August 16, 2021
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Good morning. In our childhood, we were told to focus on improving our handwriting. Because bad handwriting sometimes could hinder communication and cost you a fortune.
For instance, Alan Slattery planned to rob a bank. He handed over a short ‘threat’ note to the employee. He hoped that he could take a few hundred pounds and go back home. But the employee could not understand his handwriting and did not feel threatened. His plan miserably failed! Lol, bad handwriting has sure rammed his dreams.
So you better work on your handwriting!
📰 FEATURE STORY
A look at the recently concluded monsoon session of the Parliament
From Rahul Gandhi arriving in a tractor to passing bills within a few minutes, the monsoon session of this year’s Parliament had so many things to look back on. In all honesty, the functioning of this year’s Parliament is not the worst in history.
But drama? It was the major factor that made Parliament hit headlines every now and then. The session took place from July 19 to August 11. So much has happened in the Parliament that we might have lost track of it. Hence, today we will take a look at the concluded Parliament session and analyse its events.
The Government of India has Parliament sessions to discuss and make decisions to govern the country. It happens thrice a year.
- The Budget Session – February to May
- The Monsoon Session – July to September
- The Winter Session – November to December
This year’s budget session happened as scheduled and was very productive as well. The monsoon session kicked off in July. Citing the farmer issue and Pegasus, the opposition parties protested that the government was wrong. On the other hand, the government retorted that the opposition was just disrupting the Parliamentary proceedings and passed Bills without any debate. As usual, the blame game was on.
Amidst this, the only bill that was properly discussed and passed was the 127th Amendment Bill which was designed to clarify that the states can maintain the “state list” of OBCs.
This marred the productivity of the session. Rajya Sabha worked for only 28 hours and Lok Sabha for approximately 21 hours. In total, the Parliament wasted 151 hours.
Around 20 bills were passed in the Parliament. Here are some of the bills:
- The General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021.
- The Juvenile Justice (Care And Protection Of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021.
- The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill,2021.
- Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
- Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
So, let’s break down and understand the opposition’s disappointment, the passing of bills, the government’s stand and other happenings in the Parliament.
Disappointed over government actions: Opposition
Just a few days ahead of the monsoon session, news outlets exposed the Pegasus snooping issue. It was alleged that the software was used to spy on several activists, journalists and politicians. The maker of the software, NSO Group based in Israel, sold it exclusively to governments across the world. This prompted speculation that the Indian government had probably used the software to spy on its opponents.
Therefore, the opposition raised this in the Parliament. They wanted the government to take measures and set up an inquiry. They also emphasized that farm laws should be discussed.
However, the government overlooked their concerns. This made matters worse. Many times, the opposition parties could do nothing but walkout.
Though the opposition continued to protest, the government managed to pass bills. This raised concerns as these were passed without much debate. Several people voiced out that it could lead to problems in the future.
Priyanka Chaturdevi, Shiv Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP, wrote in an editorial that “History will remember how the Opposition wasn’t allowed by the current government to raise their voices and concerns of millions”. On average, only 8 minutes were taken to pass a bill, except the OBC bill.
Opposition parties also asserted that the entire responsibility for the deadlock in Parliament was because of the government’s stubbornness.
Calling out the Parliament proceedings wrong, the parties pointed out three key issues. One, the government stonewalled their decisions. Two, they were silenced. Three, the government passed bills without debates and so violated House norms.
Towards the end of the monsoon session, marshals were deployed in the Parliament for safety purposes. Post the session, opposition parties were accused of manhandling these marshals in Parliament. But they denied it. The opposition parties emphasized that they only protested and did not misbehave. They further claimed that it was the opposition members who were manhandled by the marshals.
Parliament insulted by behaviour of the opposition: Government
Why was the government in a hurry to pass the bills? Unlike what the opposition parties claim, it is said that the legislative push was much needed as most of the bills passed actually replaced an Ordinance.
An Ordinance is a temporary order passed by the President when Parliament is not in session. So, as soon as the Parliament meets, the government tries to pass the bill. Otherwise, the Ordinance will cease to exist after a certain point of time.
