Parliament Budget Session 2022 Updates: Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders and the Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cardholders (being deemed OCI cardholders) are entitled to multiple entry lifelong visa for visiting India, Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai said in the Rajya Sabha today.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday urged the government to put an end to the alleged “systematic interference” of Facebook and other social media giants in India’s electoral politics. Making a Zero Hour submission in the Lok Sabha, Gandhi referred to a report published in Al Jazeera and The Reporters’ Collective claiming that Facebook had offered BJP cheaper deals for election advertisements as compared to other political parties.
Both the houses of Parliament were adjourned ahead of Holi and will reassemble on March 21, 11 am to continue the ongoing second leg of the Budget Session. Speaker of Lok Sabha, Om Birla congratulated the members of the Lower House on Holi.
A parliamentary standing committee on Wednesday asked the defence ministry to be more cautious and transparent in ensuring the fulfilment of offset requirements in defence contracts.
According to a report tabled in Lok Sabha by the panel, a total of 57 defence offset contracts have been signed as on date and the total obligations under them are estimated at around USD 13.52 billion “to be discharged over a period from 2008-2033”.
“Out of the total contracted obligations USD 4.59 billion has been discharged by the vendors, of which USD 2.9 billion has been accepted in audit and the balance claims are under clarification/examination,” it said. (PTI)
The government is taking a number of initiatives for the welfare and protection of tribal people and regions in coordination with various ministries, Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda informed Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
The health and welfare of the tribal people are a priority for this government and through schemes such as Ayushman Bharat, 61.13 lakh people have benefited so far, said Munda and rejected the Opposition’s charge that the allocation for projects related to tribals had been decreased.
“The ministry is working on a plan to set up telemedicine facilities in the areas and is also creating a database to full fill the needs of the community,” said Munda adding that it has launched ‘Swasthya” a Tribal Health & Nutrition Portal for them. Moreover, the government is also working on research and finding a solution to Sickle Cell Anemia, which has a high incidence in tribal areas.
“We are working with the health ministry, institutes like ICMR and haematologists to find a permanent solution for it,” said Munda. (PTI)
A parliamentary standing committee on Wednesday complimented the government for concluding a contract with the Philippines for the supply of Brahmos missiles and recommended that it should step up efforts to secure more export orders for indigenously developed military platforms.
In January, India sealed the USD 375 million contract with the Philippines to supply three batteries of the BrahMos shore-based anti-ship missile systems.
The Standing Committee on Defence in its 29th report also expressed happiness over the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) completing the phase-I of the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system, describing it as “extremely crucial” from the point of view of national defence.
Referring to Tejas light combat aircraft, the committee recommended that more efforts should be made so that the “improved and lethal” versions of it is introduced in near future. “The committee were pleased to note that a contract has been signed with the Philippines for the supply of coastal launched Brahmos missile system,” it said. (PTI)
BJD MP Prasanna Acharya expressed concern on Wednesday on the poor condition of passenger amenities in short-distance trains, despite the collection from passengers amounting to over Rs 50,000 crore per annum.
During a discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the working of the Railway Ministry, Acharya also raised the issue of incomplete projects that have been lingering on for years.
“What is the revenue that is collected from passenger fare? If I am correct, leave apart the Covid period, it must have been more than Rs 50,000 crore per annum, not less than that. What are the amenities provided to the passengers? There are certain long route trains, where good amenities are seen nowadays, but in other numerous trains, you will be astonished,” he said.
With the fitment of bio-toilets in all broad gauge coaches, no faecal matter is discharged on railway tracks, Union minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Wednesday, adding that there are no manual scavengers working for the Indian Railways.
Provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 have been complied with by railways, and protective gear and devices, including mechanised equipment to any person engaged in cleaning in passenger coaches, station area or railway tracks, are being provided, he stated.
“There are no manual scavengers on Indian Railways,” the minister informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply. (PTI)
CPI Rajya Sabha member Binoy Viswam on Wednesday accused the government of taking away tribal land and giving it away for mining. Taking part in a discussion in the Upper House on the working of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, he also alleged that fund allocation of the ministry over the years had been decreased and the tribals were deprived of development.
“The government’s mining policy says that wherever they want to come and invest and open a new mine, that will be given to miners of Indian origin and of foreign origin,” Viswam said. Citing examples of Jharkhand and Odisha, he said thousands of acres of lands belonging to the tribals have been “given to the big mining lobby”.
He accused the Centre of bowing before “the FDI of US, Australia, Germany” and asked the government to change its approach towards the development of tribals. (PTI)
The Opposition in Lok Sabha on Wednesday pressed for increasing the budget for maintenance of roads and stringent laws to deal with overloading of vehicles and reducing incidents of road accidents.
