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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Parliament Highlights: House panel suggests systemic review by RBI to pre-empt IL&FS type crisis

Parliament Highlights: The ongoing second part of this year's Budget Session that commenced on March 8,  is set to conclude on April 8.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 16, 2021 11:33:24 pm
Parliament Budget SessionRajya Sabha to convene at 9 am; Lok Sabha to convene at 11 am.

Parliament Highlights: Speaking in Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said that Indian Railways will never be privatised but private investment is welcomed for increasing efficiency. Goyal also said that under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the country’s railway infrastructure has seen a new vision. We wish to make Indian railways act as an “engine for growth” for the country, Goyal added. Goyal also said, Modi government has hiked investment in railways to Rs 2.15 lakh crore in 2021-22 fiscal, from Rs 1.5 lakh crore in 2019-20 fiscal.

The government also informed Parliament that inflation has remained low in the last seven years – except for a spike in some items – and the government is taking steps to bring it further down.

Minister of State for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur, during Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, said food items in the consumer price index (CPI) are showing a month-on-month decline. Commodities such as cereals, meat and fish, egg, vegetables and pulses have declined during January-February.

“Overall, inflation has remained low in the last seven years. But in some items, there was a rise in prices due to supply constraints because of COVID-19 and a rise in demand,” he said, responding to a supplementary query.

Live Blog

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, The National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2020, will be taken up for discussion in Rajya Sabha. In Lok Sabha, The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2021, is on the agenda. Follow this space for the latest updates.

22:50 (IST)16 Mar 2021
MPs highlight digital divide among students during pandemic

     

Members in Lok Sabha on Tuesday pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed serious digital divide in the country with a section of students not having access either to the internet or even medium of learning aids like tablets and smartphones. 
      
Taking part in a discussion on demands for grants of the education ministry, Congress member Shashi Tharoor said as classes shifted online, not only were teachers, who are underpaid, as they were ill-equipped to handle such a significant change and the experience only demonstrated that online learning in its current form is exclusionary and discriminatory. 
    
"It should be a matter of great shame for us and even in my own state of Kerala, which is supposed to be an education beacon for the country, we had incidents like that of the death of a school topper, a class 10 student who hailed from a Dalit family in dire economic conditions. 
    
"When classes were shifted online, her father was a daily wager and he had no wages coming in during the pandemic and the lockdown. They were unable to give her a smartphone to follow online classes," Tharoor said. 
    
He also pointed out the case of a Lady Shri Ram College student in Delhi who apparently died by suicide as she did not have resources to buy a laptop. 
    
"She felt she did not wanted to be a financial burden for the family. These are crucial issues. I am sure that the finance ministry will be listening. These two young women were not just bright sparks in their own right but in many ways, represent the future of our country. 
    
"A future in their cases was destroyed by the inability to provide sufficient safeguards against the disturbances causes by online classes," he said.
    
Tharoor stressed the need both in the new National Education Policy (NEP) and any other government schemes to do better to rise to the challenge of this digital divide. 
    
Highlighting the issues faced by students in his constituency, NCP leader Fazil Mohammed said internet connectivity in the Lakshadweep archipelago was very feeble when students took online classes. He said there were many who were deprived of tablets, smartphones and laptops.   (PTI)
    
    

22:17 (IST)16 Mar 2021
Parliament nod to bill to raise upper limit for abortions to 24 weeks in special cases

Rajya Sabha Tuesday passed a bill to raise the upper limit for permitting abortions from the present 20 weeks to 24 for "special categories of women" including rape survivors, victims of incest, minors and  differently-abled.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 was passed by voice vote. The bill was passed by Lok Sabha about a year ago.

A resolution moved by Congress leader Pratap Singh Bajwa to send the bill to a select committee of Rajya Sabha was defeated by voice vote, along with some other amendments proposed by members.

"The bill as amended is passed," Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh said.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the amendments in the bill have been made after studying global practices and wide consultation within the country.

"Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we will not frame any law which harms women. This is to preserve and protect the dignity of women," he said.

The minister said the suggestions and objections made to the bill by some members were symbolic in nature and aligned with their party ideology.

Besides Congress, members of various parties including Shiv Sena, AITC, CPI, CPI-M and Samajwadi Party had demanded to send the bill to the select committee.

The bill amends the act passed in 1971 to ?Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Act, 2020. (PTI)
    

21:51 (IST)16 Mar 2021
Lok Sabha's discussion with Ministry of Education
20:53 (IST)16 Mar 2021
Parl Panel suggests systemic review by RBI to pre-empt IL&FS type crisis

A Parliamentary panel on Tuesday suggested a thorough systemic review by the Reserve Bank to pre-empt IL&FS kind of crisis, involving systemically important entities. 
      
The Standing Committee on Finance, chaired by Jayant Sinha, in its report said the resolution of IL&FS remains sub-judice before the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).
    
"...delays in the resolution process not only brings a steep value erosion to the bankers and other creditors but more importantly leaves the understanding of the lacunae in the system evasive," it said.
    
