SHRI SITARAM YECHURY (CONTD.): ...and strengthen this secular, democratic character, and it is this reality that must be kept in mind. And only by carrying together all the secular forces in the county, can we meet this objective. In this background if this proper lesson is not learned, and in this background, if this omission in the President's Address is not corrected, I think, we are doing a grave injustice to the present realities in our country. I would warn this Government, particularly in a situation where these efforts are being made, that every political party in the country has the right to propagate its ideologies, but we have to decide on which we support and on which we oppose on the basis of our political positions. All of us do that. I may have grave objection to the entire usage of the term "Prakhar Hindutava" to be the political mascot by a political party for its electoral gains, but they have their right. I respect that right. But I have the right to oppose it, which is what they all have to respect. But in this process, to ignore this reality, I think, is a grave peril being done for the country and its future, and this correction will have to be made in the President's Address. And I hope that the Government will accept this point, and realise that this has happened in 2007. The Government has itself announced the 150th anniversary celebrations of 1857. I am drawing the attention to the 1857 struggle because it is that big struggle of the people at that point of time, which was characterised as the First War of Independence, which saw the broad-based unity, for the first time, amongst all our religions, all our nationalities, all our languages etc. And I remember, Sir, there was a British chronicler called Mr. Alexander Luvs. He was lamenting, as he was chronicling the upsurge in 1857, the fact. And what did he say? I quote:
"The bigoted Rajput, the fanatical Brahmin, the cow worshipper and the cow eater, the pig hater and the pig eater, have all come together against the empire, and this is something we can't allow. The British has to continue its rule."
Then follows the famous or the infamous 'divide and rule policy', which the British perfected. Today, when you are observing the 1857's 150th anniversary, it is this unity of the Indian people that needs to be not only cherished but also preserved and strengthened. And in that background, such a glaring omission that comes in the President's Address, I think, is a very grave error. That needs to be corrected, and I hope that the Government will accept this and, then, do the necessary correction.
But, Sir, the main content of the President's Address dealt with the economic situation in our country. The Budget has been presented since, and, I am sure, we will have a longer discussion on the Budget. But see the direction in which the President of India presented a shift contained in long paragraphs, from number one to number 23, which, in fact, are all linked together to project the work of the Government in consolidating the process, the economic fundamentals in our country and leading up to the Eleventh Plan with ambitious targets. I have no dispute with the targets that they have set up. But what is the overall claim that the President of India has made in his entire Address? The thrust which we are told, and the country is told, is to have a trajectory of high economic growth, which is, both, inclusive and non-inflationary. This is the twin objective that has been stated in the President's Address. But this twin objective must also be seen in the backdrop of the Common Minimum Programme which this Government has adopted as a National Common Minimum Programme, where we have promised, where the Government has promised, which we have supported, and continue to support, that we will work to see a shift in the focus of economic reforms in our country, a shift from being solely pre-occupied with corporate profits towards improving people's welfare, the shift in their reform. This is the objective from what we can understand, and it is this objective which, unfortunately, is not articulated in the way it ought to in the President's Address, and since hon. Prime Minister is here, I draw his attention also to the fact that he himself has commented a number of times that we should have the liberalisation process and the reform process with a human face. It is that human face, Sir, that I have been searching in the President's long Address to actually try and see where that human face is and what is the character of that human face or what is the status of that human face.
(Contd. by TMV/3B)
-MKS-TMV-GS-SC/3B & 3C/3.05 &3.10
SHRI SITARAM YECHURY (CONTD.): If you look at our own Government's admitted Economic Survey, what does it say? The shift has to be towards people's welfare. The suicide by farmers is continuing. Janeshwarji, with all the experience at his command, has drawn our attention to the actual status of the real India and the real Indian people today. I don't want to repeat that. But if you look at the overall thrust in the economy, we have promised in the Common Minimum Programme that health, education and basic questions of food security, all those should be addressed. It is a shocking fact that today the per capita availability of foodgrains is lower than what it was during the period of the Second World War. Today the per capita availability of foodgrains is lower than what it was following the Bengal famine. Now, this is a situation which needs to be seriously corrected. With the decline in your agricultural growth rates--in recent years many a time it is negative--the entire thrust ought to have been towards actually strengthening public investment in agriculture so that we can feed ourselves and we can ensure our food security. But what do we see in this Budget? The increase in the allocation for agriculture comes to 15 per cent, given the Budget's own calculations, with a nominal growth rate--a nominal growth rate means the real growth rate--projected at 9.2 per cent and inflation rate projected at a little over six per cent. With a nominal growth rate of 15 per cent or 16 per cent, the allocation increases only by 