Initiating a debate on demand for grants of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Congress member A R Reddy said India has only one per cent of the vehicles while it accounts for 11 per cent of road accidents globally. He said the government should increase the budget for maintenance of roads to prevent such accidents. He also criticised the government for not being able to attract private investments in the highways sector.
Besides, Reddy demanded that the government speed up implementation of the Bharatmala Pariyojana. Participating in the discussions, Kalyan Banerjee (AITC) suggested that the government should come out with stringent laws to deal with overloading of vehicles as they create heavy traffic congestions. (PTI)
Both the houses of Parliament were adjourned ahead of Holi and will reassemble on March 21, 11 am to continue the ongoing second leg of the Budget Session.
Congress MP from Kerala Hibi Eden on Wednesday demanded in Lok Sabha that the CPI(M)-affiliated Students’ Federation of India (SFI) be banned in the state “like a terrorist organisation”, alleging its members were committing crimes and attacking rival political party members.
During the Zero Hour, Eden raised the issue of a woman leader of the Congress-backed Kerala Students’ Union (KSU) being “brutally” beaten up allegedly by the activists of SFI at the Government Law College in Thiruvananthapuram.
“I would like to draw the attention of the House to a very important matter – a heinous crime committed by the goons of the Students Federation of India in Trivandrum government law college… Student Union President and her colleagues were brutally beaten up by the SFI ‘goondas’ in the state,” he alleged.
“SFI in Kerala should be banned like a terrorist organisation because the number of crimes committed every day by this particular organisation is unimaginable,” he said and called on the Centre to intervene in the matter. (PTI)
Over 4,300 teaching posts are vacant in Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) across the country, the Parliament was informed on Wednesday. Union Minister of State for Education Subhas Sarkar gave the information in response to a written question in Rajya Sabha.
The maximum vacant faculty positions are in IIT Kharagpur (815) followed by IIT Bombay (532), IIT Dhanbad (447), IIT Madras (396), IIT Kanpur (351), IIT Roorkee (296) and IIT BHU (289). He said IIT Delhi has 73 vacant faculty positions, IIT Bhubhaneshwar (115), IIT Gandhinagar (45), IIT Hyderabad (132), IIT Indore (81), IIT Jodhpur (65), IIT Mandi (73), IIT Patna (100), IIT Ropar (69), IIT Tirupati (18), IIT Palakkad (24), IIT Jammu (31), IIT Bhillai (43), IIT Goa (40) and IIT Dharwad (39).
“The government has implemented 10 percent reservation for admission of students under EWS category without any reduction in the number of seats available to GEN, SC, ST and OBC categories by increasing the student strength by 25 percent. Accordingly, requirement of faculty has increased in IITs,” Sarkar said. He said the faculty recruitment takes time since it involves a number of stages in the process. (PTI)
Rajya Sabha is holding a discussion on Demands for Grants in Tribal Affairs Ministry.
Union Minister of Tribal Affairs, Arjun Munda in the Lok Sabha said, ‘The constitutional order of the tribal society should be protected, the government is committed to it. There should be complete development of the tribal areas, this is our priority.’
Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Demands for Grants under the control of the Ministry of Railways for 2022-23.
#BudgetSession2022 #LokSabha passes Demands for Grants under the control of the Ministry of Railways for 2022-23@AshwiniVaishnaw @RailMinIndia pic.twitter.com/OGLAr7EnCX
Rajya Sabha members on Wednesday expressed concern over the rising cases of cancer in the country and suggested various measures, including regular check-up camps in rural areas and mandatory warning on processed meat packets, to tackle the disease.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour, BJP’s Mahesh Poddar demanded that cancer warning should be made mandatory on packets of processed meat in line with tobacco products. He said the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organisation (WHO) had announced in 2015 that consumption of processed meat and red meat may cause cancer.
Expressing concern over the increased consumption of processed meat in India, the BJP member said the country could witness as high as 16 lakh cases annually by 2025. (PTI)
Speaker of Lok Sabha, Om Birla congratulated the members of the Lower House on Holi. The sitting of the house will be adjourned on March 17.
रंगों के उत्सव होली पर लोक सभा अध्यक्ष @ombirlakota ने दी बधाई
As many as 16 Chinese nationals have been granted Indian citizenship in the last 15 years, Union Minister Nityanand Rai said on Wednesday. Rai also informed the Rajya Sabha that 10 applications of Chinese nationals are pending for grant of citizenship.
