People's Democracy

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


No. 20

May 20, 2012

Basudeb Acharia


IN Lok Sabha, CPI(M) group leader Basudeb Acharia said that while we are observing the 60th year of our parliament, we should remember those who laid down their lives and went to the gallows. The sacrifices of the heroes of our freedom struggle won us independence and we adopted the parliamentary democratic system of governance. We will have to seriously think whether the problems of inequality, discrimination, poverty, exploitation, etc have increased or decreased, and whether the intent of the founding fathers of the constitution has been implemented in letter and spirit, in this 60 years period. We see that the poverty has not reduced; happiness has not come to the people. The gap between the rich and the poor has increased. Lakhs and lakhs of people are still born under the sky and die under the sky. We have not been able to provide shelter to 100 per cent of our population. We cannot even provide safe drinking water to the poor. We must seriously think of the tribals and dalits whose conditions have not improved. If a farmer commits suicide after 64 years of independence, we will have to seriously think over it. Another major problem which is corroding our parliamentary democracy is the use of money power in elections. If voters and votes are purchased, what will happen to the parliamentary democracy? There is a need for electoral reforms. Unless there is state funding of elections, we will not be able to curb the use of money power. Something has to be done to cleanse the system and protect it from corrosion. We should seriously ponder over it. The problems of discrimination, exploitation, pauperisation of the people, starvation and illiteracy still exist in this country, and we cannot enjoy the successes and achievements of our parliamentary democracy unless we remove these ills.


The sitting extended till the evening. Both the houses adjourned after passing a resolution to uphold the dignity and supremacy of parliament.




CPI(M) Parliamentary Office


THIS week, the Indian parliament completed 60 years of its existence. From the CPI(M) side, Sitaram Yechury spoke on the event during a special session in Rajya Sabha and Basudeb Acharia spoke in Lok Sabha.




In Lok Sabha, P Karunakaran spoke on large scale mismanagement in the affairs of Air India, the national carrier, and some private carriers, and the need of comprehensive policy changes in civil aviation sector. He said the standing committee on civil aviation had pointed out that Air India is going in a loss as the ministry spent a huge Rs 40,000 crore for purchasing new aircraft and cancelled many of the profitable routes in favour of private sector. There is also an alarming situation with regard to security. Fake pilots were found working. What is more shocking is that some of these fake pilots are relatives DGCA officers. Many airports have no certificate from the DGCA. There are many private flying training centres, of which the DGCA is not aware. The DGCA is thus compromising with the safety issue and has no concern for the passengers’ life. The situation is not new and came about because of wrong policies and mismanagement. Stringent action and reorientation in all fields are essential.


In Rajya Sabha, T K Rangarajan initiated a discussion on the working of the ministry of defence, demanding refusal to FDI in defence. He also talked of the army chief’s age and the related court case, leak of his letter to the prime minister, corruption in government deals and its effects on our military preparedness and our image, the need to enhance our R&D capabilities through the DRDO as well as public sector ordnance factories, modernisation of the DRDO, full use of our technical manpower, ill effects of tie-ups with foreign military companies at the cost of the DRDO, ailing Sainik Schools and the 'one rank one pension' principle.


Prasanta Chatterjee spoke on water leakage from Farakka dam, saying that maintenance of Farakka barrage has been neglected for years. The government of India, in particular the shipping department, is responsible for it.




On Finance Bill 2012, Bansa Gopal Chowdhury said the Direct Taxes Code Bill comes in the backdrop of a decline in tax-GDP ratio in recent years. The principle of taxation must change and it must be made more progressive. There is an alternative structure which can be considered --- nil tax for income up to Rs 3,00,000; 10 per cent for the slab Rs 3,00,000 to 5,00,000; 20 per cent for the slab Rs 5,00,000 to 10,00,000; and 30 per cent beyond the income of Rs 10,00,000. There is also an alternative proposal for wealth tax. Further, no tax concession must be allowed beyond three years. The SEZ Act must be amended to phase out various tax exemptions.


Speaking on the same bill, M B Rajesh pointed out that foreign and domestic corporates are aggressively lobbying against a retrospective amendment but we must not succumb to their pressure. He also asked the finance minister that the infamous Mauritius route must be closed, adding that the super-rich must be made to pay more tax.