15 per cent, which means that there is no extra allocation to agriculture at all. The allocations for agriculture will grow according to the growth of the economy. If that is the case, what is the thrust that we are giving in order to ensure that there is food security in our country? In a situation, if this is not immediately tackled, I think the economic fundamentals and the foundations that the President talked about in his Address, all these ambitious schemes that we want to achieve in the Eleventh Plan, neither we can achieve them, leave alone achieving them, nor can we sustain levels of economic growth that we have for the last couple of years or so. So, this is a belief that this is actually undermining the very process of the shift in the focus of the economic reforms that we spoke of. That is not happening and this needs to be seriously corrected. If you look at the Economic Survey figures that they have given us on the various issues that the President has touched, it is really appalling. The total expenditure on the social sector, as a percentage of GDP, declined from 28.26 per cent in 2001-02 to 27.19 per cent in the Budget Estimates of 2006-07. As far as the thrust is concerned, when you are talking about the aam admi, when you are talking in terms of improving the welfare of the people, what we find in actual allocations is the opposite that is happening. What is worse is that, in recent years, the actual expenditures have been far below the Budget Estimates. Now, when the actual figures for this year's Budget really come out, maybe, the actual spending may be much less than the allocations which are already lower. It is in this background that we are very concerned and we want the Government to note this and correct this. We promised six per cent of the GDP on education from 2.79 per cent that this Government inherited. It has now grown up to 2.87 per cent and that is again, as my hon. colleague has mentioned, after the cess. The Common Minimum Programme has promised to increase health expenditure to, at least, three per cent of the GDP from 1.26 per cent that it has inherited. In 2006-07, according to the Budget documents, it is a mere 1.39 per cent. An allocation of 1.39 per cent to public health, not only to public health but also to the entire health expenditure, including research, etc., for 100 crore plus population is abysmal. You can't really think of building an India which needs to take off into a trajectory of higher growth with the base of the pyramid being so unhealthy. If this is the status of the health of the pyramid at the bottom, then we can well imagine what is the take-off that we are talking about. So, in all these sectors the allocations are really not matching with the declaration of intent that this Government and the Common Minimum Programme has made and we don't think that this serious mismatch is a product of some errors in calculations that have been done. But there seems to be a mindset which has agreed that the Common Minimum Programme will be the national policy, but in implementation we will not adhere to it. I don't want the country to come to such a conclusion because I hold the Prime Minister personally and the others in very high respect. The Common Minimum Programme was useful for the Government to be formed; but once the Government is formed, it is no longer a document that needs to be implemented. There will be a very sorry state of affairs if that were to happen. I think this impression that the Government will have to correct.
The other issue concerning the intention conveyed by the President of India was with regard to the status of employment. It is very good that the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme is in operation and the declaration of intent is to increase it from 200 to 330 districts; and the allocation for that has unfortunately increased from Rs.11,300 crores to Rs.12,000 crores only. But the Finance Minister has assured us that in case there is greater demand, more money will be released. I don't know from where he will find that money. Anyway, we hope this allocation will be increased. If it is sincere that we want to expand the scheme, allocations have to be revised and increased so that we can make it effective in these districts. Overall, what is the actual employment situation in our country? The Economic Survey tells us that between 1994 and 2004, in the organised sector, the growth of employment was minus 0.38 per cent. The 61st round of the National Sample Survey, which the Economic Survey quotes, tells us that except for one category, that too in urban India, in all other categories the rate of unemployment has grown very sharply. The worst is women unemployment which is a clear vindication of the fact that as the reforms have been leading to jobless growth or job loss growth, as I would like to say, the first victims have been women and they are the ones who are losing their jobs and their unemployment rate, according to the National Sample Survey, is 9.1 per cent. So, if this is the actual condition of the people, this is where, I think, we have to understand, and particularly this Government, that India today has been given a historic opportunity because of our demographic composition. Today we have what even the United Nations World Development Report has characterised a fantastic demographic opportunity to utilise our strength which is our youth. Fifty-four per cent of India's population is below the age of 25 and this is our future. Give them good education, give them good health, give them good skills; it is they who are taking India into a high growth trajectory. But if you are not going to invest there, it is this very youth, instead of being your advantage, can turn to be your biggest disadvantage and also turn to be your biggest menace because if the energies of the youth are not constructively used, the channels in which they will find expression, whether it be in terrorism, whether it be in extremism, whether it be in all unhealthy attitudes, will be a danger and it is this danger that will preoccupy the entire working and functioning of the Government in future if you don't invest now.
