Parliament proceedings live updates | Central government needs the humility to work with the States, says Derek O’Brien
On the third day of the monsoon session of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha (which convened in the morning) passed the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020 before discussing Indias response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the afternoon, the Lok Sabha is expected to consider and pass the Banking Regulation Bill, among others.
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Here are the live updates:
12.55 pm | Rajya Sabha
Issue an apology to workers, says RJD MP
CPI (M) MP from Kerala Elamaram Kareem says: The Prime Minister said Mahabharata war was won in 18 days and war against COVID-19 would be won in 21 days. What happened to that?
The distrust of the people is not a concern of the government, says Mr. Kareem.
RJD MP Prof. Manoj Kumar Jha too attributes the poor response to COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the initial days, to the Namaste Trump program in February 2020. He proposes the House should issue an apology to all workers who were ignored during the lockdown.
Nominated MP Swapan Dasgupta says Health Minister should issue a clarification regarding the statistical robustness of the Central government’s COVID-19 figures.
With that, Rajya Sabha adjournes till 9 a.m. on September 17. The House will continue the discussion on COVID-19 in that session.
12.50 pm | Rajya Sabha
Stop using the term ‘migrant workers’: Ram Chandra Prasad Singh
JD(U) MP from Bihar Ram Chandra Prasad Singh says the term migrant worker is offensive. He says people of Bihar worked for development of the country and then when the pandemic started they were sent off. He asks the House to stop using the term.
12.40 pm | Rajya Sabha
Govt. under-reporting COVID cases, alleges Tiruchi Siva
DMK MP from Tamil Nadu Tiruchi Siva says the life of a human being has become so insignificant today that they have become just a number.
He too echoes the allegations of the previous speakers that the delay in imposing the lockdown was solely to ensure the smooth functioning of Donald Trump’s Ahmedabad visit.
India had the strictest lockdown in the world and the worst outcome post lockdown, says Mr. Siva. He alleges the government is under-reporting the number of COVID-19 cases.
TRS MP Dr. K. Keshava Rao says there is an economic crisis. Centre owes States ₹8,000 crore but you don’t even want to talk about it, he says.
12.35 pm | Rajya Sabha
Why is the government sleeping, asks Prakash Verma
Samajwadi Party MP Ravi Prakash Verma builds on Derek O’Brien’s observation regarding the Namaste Trump event. He says that India did not close the airports initially just to oblige U.S. President Donald Trump. “Delhi, Ahmedabad and Agra — the places where Mr. Trump visited with thousands of people became hotspots of COVID-19,” says Mr. Verma.
Parliaments were functional in the rest of the world, he says.
Pointing out the poor mental health, Mr. Verma says: “The number of people who used to die in road accidents are now dying of suicide. Why is the government sleeping? The limitations of government officials became the country’s limitations.”
12.25 pm | Rajya Sabha
Give States their financial dues: Prasanna Acharya
BJD MP Prasanna Acharya says according to current growth trend, India will become number one in terms of coronavirus cases, and is the worst in terms of GDP growth.
He says State governments’ financial condition is not sound and the Centre is not coming forward to give States their dues.
12.15 pm | Rajya Sabha
Take best practices from different States: O’Brien
Speaking on public health, TMC MP Derek O’Brien says that State spending accounted for ₹63 out of every ₹100 spent. “When things are going well, you want to take credit. When they are not, you start talking about CMs,” says Mr. O’Brien.
“What you should have done is taken best practices from different States, like covering all allied workers under insurance… We are not saying we know it all. But neither do you. This government needs the humility to work with States,” he says.
“The only way an MP can respond directly to their constituents is through the MPLAD funds. You must not use the pandemic to convert a democracy into an autocracy,” he adds, terming the PM-CARES fund, as the PM-couldn’t-care-less fund.
Winding up, Mr. O’Brien says he wants to leave the members with two images from the pandemic. One of the only woman Chief Minister marking social distancing circles in a bazaar, and the second of a garden and a peacock.
12.05 pm | Rajya Sabha
What was the govt. doing before March 26, asks Derek O’Brien
Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien starts by thanking frontline workers.
