People's Democracy

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


No. 01

January 01, 2012




CPI(M) Parliamentary Office


INITIATING the short duration discussion in Lok Sabha on agrarian crisis and farmer suicides in the country, CPI(M) group leader Basudeb Acharia said this crisis is not recent. After the government of India initiated so-called reforms, 2,57,996 farmers have committed suicide since 1995. Of these suicides, 90 percent took place in five states. In this period, 50,000 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra, 41,000 in Karnataka and about 39,000 in Andhra Pradesh. Acharia’s sppech remained unfinished and he would resume it later.


In Lok Sabha, on the 50th anniversary of Goa’s liberation, Dr Ramchandra Dome paid respect to the heroes of the liberation movement and congratulated the people of Goa on behalf of the CPI(M).




Taking part in Lok Sabha discussion on the threat to the very existence of river Ganga and the Himalayas, Saidul Haque said that these two are of immense importance to us. But, of late, the deteriorating environment is posing a serious threat to them. Himalayan glaciers are melting and may disappear in the next few decades. The Himalayas are under grave threat from big dams, deforestation and mining activities. The Ganga is now under threat due to pollution. The disposal of domestic and industrial waste causes waterborne diseases. The unplanned constructions and illegal mining in Ganga basin are also posing dangers to the riverbanks and riverbed. The Ganga Action Plan consumed almost Rs 1,000 crore between 1985 and 2000 but the river is still sullied, forcing the government to constitute the National Ganga River Basin Authority. According to a report published in India Today, any plan to produce electricity in the Himalayas would make Ganga disappear from its origin itself. The Farakka barrage is not being maintained properly. One lock-gate has been broken, posing a great danger. The member then appealed to the government to look into all these aspects.


In Rajya Sabha, Moinul Hassan raised the matter of missing haj pilgrims. This time, when the last flight from Jeddah reached Kolkata on December 5, it was found that 138 pilgrims had not yet come back. Nobody knows what happened to them; 20 pilgrims were reportedly arrested and 14 persons dead, but the government or the Haj Committee have made no formal announcement. It shows the irresponsibility of the national and state level haj committees. The member urged the government to bring back all those missing during haj pilgrimage.




In Lok Sabha, V Narayansamy, minister of state for personnel, public grievances and pensions, introduced the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill 2011.


Speaking on this bill, Basudeb Acharia said he was always for a strong, effective and credible Lokpal but the federal structure of our constitution must not be disturbed in regard to Lokayuktas. While he wanted the bill to be passed in this session itself, he said a constitution amendment must be enacted first in order to provide the Lokpal a constitutional status. He also complained that the CPI(M)’s suggestions in the all-party meeting were not incorporated in the bill.


In Rajya Sabha, on the Appropriation Railways Bill 2011 and the Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Amendment Bill 2008, Prasant Chatterjee said while the zonal managers at a recent meeting demanded adequate fund for safety, maintenance is being totally neglected. In recent years, accidents have gone up. There is acute shortage of loco running staff. Crime rate in the railways is sharply going up. CCTVs were not available at many stations. Thousands of RPF posts are lying vacant. There is hardly any financial discipline in the railways.


On the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Amendment Bill 2011, Saidul Haque said the bill sought to settle the long pending issue of status of employees working in Prasar Bharati. While he supported the provisions of the bill, he had some reservations regarding the functioning of Prasar Bharati and the role of the central government. The bill would give Prasar Bharati disciplinary and supervisory powers but the government has the power to impose compulsory retirement or dismissal from service. The member said this might enable the ruling party to interfere in the autonomous corporation’s functioning, and suggested the constitution of a parliamentary committee and a broadcasting council. He urged for recognition to nine associations representing the AIR and Doordarshan employees. While most of these are functioning for the last 40 to 50 years, Prasar Bharati declared on September 8, 2011 that no association was recognised. This was smacked of an authoritarian attitude. The member also raised issues of promotion, recruitment to vacant posts, reservation, financial viability of Prasar Bharati, and warned against outsourcing the broadcasting works, particularly in sensitive areas like Jammu & Kashmir and North-East.


On the Damodar Valley Corporation (Amendment) Bill 2011, Shyamal Chakraborty moved some amendments. He asked what the government’s intention was behind moving this bill. Though DVC was a multi-purpose project, it is now in for power generation, which is not its main task. He demanded that the DVC must give top priority to irrigation, flood control, afforestation, soil conservation etc. Full-time experts of electricity and irrigation must be nominated in the DVC after consultation.