There was a debate, Sir, way back in 1830 in the United States of America. I remember, Thomas Jefferson, with the farsightedness of the rising bourgeois at that point of time, just in case you accuse me why I am quoting him, had brought in a Bill called "Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge". The American Congress rejected that. But, then, in those elections, there was one Reverent Washington--not the Washington, another Washington--who was contesting from Buffalo, one of the constituencies. The whole content of the election campaign was on whom should be spent more, on educating the youth or on sergeants or policemen. That is the choice in the society. Either you give them education, skills and make them productively useful or you push them into crime, you push them into anarchy, and in order to control them you eventually spend more. So, while we would not, at any point of time, argue to lower the guard on our internal security or external security, for heaven's sake, don't neglect spending on the social sectors because they are India's future. This is where we want this Government and the Budget to focus. I must say, we are very much disappointed. We will discuss those details later. (Contd. by RG/3D)
SHRI SITARAM YECHURY (contd.): My colleagues will speak on that. But we are very much disappointed that the actual allocations that were made in these sectors are not matching the aspirations of the Indian people. And what is worse is that this has happened in a year where it was possible for you to increase the allocation. We think that it is a criminal wasting of an opportunity that the Budget did not do that this year and this I am saying because you had a phenomenal growth in your Governmental revenues -- I congratulate the Government on that -- of 27 per cent or something of that range. Your revenues have increased. But your overall increase in expenditure in the social sector of the entire economy is projected only at 16 per cent. Out of 27 per cent of your earnings, 16 per cent is what you want to spend. Okay; I can understand the concern of the Government for fiscal prudence. But in expressing concern for fiscal prudence, the Government should not be a victim of fiscal fundamentalism. We are supporting this Government against religious fundamentalism. But we do not want the Government to be a victim of fiscal fundamentalism. In the name of fiscal reform or fiscal prudence, for God's sake, please do not cut back on social expenditures because that will be disastrous for the economy and for the country.
The next aspect, Sir, is, (1), if the inclusive growth was to be the objective, then, these expenditures will have to increase drastically. If the other objective is to have this high growth tree without inflation, we are happy that now the Government has belatedly accepted some of our suggestions. But if they had accepted them when we suggested them, I think, the election results might have been slightly different. The day after Punjab cast their vote, you reduced the prices of petrol and diesel. The day after the election results in Uttaranchal came, then, you banned the future trading in wheat and rice...
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KURIEN): That means that there is no politics in economics.
SHRI SITARAM YECHURY: It essentially makes a bad political economy. If only these were done earlier! Anyway, that is a different point. But the fact that they have done this is good. But this, by itself, is not sufficient unless all the essential commodities are removed from the future market. Just as Janeswarji has told us, the way the value has shot up in the futures market in the last three years, any economist, worth his name, can tell you that it can be allowed only in those commodities where there is abundant supply and not in those where shortage is known to exist. And this is an elementary sense; it is a common sense. On the basis of this common sense, you know where there is a potential for shortage, you don't allow those commodities to enter the future market. But that is exactly what has happened. I will give you one example. In Girgaum, the total open interest was ten times more than the overall production in the country. In the case of chilly, the total stock in godown was 1500 tonnes, whereas the open interest was more than 50,000 tonnes in December, 2006. If this won't push up prices, then, what will? Again, in the open market, if you look at it, on the day of the Budget, when the Finance Minister was announcing that future trading would be stopped on wheat, what was the situation? The trading was allowed by the Exchange on that day, and the price of wheat increased by Rs.17 per quintal. This happens on the 28th of February, when the Government was announcing the ban of future trading in the case of wheat. So what we want from this Government now is (a) to enlarge and bring in all essential commodities under this ban; (b) to also tell us whether in the month of April, -- there are now contracts existing for the months of April, May and June -- these contracts will be allowed or not. They should not be allowed. If the Government has announced its policy position, they cannot allow these contracts to be honoured. Therefore, the Government will have to make a positive assurance to this House. But again while saying that, I only want to draw the attention of the Government, through you, Sir, that the entire analysis of why inflation is taking place in our country at this rate, we think, is faulty. It is actually barking of the wrong tree. We are told that inflation is taking place because there is a greater liquidity in the economy. In other words, we are told that the purchasing power in the hands of the people has increased, the supply is not matching and, hence, there is inflation. (Continued by 3E)
SHRI SITARAM YECHURY (CONTD.): it is a cruel joke, Sir. People are dying of starvation; people are committing suicides, and you are giving a theory that money supply has increased. Yes, it may have increased to a certain section. I am not disputing that. Definitely, it has increased to a certain section. But, then the cause for this inflationary spiral is not really the excessive demand and unmatched supply. But the cause is, this inflation is being led by the rise in prices of essential commodities, and it is the rise in prices of essential commodities that has to be curbed. And if that has to be curbed, we want this future trading in all essential commodities should be banned and the Public Distribution System should be strengthened so that these commodities can reach the people in order not only to save them from their misery but also to make sure that the pressure on prices is not continued.
