People's Democracy

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


No. 13

March 31, 2013






CPI(M) Parliamentary Office


IN this concluding week of the first part of budget session, both the houses passed the crucial Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2013 that provides for capital punishment in cases of brutal rape and covers several other anti-women crimes. The CPI(M) moved a number of amendments in both houses.




Speaking in Lok Sabha, A Sampath welcomed the bill, more so because human trafficking had been covered in it. He said our aim is to change the gender imbalance that is in favour of men. Having referred to the earlier changes in the CrPC, the Evidence Act and the IPC, he said even now women are suffering discriminations. As many people, including tribal girls, deposed the Justice Verma committee, it is clear that it is the oppressed castes who are being tortured and looted. The member also demanded that those wielding political power must also be covered by the provisions of this law.


In Rajya Sabha, while supporting the bill, T N Seema expressed disappointment that the government had not made sincere efforts to consider some important and relevant recommendations of the Justice Verma committee. The committee had done a tremendous job by coming up with a comprehensive report but the bill was not in the spirit of its recommendations. The reality is that many boys and girls have consensual sex in the age of 16 to 18, and it will be plain injustice if these young boys are prosecuted for rape. It is, therefore, suggested that such consensual activity should be exempted from the purview of rape provided the accused is not more than five years older. Section 375, Exception 2 says that “sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.’ This section must be deleted because at times sex is used as a weapon to make women surrender, to make them weak even in marital relations. This clause is against the Indian constitution which considers women as equal human beings with a right to live with dignity and be free from violence within or outside marriage. The bill proposed earlier in 2010 had said that rape would be considered as an aggravated form of offence if it is committed by a person in position of social, economic or political dominance. But the present bill had diluted the idea by removing the words “social, economic, and political.” Why was the government not prepared to address the issue of increasing violence on women by people who are in power? They exploit women easily but escape by using political influence. Rape of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe women by higher caste men must also be considered as an aggravated form of offence. In Section 376B, the clause which prescribes a lesser period of imprisonment for rape on a separated wife, must be deleted. Lastly, the member said, no legislation would bring any change in the system unless it gets revamped, adding that women want accountability, responsibility, sincerity and concrete action from the government.




Initiating the discussion on a private member’s resolution in Lok Sabha on the need to control the rising prices of essential commodities, Mahendra Kumar Roy said even after 65 years of India’s independence, the rising prices of essential commodities was a burning problem facing us, as the government is indifferent. Dubbing the neo-liberal policy regime as responsible for this kind of unchecked escalation, Roy stressed that a universal public distribution system and ban on future trading could be effective tools to control the situation. Saying that 25 essential commodities were included in the ambit of future trading, he demanded that these items must be immediately removed from this list. The member also talked about the stock of 6.62 crore tonnes of foodgrains in the country, their export under the pressure of MNCs, farmers not getting remunerative prices while traders are making huge profits, widespread hunger and malnourishment in the country, etc, and demanded that at least 35 kg of foodgrains must be distributed through PDS at the rate of Rs 2 per kg; there must be control on fuel prices; the policy of deregulation must be shelved; government investment in agriculture must be increased; and subsidies on seeds, fertilisers and pesticides raised in order to increase food production.


In Lok Sabha on March 20, the food minister, K V Thomas, introduced the National Food Security Bill that gives 63.5 per cent of the country's population a right to get cheaper foodgrains. CPI(M) members moved several amendments to it.


On the issue of Jharkhand budget 2013-14 in Lok Sabha, Dr Pulin Bihari Baske said we are against the president’s rule in Jharkhand which is something anti-democratic. Jharkhand is rich in mineral resources but it is witness to rises in starvation, unemployment, infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate, etc. The tribals constitute 25 per cent of the population here, but they lack potable water, link roads and proper accommodation. Therefore, naxalism has cropped up there. There is corruption in MGNREGA and other programmes for rural development. The member demanded that corruption must be stamped out and every effort made for the advancement of Jharkhand.


