People's Democracy

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


No. 21

May 27, 2012



CPI(M) Parliamentary Office


IN Lok Sabha, Basudeb Acharia, leader of the CPI(M) group, called the attention of the house to the situation arising out of the non-implementation of wage revision meant for employees of the Industrial Development Bank of India and steps taken by the government in this regard.


Initiating the Rajya Sabha discussion on the problem of foodgrains storage in the country, Prasanta Chatterjee said the main issue is that the people of our country are not getting foodgrains at affordable prices and that the country has been witnessing deaths due to hunger. During the last five years, huge quantities of foodgrains were damaged in the country whereas on the other hand we are experiencing steep rises in the prices of essential commodities. In such a situation, the member asked, how the people would survive at just 20 rupees. The country experienced a very good monsoon but the prices have not come down. A huge stock is there, but still the people are suffering.




While speaking on the finance bill and the appropriation bill in Rajya Sabha, Tapan Kumar Sen said the need of the hour is to plug the loopholes that are allowing huge tax thefts, tax evasions and generation of black money. The government is giving the culprits the message to go on committing a crime on the country’s economy, which is the most frustrating thing. The government refuses to reduce the excise duty on petroleum; rather it is putting further burdens on the people. Its entire concern is for the business lobby, for the investors lobby and for the manipulators lobby. It is its business compulsion. The member asked why the government could not impose a duty on petroleum and iron ore exports, and levy a tax on FII transactions. The PF interest rate has reduced from 9.5 to 8.25 per cent. But the thing is why the government cannot keep it at least above the GPF rate of interest; what the government wants to do about the employees’ pension scheme and why it is not implementing pro-worker reforms. The member asked whether the government would stand with 50,000 people or with five crore workers who are in fact making the GDP grow. He asked that the government must enhance its contribution to the pension fund and also ensure that the rural bank employees get the same pension as those of the sponsor banks. He opposed the moves to burden billions of people while giving relief to a handful of corporates, giving concessions to those indulging in tax default and tax thefts. Yet the government keeps lamenting of a resource crunch to open the gates of the country’s economy for the FII manipulators. He said despite having 8.6 per cent annual average growth during the eleventh plan period, employment generation went down to 0.8 per cent.


In Rajya Sabha, P Rajeeve spoke on the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2012, welcoming the minister’s expressed willingness to incorporate certain proposals. He said it is an era of knowledge based economy and knowledge based society, and a new concept of copy left and open source is emerging. So the right to transfer must be modified according to our needs. But the bill fails to address the new issues. The ministry has removed the idea of parallel imports very cleverly in order to protect the interest of publishing companies. The amendments which the government has moved can weaken India’s stand in international forum.


Speaking on the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation and Other Related Laws (Amendment) Bill 2012, Jharna Das Baidya expressed hope that the bill would fulfil the long-standing aspirations of the people of Tripura, Manipur and Meghalaya. The Tripura assembly passed a resolution in 1987, urging the centre to take steps for establishment of a separate High Court for Tripura. Now this bill will enable the establishment of separate High Courts for Tripura, Manipur and Meghalaya. She also urged for adequate help for all round development of the North-East in a time-bound manner on a priority basis.


In Lok Sabha, Basudeb Acharia spoke on the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Second Amendment) Bill 2011. He said the assurance given by the UPA-1 government that a comprehensive bill would be brought to include some of the left-out scheduled tribes and scheduled castes, remains unfulfilled. In this connection he referred to the case of Deswali Majhi community living in the Maoist affected districts of Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore. Earlier, they were recognised as a scheduled tribe but that recognition was withdrawn in 1952. But the same people are recognised as a scheduled tribe in the neighbouring Jharkhand. Once the government of West Bengal made a strong recommendation to the central government but it was rejected arbitrarily, without giving any reason. This is a socially, educationally and economically backward community, and most of them are landless people. Hence the Deswali Majhi community of West Bengal must be included in the ST list and enabled to get all the benefits.


