporting the bill, CPI(M)’s Saman Pathak said the amendment to regularise the Unani and Sowa-Rigpa systems of medicine is very important. The Sowa-Rigpa is a traditional system, popular in the Himalayan areas where other medical facilities are not available. There should be scientific research and analysis with respect to these medicines. There should the representation of the states where the systems exist. In this regard, state institutes should get more facilities.
Rajya Sabha has also passed the Jharkhand Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Bill 2010. Participating in the debate, Jharna Das Baidya of CPI(M) supported the bill and said panchayats are an important political institution. Separated from Bihar in 2000, the state of Jharkhand is under the president’s rule today. Jharkhand is rich in mineral resources but the people here are deprived of democracy. In this situation, how is it possible to work on the schemes such as Antyodaya Anna Yojna, Annapurna Yojna, NERGA? The problem of Maoism is also there. The state cannot function without panchayats and therefore panchayat elections, as also assembly elections, in Jharkhand must be held at the earliest.