Having said this, there are other issues in the field of economics which the hon. President has spoken of, and one of them is specifically concerning the Special Economic Zones. In paragraph 19, the President talks of a new rehabilitation policy. Very good. But, on this issue, since also references have been alluded to us by the hon. Leader of the Opposition, I believe, earlier or even otherwise in the media that there is one stand that we take in Bengal and another stand we take in the rest of the country, and I think that has to be put to rest. Let me try to put it to rest in this way. I am recollecting a joke, Sir, please take it as only a joke and do not allude it to other things. Hon. Mr. Jairam Ramesh is here. He has heard me telling this joke earlier. So, I would ask him not to laugh before I finish the joke. ...(Interruptions)... Sir, I believe, at one point of time the venerable Pope decided to send a Bishop on a goodwill mission to the United States. So, before sending the Bishop -- what Janeshwarji has said just now -- the Pope warned the Bishop to be very careful of the media, they are very notorious in the United States. Therefore, he told him to fudge the questions, like you were advising. He said, "Don't be direct. Don't answer it back." The Bishop took this advice and went. As soon as he landed at the airport, a barrage of media people came and one mischievous person asked, "Hon. Bishop, does your itinerary in New York include a visit to a night club?" The Bishop was scandalized, naturally. But, he remembered the Pope's advice. Then he asked, somehow to avoid the question, -- he thought he did a very clever thing -- "Are there any night clubs in New York?" and he walked of. The next day, in the newspapers the heading comes up, upon landing, the first question the Bishop asked, "Are there any night clubs in New York?" So, Sir, please, therefore, don't distort our position in Bengal and our position in the rest of the country on the basis of such distortions of our positions or misreporting. Sir, as far as the Special Economic Zones are concerned, and as far as what we would want to practise and within the constitutional limitations that we want to practise in Bengal or anywhere else where the CPM is heading the Governments, it is the following. The first thing that we would suggest is, we are now having a land acquisition policy, a law that was drafted way back in 1894. Today in 2007, land is being acquired on the basis of a piece of legislation of 1894! That needs to be reviewed, a new law has to be brought into place which will incorporate legally the status of the land-owners who will not only be given a rehabilitation package but also probably a stake in the future of that land for whatever purpose that may be acquired for. Now, this is something which must be seriously undertaken by the Government. This is a long-term issue.
The immediate issue, as far as the SEZs are concerned, is this. First is the issue of rehabilitation and the compensation that we have given to the land-owners. In West Bengal, Sir, let me tell you, the compensation is one-and-a-half times of the current market value of the land. The compensation ought to be given, like we are giving there in West Bengal not only to the land-owners but to all those dependent on land for their livelihood, like sharecroppers, agriculture labour. And, unless you include them in the package, you will be doing a great degree of disservice to that section.
Secondly, Sir, once this compensation issue has been resolved in this fashion, as far as the current SEZ law is concerned, we think, there is a very serious problem on the entire pattern of land use for the SEZ that is being announced. (Contd. by 3f-kgg)
SHRI SITARAM YECHURY (contd.): According to the law today, Sir, only 25 per cent of the land in an SEZ needs to be used for production. The rest of the 75 per cent can be used for development; what it really means is, for real estate speculation and development. This, we think, is a very wrong policy and it has to be changed. At least 50 per cent of the land has to be used for production and of the remaining 50 per cent, 25 per cent of the land must be used for providing infrastructure like schools, colleges, hospitals, etc., and only 25 per cent of the land may be allowed to be developed as residential and commercial places. This change has to be brought.
Thirdly, Sir, the tax concessions that have been worked, with no offence meant to any particular corporate or entity, this august House must give proper attention and consideration to the fact that we all are very proud of India's IT sector growing very well and rapidly, that has been our pride in the last few years, the IT industry now has a tax holiday till 2009. They are enjoying the tax holiday today. For the country and the people, a sector that is growing so rapidly and so well, should it not contribute to the Government, to the revenues to be used for others? They are already having a tax holiday. Now, you are allowing them to have IT SEZs. That means, from 2009, for another fifteen years, they will have another tax holiday! Does it make any sense, Sir? You are talking in terms of improving people's welfare. You are talking in terms of aam aadmi. Are you not going to collect what is legitimately due to the Government and the people from a sector that is doing very well? But, instead, the tax concessions that have been offered now, have reached an absurd level where a builder can build in the SEZ and buy raw materials from the market without paying any duties on the raw material! The cess has been increased by 1 per cent on the tax, apart from the 2 per cent that was there earlier; they do not have to pay that also, for instance! It is down by one per cent for them. They do not have to pay any duties. No duty on cement, no duty on steel, but they can construct these SEZs. If that is the case, then why would any industrialisation take place in any place other than the SEZ? You are creating a serious distortion in the country where all the process of industrialisation will be confined to only these areas. That is why such a scramble from the States. Because, people realise, there is not going to be any focused investment outside the SEZs. And, you are going to worsen the geographic and economic inequalities in the country; and remember, Sir, geographic-economic inequalities are the source that feeds a lot of fissiparous movements and tendencies in our country. A lot of separatist tendencies in our country are fed by these regional economic imbalances.
So, the SEZ policy cannot promote regional economic imbalance in such a massive way. These tax concessions will have to be considered and reviewed. Therefore, we want the Government to seriously consider this in the light of the President's own reference in para 19 of his Speech.