Speaking on the Appropriation (Railways) Bill 2012, Tarini Kanta Roy said the present railway minister made some changes in the original budget but did not withdraw the fare hike. This was the real problem. Already, the people are overburdened. As for the fashionable word 'vision,' the railways’ vision has become a bad dream. Most of the projects are not completed on time. The budget is silent on the resource crisis. The standing committee on railways pointed out that there were 1,66,100 class III and IV vacant posts till April 1, 2010. Though most of these are safety related posts, there is no time-bound programme to fill these up. Passenger amenities are in a total mess. There is lot of congestion on the railway routes.


Describing the Indian railways as the fourth biggest in the world, K N Balagopal said we need more money to invest in repairs, maintenance and safety. The railway are about to face a very serious threat of privatisation. It will affect the whole development of our country. It is necessary that the government provide required budgetary support to the railways. The member demanded fast completion of ongoing projects, quality and safety measures, upgradation of stations and railway lines, overbridges, escalators and lift facilities for physically challenged people, more coaches, wagons and electric engines.


P K Biju opposed the proposed Right to Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill 2012, pointing out that providing home-based education as an option to school education for children with disabilities would be a retrogressive step. The amendments regarding the management committee are not necessary. Welfare of the school and of some particular areas is the primary concern of all groups. But the proposed bill would curtail the rights of the minority under article 30 of our constitution. The monitoring and implementation of RTE Act has been assigned to the National Council for the Protection of Child Rights. How a less experienced body could ensure the rights of children without active cooperation of civil society and coordination between various government departments, the member wondered. He also talked of the institutional mechanism for identifying the neighbourhood schools and the disadvantaged and weaker sections, problems facing our education system, shortage of teachers, need of more than five lakh teachers to implement the RTE Act, meagre funding for the mid-day meal scheme, lapse of funds allocated for the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and a review of the latter’s implementation.


While supporting the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill as necessary for ensuring protection and dignified life to a child, Dr T N Seema said data from the National Crimes Record Bureau show an alarming increase in sexual offences against children. Our existing laws are not effective in curbing these crimes and giving justice to the victims. A few aspects of the bill, regarding compensation for the victims, etc, require changes. the government must ensure effective running of child homes and child protection institutions. We also need to sensitise the whole judicial system, police and bureaucracy about child rights.


In Rajya Sabha, P Rajeeve opposed the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill 2012, dubbing it as undemocratic. He said this time the minister is in trouble and tried to bypass the parliament through an ordinance, but his design was defeated. After the malpractices in MCI were brought to the minister’s notice, with a demand for action according to provisions of the Medical Council Act, the government dissolved the council itself and then the cabinet cleared an amendment bill for its extension. But the minister preferred an ordinance and it came on May 10, 2011. Though he specifically assured the house that this mechanism was a temporary arrangement, now he wants its extension for three years. As health is a state subject and medical education is in the concurrent list, the governors should have discussed it with the state governments before dissolving the MCI. At present, some officers and the minister are handling all the issues, but this cannot be allowed. We have to protect the democratic character and autonomy of the council, the member added.


Pointing out how some provisions of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2007 would help the insurance companies, K N Balagopal talked of the consignor’s responsibility for overloading, need to increase the compensation under the Solatium Fund, the need to treat drunken driving as culpable homicide, etc.




In Rajya Sabha, Prasanta Chatterjee appealed that the London Olympics’ organising committee must make the Dow Chemicals, one of its sponsors, take the liabilities of the Bhopal gas disaster as this very company took over the Union Carbide installation at Bhopal.


Dr T N Seema raised the issue of denial of admission to Soni Sori, an adivasi teacher from Chhattisgarh, to the AIIMS. The police arrested her on the allegation that she had connections with the Maoists and tortured her in police custody.


Talking about the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, Prasanta Chatterjee described the poet as a rare combination of nationalism and internationalism. When great leaders of our country could not think how to protest the inhuman massacre in Jallianwal Bagh, Tagore lodged his protest by renouncing the knighthood, giving a fillip to the anti-colonial movement through this gesture.


Tapan Kumar Sen raised the issue of retrenchment and of contract workers in a central public sector steel plant.


Prasanta Chatterjee demanded that the government for pass a law for setting up a legislative assembly in Andaman & Nicobar Islands on the Puducherry model.