People's Democracy

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


No. 52

December 29, 2013




CPI(M) Parliamentary Office


THE three week long winter session of parliament, which began on 05th December 2013, could not transact any of the important business listed. It was actually decided that this session will have 12 working days and conclude on 20th December but had to be adjourned sine die on 18th December itself.


Parliament was adjourned for three days each over the deaths of former South African president Nelson Mandela on 06th December and labour minister Sis Ram Ola on 15th December and another day due to the deaths of one sitting member each in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.


Paying homage to the former South African president Nelson Mandela, CPI(M) leader in Lok Sabha, Basudeb Acharia, said that Mandela fought throughout his life against the exploitation, injustice and apartheid policy which was being pursued by the colonists. He recalled his visit to South Africa during which he saw the small cell in Robben Island where Mandela was incarcerated for 18 years. Acharia underlined that Nelson Mandela was not only the leader of South Africa but of the exploited masses of the entire world and consequently his death was a severe loss to the entire exploited people of the world. Mandela was the greatest friend of India and the fittest tribute to him would be to follow the path shown by him and end the inequality, discrimination and exploitation plaguing our country.




The most productive days of parliament were the last two days of this session i.e. 17th  and 18th December when the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 was passed in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha respectively. Speaking on this Bill, CPI(M) leader in Rajya Sabha, Sitaram Yechury, pointed out that corruption has two sides to it - supply and demand. He questioned why we are silent about the supply side of corruption and added that without touching the supply side we cannot stop corruption He asserted that funding of political parties by corporate houses is also an important factor for corruption and sought banning it through an amendment in the law. Yechury said that the CPI(M) had proposed sending a model bill on Lokayuktas based on which the states should bring a Lokayukta Bill within a year in keeping with Constitutional structure. This proposal has been accepted by both sides. He felt the CBI's role with regard to Lokayukta is complex. Whether it would work under the directions of Lokayukta is not clear. He called for incorporating all the good points and strengthening the new Lokpal law that will give us better accountability, transparency and better administration.


Yechury faulted the leader of the opposition’s opinion that bringing private corporates into the ambit of the Lokpal would make it unmanageable and it would be a gross interference into the democratic rights and privacy of such agencies. “How can you have a Lokpal that will not investigate a private body that indulges in corruption in order to obtain a license? How can you keep that body out of the ambit of law? I think if you are really promising a better accountability, transparency and administration, this serious lacuna should be addressed. The government should accede to my amendment that this is not an encroachment upon the work of private corporate, private agencies or private bodies. The CAG have said that there is corruption in PPP. If you are keeping the same out of its ambit, you should take the nation into confidence as to how you are fulfilling the assurances you have given to the country. Although, it is a law against corruption, yet it is not effective one. How are you keeping the PPP out”, he questioned.


Referring to charitable institutions, Yechury said it should be defined as to what is charity because most of these are charitable only for the name sake, their work is something different. He urged dropping of ‘charitable institution’ part of that clause and bring into its ambit the corporate sector. He also sought bringing of the Whistleblowers’ Bill along with this Bill. He concluded by seeking amendment to Clause 14 moved by the CPI(M).


CPI(M) member K N Balagopal also requested in Rajya Sabha for acceptance of amendments moved by CPI(M) which relate to bringing into the ambit of this Bill the corporate, private sector and PPP projects involved with the business of the government. He said that post 1991, in the globalisation era, majority of the government businesses have got transferred to private sector. And it was seen how in the last ten years, many corruption scandals have occurred involving these entities. Therefore he requested that the amendments be accepted otherwise the Bill will not be successful.


The Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2011 was passed in Lok Sabha in just 30 minutes without much discussion.




There was uproar in both Houses on the issue of arrest of lady Indian diplomat in the United States. Speaking on this issue, Yechury termed it as an outrage committed against India’s sovereignty and asserted that it cannot be tolerated or accepted. He said the entire House and indeed the nation is aghast at this blatant outrage that goes against all norms and international conventions and this is something that cannot be accepted by any self-respecting sovereign country. The question that arises is as to why the situation has come to such a pass. We have had such instances in the past also. We have willy-nilly accepted that USA is the big brother and world’s policeman and they can get away with anything. We have also been building a strategic relationship with the USA but that strategic relationship cannot be in violation of the principles of the Panchsheel, which continue to guide our foreign policy. You cannot violate the Panchsheel in any strategic relationship with any country, and Panchsheel ensures that there will be mutual respect for each other, there will be mutual respect for each other country’s sovereignty, domestic laws of each other country and the relationship will only be on the basis of mutual benefit. All these principles are being violated and that is precisely why things have come to such a pass.