Finally, Sir, as far as the SEZs are concerned, there is one concern that you have to decide right now and have a ceiling on these SEZs. Please, for heaven's sake, do not say that so and so country is doing so well, why are you opposing it over here. We are talking as Indians in India and we are talking about India. We will join issue on that score as well, but I do not think time will permit. But every SEZ in the country that is being talked about--I am talking about China, all of them often hurl this back at us, 'if China can do it, why you are stopping India from doing it' -- all SEZs in China are Government-owned. Well, do it! You own them. You develop the infrastructure, let the Government develop the infrastructure, let the Government run, then invite corporate entities to come and start production. But here, you are handing over the land, you are handing over your assets, and giving them tax concessions. And, this is not really a prudent policy for industrialisation. And, it will create tremendous distortions in our country which we cannot afford, and we want the Government to seriously rethink about this.
Then, Sir, the President spoke seriously about the infrastructure condition in our country. Yes, hydro potential has been talked about. I remember, hon. Prime Minister was also present at that point of time when we discussed the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal and we talked of the untapped hydro-electric potential in our country, something to the tune of 50,000 MW, which is still there. And we talked of friendly country, Nepal, our neighbour, which has the potential of 80,000 MW. If you add these two together, 1,25,000 MW or more! If that potential is there, Sir, we should put our effort on that and not let our energies be wasted in the direction of wanting to cement this Indo-U.S. nuclear deal and shift towards nuclear energy production, which, by far, is the most expensive.
(Contd. by kls/3g)
SHRI SITARAM YECHURY (CONTD): So, this is something that has to be seriously considered. The President has talked of the civil aviation sector in para 31 and he spoke of the efforts being made to modernise the sector. But, Sir, I would only want to ask, through you, the Government that the decision to modernise our metro airports and our 35 non-metro airports was taken by the Government and announced publicly some six months ago by the Group of Ministers, which I believe the hon. Prime Minister himself heads. And this decision till now has not seen the light of day. And that is why our suspicion grows whether there is any effort to try and bypass what has already been decided by the Government. Now, what is that force that is not allowing the Government to implement its own decisions? If you have decided six months ago that the Airports Authority will modernise all your non-metro airports, then why is it that no movement is taking place on that and somewhere that file is struck? And who is this authority that is holding back the decisions that the Government is taking? And if they are holding back, which is the interest that they are protecting? This is a serious point. You cannot have a Government which takes a decision, the Group of Ministers takes a decision, but that is not being allowed to be implemented. We think immediately this situation has to be rectified. Sir, today you go to any of our airports, particularly our metro airports. The congestion is such that it is somehow miraculous that you do not have mishaps. And I do not want these mishaps to happen. But why is it so? Sir, three days ago I was in a plane where the Captain announced that we were 21 in the sequence to takeoff. 21, Sir! And the landing also! ...(Interruptions)... Definitely, you have congestion to such an extent that for an hour or so you are in the air. And imagine 21 planes at a distance of 1000 ft. from each other, all of them flying around. If one pilot makes one error, like a pack of cards, we will all collapse. We are playing seriously with lives. Therefore, please, this modernisation plan, which was decided by the Government, I want this to be immediately implemented.
Sir, there are other issues which the hon. President has taken up which I would want to touch upon. And in three long paragraphs, he has talked about the recommendation of the Sachar Committee Report, the plan for the minorities. The Budget has also announced some measures. The adequacies of that we will discuss subsequently. But on this issue, Sir, what I would want the Government to please take into account is that for the minorities, for the Muslim minorities and for the other minorities, there ought to be a sub-plan on the lines of the Tribal sub-plan in our country that we have. That is, out of all developmental expenditure that are undertaken in the country, a proportion of that, according to the population proportion, must be devoted for those areas where the minorities live. We have already this for tribals and I think for minorities as well this is the manner in which, I think, we should go about because all the other details we have. Then I come to the four essential areas where we think attention must be paid. One is the question of their economic development, the second is about employment and income generation, the third and the very important area is the question of education and the fourth, a concern which is life and death question for them, is the question of security. Now, on these four areas, there are concrete suggestions that my party has. When that discussion is slated to come, certainly, we will participate in that and give those suggestions, which will also be conveyed to the Government. But the sub-plan for the minorities, that should be the perspective in which the Government should move and I hope that they will be taken up. Well, Sir, before I come to the final point regarding the foreign policy direction, there are some other important issues which have not been referred to or referred to in such a way that we are not really very happy with the manner in which the proposals to carry them forward have been made by the hon. President. One is concerning the fact that there is no mention about Women's Reservation Bill. Now, this is something we have been talking about, the country has been talking about. For ten years we have all been talking about it and the Common Minimum Programme is committed to saying that we will bring the Bill. We urge the Government to bring the Bill as it stands, let us decide who is for it and who is not for it. We understand the predicament of the Government. We fully share and sympathise -- in fact, I am using the word 'sympathise' deliberately -- with the Prime Minister's predicament. He does not want a situation; very correctly, we support him on that that there should not be any Cabinet colleagues opposing it. But whatever be that situation let it come to the House and let the country see the white and black of the whole situation. (Contd by 3H)