There was uproar in both houses on the issue of Sri Lankan Tamils, and the houses were adjourned repeatedly. As no discussion on general budget could be held in Rajya Sabha, P Rajeeve submitted the written text of his speech to the house.




In his speech, Rajeeve said the budget was only for international credit agencies and global capital; otherwise, it was, as Sitaram Yechury wrote in The Economic Times, is neither growth oriented nor inclusive. Rather than reversing the current slowdown, its proposals might only worsen the economy further. He said the economy is facing four problems simultaneously --- current account deficit, fiscal deficit, inflation and currency depreciation. This shows the period of globalisation did not help to resolve these issues but led the economy into a still deeper and more complex crisis. The last time India enjoyed a trade surplus was in 1976-77. Our share in world exports fell from 2 per cent at the time of independence to 1.1 per cent in 2007. The finance minister said the UPA government lays emphasis on improving the human development indicators. But the reality is that while India ranked 123rd among countries of the world in terms of the Human Development Index in 1991 when the ‘reforms’ began, it slipped to the 134th place in 2011. While the claim is to bring about rapid and sustained improvements in the quality of life of Indian people, in budget speech we don’t find even a single reference to inequalities. Intensification of inequalities is one of the major consequences of the so called reforms. In 2006, the UN’s comprehensive global study of personal wealth said the top 10 per cent of India’s population owned 53 per cent of the country’s wealth and the bottom 10 per cent had a mere 0.2 per cent. This clearly means the ‘reforms’ are against the directive principles of our constitution. On inequality being against growth, The Economist recently published a special issue which stated that “inequality has reached such a stage when it can be inefficient and bad for growth.” Without increasing the purchasing power of the people and thus expanding the domestic market we cannot improve the situation. It is also recommended, more so in view of the ongoing recession, that the government must step up public spending and invest more in infrastructure and other crucial sectors. It will create more employment and increase purchasing power, giving momentum to the economy. But the finance minister is following the contrary path, and relying on foreign investment which keeps floating from one country to another in search of greener pastures. The claim that the entry of foreign capital would increase domestic investment has not come true. True, Indian big businesses have grown into a new class of TNCs, but their contribution to job creation has declined. As for the NRI remittances, they are higher than FDI inflow into our country, but the budget has forgotten this sector completely. We can find no schemes for the welfare of NRIs.


The member’s speech also discussed the state of public enterprises, the irrationality of disinvestment as a measure of fiscal deficit reduction along with cuts in pro-people expenditures, revenue loss and speculative transactions etc. He said the parliament had amended the rules for implementing GAAR and retrospective taxation but then the finance minister constituted a one man committee and postponed the parliament approved decision on this matter for three years. This was totally arbitrary and amounted to favouring global capital, besides being an attack on the supremacy of parliament. Such undermining of parliament is also reflected in other areas, such as Aadhar, pension fund etc.


While the finance minister complained about the passion for gold, he wrote off in this budget the customs duties worth Rs 61,035 crore on gold, diamonds and jewellery. Nor is he ready to tax the superrich; the new cess on the superrich would add quite little to the total tax collection. The speech also dwelt upon the dwindling share of states in tax collection, the alarming state of inflation and food inflation in particular, declining per capita availability of foodgrains, the significantly reduced outlay for petroleum subsidy which would further increase the prices of petroleum products and affect the prices in general, reduced focus on social sectors and the deprived sections, the tardy implementation of MGNREGA, growing retrenchment of workers in organised sector, the populist decision to open a bank exclusively for women when 80 per cent of the women in India have no bank account, meagre allocations for implementation of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act and the recently announced Nirbhaya scheme, etc. Dubbing the existing government as a government of the corporates, for the corporates and by the corporates, Rajeeve said the government was not even prepared to consider the discontent among an overwhelming majority of the people, the consequence whereof would be unthinkable.


The first part of the budget session concluded on March 22, when Rajya Sabha witnessed chaos on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue; some AIADMK members broke the mikes on the chairman’s table. On the other hand, Lok Sabha failed to transact any business for the third consecutive day on the same issue. The remaining part of the session would start from April 22, after a four-week recess.