SHRI PRIYARANJAN DASMUNSI (CONTD.): We have taken a decision to bring a comprehensive Bill. We have engaged in talks with the stakeholders on three principal counts. Number one, the Government should not regulate. Number two, the Government should not interfere in the content of terrestrial base of the TV or the newspapers. Number three, the Government should give some guidelines and shall not impose itself as an arbitrator in the matter. Let them manage their system as the Press Council of India does. Ravi Shankarji has subscribed a view to the encryption part. That is why my entire talk with the stakeholders is not over. It is still on. I said in the beginning that it would be one of the most important Bills that any democratic nation of the world has ever witnessed. That is what we are doing. We are talking of BBC. Sharad Joshiji, I would tell you, with all respect and without accusing any Government, that the report on the issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction, whether they are there in Iraq or not, was reported by BBC. You must know about the so-called freedom, the so-called independence of BBC. The British Government sacked lock, stock and barrel all the top people of BBC. There was no hue and cry in the House of Commons. We don't do it here. If some private channel abuse me or accuse you, we try to negotiate. You can furnish some information. We just give him some show cause notice. We wait for the reply. We again negotiate. Our democratic atmosphere and culture is unparalleled in the world history. So, we do it in our country. Is this particular legislation grabbing the private property? Grabbing means, you have a profiteering mind. We are losing, Sharad Joshiji. Arun Jaitleyji was also in may chair earlier in this office as also Ravi Shankarji. We are losing. The Doordarshan is losing revenue by showing these games. But during that time, the Doordarshan could show so many other things and programmes. But it is a public service obligation that has been vested by the Parliament on Doordarshan. I tell you, Sharad Joshiji, there are many people who abuse Doordarshan every day and they have a right to do so, including you, and we have a right to correct ourselves. I bow my head when criticism comes because most of the criticisms are correct. Again you think of it. There were National Games in Assam. I was in Berlin for a Film Festival a few days ago. The whole European Press was there, including Steinmeier, No.2 in German Government. The German Government has signed an agreement with India. They were amazed and asked, "How is it possible that you are having the National Games in Assam?". The European media told me that it is next to impossible. Every boy and girl from every part of the country reached there in spite of their parents' decision or indecision, whether they would be killed or shot dead. All shooters, all kabadi players, football players, etc., went to the place to salute the country and show that we are one. I should say, without accusing any private channel, except Doordarshan no