People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXVII

No. 12

March 24, 2013

 

 

THE WEEK IN PARLIAMENT

 

-                     CPI(M) Parliamentary Office

 

ON the home ministerís statement regarding the terrorist attack in Srinagar on March 13, Sitaram Yechury, leader of the CPI(M) group in Rajya Sabha, conveyed heartfelt condolence and sympathies to the families of the jawans who lost their life in their heroic fight against terrorists. He said after the Mumbai attack the government got passed a legislation to establish the NIA, on the plea that new institutions and new laws were required to combat terrorism. But the state of affairs since then needs a post mortem if we have to prevent such attacks. We require coordination between intelligence agencies. However, dragging the name of any particular religion or region in all that would be unfair as well as counter-productive.

 

During the week, obituary references were made to ate Comrade Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, who passed on March 5, and to former Rajya Sabha member Comrade C O Poulose who passed away on March 12. Poulose represented Kerala in the house from April 1998 to April 2003.

 

GOVT GUILTY ABOUT

ITALIAN MARINES

On the issue of Italyís refusal to send back two marines accused of killing Indian fishermen, Yechury asked how these marines, being tried here, were permitted to go back to cast their votes if Indian law does not permit undertrials to vote. How did the government allow them four weeks time to cast vote? It is clear that the government did not take this issue seriously. The Supreme Court had asked the government to set up a tribunal to try this case, but the government did not set up any. This is completely unacceptable and the government has to account for it. This was a case of state sponsored violation of Indian law. Now if these marines refuse to return, there is no diplomacy involved in it. It is plainly a question of upholding the Indian law.

 

In this regard, Yechury also quoted the Purulia arms drop case, the Bhopal gas tragedy and the Bofors case in which, respectively, Kim Davy, Anderson and Quattrocchi were allowed to leave the country.

 

K N Balagopal, who belongs to the district where these two poor fishermen were murdered by Italian marines, also joined the discussion.

 

In Lok Sabha, P Rajeeve of the CPI(M) dubbed it as an attack on Indian democracy. P Karunakaran too intervened in the matter.

 

Speaking on the statement made by the external affairs minister in Rajya Sabha regarding arrest of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy, T K Rangarajan asked for a clarification. When this issue was mentioned during the discussion earlier, the minister had told that we have a traditional right of fishing in that area. Now that the area has been demarcated and Katchatheevu given to Sri Lanka, why the government could not discuss it with the Sri Lankan government? What do our Coast Guards do when Indian fishermen are arrested, harassed and sometimes fired? The member also wanted to about the position of Kathcatheevu. He asked: Cannot we take it on lease basis so that our fishermen are safe in that area? He urged the government to take every step to protect the Indian fishermen.

 

RESERVATION

FOR SCíS & STíS

In Rajya Sabha, the minister of law and justice introduced the Readjustment of Representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Bill 2013, about which the government had issued an ordinance earlier. Sitaram Yechury raised a procedural point about it, saying nobody could dispute that the Supreme Court order had not been given effect and not legislated. But the procedural point is that it involves a question of delimitation of constituencies, and hence the bill required consultation with political parties. He demanded that political parties must be involved and consulted, and that the bill must be referred to the standing committee. Ultimately after a long discussion, despite opposition, the bill was referred to the standing committee with a limited time-frame.

 

During the question hour, Yechury raised the issue of funds for the ASI for maintenance of historical monuments. He, who is chairman of the concerned standing committee, said the INTACH, with which the Ministry of Culture works, has listed more than two lakh monuments in the country, which they think need protection, but the ASI currently is looking after only 3,678. Even then, the situation is that a number of the sanctioned positions are never filled up. Whether the personnel are adequate to protect even these 3,678 monuments as the preservation requires manpower.

 

OTHER

ISSUES

While speaking on the general budget in Lok Sabha, P Karunakaran said the budget lacked vision and perspective. The prices of food items, especially vegetables, have gone up but the government could not take any action in this regard. The public distribution system is an effective instrument to control price rise, and Kerala and Tamilnadu have used it effectively for the purpose. Hence the demand for universalisation of the public distribution system.

 

During the course of his intervention, Karunakaran also touched issues like disinvestment of the public undertakings, serious neglect of Kerala in the budget, the need of a special package for the state, the issue of use of Endosulfan in Kasargod district of Kerala, etc.

 

During a short duration discussion in Rajya Sabha on the increasing pollution of various rivers in the country, Prasanta Chatterjee said particularly the Ganga and the Yamuna, two major rivers, are highly polluted; in some stretches their water is not fit even for bathing. Despite huge spendings on the Ganga Action Plan and Yamuna Action Plan, desired results could not be achieved. It is a matter of grave concern that Yamuna, in Delhi, has become one of the darkest rivers in the country. Due to the fact that a large number of houses do not have toilets in their houses and that disposal grounds are absent in most of the cities, all kinds of human wastes, including half-burnt dead bodies, are coming into the rivers through drains. Tannery wastes, other industrial wastes, untreated water, etc have spoilt the Ganga, Yamuna and other rivers also. The member therefore demanded more serious monitoring and enforcement of laws by the central and state level pollution control boards to tackle this problem.

 

During the calling attention motion in Rajya Sabha regarding the recent all-India strike by workers of the organised as well as unorganised sector, Tapan Kumar Sen asked the government to take the action seriously. He said the trade unions had a consensus on the demands, e.g. of same wage for same work, contract labour, minimum wage, etc. He also asked if their definition of poverty level is based on Rs 32 as daily earning, would a person earning Rs 33 a day be regarded as a rich person?  Sen also raised the issue of General Anti-Avoidance Rule and Retrospective Taxation that were introduced in the beginning of the last budget but were withdrawn while the budget was being passed, i.e., within less than a month, because the government felt concerned about Vodafone, the British Petroleum and a handful of other Indian and foreign giants. But while the government is so fast in such matters, it is sad that it has failed to think about contract workers for two years. A year has already lapsed since the minimum wage formulation. The proposal of a minimum pension of Rs 1,000 has been gathering dust for more than four years while the government has boasted that its contribution would be increased.

 

The member also referred to issues like the PF and gratuity savings, the growth trajectory, tardy rate of employment growth, decreasing share of workers in the net value addition from 30 to 9 per cent and the rising share of entrepreneursí profits in it, from around 15 to 60 per cent in the last three years, etc. He also demanded that the government must allow mandatory recognition of trade unions in any establishment.

 

In Rajya Sabha, Shyamal Chakraborty expressed disappointment on the rail budget. He said the minister had promised earlier that he would not impose any burden on the common man, but he did not keep his promise and increased the tariffs by backdoor methods. Saying that safety should be our topmost priority, the member asked for publication of the full enquiry report about the attack on Gyaneshwari Express, for which the CPI(M) was accused. He also urged for steps to start the Joka Metro Rail for which money has already been allocated.