The financial crisis in IL&FS came to light after some of its group entities defaulted on debt payments. The government in October 2018 superseded its board.
    
"...the Committee desires that a thorough systemic review should be conducted by RBI so that such episodes involving 'systemically important entities' are pre-empted," the report said.
    
The committee said startups with the requisite capability and expertise be encouraged to join the credit rating industry. This might aid in fostering healthy competition and also eliminating complacency in the credit rating industry. (PTI)

20:33 (IST)16 Mar 2021
Government ear-tags 14.62 crore livestock with unique ID number

The government on Tuesday informed Parliament that it has ear-tagged 14.62 crore livestock, including pigs, with a 12 digit unique identification number.
      
Minister of State for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, in his written reply to the Lok Sabha, said the government is ear-tagging livestock with a 12-digit unique identification number under a central scheme National Animal Disease Control Programme for Foot and Mouth Disease and Brucellosis (NADCP).
    
The registration of the animals is done by uploading requisite data on the Information Network Animal Productivity and Health (INAPH) platform, a central database.
    
"Till date, 14.62 crore animals have been ear-tagged and registered on INAPH in the country," the minister said, adding that there is, however, no exclusive Pashu Aadhar Yojana. 

18:54 (IST)16 Mar 2021
Congress, government engage in war of words in Lok Sabha over sedition cases

The Congress and the government engaged in a war of words in Lok Sabha on Tuesday over sedition cases with the opposition party alleging the stringent law is being misused, drawing a sharp retort from Union minister G Kishan Reddy who asked it not to lecture others on democracy.

During the Question Hour, Congress member from Telangana Anumula Revanth Reddy sought the number of cases registered under the offence of sedition across the country during the last 10 years, the conviction rate and the steps taken for their speedy trial. Read More

17:48 (IST)16 Mar 2021
University campuses have no longer remained inclusive spaces: Tharoor in Lok Sabha

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday said that university campuses, in the last few years, have no longer remained inclusive spaces that safeguard freedom of expression and individual liberties, and stressed on the need to replace narrow-minded identities with a willingness to embrace differences.

Initiating the discussion on demands for grants of the Education Ministry in Lok Sabha, he said the budget for the ministry is characterised by a "bizarre series of cuts" and any hope for positive development in the country's primary and higher education ecosystem has been effectively handicapped by the allocations.

Tharoor also pointed out that the pandemic has exposed a serious digital divide and he cited instances of students taking their own lives due to lack of access to smartphones when classes moved online. He also pitched for having a national computer curriculum.

"Whether it is JNU, Jamia Milia or Aligarh or so many others, in the last few years, our campuses have no longer remained inclusive spaces that safeguard freedom of expression and individual liberties.

"Instead, there has been a systematic effort to alter the character of our colleges and universities through the imposition of a singular and dominating ideology. That is not just an assault on the soul of free, diverse and inclusive India...," he said.

16:13 (IST)16 Mar 2021
Inflation remains low in last 7 years: Govt

The government on Tuesday informed Parliament that inflation has remained low in the last seven years - except for a spike in some items - and the government is taking steps to bring it further down.

Minister of State for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur, during Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, said food items in the consumer price index (CPI) are showing a month-on-month decline. Commodities such as cereals, meat and fish, egg, vegetables and pulses have declined during January-February.
    
"Overall, inflation has remained low in the last seven years. But in some items, there was a rise in prices due to supply constraints because of COVID-19 and a rise in demand," he said, responding to a supplementary query.

15:51 (IST)16 Mar 2021
Permission for new pvt banks to participate in govt biz will be based on RBI guidelines: FM

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said in Parliament that permission to new private banks for conducting government-related business will be given under the RBI guidelines. Sitharaman, during the Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, said the government has now "only indicated" the RBI to allow other private banks to perform government-related business to ensure there is a level playing field.

"Now, following the existing norms based on which several banks have been given permission to do the business. So, those rules as per the RBI guidelines be applied on newer banks and new private banks which approach the RBI," she said.

The RBI, being a regulator, has established norms and those norms will be applicable to the new banks, she added.

The minister was responding to a query about whether the government will adopt any criteria to permit new banks for taking up government-related business.

Responding to another query by Shiv Sena leader Anil Desai that if public sector banks will weaken by allowing private banks to conduct government-related business, Sitharaman said some private banks and all public sector banks are doing this.

"Some customers are already benefiting from private banks from such services. The attempt now is to bring a level playing field. Some private banks are already doing, all public sector banks are doing, why not extend to all private sector banks so that everybody gets an equal opportunity," she explained.
    

15:39 (IST)16 Mar 2021
No information on leak of WhatsApp chat on Article 370 scrapping: Govt to LS

The central government has no information on the leak of WhatsApp chat related to confidential and sensitive information, including scrapping of Article 370, which surfaced during the investigation of TRP scam by the Mumbai Police, Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday.

A 500-page transcript of a purported WhatsApp conversation, containing details of Balakot air strikes and abrogation of Article 370, went viral in January this year after it was submitted by the Mumbai Police before a court as part of its chargesheet in a case of misuse of TV rating point (TRP), which led to a political storm.