private channel found time to focus for ten minutes on any one of the athletes who assembled in Assam from Kashmir to Cape Comarin. This is done only by Doordarshan. Polio campaign, it is done by Doordarshan; anti-aids campaign, it is done by Doordarshan; Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, it is done by Doordarshan; how to fight flu, the details have been prescribed by the Health Ministry and doctors, to be shown selectively by Doordarshan. I don't accuse anybody. I only mention about public service obligation. Take, for example, krishi. Sharad Joshiji, you are one of the champions of farmers' issues. You tell me about any one channel in India except Doordarshan which conducts long programme on krishi thing. But you find that Doordarshan is grabbing. They are loosing. ˆ®ÆüÖë®Öê ÛúÆüÖ ×Ûú ‡ÃÖ´Öë •ÖÖê 25 ¯ÖîÃÖÖ ×´Ö»ÖêÝÖÖ, ¾ÖÆü Æü´ÖÛúÖê ¸üÜÖ®Öê ¤üß×•Ö‹, »Öê×Ûú®Ö Æü´Ö®Öê ÛúÆüÖ, ®ÖÆüà, ˆ®ÖÛêú Ûú´ÖÖ‹ Æãü‹ ¯ÖîÃÖê ÛúÖê †Ö¯Ö »ÖÖêÝÖê, µÖÆü ²ÖÖŸÖ šüßÛú ®ÖÆüà Æîü… ¤êü¿Ö ÛúÖê ×¤üÜÖÖ†Öê, »Öê×Ûú®Ö ˆÃÖ ¯ÖîÃÖê ÛúÖê ˆ®Ö »ÖÖêÝÖÖë ´Öë ²ÖÖÓ™üÖê ×•Ö®ÖÛêú ÝÖê´Ö ÛúÖê ×¤üÜÖÖ®Öê Ûêú ×»Ö‹ ÛúÖê‡Ô ŸÖîµÖÖ¸ü ®ÖÆüà ÆüÖêŸÖÖ Æîü, ×•ÖÃÖÛêú ×»Ö‹ ×ÛúÃÖß ×²Ö×ÃÛú™ü Ûú´¯Ö®Öß ÛúÖ ‹Ûú »ÖÖÜÖ µÖÖ ¯Ö“ÖÖÃÖ Æü•ÖÌÖ¸ü ÛúÖ ²Öî®Ö¸ü ³Öß ®ÖÆüà ×´Ö»ÖŸÖÖ Æîü… »Öê×Ûú®Ö ¾ÖÆü ÝÖê´Ö ÛúÖî®Ö ŸÖµÖ Ûú¸êüÝÖÖ? ¾ÖÆü ×´Ö×®ÖÃ™ü¸ü ŸÖµÖ ®ÖÆüà Ûú¸êüÝÖÖ, ˆÃÖê ‹¯ÖêŒÃÖ ²ÖÖò›üß †Öò±ú ¤ü Ã¯ÖÖê™ËüÃÖÔ, ‡Ó×›üµÖ®Ö †Öê×»Ö×´¯ÖÛú ‹ÃÖÖê×ÃÖ‹¿Ö®Ö, Ã¯ÖÖê™ËüÃÖÔ ×´Ö×®ÖÃ™Òüß, ¯ÖÏÃÖÖ¸ü ³ÖÖ¸üŸÖß †Öî¸ü ¾ÖÆü ¯ÖÙ™üÛãú»Ö¸ü ×›ü×ÃÖ×¯»Ö®Ö ŸÖµÖ Ûú¸êüÝÖÖ, ×•ÖÃÖ´Öë ¾ÖÆü ÝÖê´Ö ÜÖê»ÖÖ •ÖÖ‹ÝÖÖ…
(Contd. by VK/2O)
ÁÖß ×¯ÖÏµÖ¸Óü•Ö®Ö ¤üÖÃÖ ´ÖãÓ¿Öß (ÛÎú´ÖÖÝÖŸÖ) : ¾Öê »ÖÖêÝÖ ŸÖµÖ Ûú¸ëüÝÖê ×Ûú Æü´ÖÖ¸üÖ ‡ÃÖ ÃÖÖ»Ö ´Öë ±ú»ÖÖ®ÖÖ “Öî×´¯ÖµÖ®Ö ÆüÖêÝÖÖ, ±ú»ÖÖ®ÖÖ Œ¾ÖÖ™Ôü¸ü ±úÖ‡®Ö»Ö ÆüÖêÝÖÖ, ¾ÖÆü ŸÖµÖ Ûú¸ëüÝÖê ²ÖîšüÛú¸ü… ‡ÃÖ´Öë ŒµÖÖ ²Öã¸üÖ‡Ô Æîü… ‡ÃÖ×»Ö‹ ´Öï †Ö¯ÖÃÖê µÖÆü ¤ü¸üÜ¾ÖÖÃŸÖ Ûú¸ü ¸üÆüÖ ÆæÓü ×Ûú ¯ÖÏÃÖÖ¸ü ³ÖÖ¸üŸÖß Ûêú ²ÖÖ¸êü ´Öë ²ÖÆãüŸÖ Ûãú”û ÛúÆü®ÖÖ “ÖÖ×Æü‹, •Öºþ¸ü Ûú×Æü‹, ´Öï •Ö¾ÖÖ²Ö ¤æÓüÝÖÖ… †Ö•Ö ŸÖÖê ´Öï ×»Ö×´Ö™ü ´Öë ÆæÓü ‡ÃÖ ×²Ö»Ö Ûêú †Ó¤ü¸ü… »Öê×Ûú®Ö ´Öï †Ö¯ÖÛúÖê ÛúÆü ¸üÆüÖ ÆæÓü ×Ûú †Ö•Ö Ûúß ŸÖÖ¸üßÜÖ ´Öë ³Öß Prasar Bharati's entertainment, you can say, is not good. µÖÆüß ¯ÖÏÃÖÖ¸ü ³ÖÖ¸üŸÖß ®Öê ×ÛúµÖÖ… ¯ÖÏÃÖÖ¸ü ³ÖÖ¸üŸÖß ®Öê ¸üÖ´ÖÖµÖÞÖ, ´ÖÆüÖ³ÖÖ¸üŸÖ ÛúÖê ‘Ö¸ü-‘Ö¸ü ¯ÖÆãÓü“ÖÖµÖÖ… µÖÆüß ¯ÖÏÃÖÖ¸ü ³ÖÖ¸üŸÖß ®Öê Ã¾ÖÖò›Ôü †Öò±ú ™üß¯Öæ ÃÖã»ŸÖÖ®Ö ÃÖ²Ö ÛúÖê ¯ÖÆãÓü“ÖÖµÖÖ… ÆüÖÓ, ‡ÃÖ´Öë Ûãú”û Ûú´Öß Æîü I agree with Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad fully that the Prasar Bharati should get a kind of professional culture within itself which is free from the so called Babu culture of the bureaucracy. I agree with you. That is why the UPA Government has appointed a Group of Ministers chaired by Shri Shivraj Patil to look into three aspects: the employees issue, the programme issue and how to professionalise the whole system and to bring appropriate amendment to the Act itself. The Group of Ministers is to conclude its findings. The moment it is there, the Cabinet will come with a policy and I will come back to you. I fully share and sincerely support your contention in this regard. I have nothing to say against that.
