Vol. XL No. 31 July 31, 2016

The week in Parliament

CPI(M) Parliamentary Office

THE Monsoon Session of Parliament began on July 18. In the Lok Sabha, newly elected member took oath on the first day and the House was adjourned for the day after obituary reference and observance of one minute’s silence on account of death of a sitting member. In the Rajya Sabha, after new members took oath, there was an obituary reference to the victims of natural calamities. There was also a short-duration discussion on the situation arising out of recent incidents of violence and turmoil in Kashmir Valley resulting in huge loss of lives and property. Speaking on this, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury began with paying condolence to those who have died and expressing sympathy to those injured in this turmoil due to use of excessive force. He said many youths have completely lost their vision and requested the government to send a team of doctors for treatment of the injured. He said that efforts must be made in finding the real reason of discontent among youths of Kashmir. We stand united in the interest of the country at this hour of crisis. We need to initiate a political process in Kashmir instead of treating this as a war. The people of Kashmir have greatly contributed in the development of our civilisation. Hence, an all-party meeting should be convened urgently in initiating a political process in Kashmir for having dialogue with the people of the state. The people responsible for use of excessive force be identified and action be taken against them, he demanded. In the Lok Sabha, Md. Salim said what has been happening in Kashmir in the past 12 twelve days did not happen suddenly. This was something that has been building up since the last two-three decades. Kashmir is an important issue in a geopolitical situation. So mere indulging in blame game would not yield results. Another point is that we are in a vicious circle. Today youths are indulging in mass protests in Kashmir. A new phase of terrorism has emerged during the last few years. In all the countries across the world where there are strike-prone zone, militarised area, such incidents are taking place. If we continue to look at it with a conventional and traditional point of view, then we would not be able to face this challenge. The perforation by pellet guns is not only on the face of Kashmiri youth but also on the relationship. Salim urged the Home Minister not to resort brutal disproportionate force in this serious issue. Various incidents have taken place at different campuses where minority Kashmiri youths are studying. The government should give instructions to the state governments to strictly deal with such incidents. The Prime Minister used to say in his speeches that it would be easy to deal with the problem if there would be governments of the same party at the Centre and in the state. So, there could be better coordination between them. There should be an all-party meeting in which we can discuss the prevailing situation. In the Rajya Sabha, Sitaram Yechury raised the matter concerning the demolition of the Ambedkar Bhavan at Dadar in Mumbai. This building represents the heritage of our freedom movement, the heritage of the Dalit movement in our country. A press was set up there which published most of Ambedkar’s writings. That became the centre of the Dalit movement in our country. It was a part of the heritage of realising the vision of establishing social justice that is unfulfilled even today. This building symbolises that spirit. Demolishing that today is actually demolishing that vision. So, it is not just a physical structure, but the structure of the vision of social justice, that is being demolished. So, the government must intervene in the matter and restore this building. In the Rajya Sabha, a short-duration discussion was held on the recent incidents of atrocities on Dalits in various parts of the country. Yechury spoke on the issue. Legislative Bills The Lok Sabha passed the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2016, mandating the conduct of a common examination for admission to medical and dental courses and providing constitutional status to the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET). The new measure, which will be implemented from the next academic session, will cover private colleges as well. Speaking on this, M B Rajesh appreciated the government for taking proper initiative to resolve the confusion created by a verdict of the Supreme Court. The NEET should be conducted in all regional languages recognised under the 8th Schedule of the Constitution. The responsibility of conducting NEET is entrusted with the Medical Council of India (MCI). The MCI was supposed to be the regulator of medical education in India. But unfortunately, it has become a violator. It is dominated and controlled by a select, and often corrupt, clique of private doctors. Even the Report of the Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare stated that the MCI has utterly failed in discharging the responsibilities mandated to it by the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956. The MCI is one of the most corrupt institutions in our country. It has been in the news for the last few years for all the wrong reasons and not because of its role in maintaining the high standards of medical education. It has also utterly failed to nurture and expand medical education in our country. There is huge inequality in terms