People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 52

December 25, 2011




CPI(M) Parliamentary Office


SPEAKING in Lok Sabha on the adjournment motion on the moneys deposited in foreign banks and the need to act against the guilty persons, CPI(M) group leader Basudeb Acharia said the neo-liberal policies adopted in 1991 have facilitated the proliferation of black money. No serious step has been taken to quantify the black money, nor was any serious action taken against those responsible for stashing the national wealth in foreign banks. As per the Global Financial Integrity’s report, Indians stashed the largest share of black money in foreign banks. If it was 232 billion dollars three years back, it stands today at 462 billion dollars. That means black money worth approximately Rs 20 lakh crore is lying outside and not usable for the country’s development. However, if the US and some European countries can force the government of Switzerland to disclose the names of those who have deposited money in Swiss banks illegally, why cannot our government take such action? If the government received a list of such people in 2010, what prevents it from disclosing these names?


On the double taxation avoidance agreements (DTTA) with a dozen countries including Mauritius, Acharia said that out of the total FDI of Rs 5.42 lakh crore coming between April 2000 and April 2011, Rs 2.62 lakh crore came from Mauritius. It means the FDI coming via the Mauritius route increased by 41 per cent in 11 years. Whose money was that? Has the Income Tax Department received any concrete information about Indian tax evaders? How many requests the CBDT has so far made and how many responses it has received? Mauritius is the biggest conduit for channelling illegal money into India from abroad. But black money is there not only in foreign banks but also in country. How many persons have been prosecuted so far? Among other things, the CPI(M) leader insisted on the need to have electoral reforms in order to prevent the use of black money in elections.


Acharia also drew attention of the minister of state for finance to the non-revision of wages of IDBI employees, asking what steps the government has taken in this regard.





Speaking on the supplementary demands for grants (railways), M B Rajesh said the railways are the biggest and most prestigious public sector enterprise in our country, with 63,947 km route and 18,820 trains carrying 20 million passengers and 2.4 million tonnes of freight everyday. But this prestigious enterprise is facing an unprecedented crisis today because of wrong policies, lack of vision and lack of coordination among those at the helm of affairs in the railways. Its financial situation has affected the infrastructure development, safety, passenger amenities and quality of services provided by the railways. Only 11,000 route kilometres were added in the 60 years after independence. Lot of promises made by the railway ministers were not fulfilled. These include that of a three-decade old promise of a coach factory in Palakkad. Regarding safety, the promised introduction of modern technological devices has not materialised so far. What steps were taken to prevent the recurrence of rail accidents in our country? Out of two lakh vacancies in the railways, around 9000 vacancies are related to safety aspect in the railways. When would the minister fill up these vacancies?


Rajesh also urged the minister to urgently reinstate the catering employees who were thrown out of employment.


As for the continuing neglect and discrimination towards the state of Kerala, Rajesh said recently MEMUs allotted to Kerala were taken back to Chennai. The people of and all MPs from Kerala protested against it, but nothing happened. It was also learnt that the operational control of Kerala Express running from Thiruvananthapuram to New Delhi was to be shifted to Chennai.


Speaking on the Appropriation (No 4) Bill 2011, Moinul Hassan asked what plan the government had to protect our nation from the double-dip recession which is likely to occur throughout the world. In the second batch of supplementary grants, there is approval for additional expenditure for the current year. But the hard fact is that income is less than borrowing. The government is relying on the borrowed money but the tax collection is trailing behind that estimated. Revenue deficit shot up threefold in six months. Employment is not increasing in any sector. Non-agriculture employment fell from 4.65 per cent to 2.53 per cent, despite the operation of the MGNREGA. Since long, there has been little public investment in agriculture. The member demanded rollback of fuel price hikes, control on fertiliser prices and increase in subsidy, stop to forward trading, universalised public distribution system, and mobilisation of resources from the rich.




Taking part in the Rajya Sabha discussion on the present agrarian crisis and the spate suicides in the country, Moinul Hassan said the reality of Indian agriculture today is that a large number of our farmers have committed suicide. Agriculture sustains our life but we have been ignoring it for long. He said the government must change its policy regarding investments; otherwise very bad days are ahead for all of us. Over the last four years, the ministry has been misleading the house by providing varying figures about different areas, but without revealing the source of its information. The government must come forward to save the situation by providing some relief to the agriculturists.


Hassan also demanded a discussion on the report of the National Commission on Farmers and on the draft approach paper for the twelfth five-year plan, adding that one major problem our kisans are facing is of credit. Banks are not giving money to the poor farmers who are forced to go to moneylenders. Apart from adequate and timely availability of credit, the member also raised issues like the presence of hooligans and middlemen in the FCI and JCI, distress sale of their produce by farmers, sale of fertilisers like urea and DAP in black market, reduction in subsidies for peasantry while giving more facilities to the corporates, erratic power supply to Indian villages, inadequate or nil insurance coverage for peasantry, and frequent diesel price hikes that affect the productivity, etc.




