At the lunch hosted by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla for women MPs and women mediapersons on the occasion of the International Women’s Day, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was candid in admitting that she is where she is because the BJP decided to provide a quota for women in the party. However, Sitharaman said, once a woman becomes an MP, she should be treated like any other MP, and not as a woman MP. The day was an occasion for bonding and showing camaraderie, as many women MPs were seen taking group selfies inside and outside the House.
As Rajya Sabha resumed the Budget Session after the recess, in his opening remarks Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu encouraged members to make use of the Parliament library for better research. He said the “quality debates and discussions enrich the proceedings of legislatures”, and even as legislators “have some broad understanding of major issues taken up in the legislatures”, in-depth analytical understanding of such issues “makes the real difference”. He said the library has completed its centenary this year, and has a collection of about 14 lakh books, including hundreds of journals in all languages. Footfall of MPs, however, “is not very encouraging”, he said.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment, Forests and Climate Change, chaired by former Environment minister and Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh, in its report in Parliament today expressed “anguish’’ over the “non-cooperative and unresponsive behaviour of officials’’ when dealing with elected representatives. The Union ministry, as well as states, had not, for instance, given the committee data and information on CAMPA funds, which had been sought – CAMPA, or compensatory afforestation funds, are used specifically for afforestation in lieu of clearing of forests for development projects. The committee observes that environment officials – both at the Centre and states – are entirely unresponsive to elected representatives, often not even acknowledging or replying to their letters.