of distribution of MBBS seats in various states. The doctor-population ratio in our country is 1:1,647 as against the WHO norm of 1:1,000. According to the WHO report, 31 per cent of allopathic doctors were educated only up to secondary school level and 57 per cent did not have any medical qualification. This is astonishing. In rural India, just 18.8 per cent of allopathic doctors have medical qualification. An evil nexus of private medical college owners, MCI functionaries and MCI-mandated evaluators has been developed over years. As per an order of the Delhi High Court, assessment of medical colleges should be conducted through surprised inspections, but this is not taking place. Between 1963 and 2009, just 109 doctors have been blacklisted by the Ethics Committee of the MCI despite reports of unethical practices by doctors and medical practitioners appearing in newspapers every other day. I hope that the government will wake up now: rise up to the occasion; and will take stern and immediate steps to liberate MCI from the clutches of corrupt clique. Joice George said, as far as my experience goes, in my constituency, the Medical Council of India had given approval for starting a new medical college in Idukki. We admitted students for year 2015-16. But this year, it declined to give permission to the Idukki Medical College and the government will be forced to relocate the students from this medical college to some other colleges. What is the fate of those students? What is fate of those aspirants who want to get a medical college within their reach? This has to be addressed. I urge upon the government to have a comprehensive enactment for the purpose of regulating the medical education in India and also to have a comprehensive enactment for the purpose of regulating medical institutions in India. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha. It allows children below 14 years of age to be engaged in "home-based work" with their families after school hours, or help their families in fields or forest gathering. It amended the 1986 law that prohibits child labour. Opposing the Bill, Jharna Das Baidya said this is a retrograde measure which legalises the exploitation of children below the age of 14. It will be like punishing the children for their poverty. The proposed amendment exposes the callous approach of this government to children's rights. The legalisation of child labour will only worsen the situation because it will induce the employment of children in place of adult workers. A household enterprise is nothing but an exit route to allow children to work. We feel the provisions on hazardous child labour have been diluted in this Bill. We demand total eradication of child labour up to the age of 18 years. We want that the provision pertaining to a time-bound rehabilitation of child labour should be incorporated in the Act. The Lok Sabha passed the National Institutes of Technology, Science Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2016. P K Biju said this might seem to be an insignificant Bill but it would have far reaching implication on our country. The Bill does not clearly state the reservation policy to be followed when an institution from a state gets national institute status. The Ministry of Human Resource Development has announced increasing the annual fees of IITs from Rs 90,000 to Rs 2 lakh. SC/ST students get only 50 per cent concession. That means, they have to pay Rs 1 lakh. How is it possible? I myself am a victim of this practice. I had got the admission but I could not pay the fees at that time. Our higher educational institutions are becoming elite institutions. They are not implementing the reservation norms. Lakhs of seats in engineering colleges are lying vacant in this country because the students cannot afford the fees. Other Issues P Karunakaran, Leader of CPI(M) in the Lok Sabha, raised the issue of 21 people, including six women and three children, from various parts of Kerala going missing. They are believed to have joined terrorist group ISIS. Among those missing are two doctors and two engineers. They have been missing from the last two months. He urged the government to investigate the matter and reveal the facts. Karunakaran also raised the issue of the government allowing 100 per cent FDI in defence, pharmaceutical and other retail sectors. This is against the interest of our country and raise serious question concerning both internal security and our sovereignty, he said. In the Rajya Sabha, Tapan Kumar Sen raised the matter regarding the move to privatise Salem Steel Plant in Tamil Nadu and Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Plant in Karnataka. Salem Steel Plant came into being after a long struggle by the people of Tamil Nadu. It had been producing quite efficiently since its inception. But during the last one decade, this is being neglected and the plant is being pushed into red. The government must stop selling the national assets, he said. K K Ragesh made an appeal to the government to reconsider the decision to merge State Bank of Travancore with State Bank of India. The proposed merger is going to affect Kerala in a very big way. Kisans, traders, small and medium scale entrepreneurs, all depend on the SBT for loans as it has much more branches in the state than SBI. The employees of SBT are worried about their promotional prospects and future job opportunities are also being curtailed in this way, he said and requested the government to abandon the plan. (END)