Budget Session Phase 2 Clocks 80% Productivity; Curtailed due to Coronavirus

The Parliament met on 2nd March 2020 for the phase 2 of the budget session after a short break. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha clocked 86% and 74% productivity respectively until the budget session was called off on March 23, 12 days before schedule due to the growing fears of Coronavirus pandemic.
Complete Coverage: Coronavirus

Crux of the Matter

Complete Coverage: Parliament Budget Session 1st Innings Plays Out With Bouquets And Brickbats

Day 10
On 2nd March, Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which proposes to increase the time period for termination from 12 to 20 weeks and the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which seeks to regulate the mining sector in India was introduced in Lok Sabha as the Budget Session 2.0 began.

Rajya Sabha began discussions on the Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Bill, 2020  and the Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, 2019.

Day 11
On March 3, The Banking Regulation Amendment Bill, 2020 was introduced in Lok Sabha. The Bill would keep certain types of agricultural credit societies outside the ambit of the 1949 Banking Regulation Act and strengthen cooperative banks. Clause-by-clause voting on the Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Bill, 2020 was taken up in Lok Sabha but the house was adjourned without passage of the bill due to repeated disruptions.

Day 12
On March 4, the Direct Tax Vivad Se Vishwas Bill, 2020 was passed with amendments in the Budget Session. The Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was also introduced in the Lok Sabha.

The Standing Committee on Finance presented its report on Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill 2019 in both the houses. It recommended using the process of delegated legislation through the formulation of rules by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India.

3 members expressed their dissent for the provision that homebuyers could initiate insolvency proceedings against builders only if the resolution application is jointly filed by at least 10% of homebuyers on the same project.

Day 13
On March 5, Health Minister Dr. Harshvardhan informed both the houses of the government’s steps for universal screening of all international passengers entering India to tackle the Coronavirus. Many MPs highlighted the issue of fake news being circulated over social media and also overpricing of masks and hand sanitizers.

Under Rule 374, the Lok Sabha suspended 7 Congress MPs for the remaining Budget session for their unruly behaviour and misconduct of snatching papers from the Speaker’s table. The 7 MPs are namely Gaurav Gogoi, T N Prathapan, Dean Kuriakose, Manicka Tagore, Rajmohan Unnithan, Benny Behanan and Gurjeet Singh Aujla.

While the BJP welcomed the decision, INC leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury alleged the government of revenge politics and termed the decision as ‘dictatorial’.

“Our members had done nothing wrong. The decision was motivated by revenge politics and what happened today is a tale of embarrassment in the history of Parliament.”

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, INC Leader

Day 14
On March 6, the Lok Sabha passed the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 without any discussion.

The Mineral Laws Bill will remove the restrictions for certain coal mines and will further allow the transfer of statutory clearances from previous lessees to successful bidders for two years. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code will allow certain financial creditors to initiate an insolvency process in the event of default.

“This Bill will transform the mining sector in the country by boosting coal production and reducing dependence on imports and in turn also promote Ease of Doing Business.”

– Prahlad Joshi, Union Coal & Mines Minister.

Day 15
On 11th March, Minister of External Affairs, Dr. S.Jaishankar addressed the Rajya Sabha over the growing concerns of 6000 Indians stranded in Iran due to Coronavirus. He also informed that the Cabinet Secretary is following up with all states to set up isolation wards.

The Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla reconsidered the decision of the chair and revoked the suspension of the 7 MPs. As the Lok Sabha took up the discussion of the riots in Delhi, fierce disruption was seen from the opposition. AIMIM MP Owaisi, BJP MP Tejasvi Surya put out strong opposing views. Later Home Minister Amit Shah also replied to the debate by stating the facts and figures of the riot and also promised strict and swift action against those behind the riots.

Day 16
On March 12, the Rajya Sabha passed the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment Bill), 2020 but without the incorporation of the Standing Committee recommendations and the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was also passed.

In the second half, the government faced a lot of heat from the opposition in the Rajya sabha over the discussion of Delhi Riots wherein the opposition accused the Home Minister of failing to control the riots and also demanded clarification on CAA-NPR-NRC. Replying to the debate, the Home Minister gave point to point reply informing measures taken by the Delhi Police to investigate the riots and also criticized the Shaheen Bagh protest and clarified that no one’s citizenship would be taken away due to CAA or NPR.

