The winter session of the Indian Parliament started on Monday, with celebrations of the 250th Session of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House). It is the main highlight of the three-week long session. Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked Parliamentarians to maintain the balance between national vision and regional interest saying that they should prefer dialogue over obstruction to highlight people-oriented issues. He said in a democracy, the existence of the Upper Chamber is essential for checks and balances. At the same time, he cautioned that a distinction needs to be drawn between checking and clogging. Mr. Modi reminded that India’s unity in diversity is beautifully reflected in the House of Elders.
On the role of the house in the Indian Polity and the need for reforms, Prime Minister said the founding fathers of the Constitution envisioned a bicameral legislative framework, and this vision has enriched the country’s democracy. He said the Rajya Sabha gives an opportunity to those who are away from electoral politics to contribute to the nation and its development. He said, the Council of States, enables Parliamentarians to further the spirit of cooperative federalism. In this context, he said Rajya Sabha must remain as a supportive house for the development of the entire country. House Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said, Rajya Sabha has played a significant role in the socio-economic transformation of the country.
Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy said that the Jammu and Kashmir government has informed that a total of 35 lakh tourists including 13,000 foreign nationals visited Jammu and Kashmir during last six months. Stating this in a written reply in the Lok Sabha, he said the State government has earned a sum of 25 crore rupees through tourism during this period.
Parliament was informed that there has been a decline in the incidents of stone-pelting since the scrapping of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. In a written reply in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Home Affairs, G. Kishan Reddy said 190 cases have been registered relating to stone-pelting and law and order from 5th of August to 15th of November 2019.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah asserted that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is fully normal and restrictions have been lifted in all the 195 police stations’ areas. He said the decision on restoring internet services will be taken at an appropriate time as per the recommendation of the state authorities after taking into account the security situation in the region. He was replying to supplementary questions in the Rajya Sabha. The Minister said there has not been a single death due to police firing after the scrapping of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state.
The government has ruled out any proposal for ‘One Nation-One Language’ saying that the Constitution accords equal importance to all the languages of the country. Replying to a question in the Rajya Sajya Sabha, Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy said the Constitution accords equal importance to all the languages of the country.
In reply to a question, Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr. V Muraleedharan said the government’s position on China’s One Belt-One Road (OBOR) has been clear and consistent. He said government’s concerns arise from the fact that the inclusion of the so called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which passes through parts of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh which is under illegal occupation of Pakistan, as a flagship project of OBOR, directly impinges on the issue of sovereignty and territorial integrity of India. He said India is of the firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognized international norms.
The Lok Sabha also debated on the significant issue of pollution in the national capital. Members cutting across party lines said it is a serious issue and needs to tackled at the earliest “apolitically”. Members made a wide range of suggestions for tackling the problem, such as economically empowering farmers in order to curtail stubble burning and contributing two crore rupees from each MP’s MPLADs funds, for erecting air purifying towers.
Script: V. Mohan Rao, Journalist