Alluding to Home Minister Amit Shah’s ‘chronology samajhiye’ comment, Mr. O’Brien says: On January 30, the first COVID-19 case was detected in India. On February 24, PM Modi hosted U.S. President Donald Trump with pomp and grandeur. While all this was being done, there were many Chief Ministers were working on their COVID response. On March 5, isolation beds were being set up in West Bengal. On March 25, a 21-day lockdown was announced with four hours notice.
My question to the government is this: was at least one video conference held before March 26 wrt coronavirus? asks Mr. O’Brien.
11.50 am | Rajya Sabha
“Those who light candles at India Gate don’t like the lighting of diyas in honour of those fighting COVID,” says BJP MP
BJP MP from Maharashtra Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe continues the discussion.
He says that many have been criticising some of the good measures implemented by the Centre during COVID-19. For instance, when we lit diyas to honour the frontline workers, there were people who made fun of that as well, he says.
“Those who light candles at India Gate don’t like the lighting of diyas in honour of those fighting COVID,” says Dr. Sahasrabuddhe, to general protest.
Dr. Sahasrabuddhe also says that there is lack of coordination between the different departments of Maharashtra government even while dealing with a pandemic. “Many states did not impose lockdowns in a scientific manner. Pandemic management suffered in Maharashtra,” he says.
Dr. Sahasrabuddhe attacks Maharashtra government over the lack of doctors, says the matter has been made into a joke. Opposition MPs object to this.
The MP also refers to the incident in which BMC demolished the alleged illegal portions of actor Kangana Ranaut’s bungalow in Mumbai. As members protest, Deputy Chairman asks the MP to stick to the coronavirus topic.
Mumbai’s treatment of COVID patients is remarkable, says Jaya Bachchan
Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan responded to Dr. Sahasrabuddhe’s criticism of COVID-19 management in Mumbai, saying that she speaks from experience as her family members also suffered from COVID-19. The treatment of patients in hospitals and the hourly sanitisation of Mumbai streets are above reproach, she says, adding that this issue should not be politicised.
11.40 am | Rajya Sabha
No CM opposed lockdown, says BJP MP
BJP MP from Maharashtra Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe says he was hoping Anand Sharma would give some policy suggestions, since the Congress is in power in over three States.
Responding to Mr. Sharma’s comments on the implementation of lockdown, Mr. Sahasrabuddhe says that the Chief Ministers of States were consulted numerous times during the decision-making process.
“None of the Chief Ministers in about 15 meetings with the PM and other Ministers ever said the lockdown shouldn’t be opposed,” he says. “This double-faced behaviour of the Opposition should be avoided,” he adds.
11.25 am | Rajya Sabha
After heated discussion on the time alloted for COVID-related queries and comments, Congress MP Anand Sharma resumes speaking.
Mr. Sharma asks government to speak to States about improving the public health system. He says that 70% of ICU beds are in private sector. He says government should have coordinated with States before announcing the lockdown.
Chairman Venkaiah Naidu provides clarity to the discussion-time confusion, says 3.5 hours will be allocated for discussion as requested by the MPs.
We can’t deny the image of India that was seen abroad of migrant workers in distress, says Mr. Sharma. He adds that if quarantine centres were set up in advance, the disease may not have reached villages.
11 am | Rajya Sabha
Rajya Sabha starts discussion on COVID-19 pandemic and clarification on Health Minister’s statement on the situation on September 15. Chairman Venkaiah Naidu says it is a larger issue, asks MoS Home Affairs to be present, apart from Health Minister.
Congress MP from Himachal Pradesh Anand Sharma says Health Minister told the House on September 15 that the deaths per million of 55 was among the lowest in the world. Sri Lanka and South Africa have had lower deaths per million, he says.
“Health Minister said the lockdown decision prevented 14-29 lakh cases, this is a very wide gap. What is the scientific basis for this,” asks Mr. Sharma. He speaks about the discrimination faced by medical professionals.
Confusion ensues over the timing alloted for the discussion. Deputy Chairman Harivansh Singh, who is presiding over the session, says 2.5 hours have been alloted, but members say they were promised 4 hours.
10.50 am | Rajya Sabha
Appreciative of suggestions, says Health Minister
Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan thanks the MPs for their inputs on Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020. He says that despite being a doctor of modern medicine, he is appreciative of and practices ayurveda and other traditional medicine.