In Rajya Sabha, Prasanta Chatterjee supported the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Special Provisions) Second Bill 2011. He said while taking care of the problems of urban areas, rural problems must also be taken into consideration. In the recent scenario of a bad economy, closure of big industries and agrarian crisis, rural people are migrating to urban areas on a large scale. In the capital city of India, poor people have settled in unauthorised areas and the government must consider physical improvement of these areas. The government will have to acquire private lands, give tenancy rights in the jhuggi-jhopri colonies and provide proper sewage, roads, water, etc there. Concepts of physical settlement of the poor must be incorporated in the bill. This is not the job of the ministry of urban development alone; the entire government will have to consider these things. The member also said while serious care has been taken of the development of Delhi, other metropolitan areas have been left, which is a horrible picture of urban development.


A Sampath spoke on the bill in Lok Sabha.


In Rajya Sabha, T K Rangarajan spoke on the Chartered Accountants (Amendment) Bill 2010, Cost and Works Accountants (Amendment) Bill 2010 and Company Secretaries (Amendment) Bill 2010. He said that an amendment to the bill pertaining to Institute of Chartered Accountants of India allowed foreign companies to sneak into India in the garb of management consultancy firms, which do not respect the laws of the land. He demanded immediate take action against and blacklisting of all surrogate firms operating in India. The ICAI and the RBI must be asked to explain why they, despite the JPC directions, failed to act against the Pricewaterhouse Coopers of the Global Trust Bank notoriety, which ultimately led to the Satyam scandal.


On the Commercial Division of High Courts Bill 2010, Rangarajan said the bill would pave the way for legal liberalisation, provide high-tech fast track commercial divisions in High Courts and thus allow the rich to steal a march over the poor in the matter of early disposal of cases. The bill was against the directive principles of state policy. Registering protest against the passage of the bill in Lok Sabha without discussion, he said it dilutes article 14 of the constitution. The member demanded recruitment to the large number of vacancies in High Courts and establishment of more Supreme Court benches in the country for fast disposal of cases.


Speaking on the Life Insurance Corporation (Amendment) Bill 2011 in Rajya Sabha, Tapan Sen said companies like the LIC and other public sector financial institutions made the Indian economy resilient and helped combat the crisis that has gripped the whole world. So the government must not tinker with the companies which are functioning well. The danger is that their equity structure can be changed through executive power. The second issue is that of sovereign guarantee. The country’s social sector is being funded by the LIC even when the country is in a deep crisis. Such public sector insurance companies must not be disinvested.


In Lok Sabha, Bansa Gopal Chowdhury spoke on this bill, when he also questioning how the government could dupe the policyholders who have purchased LIC policies under the existing act that assures them 95 per cent of the surplus generated. This would affect 26 crore policyholders. Another issue is that lakhs of LIC agents are likely to lose their jobs while there a dearth of jobs in such the country, when our economy is slowing down and there is a serious problem in the manufacturing sector.


On the Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines (Acquisition of Right of User in Land) Amendment Bill 2010, P R Natarajan said agriculturists of Kerala and Tamilnadu objected to the Cochin-Bangalore pipeline when it was being laid. The instructions given by GAIL did not allow them to use for agricultural purposes the land up to 10-15 feet from the pipeline. Now the latest bill would give more powers to police officers under the CrPC. Moreover, amendments to clauses 16(a), (b), (c) and (d) devolve the burden of proof on the persons from whose possession crude oil, petroleum products or tools etc are found. However, the bill has no way to decide who actually causes the crime. Thus the provisions of the bill may be grossly misused.


In Lok Sabha, P K Biju said the Cable Networks (Regulation) Amendment Bill 2010 seemed to be marginally pro-consumer but many questions were left unattended. The bill gives freedom to the broadcasters in pricing their pay channels, leaving them the option to increase the prices abruptly. He also said cable operators and hackers could easily twist the Analog system, creating major piracy problems. There is also the need for an independent grievance redressal system. The absence of a regulatory body to settle disputes between sections of the industry would also make the bill futile. Biju therefore demanded a thorough review of the bill to protect the consumers and the larger interests of the country.




In Rajya Sabha, Tapan Sen drew attention to the retrograde move to drastically slash down the interest rate on Employees Provident Fund from 9.5 per cent prevailing in 2010-11 to 8.25 per cent. This is targeting the lifetime savings of workers. The workers’ provident fund is a social security fund and deserves a much higher rate of interest. He urged the whole house to force the government to desist from the move and give the house a clear assurance.


Moinul Hassan raised the issue of attacks on social activists in different parts of the country, with special reference to Pakur district of Jharkhand. He said social activists are not safe in our country. In the last session, the issue of an incident in Bhopal was raised. Recently, Sister Valsa John, a nun-cum-activist, was murdered in Pakur district of Jharkhand on November 15. She had  opposed the displacement of local residents by the Panem Coal Mining Company and was much respected among the tribal people. The Maoists saw her as an impediment to their activities in the area while common people are not getting justice from the administration and police. Hassan warned that if such trends were not curbed, mafia groups would get supremacy in the country.


In the same house, Jharna Das Baidya drew attention to the killing of two women in police firing in 24 Parganas of West Bengal on December 1. She said this terrible incident followed a conflict between the Electricity Board and the villagers who were demanding electricity and were discontented because of the delay. Though the state government ordered a judicial inquiry and gave some compensation two days later, the member said a full-fledged, unbiased inquiry into the incident was very much needed.