"No such information has come to the notice of the government," Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said in a written reply.
    
Reddy's reply came when asked whether the government has taken cognisance of the leak of the Whatsapp chat on confidential and sensitive information which surfaced during the TRP scam investigation.

13:36 (IST)16 Mar 2021
Rajya Sabha adjourned till 2 pm

The Upper House has been adjourned till 2pm on Tuesday.

12:41 (IST)16 Mar 2021
AAP to protest against Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill at Jantar Mantar tomorrow

AAP will hold a protest on Wednesday at Jantar Mantar over the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021,  Gopal Rai said on Tuesday. All MLAs of the party and cabinet ministers will be present at the protest. The Bill was tabled in Lok Sabha on Monday.

12:35 (IST)16 Mar 2021
Not exporting vaccines at expense of Indian citizens: Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan speaking in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday assured that the export of Covid-19 vaccines to other countries is not being done at the expense of Indian citizens. “Experts at the highest level and committees of the government are maintaining a balance between this,” Vardhan said. Vardhan was responding against concerns raised by opposition on the need to vaccinate Indians first.

12:25 (IST)16 Mar 2021
Indian Railways will never privatise, says Union Minister Piyush Goyal

Speaking in Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said that Indian Railways will never be privatised and they will always remain with government. Goyal also said that under the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the country’s railway infrastructure has seen a new vision and railways have brought prosperity to all sectors of the economy. We wish to make Indian railways act as an “engine for growth” for the country, Goyal added.  In this year's Union Budget, he said, over 2 lakh crores have been designated for the improvement of railways.

Goyal also slammed the previous government of making hollow announcements without the implementation of any projects to improve the infstructure.

11:48 (IST)16 Mar 2021
Should vaccinate Indians first: Congress MP Shaktisinh Gohil

Congress MP Shaktisinh Gohil speaking in Rajya Sabha expressed concern over the rise of coronavirus cases in the country and the need to increase the pace of vaccination drive. “ If we go by this pace, it will take us 18 years to vaccinate India's entire population,” Gohil said, saying that the government should first vaccinate Indians and then send doses outside.

11:35 (IST)16 Mar 2021
Centre using Sedition law to chill free speech, says Manish Tiwari

Speaking in Lok Sabha, Congress's Manish Tiwari on Tuesday said that section 124(A) which makes the alleged offence of sedition punished with life imprisonment, is being misused by the NDA government to “chill free speech.” The latest manifestation of this misuse, Tiwari says, is the Disha Ravi case. Tiwari further highlighted  that the Delhi police failed “miserably” to produce any evidence against Ravi.

11:24 (IST)16 Mar 2021
Lok Sabha in Session; Kishan Reddy says sedition not new in India

Speaking in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy on Tuesday said that sedition cases are not unique to the NDA regime and that there were more sedation cases during Congress’s rule. The media has hyped about sedition during BJP’s rule, Reddy added. He was responding to an MP's question of rise in sedation cases in the National Capital.

11:09 (IST)16 Mar 2021
Rajya Sabha in session; Speaker Venkaiah Naidu commences by highlighting India's goal to eradicate tuberculosis

Rajya Sabha Speaker Venkaiah Naidu commenced Tuesday’s Rajya Sabha session by highlighting India’s “ambitious” goal to eradicate tuberculosis by 2025. For this, Naidu said, that several steps like improved reach, newer drugs and financial support have already been undertaken by the government. Naidu highlighted the need for mass awareness to bring the much needed behaviour change in the country.

10:59 (IST)16 Mar 2021
DMK MP Dayanidhi Maran gives Adjournment Motion Notice to discuss petrol, diesal price hike

DMK MP Dayanidhi Maran has given Adjournment Motion Notice in Lok Sabha, demanding discussion on rise in the prices of petrol, diesel and LPG.

10:39 (IST)16 Mar 2021
Rajya Sabha: Congress MP Shakti Gohil gives zero hour notice over Covid vaccine exports

Congress MP Shakti Sinh Gohil has given Zero Hour Notice in Rajya Sabha over the issue of "supply of coronavirus vaccines to foreign countries before completing the vaccination of citizens of the country."

Earlier in the day on Monday, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar said in the Rajya Sabha, “India is the only country in the G-20 forum implementing the Paris accord commitments on renewable energy and afforestation.”

Also, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in the Rajya Sabha that India will take up with the UK when required the alleged incidents of racism in Britain. Describing India as the land of Mahatma Gandhi, he said it can never turn its eyes away from racism.

AAP MP Sanjay Singh Monday gave a Suspension of Business Notice in Rajya Sabha under rule 267 over the ongoing farmers’ protest at Delhi’s borders and in at least four states. BJP MP Harnath Singh Yadav has given Zero Hour Notice in Rajya Sabha over the “epidemic proportion of cancer in the country” while BJP MP Ashok Bajpai has given a similar notice over the demand for inclusion of Awadhi language in 8th schedule to the Constitution.

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