Complete Coverage: Chronology of Delhi Riots

The Major Ports Authorities Bill, 2020 was introduced in Lok Sabha; this bill would replace the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963 and set up a Board of Major Port Authority for each Major Port in the country. The Demand for Grants by the Ministry of Railways was also discussed in the Lok Sabha which highlighted the declining business of passenger and freight trains due to other modes of transport.

Day 17
On 15th March, the Lok Sabha passed the Demand for Grants for the Ministry of Railways. The Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Bill, 2020 was taken up in Rajya Sabha where the MPs expressed their concerns over not addressing the root causes of high pendency of tax disputes. The House passed the motion to return the bill to the Lok Sabha as it can only send recommendations in case of a money bill.

Day 18
On March 16, the Rajya Sabha gave its assent to the Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, 2019 which will convert Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Sri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha and Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha into Central Sanskrit Universities.

The Standing Committee report on the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was tabled in Lok Sabha. It seeks to prohibit unauthorized recording and broadcasting of a film and make provision for a prison term of up to 3 years, or a fine of up to Rs.10 lakh.

The Lok Sabha passed the Demand for Grants of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Ministry of Tourism. The Appropriation Bill, 2020 was introduced by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and also subsequently passed.

Day 19
The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced in Lok Sabha which seeks to decriminalize technical lapses under the 2013 Companies Act. Some Members opposed the bill and demanded to send it to a Standing Committee. This demand was put down by the Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur stating that the Bill only covered technical and procedural defaults.

The Lok Sabha then took up the Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 that proposes to recognize the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) and the Aircraft Accidents Investigation Bureau (AAIB) as statutory bodies. One of the MPs asked the Civil Aviation Minister to pass the benefit of low rates of crude oil to aircraft operators; to which Minister Hardeep Singh Puri asked for aviation fuel to be brought under the GST regime.

The Rajya Sabha also took up The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2019 for discussion which aims to repeal the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 and set up a National Commission for Indian System of Medicine (NCISM). The house also discussed The National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2019 which proposes to set up the National Commission for Homoeopathy(NCH).

Day 20
The Rajya Sabha passed both The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2019 and The National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2019.

In the Zero Hour of Lok Sabha, an MP raised a demand to expand the list of Scheduled Languages to recognize Rajasthani, Bhoti, and Bhojpuri. The Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs assured that the government is considering this demand to be added to the 8th Schedule.

Day 21
On March 19, the Lok Sabha passed the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020 to merge 3 Ayurveda institutes into one which will now be called the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda and will be designated as an institution of National Importance. Rajya Sabha discussed the Working of the Ministry of MSME; Nitin Gadkari, Minister for MSME said, “the sector contributes 29% of the GDP growth and 33% of manufacturing and has created about 11 crore jobs.”

Day 22
On March 23, The Finance Bill, 2020 was passed in the Lok Sabha and The National Forensic Sciences University Bill, 2020 and the Rashtriya Raksha University Bill, 2020 were introduced.

The house also gave an extension for the submission of the Joint Committee Report on The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019. In Rajya Sabha, the Pesticide Management Bill, 2020 was introduced. Later, the house took up clause by clause consideration of the Jammu and Kashmir Appropriation Bills for 2020. After growing pressure from the opposition to curtail the ongoing Budget Session, both the Houses were adjourned sine die 12 days ahead of schedule due to the growing cases of coronavirus.

Curiopedia

Zero Hour – The time immediately following the Question Hour has come to be known as “Zero Hour”. It starts at around 12 noon (hence the name) and members can, with prior notice to the Speaker, raise issues of importance during this time. Typically, discussions on important Bills, the Budget, and other issues of national importance take place from 2 p.m. onwards. More Info

Money Bill – In the Westminster system a money bill or supply bill is a bill that solely concerns taxation or government spending as opposed to changes in public law. It can be introduced only in Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha may not amend money bills but can recommend amendments. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha certifies the bill as a money bill before sending it to the upper house, and the decision of the Speaker is binding on both the Houses. A money bill must be returned to the Lok Sabha within 14 days, or the bill is deemed be passed in both houses in the form it was originally passed by the Lok Sabha. More Info

Venezuela President Charged with Drug Trafficking by US

Maduro

The USA has declared a bounty of $55 million for information on connections of the President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro and his associates in drug trafficking and narco-terrorism.

Crux of the Matter

Maduro has had topsy-turvy relations with the US since his re-election in the 2018 elections. The US accused Maduro of occupying the Presidential post unconstitutionally in the country. But Maduro, backed by Russia and China, continued serving as the President.