SHRI SITARAM YECHURY (Contd.): Then, on the National Judicial Commission, Sir, the National Judicial Commission has made the recommendations. The hon. President of India has noted it but, Sir, the Constitution of the National Judicial Commission comprising of representatives from the judiciary, from the executive, from the legislature and the Bar. This has to be done Sir, for appointment, transfer of judges and for judicial accountability. It cannot be only one wing of our democracy. All the three wings and the Bar, all four of them must be involved in this process and we hope that will be done Sir, finally, one of our colleagues, Mr. Arjun Kumar Sengupta is here. He headed a Committee for the unorganised labour, for the protection of the unorganised sector in our country and a draft was prepared on the Social Security Bill. I do not know what has happened to that draft, what is being discussed about it. But why is it not coming before the House? Social security in the unorganised sector is an important issue and this must be brought in. Finally, Sir, on the foreign policy, at the outset, I would like to compliment the Government on many of the positive initiatives that they have taken. I think, your Look East policy, the question of consolidating South Asian relations with our neighbours, your SAARC Summit that is going to be held here, all this is fine, which is good, we compliment the Government, but in the longer pitch, the vision which ought to determine the nature of our foreign policy, which ought to be and the Prime Minister has himself taken this initiative and it is a very good initiative of the IBSA i.e. India, Brazil, South Africa, and at the other level these talks that are going on between India, China and Russia is also important and very good positive development. We would wish the Government would work actively towards merging these two processes, that is, IBSA and Indo-China, Russia. Merge them together and transform IBSA into the BRICS. By BRICS, I mean, Sir, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. These are the bricks of a modern new world. These bricks are the foundation of a multi-polar world that we want. These are the bricks for opposing uni-polarity, for opposing any imposition of hegemony and it is these bricks that have to be strengthened for India to contribute in the evolution of a multi-polar world and it is these bricks that need to be strengthened. I urge the Government to move in this direction and implicit in this urging of the Government to move in this direction, Sir, is the fact that we should not again be a victim of arm twisting by the country which claims to be the only super power in it. We have had long discussions on the Indo-US Nuclear Deal. Our apprehensions have been heard. They have been replied by the Prime Minister and all of us are waiting to see that we do not get into any sort of a situation where a carrot and stick policy is put before us, where we only see the carrot but we feel the stick. That sort of a pressure by US imperialism on us cannot be accepted and that is a danger that the Government should avoid for the sake of India's future. So finally, Sir, the conclusion which the President of India has urged all of us and I quote from his speech, he says, "I hope you will", you meaning all of us, the Members of Parliament, this is the President saying and I quote, Sir, "I hope you will put to good use the power at your disposal in the interest of our people and our nation." It is that Sir, I want to make good use of by telling this Government to please heed to these points that we have raised and to please rise to the occasion that two years that are left today, let them be used for improving the welfare of the people and strengthening our economic fundamentals. Sir, this is also the year when the centenary of the Satyagraha is being celebrated. Now, Gandhiji is often referred to and very correctly referred to but remember once when he told all of us that his final objective would be to wipe the last tear from the last eye of the last Indian who is crying. It is that tear that has to be wiped and it is that situation that has to be created where tears need not be generated. It is for that and all the areas are cause for tears today, whether it is the question of internal security, whether it is the question of our fight against terrorism, whether it is the question of economic security of our people, whether it is the question of preventing suicides of our farmers, whether it is a question of malnutrition in our children. (Contd. by NBR/3J)
SHRI SITARAM YECHURY (CONTD.): It is appalling that you have a situation where 80 per cent of our women are anaemic, where 40 per cent or more of our children suffer from malnutrition. Unless we are able to correct all these six for which we have the opportunity we cannot become a developed country. We have a 9+ per cent growth rate, you have 27 per cent increase in your revenue. So, please, for heaven's sake, as I said earlier, let us not be victims of fiscal fundamentalism. You maintain your fiscal prudence. But, you have the opportunity. Spend this money so that we can, actually, create a new India. Sir, 250 years down the line from the Battle of Plassey, 150 years down the line from 1857, 60 years down the line from 1947, all three occasions converge this year. Let there be a shift in the focus of the reforms that the Government is following. Let there be a shift in the focus of the policies that the Government is following. A shift which will ensure a better livelihood for our people and it is this shift that is important if we want to prevent further the growing hiatus between the shining India and the suffering India. The gap between the shining India and the suffering India is widening and this gap has to be bridged and the real India has to be build and for that we have the opportunity. Please make use of that opportunity and build that and that, I think, is the right spirit with which this Motion of Thanks to the President is being moved by us. Thank you. (Ends)