On issue of Jamnagar institute being selected, Health Minister says he has respect for the other institutes. Right now there are 103 institutes of national importance, but none for ayurveda, says Dr. Vardhan. He says there is no bias. He says that the Jamnagar institute is the oldest set up by the government and only collaborating institution for WHO.
“Jamnagar institute is the number one institution which deserves this status. This is a humble beginning. After other institutions further upgrade themselves in terms of research, they will also be considered for national importance,” says the Minister.
Rajya Sabha passes the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020 by voice vote.
10.40 am | Rajya Sabha
Most MPs make the point that the institute should not be constrained to one particular State.
Bodoland People’s Front MP from Assam Biswajit Daimary asks the government to make a similar ayurveda institute of national importance in the North East.
NCP MP from Maharashtra Dr. Fauzia Khan wonders if it might be more cost-effective to improve existing institutes rather than establishing a new one. She says choice of Gujarat again has led to eyebrows being raised.
Aam Aadmi Party MP Narain Das Gupta welcomes the move of the Health Minister, says it reminds one of Ramayana as ayurveda helped Lord Lakshman when he was injured.
10.30 am | Rajya Sabha
Preserving environment vital for development of ayurveda: Binoy Viswam
CPI MP from Kerala Binoy Viswam says in addition to the previously mentioned points, it is important to preserve the biodiversity and environmental intergrity for proper development of ayurveda. Ayurveda cannot thrive without preserving the ecosystem, he says.
He adds that he was happy to hear about Mr. Naidu’s experience at Kottakkal Arya Vaidyashala as Mr. Viswam is a part of the institute’s worker’s union leadership.
Dr. Subhash Chandra, independent MP from Haryana, says farmers should be provided financial support to grow more medicinal plants.
10.20 am | Rajya Sabha
AIADMK MP M. Thambidurai echoes previous speaker Mr. Reddy’s points, and says that there should be an institute of national importance in every state, not just Gujarat.
You have to promote siddha, unani and others, he says.
CPI(M) MP from Kerala K.K. Rajesh asks why Kerala did not pop up in the government’s mind when such a decision was made, since the State is the hub for ayurvedic medicine.
He says he is not opposed to the Jamnagar institute, but Kerala should have been given an institute of national importance for ayurveda.
Chairman Naidu says that he has visited Kottakkal Arya Vaidyashala in the State. “I enjoyed the visit,” he says, commending Mr. Rajesh for making a “good point”.
10.15 am | Rajya Sabha
Every State needs ITRA, says YSRCP MP
YSRCP MP V. Vijaisai Reddy supports the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020. He says it is a part of the education reforms of the government. It will help creating trust and confidence in ayurveda, he says.
He makes two suggestions — non-inclusion of yoga and naturopathy in Indian system of medicines, and the need to address quackery in ayurvedic sector. He adds that such an institute should be established in each State, and not just Gujarat.
10.10 am | Rajya Sabha
Govt ignoring Siddha, promoting Ayurveda: DMK MP
DMK MP M. Shanmugam says the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020 will confer the tag of national importance to an institute, once again in the “favoured State” of Gujarat.
He asks the government the reason behind picking Gujart when there are existing institutes with better facilities in other States.
He says government is letting down Siddha medicine that hails from Tamil Nadu.
9.55 am | Rajya Sabha
MPs question source of funds promised
The Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020 is being considered. The Bill was passed in Lok Sabha during Budget session.
The Institute of Post Graduate Teaching and Research in Ayurveda, Shree Gulabkunverba Ayurved Mahavidyalaya, Jamnagar and the Indian Institute of Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical Sciences will be merged.
Trinamool Congress MP Dr. Santanu Sen says ayurveda institutes in other parts of the country are in poor conditions, but the government is focused on institutes in Gujarat only.
BJD MP Prashanta Nanda says strengthening of ayurveda will reduce government expenditure on healthcare.
Samajwadi Party MP from Uttar Pradesh Prof. Ram Gopal Yadav questions the source of the funding for the institutes. He also sparks a brief discussion on the public health guidelines issued by ICMR with regard to the use of masks and social distancing.
Chairman Venkaiah Naidu says ICMR director told him it’s best to wear masks, in response to Mr. Yadav’s query on whether he can take off his mask while speaking.