The US declared charges against Maduro after an investigation by US Federal services. The US said that strict steps are necessary to remove deeply rooted corruption in Venezuela that has resulted in the crippling of its democracy and democratic values. Allegations on Maduro are that he helped the Colombian revolutionary group, the FARC for drug trafficking and flooding the United States with Cocaine. He is also accused of facilitating drug trafficking routes through air and water via Venezuela along with running a drug cartel even though he is occupying a government office.

Thus amid escalating tension, US and US allies evacuated their embassies from Venezuela. Besides Maduro, the US has filed charges against more than a dozen others that include Venezuelan government and intelligence officials and members of the Colombian rebel group FARC.

Maduro defended himself by saying that Donald Trump is politically motivated to remove him from the office. He added that before the US Presidential election, such a move might give Donald Trump fame, and thus he is trying hard to make it more political. He further said that by hook or crook the US wants him to vacate his post.

Curiopedia

Nicolás Maduro Moros is a Venezuelan politician serving as president of Venezuela since 2013. His presidency has been disputed by Juan Guaidó since January 2019. Beginning his working life as a bus driver, Maduro rose to become a trade union leader before being elected to the National Assembly in 2000. He was appointed to a number of positions under President Hugo Chávez and was described in 2012 by the Wall Street Journal as the “most capable administrator and politician of Chávez’s inner circle”. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2013 and as vice president of Venezuela from 2012 to 2013 under Chávez. After Chávez’s death was announced on 5 March 2013, Maduro assumed the presidency.

Shortages in Venezuela and decreased living standards led to protests beginning in 2014 that escalated into daily marches nationwide, repression of dissent and a decline in Maduro’s popularity. According to The New York Times, Maduro’s administration was held “responsible for grossly mismanaging the economy and plunging the country into a deep humanitarian crisis” and attempting to “crush the opposition by jailing or exiling critics, and using lethal force against anti-government protesters”. An opposition-led National Assembly was elected in 2015 and a movement toward recalling Maduro began in 2016. Maduro called for a rewrite of the constitution, and the Constituent Assembly of Venezuela was elected in 2017, under what many—including Venezuela’s chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega and Smartmatic, the company that ran the voting machines—considered irregular voting conditions; the majority of its members were pro-Maduro. On 20 May 2018, presidential elections were called prematurely, opposition leaders had been jailed, exiled or forbidden to run, there was no international observation, and tactics to suggest voters could lose their jobs or social welfare if they did not vote for Maduro were used. Multiple nations did not recognize the Constituent Assembly election or the validity of Maduro’s 2018 reelection;the Canadian, Panamanian, and the United States governments sanctioned Maduro. More Info

India Under 3 Week Lockdown to Curb Exponential Explosion of COVID-19

On 24th March 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an unprecedented complete lockdown of India for 21 days to mitigate the spread of the worldwide pandemic, coronavirus. The world has seen more than 4 lakh cases in the first quarter of 2020, while India has seen over 600 cases.

Crux of the Matter

India saw its first Coronavirus case on 30th Jan 2020. The case count touched 100 after 44 days, after which the cases have doubled roughly every 4-5 days. As of 25th March the case count has crossed 600 with 11 deaths, 55 days after the first case.

This exponential rise in cases has caused a sense of panic among the people. So far the world has seen over 4 lakh cases and around 20,000 deaths. The virus which originated in China in November 2019, has travelled across the Silk Route, wreaking havoc in Italy, Spain, UK and the rest of Europe along with Iran. It has now spread in the USA and India, and has also affected China’s neighbours such as South Korea and Japan. In a massively globalised world, a virulently contagious disease is spreading like wild fire. Countries across the world including China, Italy and Spain, the 3 worst hit countries in terms of death toll, have resorted to locking down affected areas to contain the spread of the virus.

Summachar’s Complete Coverage of Coronavirus

PM’s Appeal
Although India hasn’t seen nearly as many cases as Europe, China or USA, given the country’s size and population density, Coronavirus poses a very potent threat to this country.

To stop the spread in its tracks, the Prime Minister has decided to implement a nation wide lock down of 3 weeks starting from 25th March. PM Modi made a special televised address on 24th March, and conveyed the seriousness of the situation in simple terms. He requested the citizens to stand together with discipline against this potential calamity.