SHRI P.G. NARAYANAN (TAMIL NADU): Mr. Vice-Chairman, Sir, I thank the hon. President for his Address to the Joint Session of Parliament. During the President's Address the Government tried to present a rosy picture of the economy. But the real situation is totally different. Sir, this only shows that this Government is cut off from aam aadmi i.e., common man on whose name the Government was formed. The prices of essential commodities have gone up manifold after the Government assumed its office. But the hon. Finance Minister managed to keep inflation at 6.5 per cent. There is every reason to believe that there is a manipulation in arriving at the figure. That is why I have been demanding for the past two years that there should be a White Paper on the methodology devised by the Finance Ministry to assess the inflation rate. The prices of pulses, edible oils, vegetables, particularly onion, wheat and rice, are skyrocketing. Ever since the hon. Finance Minister announced the duty concession to idly mix powder, the idli has become beyond the reach of the common man. Sir, Urad daal, which goes into making of idli, is priced between Rs. 70 and Rs. 80 per k.g. The farmers are committing suicides everyday, because they are unable to bear the debt burden. Police and army, who are supposed to maintain the law and order, are involved in committing fake encounters in Kashmir Valley. Thousands of youth, innocent men and women are being killed in these encounters. The elected Governments are sought to be destabilized by using the Office of the Governor, despite the SC's strictures. (CONTD. BY USY "3K
SHRI P.G. NARAYANAN (CONTD.): An IB official is made Governor of U.P., and he dances to the tune of the Central Government. Whenever the Union Home Minister wants a report, the Governor says that the constitutional machinery has failed in U.P. He is acting as the handmaiden of the Central Government, and the Congress Party wants the world to believe that there will be free and fair polls in U.P. only under Governor's rule. But this is not true. The fact of the matter is otherwise.
(MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN IN THE CHAIR.)
The Central Government wantonly allowed Italian businessman Quattrocchi to defreeze his bank accounts in London, last year. I demand a JPC probe into the role of the Government of India and the CBI in this episode. Concrete steps should be taken to extradite Quattrocchi to India and try him in courts of law. I know the UPA Government will not do it because the Congress Party has lot of things to hide in the Bofors deal. Quattrocchi was arrested by the Argentina Government on 6th February. But the Government of India suppressed this information about quattrocchi's arrest for full 17 days. I want to know whom the Government is trying to shield. The whole country knows the links between Quattrocchi and the UPA Chairman.
The Congress Party has been voted out of power in Punjab and Uttaranchal. People are going to reject Congress in UP elections also. That will be the starting point for the fall of the UPA Government in Delhi.
My speech will not be complete without a mention about the discrimination of Tamil Nadu by successive Congress Governments at the Centre. The Congress Party did not constitute the tribunal on the Cauvery issue for more than 20 years. Now, the final award of the Cauvery Tribunal has come on 5th February. As per law, this final award has to be notified in the official gazette of the Government within stipulated time. The Tribunal also directed to establish the Cauvery Management Board and the Cauvery Water Regulation for implementing this award. This Government have not taken any steps to establish these two bodies. We are not fully satisfied with the final award of the Tribunal because it is more beneficial to Karnataka than Tamil Nadu. (Interruptions)
SHRI B.K. HARIPRASAD: Sir, he is misleading the House. (Interruptions)
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: Mr. Hariprasad, let there be a friendly discussion. (Interruptions) Let there be a proper and friendly discussion.
SHRI B.K. HARIPRASAD: Please allow me to speak. (Interruptions) Please yield for a minute. (Interruptions) Sir, I have no objection. Let him demand to gazette whatever the outcome of the Tribunal is. But he should not say that it has done more justice to Karnataka. It is gross injustice to Karnataka.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: That you can point out when you speak. (Interruptions) Mr. Narayanan, please proceed. (Interruptions) Mr. Hariprasad, you will also get an opportunity to speak. (Interruptions) You will definitely get an opportunity. (Interruptions) Mr. Poojary, please sit down. You can say whatever you want to say when your turn comes. Mr. Narayanan can say whatever he wants to say, but within the limits. You will also be provided an opportunity when your turn comes. (Interruptions)
SHRI JANARDHANA POOJARY: Sir, what has happened to the Short Duration Notice? (Interruptions)
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: That is a different issue. We are now on the Motion of Thanks. (Interruptions) No; no. Please sit down. (Interruptions) (Followed by 3l -- VP)
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (CONTD.): Mr. Hariprasad, please sit down. ..(Interruptions)...
SHRI B.K. HARIPRASAD: Sir, this is a very sensitive issue...(Interruptions) .. Let them not provoke us. ..(Interruptions)...
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: No; no. There is no question of provoking. ..(Interruptions)... Don't get provoked. ..(Interruptions)...
SHRI B.K. HARIPRASAD: We are not getting provoked. . ..(Interruptions)... They are trying to provoke us. . ..(Interruptions)... This is not the way. This is a very sensitive issue.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: Please sit down. He is within his right to say that. ..(Interruptions)...Mr. Hariprasad, please sit down. . ..(Interruptions)... Mr. Narayanan, please continue. ..(Interruptions)...