Yechury pointed out that we are the sixth country in the world, where there is large scale surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States of America and there has not been a word of official protest. He urged the government to assert its voice and accept the fact that this behaviour exposes the US hypocrisy. He wanted the government to rise to the occasion. CPI(M) member A Sampath also condemned the US action in Lok Sabha.




Sitaram Yechury sought six clarifications from the minister on the statement made in Rajya Sabha regarding the Ninth Ministerial Conference of WTO at Bali in Indonesia. At the outset he pointed out the grim backdrop in which this issue is being discussed -- continuing crisis in India agriculture and the agrarian distress manifested by unabated suicides by our farmers.


Firstly, trade facilitation was not an issue or part of the original Doha Development Agenda. In this Doha Round, which is an on-going process, how did India agree to trade facilitation without any forward movement on any issue mentioned in the Doha Development Agenda and how the government gave a legally binding agreement i.e, trade facilitation to get a temporary solution on food security?


Secondly, trade facilitation was developed countries’ agenda and it benefits the developed countries rather than the developing countries. All of us know that the minister himself agrees to it. Did the government conduct any study to assess the benefits for India from such Trade Facilitation Agreement? If it was done, why is it not made public?


Thirdly, according to the minister, many aspects of Trade Facilitation Agreement are already being implemented by India as autonomous policy measures. So, therefore, there was no danger in agreeing to this Trade Facilitation Agreement. There is a clear difference between autonomous policy measures and a legally binding agreement, because autonomous policy measures are our autonomy. We can withdraw them, we can change them whenever we want to and we can amend them. But, the moment it is a legally being international agreement, we are bound by it. So, through this Agreement, India has legally locked our policy measures and submitted ourselves to the WTO’s disputes settlement mechanism. In other words, if we ourselves are implementing these measures, why do we need a legally binding agreement which will build us in future and open to disputes mechanism?


Fourthly, how the government is going to implement this Trade Facilitation Agreement? What is the cost of its implementation? If you are going to meet this implementation cost through flow of foreign funds, then you are opening up to FDI your entire services sector.


Fifthly, it appears, in order to gain this interim mechanism, which will operate till a final mechanism is found, we have conceded our position on many issues. We have heard that final mechanism may be four years down the line. That is, in order to achieve this interim mechanism, we have conceded our position on many of the other issues in our urge to save our existing Food Security Act.


Yechury’s sixth point of clarification was relating to the Food Security Act. He said according to his reading of the Agreement in Bali, the Indian government cannot expand our Food Security programme any further.


Yechury felt that the advanced countries that are subsidising their agriculture will not allow any country to take any measure that will affect market mechanism. A minimum support  price effects the market mechanism. Subsidising food and fixing the sale price of food for consumers is a market mechanism. In other words, it means that if you want to resort to non-market mechanisms, the only other option is direct cash transfer. So is this the mechanism or excuse through which the direct cash benefit scheme is going to be brought in, saying that we are internationally bound by this agreement and, therefore, we have no option but to bring in the direct cash benefit scheme, he questioned. The pitfalls of direct cash transfers is evident and it will not work in our country. If we opt for that they there will be no protection for our farmers  and the food security promise to the Indian people will not be there. That is the real danger, he concluded.


Much of the days were lost due to protests on issues such as the Joint Parliamentary Committee Report on allocation of telecom licences, death of children in Muzaffarnagar relief camps, price rise and on the Telangana issue. Some of the Congress MPs, along with the MPs of Telugu Desam Party, gave no-confidence motions against the UPA government while opposing the creation of Telangana. But fortunately for Congress, the speaker could not take them up as the house was not in order.


During this session, the Lok Sabha passed the National Institutes of Technology, Science Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2013, Supplementary Demands for Grants (General) for 2013-14 and also the Supplementary Demands for Grants (Railways) for 2013-14 without any discussion. Though a number of bills were in the pipeline for consideration and passing, only few bills were introduced.