Baju Ban Riyan too demanded inclusion of Medara, a community in Karnataka, in the list of Scheduled Tribes in the state. He also demanded that the minister must bring a comprehensive list of scheduled tribes in consultation with the states, and include the deserving communities in this list by amending the Scheduled Tribes Order of 1950.


In the same house, Pulin Bihari Baske too demanded inclusion of Medara and Deswali Majhi communities, and a number of tribal communities from hilly areas of north Bengal, in the ST list.


Expressing concern for the tribal people of Tripura while speaking on the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Amendment Bill 2012, Baju Baj Riyan pointed that this bill proposed to withdraw an advantage or right of the tribals given in the sixth schedule. The reservation policy in vogue is based on a state’s population ratio. In Tripura there is one IIT situated in the Sixth Schedule area and the tribal population is 31 per cent. So the worry is about whether these facilities would continue intact there or the tribal people of Tripura would be deprived of them.


Speaking on the Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Amendment Bill 2011 in Lok Sabha, Saidul Haque said the bill seeks to arm the Railway Protection Force with investigation and prosecution powers. But there are some difficulties in giving the prosecution power to the RPF because sometimes RPF personnel themselves connive in commitment of thefts in the railways. Further, on grounds of unlawful possession, the government is evicting thousands of slum-dwellers living on the side of the rail lines, but there is no plan for their rehabilitation or for giving them a portion of this land. There is corruption too in every sphere of the railways. What is most surprising is that men in high offices themselves have vested interests in purchase or sale of railway scrap or other things. The member also talked of neglect of safety and security of passengers and property by the railways.


The member, on another occasion, asked about the steps taken by the government to protect the river Ganga from pollution and the Himalayas from ruthless exploitation. He said today a big question mark was there about the existence of the Ganga river. The way it is being polluted may make it disappear altogether in the coming years. As per a report of the Department of Science and Technology, the Himalayan glaciers are receding by 17 metres every year, which would certainly put the existence of the Ganga in jeopardy. Global warming may be one of the reasons but we are the biggest culprit for the present state of the river. We are polluting it in different ways, which have led to earthquakes and landslides. About 260 million litres of industrial effluents and 1.3 billion litres of domestic waste are being discharged into the river daily. Thousands of dead animals are also thrown into it. In its decision in 1996, the Supreme Court had ordered for setting up effluent treatment plants in tanneries but this has not been done so far. As regards the Ganga Action Plan, almost Rs 1000 crore were pumped into it in Phase I and Phase II, but not much change in the situation has occurred. While referring to the National Ganga River Basin Authority formed in 2009, the member also pointed out that there would be no water in long stretches of the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi riverbeds if the Uttarakhand government went ahead with its plan to build 53 big power projects on these two rivers which join the Ganga. The CAG came down hard on the state government for allowing private players to divert 90 per cent of water to power turbines.




In Rajya Sabha, Prasanta Chatterjee raised the issue of oil imports from Iran. He said the government’s official stand is that India cannot do without Iranian oil but, at the same time, it provided assurances to the United States that it would cut back on Iranian oil imports and actually did so. Facts show that India is succumbing to the US pressure. Considering the national importance of the issue, the member demanded a statement from the prime minister. 


In the same house T K Rangarajan recalled that the government itself had admitted that the success rate in filling the backlog posts for SCs, STs and OBCs had been less than 30 per cent. Dalits are denied access to police stations, and face immense difficulties in lodging FIRs. The conviction rate in cases of atrocities on SCs and STs is between 3 to 8 per cent, while 80 to 90 per cent of the cases remain pending in courts. Credit disbursement to dalit entrepreneurs dropped by 33.8 per cent in 2011-12, according to data released by the RBI. Hence the need for implementation of the SC sub-plan. 


Jharna Das Baidya raised the issue of children living in a shelter home run by an NGO, namely, Apna Ghar, in Rohtak (Haryana) where they were sexually abused, beaten, molested and made to work as labourers on farms and construction sites. Surprisingly, the same Apna Ghar got a state award for women’s empowerment in March this year. The member urged proper investigation into these cases, and apprehension of and stringent action against the culprits.