SHRI P.G. NARAYANAN: Till the injustice meted out to Tamil Nadu is rectified by the Tribunal and the Supreme Court, we are entitled to get water according to the Tribunal Award. So, I demand that the final Award should be notified in the official Gazette of the Government at once to facilitate implementation of this Award. I have my grave doubts whether this Government will notify the final order and implement it because the Congress has more political stakes in Karnataka than in Tamil Nadu.
Sir, I would also like to take serious exception to the Railway Ministry's decision to deny freight corridor to Chennai. A separate railway freight corridor is being constructed from Delhi to Mumbai and Delhi to Kolkata at the cost of Rs. 30,000/- crores. But, Chennai will not be the priority of the Government. Sir, my State has been given a raw deal. My State is always given a step-motherly treatment insofar as railway projects are concerned. Sir, Rs. 31,000 crores have been earmarked as outlay for the current year on several railway projects. Out of this, Tamil Nadu is getting only Rs. 700 crores.
Sir, I now come to power projects. Ultra mega power projects of 4000 megawatts capacity are being implemented in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. NTPC has created 30,000 megawatt power plants in the whole country, mostly in Northern and Western India. Sir, not even a single mega power project has been created in Tamil Nadu. The same is the case with NHPC. Sir, the ultra mega power projects will never be taken up in Tamil Nadu. Sir, the Government is worried only about the energy security in Northern India and Western India. It is a well-known fact that Northern India has large deposits of coal. So, thermal power capacity can be created out of this. The perennial rivers of Gangetic plain have immense potential for hydel power. Despite this, the natural gas discovered in Bombay High was taken to Northern India during Late Shri Rajiv Gandhiji's regime. Now, a large gas find has been discovered off Kakinada coast in Southern Andhra Pradesh. I am told that the Kakinada gas find is bigger than the Bombay High. But, this Government has allowed the gas from Kakinada to be taken to Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.
I would warn the Government of discrimination against Southern India. The Government should give up the move to set up a pipeline to transfer Kakinada gas to Maharashtra, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh and instead put up 10000 megawatt shore based power project in Kakinada and power should be supplied to electrically starved Southern grid. This is my demand.
Sir, the Supreme Court had ordered the Vajpayee Government to link the Himalayan rivers with peninsular rivers to end the recurring problem of floods in Northern India and drought in Southern India.
(Continued by PK/3M)
SHRI P.G. NARAYANAN (CONTD.): But I am sorry to state that both the national Parties, BJP and Congress, are opposed to these projects. These projects will promote national unity.
Sir, Vajpayee Government, instead of implementing the directions of the Supreme Court, that is, river-linking project, conceived another project at a cost of 40,000 crores to link Ken and Betwa rivers to benefit Gwalior regions. Ken and Betwa are not Himalayan rivers. According to the Supreme Court direction, Himalayan rivers should be linked to peninsular rivers, but what did Vajpayee do? He conceived another project, that is, 'Ken Betwa project' which are not Himalayan rivers. And, Sir, the same Ken Betwa project is now being implemented by this Government also. This means both, the Congress and the BJP, are averse to river-linking projects; I do not know why CPM also is opposed to river linking scheme. I would urge upon the Congress, the BJP and the CPM to spell out their stand on linking of Himalayan rivers with that of Peninsular rivers. China has implemented several such river linking schemes; that is why, that country is prospering. It is these projects which can end farmers' deaths in Vidarbha, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and rest of the country. But, unfortunately, the so-called national Parties have a limited vision and they do not care about the well being of the people in Southern India.
Sir, I have been drawing the attention of the House to these acts of discrimination by the Central Government during the last six years of my tenure in Rajya Sabha. My leader late lamented Anna during his tenure from 1962-67 and my Party Supremo Dr. Puratchithalaivi Amma had raised these river-linking projects in Rajya Sabha, but things have not changed.
Coming to reservation for weaker sections of society, this Government is not sincere in improving the lot of Other Backward Classes. Congress kept the Mandal Commission Report for 20 years and the BJP started the temple movement so that Mandal Commission Report is put on the backburner. Both the national parties seek to serve the interests of the particular sections of the society. The 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in higher educational institutions should be implemented without any further delay. The AIADMK will not tolerate any attempt to tamper with 69 per cent reservations for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes in Tamil Nadu.
Sir, while agreeing to the concern expressed by our President in para 39 of his speech, I would like to say that there has been a growing concern that many talented and bright young persons in the country do not opt for a career in science. In my opinion, answer to this problem is to select the brightest students at school level and provide them support through scholarships till they complete their Ph.D and then guarantee a job to them.
It is my strong conviction that sustainable economic growth in future requires increased funding of basic research. While directed basic research should be encouraged, self-directed basic research should also receive substantially increased support. (Contd. by 3N/PB)