Now I come back to the main issue of the Bill. The Bill is supported widely. There are two apprehensions which you all have mentioned. The first apprehension is, whether the signal will be pirated and in that case why India should subsidise other countries who do not have a right to it. As a Minister, as an MP, as a sports lover and as a sports administrator, I fully support the entire apprehension. Since I am a very typical man, I immediately wrote this question to Nimbus. I said, "My report is till yesterday, not one part of a signal has been pirated in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. If you can bring one instance, I will take action." In the meeting, they said, "It is not in our Terms of Reference. So, we should not debate on this issue." Factually, there was no pirated issue in that. But it can be. It is not that it was done. I say, "It can be.' I did talk to the Technical Section. The Technical Section informed me, "The DD signals are generally beamed from PAS 10 Satellite which is called world beam. However, during cricket match, the signals are beamed through INSAT-3E which is restricted to India with natural spill over to neighbouring countries only like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. INSAT-3E beams are not visible in Japan and other South East Asian countries with normal dish. Yes, because Sri Lanka is a cricketing nation, Pakistan is a cricketing nation and Bangladesh has also joined, they may spill over there. Then again I checked it up. I found that when the world rights or ICC rights are distributed, they are not distributed to a company alone. The company also immediately engages its clients in respective parts of the country who will take their feed, this and that, etc. Yes, there can be a risk. Then I again talked to the Technical Section. They said, "We have 1,400 transmitting points. We need 1,400 decoders. The moment we encrypt the 1400 decoders in our prime terrestrial channel, during that period the entire screen would go blank. If something goes wrong in the country and I am to send a message to Pakistan or China or Bangladesh, if something goes wrong or the Parliament debated something, or the Prime Minister said something, that will be missed on that day, at that point, because cricket has encrypted the entire thing. Then I got technical answer, "No, if that situation prevails, you can switch on something and then instantly the encryption will be again delinked and things can come. I heard all these things. Sir, I am waiting for the outcome of the last meeting on 16th because the gentleman who is very much involved in this Committee, the BCCI representative, Shri Bindra, requested to have the last meeting on 16th. (Contd. by 2P)
SHRI PRIYARANJAN DASMUNSI (contd.): After the 16th meeting is over -- I have an open mind -- I will come back with proper provisions with regard to rules and guidelines, or, by own arrangements. But I can assure the House that the Government's intention is not to cripple somebody whose money is at stake or to cripple somebody as a prisoner. No; that is not our intention. Our intention is limited for the public viewers in the terrestrial environment.
Now I come back to DTH. Ravi Shankarji and Digvijayji rightly said that the DTH is almost to those who can afford the money. But Arunji or Ravi Shankarji will agree with me that the DTH concept of Sun or Tata or Zee may be for profit and commercial purposes. But when the DTH concept was conceived, -- Ravi Shankarji was the Minister then -- the whole approach was not made thinking of Delhi and Kolkata. The whole approach was made keeping in mind some vulnerable parts of India, where even the Cable Operators cannot operate, like the North-Eastern State, Jammu and Kashmir and some remote areas from where the Army operates, and the only instrument is DTH. In these areas, the DTH is very much required and is very much essential. I will tell you; the one part of India, where television link cannot reach and which is supported only by DTH, is Nicobar Island. There was also a query as to what would happen if we take total recourse to DTH. But I fully assure that if sports players and stakeholders do not get a flexible operation system, for their revenue generation point, to support their contract bid, it will be difficult. My mind is open. I am waiting only up to 16th when the rules will be framed. Before the Budget Session comes to an end, we will come back with all the details. I am again talking to the stakeholders, on my own, not leaving everything to Prasar Bharati because I feel that the sports bodies, sports supporters and sports sponsors should not be treated as our enemy or devil. They are our friends. And I like to take that spirit into account always.
Sir, I would now answer a few queries that were put. Jothiji asked as to who would specify the terms and conditions. Section 2 defines specifically all the areas, with specifications under the guidelines issued in Section 5. Like, he asked: On the Penalty I code, who should compensate? And, why should someone compulsorily compensate? The answer is this. Section 4 clearly states about penalties including suspension or revocation of licences, which will be an effective deterrent. Ravi Shankarji asked, "Why are you keeping it with the Central Government? Why are you not keeping it with a regulator?" Since regulation has not been done by a comprehensive law, the concept of a regulator is yet to materialise. We are keeping it open. You know, -- you were the Minister -- that uplinking and broadcasting licenses are not applied to Prasar Bharati; it is applied to the I&B Ministry, and the Ministry gives the registration; the Ministry gives the licences. That is why I say, the moment a comprehensive Bill comes, we will pass it on to the regulator. That is what I would say in response to this query.