In Lok Sabha, Mahendra Kumar Roy supported some provisions of the Regulation of Factors (Assignment of Receivables) Bill 2011, pointing out its shortcomings. The bill has no provision on the amount of commission or discount charged by a factor. This may lead to unregulated pricing. Roy then suggested that the RBI must issue guidelines for factor pricing. He also pointed out the inconsistency between clause 8 and clause 18. Further, clause 32 states that the government might make rules in respect of form and manner in which transactions of a non-banking financial company would take place. Roy said the phrase “non-banking financial company” must be changed to “factor” as its definition includes other statutory companies too.


Speaking on the Constitution (One Hundred and Eleventh Amendment) Bill 2009, A Sampath dwelt on the functioning of cooperative units in different states for varying purposes --- e.g. for milk production, cotton farming or sugarcane growing. In Kerala, cooperative bodies are involved in all sectors --- handlooms, fisheries, forestry, women welfare activities, matters concerning government employees, agricultural credit societies etc. Now, if the government wants to bring a common legislation for all cooperative bodies in India, it needs to define terms and conditions with utmost clarity. The member demanded that elections in cooperative bodies must be held at least three months prior to expiry of the previous committee’s term; in case of suspension of the board, its period must not exceed six months. The bill talks of the government’s non-interference if the government does not hold any shares or does not give any grant or aid. This means that if affluent people constitute a cooperative body, they may turn the latter into a corporate unit, with the government rendered unable to intervene.


In Lok Sabha, M B Rajesh spoke on the Export-Import Bank of India (Amendment) Bill 2011. He said the bill would increase the authorised capital of EXIM Bank from Rs 2,000 crore to Rs 10,000 crore, but then the bank must extend support to labour intensive traditional sectors like khadi, handloom, fisheries, cashew, etc. As for credibility of our data, a more scientific system of data collection must be put in place. The second point is of trade deficit. The growth of our exports has plummeted to a mere 4.2 percent in recent months while imports are up by a whopping 29.1 percent. This exposes the weaknesses in our opening-up strategy; it has not benefited us but other countries. We need a thorough introspection on our free trade agreements with the European Union, ASEAN etc. As for the depreciation of rupee from Rs 45 per dollar a year back to Rs 53, the government’s position is of non-intervention while other countries do intervene in such situations to stabilise their currencies. It is high time the RBI must consider capital controls in order to prevent sharp falls in rupee value.


In Rajya Sabha, on the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Bill 2011, K.N Balagopal supported the government’s steps to regulate the cable TV operations. The apprehension is that a few may monopolise the system. What will be the fate of cable operators and thousands of people working under them? Pay channels can charge more. There is no provision to control this kind of tendency. As DTH is a costly affair, we must think of low-cost instruments like Aakash and our IPod. He also demanded caution against contents creating hatred and tension among people.


During the Rajya Sabha discussion on Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines (Acquisition of Right of User in land) Amendment Bill 2011, P Rajeeve said natural gas is an essential input in fertiliser manufacture and power generation, and the ministry must ensure its proper distribution across the country. Our protection measures are inadequate to contain oil pilferage and sabotage of pipelines, and the ministry must have a proper mechanism to protect the pipelines. Close and regular interaction with state and district authorities is required. The member also demanded provisions to protect the witnesses who report thefts from pipelines. While welcoming the work of laying a pipeline from Kochi to Bangalore and Mangalore, he said no ground survey or environmental study was conducted. The GAIL’s functioning is unilateral, without discussions with the people’s representatives. People of several districts in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamilnadu are in panic, and the ministry must intervene.


On the Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research Bill 2011, P Rajeeve said the bill must be referred to a Select Committee to ensure reservation in the academy. Due to protest from the Left and other parties, the minister was compelled to come up with an amendment to ensure reservation. The said academy was established without the parliament’s consent, and this requires passage of a bill in parliament. Comparing the pre-liberalisation and post-liberalisation situations in regard to the number of researchers, the member said before 1990 India produced more PhDs than China, Korea and other Asian countries but the scenario started changing post-1990. At present, despite having institutions like IITs, India has a severe shortage of science and engineering doctorates. The member also touched on issues like the quality of research at the academy, its style of functioning and accountability, role of the CSIR, brain drain, inclusion of weaker sections and women in the Directors Board, mechanism to address the grievances etc. He termed the bill as devoid of social commitment, in favour of big industries and silent on rural industries, urging the minister to look into these issues.


On the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill 2011 in Rajya Sabha, Tapan Sen said it was a sensitive issue. There are a number of Bengalis in Uttarakhand. They belong to the Namo Siddha community and want to be considered as a scheduled caste. The first assembly of Uttarakhand passed a resolution to that effect in 2002 and sent it to the central government, but its fate is hanging in air. Sen wanted an assurance that the government would have a comprehensive approach on the demands for SC/ST status and prepare a common list for the country.


Speaking on the same bill, Saman Pathak demanded inclusion of three North-East communities (Khambu Rai, Gurang and Dhimal) in the ST list.