Earlier on 22nd March Modi had announced a Junta Curfew, a self imposed curfew by the citizenry, which was observed by most of the country. Since then, different states had started announcing various lockdown measures till the end of March. Since the Junta Curfew day, streets across India have become empty with people staying locked up in their homes.

Press Information Bureau – PM calls for complete lockdown of entire nation for 21 days

How will we lock down?
In the upcoming weeks, all non-essential places of business will be closed. Police forces have been mandated to ensure that people stay at home. The government has promised the citizens that it will try to reduce the inconveniences of the general population while taking specific steps to combat the spread of coronavirus. PM Modi has already announced a Rs 15,000 crore package for strengthening the medical infrastructure of the country while the FM has announced a slew of relief measures to ease the fiscal burden on the working class.

To make the lockdown manageable, essential services such as groceries, medical stores, hospitals, police stations, fire stations, etc will stay open. Government will function with reduced capacity of work force. The government will not be cutting wages of its employees and has appealed to private business owners to follow suit. By and large, the prime minister’s appeal has been met with support by the populace as well as the industry.

Press Information Bureau – Government of India issues Orders prescribing lockdown for containment of COVID-19 Epidemic in the country

Exponential Explosion
At present, no vaccine or medicine has been confirmed as an antidote for the virus, although certain malaria and HIV medications have worked in treating some patients. Currently, the overall fatality rate across the world lies at 4% on the optimistic side. In cases that have been closed (i.e. the cases whose outcome has been determined), the worldwide fatality rate is currently 15%. Italy, the worst hit country so far, has a closed case fatality rate of 45% and overall fatality rate of 10%. (Here overall fatality rate is the total percentage of active and closed cases that resulted in deaths.)

The virus is transmittable across humans and is as contagious as flu. Every new patient increases the chance of spread. Also the symptoms stay dormant for 1-2 weeks, which means that an affected person may spread it without knowing about it. All of this increases the probability of transmission. The contagiousness of the disease makes it spread exponentially – assume 1 person transmits to 2 people, those 2 can transmit to 4, 4 to 8, 8 to 16 and so on and so forth. Given the asymptomatic first week, every carrier can transmit to many more people which would just increase the rate of spread.

This can be seen in the case data as well. It took 87 days to spread to the first 50,000 people. It doubled to 100,000 in another 23 days, then 200,000 in another 12 days and 400,000 in another 6 days. After the first 50,000 cases (which were mostly in China) once it spread out, the cases have doubled in half the time for every doubling event. This kind of exponential explosion can be curbed by pre-emptively restricting the interaction of humans – and hence, governments across the world are resorting to nation-wide lockdowns.

Curiopedia

Exponential growth is a specific way that a quantity may increase over time. It occurs when the instantaneous rate of change of a quantity with respect to time is proportional to the quantity itself. In the long run, exponential growth of any kind will overtake linear growth of any kind. A virus (for example SARS, or smallpox) typically will spread exponentially at first, if no artificial immunization is available. Each infected person can infect multiple new people. More Info

BJP topples Cong Govt in MP – A Timeline

On 23rd March 2020 BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan took oath as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh (MP) after former CM Kamal Nath resigned on 20th March 2020.

Crux of the Matter

Timeline of Toppling of the Government

9th March 2020

  • 17 MP MLAs close to Jyotiraditya Scindia fly to Bengaluru and are kept in an undisclosed location.
  • Jyotiraditya Scindia resigns from Congress.
  • 19 other Congress MLAs resign.


10th March 2020

  • Scindia meets PM Modi and HM Amit Shah in Delhi.


11th March 2020


13th March 2020

  • BJP leader Scindia files Rajya Sabha nomination.


14th March 2020

  • MP Legislative Assembly Speaker NP Prajapati accepts resignations of other MLAs.
  • BJP leaders meet the Governor and request him to ask the ruling party Congress to prove its majority in the House through floor test.


15th March 2020

  • CM Kamal Nath claims he has majority in the House and that he cannot prove it while Congress MLAs are in captivity.


16th March 2020

  • No floor test conducted. House adjourned till 26th March over Coronavirus concerns.
  • BJP moves to Supreme Court to challenge Speaker’s decision.
  • Governor, in response to CM’s letter, asks him to conduct a floor test on 17th March. He adds that if the test is not conducted then it will be presumed that the government does not have majority in the House.


17th March 2020

  • CM Kamal Nath restates that a floor test is impossible in the absence of captive MLAs.
  • He dares the Opposition to rather file a no confidence motion.