9.40 am | Rajya Sabha
Why Punjabi excluded from official languages list in J&K, asks Partap Singh Bajwa
Congress MP Partap Singh Bajwa raises matter of Punjabi language not being included on the list of official languages in Jammu and Kashmir.
Shiromani Akali Dal MP Balwinder Singh Bhunder says Punjabi has been accepted in U.S., Canada, New Zealand, not just J&K. He asks Punjabi to be included.
In Special Mentions, BJD MP Amar Patnaik suggestions central sector scheme for weavers
9.35 am | Rajya Sabha
Asom Gana Parishad MP Birendra Prasad Baishya raises matter of gas leak at Baghjan that led to death of some people and environmental damage.
Congress MP K.C. Venugopal raises matter of privacy of Indians citing an Indian Express report on a Chinese company making a database of 10,000 prominent people.
Chairman tells government to look into the veracity of the matter.
Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge raises the matter of National Education Policy. He says poor children will have a disadvantage when they start school as there is no clear policy on angadwadi teachers
9.30 am | Rajya Sabha
Ruckus over vandalism in Visva Bharati
Nominated member Swapan Dasgupta raises matter of vandalism at Visva Bharati University in West Bengal. He suggests deployment of central forces, as some members protest.
Chairman Venkaiah Naidu reminds members not to make any allegations in Zero Hour, after Mr. Dasgupta said the local administration did not keep the university safe. Mr. Naidu points out that Mr. Dasgupta did not name any State, and hence the comments will go on record.
9.25 am | Rajya Sabha
Tiff over oxygen price comment
Congress MP Digvijaya Singh raises matter of the increasing prices of oxygen during the COVID-19 pandemic and shortage of oxygen.
Argument ensues with Chairman Naidu after Mr. Singh, while citing unfavourable statistics, refers to Gujarat as PM Narendra Modi’s native place. Mr. Naidu objects to this.
BJP MP Dr. Bhagwat Karad says oxygen cylinder rate should be uniform and regular supply should be there in the whole country.
9.20 am | Rajya Sabha
Low crop prices
Samajwadi Party MP Javed Ali Khan raises matter of low prices being given to wheat farmers. He says that when he went to sell his own wheat crop in Uttar Pradesh, he also faced the same problem.
Chairman Venkaiah Naidu asks the Leader of the House to look into the matter.
‘All students need basic digital device’
NCP MP Vandana Chavan raises issue of deprivation of a large portion of students when it comes to online education, cites the suicide of a Class 10 student in Maharashtra as he did not have a phone.
“We have a student population of 240 million and we cannot fail our young. I urge the government to make a basic digital device available to every student who does not have it, says Ms. Chavan.
9.10 am | Rajya Sabha
Congress MP P. Bhattacharya suggests setting up a national homeopathy helpline. He lists out the benefits of the stream of medicine, and concludes by saying that in his personal experience, homeopathy has been very helpful.
Lighter moment ensues as Chairman Naidu says that Mr. Bhattacharya met him yesterday and suggested some homeopathic medicine.
9.05 am | Rajya Sabha
Restart self-help groups in J&K: Gulam Nabi Azad
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad raises the matter of unemployment in Jammu and Kashmir. He says that the UTs have seen no tourism, employment opportunities and economic activities since its status was downgraded 13 months ago.
“In Jammu and Kashmir, there was a self-help group of unemployed engineers and they had 5% reservation in development works. Nearly 15,000 such engineers used to work through this from 2003, but four days ago the government has ended the self-help groups. Centre should restart the scheme,” says Mr. Azad.
Chairman hopes that the Centre will pay attention to this request.
9 am | Rajya Sabha
TMC MP Mausam Noor takes oath
New member Mausam Noor takes oath as the member of Rajya Sabha. Ms. Noor was a Congress MP from Malda in 2014 but joined the TMC before the 2019 Lok Sabha poll. She was defeated by BJP’s candidate Khagen Murmu, formerly with the CPI (M) in 2019.
Papers were laid on table on behalf of MoS Home Affairs and Social Justice and Empowerment. Chairman Venkaiah Naidu reads out a list of MPs who sought leave of absence, including former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh. House grants permission.
Motion for election of one member to the Rubber Board adopted.
List of Bills for consideration and passing
- Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020
- Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- Salaries and Allowances of Ministers (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2020
List of Bills for consideration and passing
- The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020
- Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020