Regarding the Pegasus issue, IT Communications Minister Aswini Vaishnaw opined in the apex legislature that the issue was aimed at defaming Indian democracy. He also said that several checks and balances were in place. Therefore, any sort of illegal surveillance by unauthorised persons was not possible in the country.
Later, Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu offered to discuss the ongoing farmers’ agitation as a peace deal. However, the opposition rejected it and instead insisted on the spyware discussion. The same day, he also suspended six members of the Trinamool Congress for protesting and disrupting the work in the apex legislature. In an attempt to stop the ruckus, the government blocked questioning on Pegasus in Rajya Sabha.
When most bills were under discussion, the opposition chose to protest. So, the bills were passed by voting without any possibility for further discussions. On many occasions, the opposition showed their displeasure by throwing chairs and tearing copies of bill explanations. For instance, Trinamool MP Santanu Sen snatched IT Minister’s papers when the latter was about to make a statement on the spyware issue.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the Parliament was insulted by such acts of the Opposition parties. He mentioned that it was also an insult to the constitution, democracy and the public.
The ruckus led to the early closing of the session. Post the session, several Union ministers said that the opposition had threatened them to stop passing bills. The government has also asked the Rajya Sabha speaker to set up a committee and enquire about the manhandling claims against opposition parties.
The decisions made in such sessions decide the future of the country. Keeping this in mind, we could only hope that the Parliament functions better in the upcoming winter session.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
In Central Vista redevelopment, the fate of our heritage hangs in balance
For the Left:
I-Day ruminations: Could Partition have been avoided?
🏴 STATE OF THE STATES
First ever (Tamil Nadu) – The state government conferred the first-ever ‘Best Third Gender Award’ to trans activist Grace Banu during the Independence Day celebration in Chennai. The award was presented to her by Chief Minister MK Stalin for ‘Outstanding Work for the Upliftment of Third Genders’. While Banu was delighted to receive the award, she hoped that the government would refrain from using the phrase ‘Third Gender’ for trans people. She also said that the government had agreed with her, and would change the name in the future. Trans rights FTW!
Violence on I-Day (Meghalaya) – Violent incidents marred the Independence Day celebrations in the state, after a former rebel leader Cherishstarfield Thangkhiew was shot dead by the police. While family members of the slain person alleged foul play, the police claimed that the person was shot in retaliation to his attacks. Several people waved black flags during the funeral procession of Thangkhiew. The state’s Home Minister Lahkmen Rymbui resigned from his position, and asked the Chief Minister to probe the matter impartially.
Instigators arrested (Delhi) – Two men, Vikas Sehrawat and Raja Kumar, were arrested in Delhi after they threatened to attack the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus on Independence Day. In a video released on the Facebook page ‘Mahakal Youth Brigade’, Vikas allegedly threatened to attack the university. The video was uploaded using Kumar’s phone. Sehrawat was previously arrested for using abusive language against former Congress MLA Alka Lamba. Delhi police swiftly acted on the complaint by the JNU Students Union by arresting both men, and investigations are underway.
Debatable (Madhya Pradesh) – While denying bail to a man accused of ‘rape on the pretext of marriage’, the Indore bench of the state High Court observed that unmarried girls in a conservative society like India “do not indulge in carnal activities just for the fun of it”. The complainant is a girl who took poison after the accused refused to marry her, despite being in a physical relationship with her for three years. The girl luckily survived. Notwithstanding the merits of the case, what do you think of the court’s observations?
Cash award for informants (Jharkhand) – Investigating the hit-and-run death case of Jharkhand judge Uttam Anand, the Central Bureau of Investigation has announced a reward of ₹5 lakh to any person with information regarding the alleged murder. On July 28, Additional Sessions Judge, Dhanbad, Uttam Anand was knocked down by an auto at around 5 am while he was jogging. The CBI is investigating the case on directions of Jharkhand High Court.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
100 GW – Installed Renewable Energy (RE) capacity in India excluding large hydro, according to the Power Ministry. India is at the 4th position in the world in the total installed RE capacity.