19th March 2020

  • Supreme Court accepts BJP’s plea made by Shivraj Singh Chouhan and orders floor test on 20th March 2020.


20th March 2020

  • Kamal Nath resigns ahead of floor test.


23rd March 2020

  • BJP leader and former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan takes oath as CM once again.
Curiopedia

Kamal Nath is an Indian politician who served as the 18th Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh for approximately 15 months and resigned after a political crisis. As a leader of the Indian National Congress he has served as the Minister of Urban Development. He is one of the longest serving and most senior members of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s bicameral Parliament. He was appointed the Pro Tem Speaker of the 16th Lok Sabha. He has been elected nine times from the Chhindwara Lok Sabha constituency of Madhya Pradesh. Nath was elected president of the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee in May 2018, leading the party in the November–December 2018 assembly election. He assumed the office of Chief Minister on 17 December 2018 and resigned on 20 March 2020 due to lack of majority in government. More Info

Shivraj Singh Chouhan is an Indian politician and member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He is currently the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and also a member of the legislative assembly of the State of Madhya Pradesh. He previously served as the Chief Minister of the Madhya Pradesh, between 2005 and 2018, and holds the record as the state’s longest serving Chief Minister. He is often referred to as Mamaji (Maternal Uncle in Hindi). As a leader of the BJP, Chouhan served as its general secretary and president of its Madhya Pradesh state unit. He is a five-time Member of Parliament, having represented Vidisha in the Lok Sabha, the lower House of the Indian Parliament, between 1991 and 2006. More Info

Naxals Attack Indian Troops Even as the Country Enters COVID-Lockdown

Naxal Attack

In one of the worst Naxal attacks in two years, 17 soldiers were killed and 15 severely injured after a fierce gun battle between Naxals and security forces took place in the dense forests of Bastar, Chhattisgarh.

Crux of the Matter

Troops Trapped
On March 21, 2020, nearly more than 500 soldiers of District Reserve Group (DRG), Special Task Force (STF), and Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) had gone on a search mission to the dense forests of Kasalpad after receiving a tip that large number of Maoists are going to gather there. However, they did not find any and while they were returning, they were ambushed and cornered in Sukma’s Minpa by approximately 250 Naxals.

Heavy firing between the troops and Naxals lasted for more than 2 hours. During the attack, 3 personnel were killed, whereas 14 others were missing. Bodies of these 14 jawans were found in the forest by search teams. Another 15 soldiers were severely injured. Chhattisgarh DGP Awasthi said that the attack was carried out the 1st Battalion of CPI (Maoist), Madavi Hidma. Reportedly, the Naxals stole 12 AK 47 Assault Rifles, 1 Excalibur rifle, 1 INSAS rifle, and 1 Under Barrel Grenade Launcher from the slain troops.

Reduced Naxal Violence
Last such attack was witnessed in the same region in July 2018. In that ambush 24 CRPF personnel were killed. On 1st May 2019, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast occurred in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli. This Maoists-orchestrated attack killed 15 Policemen and 1 individual.

However, the number of attacks in recent years has reduced. As per the data by South Asian Terrorism Portal (SATP), the number of violent incidents in 2015 was 1,089, in 2016 – 1,048, in 2017 – 908, and in 2018 – 883. In the year 2010, there were 2,213 violent attacks, the highest since the formation of CPI(M) in 2004. In 2011 – 1760, in 2012 – 1,136, and in 2013 – 1,145 attacks were reported as per SATP.

The attacks come at a time when the threat of the Coronavirus pandemic hovers over India’s head. Even as India tries to stop the community spread of the virus, such attacks pose a massive threat to the rising number of cases in India, that have crossed the 400-mark.

Wondering what is Coronavirus? How does it spread? Which age group does it affect the most? During self-quarantine, read Summachar’s complete coverage on Coronavirus here.

Curiopedia

Naxalites are a group of far-left radical communists, supportive of Maoist political sentiment and ideology. Their origin can be traced to the splitting in 1967 of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), leading to the formation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist). Initially the movement had its centre in West Bengal. In recent years, it has spread into less developed areas of rural central and eastern India, such as Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh through the activities of underground groups like the Communist Party of India (Maoist). Dalits and other lower-caste members have also joined the militant movement. The Naxalite–Maoist insurgency again gained international media attention after the 2013 Naxal attack in Darbha valley resulted in the deaths of around 24 Indian National Congress leaders, including the former state minister Mahendra Karma and the Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel. More Info