“Further, 16 Chinese nationals have been granted Indian citizenship since 2007,” he said replying to a written question. The Union Minister of State for Home said India is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol.
He said all foreign nationals, including asylum seekers, are governed by the provisions contained in The Foreigners Act, 1946, The Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939, The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and The Citizenship Act, 1955. (PTI)
When did Kapil Sibal fight an election for any position in the party, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid asked on Wednesday as he hit back at his party colleague for criticising the Gandhi family’s leadership.
Saying it was a “bit sad” to complain after receiving so much from the organisation, Khurshid also attacked the ‘Group of 23′ signatories, including Sibal, who wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi in 2020 seeking sweeping changes in the party. “The Gandhi family is the party’s integrating factor and the best possible leadership option in this moment of crisis,’ Khurshid told PTI, countering Sibal who said it was time for the Gandhis to step aside from a leadership role and give some other person a chance.
‘When did Mr. Sibal fight an election to get into any position in the party,’ he asked in response to Sibal’s remarks in an interview that the Gandhis should voluntarily move away because ‘a body nominated by them will never tell them that they should not continue to hold the reins of power’.
Khurshid’s staunch defence of the Gandhis comes at a time the Congress faces an existential crisis following its electoral defeats in the recent assembly elections, including in Uttar Pradesh where it won only two seats and a little over 2 per cent of the votes. According to Khurshid, the common perception after talking to people within the party is that they would like Rahul Gandhi to take over as full-time party president. (PTI)
The opposition Congress and CPI(M), who often jointly take on the government in Parliament, sparred with each other in Lok Sabha on Wednesday over the K-Rail Silverline project in Kerala, prompting Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw to take a dig at the two parties.
“Politics of Kerala is unique. Delhi main dosti, Kerala main kushti (friendship in Delhi, rivalry in Kerala), I can’t say anything on that,” the minister quipped, as Congress and CPI(M) members raised slogans against each other. The CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) is ruling the southern state, while the United Democratic Front (UDF), headed by the Congress, is the main opposition there.
During the Question Hour, Congress member Hibi Eden claimed there was huge resentment against the Silverline project and urged the Centre to consider the environmental and financial issues carefully before granting a final sanction. Another Congress member Benny Behanan claimed that the Silverline project was being implemented by the Kerala government without getting a final sanction from the Centre. (PTI)
Congress President Sonia Gandhi while speaking in Lok Sabha during the discussion on Matters of Urgent Public Importance on Wednesday, said, ‘I urge the Govt to put an end to the systematic influence and interference of Facebook and other social media giants in the electoral politics of world’s largest democracy.’
‘We need to protect our democracy and social harmony regardless of who is in power,’ Gandhi added.
I urge the Govt to put an end to the systematic influence & interference of Facebook & other SM giants in the electoral politics of world’s largest democracy.
We need to protect our democracy & social harmony regardless of who is in power.
– Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi pic.twitter.com/BzPr4bd5ip
Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders and the Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cardholders (being deemed OCI cardholders) are entitled to multiple entry lifelong visa for visiting India, Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai said in the Rajya Sabha today. (ANI)
Antimicrobial copper coating has been applied on door handles in 300 coaches to provide long-term effectiveness against viruses, Minister for Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Wednesday. His reply in Lok Sabha came in response to a question by BJP MP Rajdeep Roy, who sought to know whether the government was aware of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement in February, 2021 that certain copper alloys provided long-term effectiveness against viruses, including Covid-19. (PTI)
The victory in the Assembly elections for the BJP has obviously left the party MPs jubilant and they make no attempts to hide their excitement. On Monday, when Lok Sabha met, Speaker Om Birla welcomed the parliamentary delegation from Austria, who were seated in the chamber. While he was speaking, Prime Minister Narendra Modi entered the house. Aligarh MP Satish Kumar Gautam stood up and started thumping the desk to congratulate the Prime Minister. Soon, the other BJP MPs joined him and they started chanting ‘Modi, Modi, Modi’, leaving the Opposition bewildered. The Speaker had to stop for the chorus to end to continue his welcome speech.
Raising concerns over the future of the students who have returned from war-hit Ukraine, Members of Parliament (MPs) asked the government on Monday to ensure facilities for the students to complete their course without imposing a financial burden on them. The government assured the MPs it would “ponder over making the required arrangements.”
In the Rajya Sabha, chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said the government will make a statement on the situation in Ukraine and also the developments with regard to Indian students.
Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, while replying to a question raised by Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi, said the government will look into the measures that can be taken for the students who have been brought back from Ukraine under Operation Ganga, so that they can complete their educati