Again, as for Jothiji's apprehension, he should be happy to know that guidelines were made on the direction of the Court. But if he asks why we had it on downlinking and uplinking, it is because we did not have a guideline, and it is not that the guideline was stayed or quashed by any court of law. Only the petitioner failed. Sir, why am I bound to a guideline? The BCCI did not say that. The BCCI said, "Respect all the regulations of the country. The party, the individual companies, said, "I am not bound by it. I am the Ten Sports. I am not bound by it." The ESPN said, "I am not bound by it. Bring a law." And we brought a law. I, therefore, feel that the Government has no intention to undermine the importance of any game. Sir, I am not talking of sports issue now since it is not the subject of mine today; it is the subject of the Minister of Sports. When we discuss it, I will join him. But, for God's sake, don't compare cricket with football, with such casual comments because one is a complete professional game, called cricket, limited to 12-14 nations, and the other has three nets, namely, amateur net, semi-professional net and professional net. You play with 12-14 countries; we have to play with 204 nations, more than the Members of the United Nations. You have to compete with Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. We have to compete at every stage with 45 countries or so. I do admit that we are amateurs. We are trying to become semi-professionals. When we can become professionals depends on the market economy. And the game that we used to play, Ravi Shankarji, in your youth days, it was a 70-minute game of football. (Continued by 2Q)
SHRI PRIYARANJAN DASMUNSI (CONTD.): Cricket timings have not been changed. But football timings have gone from 70 to 90 minutes. Now, the direction is, if there is a draw, you have to play for 120 minutes. The whole dimension has changed. The whole approach has changed. We are trying our best. We did not get that much market support which we wished to. But I again say that Government's intentions are that we should not pay any heed to any sports body, any sponsor or any right-holder but to try to ensure, through this Bill, that public viewing is guaranteed to the terrestrial audience.
I am grateful, Sir, to all the hon. Members who have given their valuable suggestions. I purposely did not bring my notes today because I told my office that, after the debate, all the suggestions will be compiled and incorporated in the rules which will suit the basic purpose of the sports bodies and the Government.
Thank you, Sir. (ENDS)
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KURIEN): Now, the question is:-
That the Bill to provide access to the largest number
of listeners and viewers, on a free to air basis, of
sporting events of national importance through
mandatory sharing of sports broadcasting signals
with Prasar Bharati and for matters connected
therewith or incidental thereto, as passed by Lok
Sabha, be taken into consideration.
The motion was adopted.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: We shall now take up clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill.
Clauses 2 to 10 were added to the Bill.
Clause 1, the Enacting Formula and the Title were added to the Bill.
SHRI PRIYARANJAN DASMUNSI: Sir, I move:-
That the Bill be passed.
The question was put and the motion was adopted.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: The Bill is passed.
SHRI SHARAD ANANTRAO JOSHI: No.
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: Why? You did not object to any clause. How can you... (Interruptions)
SHRI SHARAD ANANTRAO JOSHI: Sir, I will only request you to... (Interruptions) ...the Bill has been struck down by the court. (Interruptions)
THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KURIEN): But I have already announced that the Bill is passed.
The House is adjourned to meet again at 2.30 p.m.
The House then adjourned at
eighteen minutes past two of the clock.
The House reassembled at thirty minutes past two of the clock,
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN in the Chair
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
RESOLUTION RE. INFLATION AND STEEP RISE IN PRICES OF ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES OF MASS CONSUMPTION
SHRI SYED AZEEZ PASHA (ANDHRA PRADESH): Mr. Deputy Chairman, Sir, I move the following Resolution-
"That this House expresses its serious concern over failure of the
Government to check the run away inflation and steep rise in the prices of essential commodities of mass consumption and urges upon the Government that-
(i) the procurement and public distribution system be enhanced and strengthened;
(ii) measures be taken to stop forward trading and
(iii) a detailed plan of action to check the growing inflation and price rise be placed before this House."
Sir, through this Resolution, I am impressing upon the Government to take some effective measures because the common man is already in real trouble. We are seeing that these skyrocketing prices are creating havoc for the common man as his real income is getting eroded due to this high inflation and price-rise. We are seeing that the rural folk are spending about 50 per cent of their income on their food bill, and the urban people's family budget has increased between 25 per cent to 40 per cent. We are also seeing that due to this price-rise, the salaried people are the most affected. There are many reasons for this increase in inflation. (Contd. by 2s-kls)
SHRI SYED AZEEZ PASHA (CONTD): While coming to the question of inflation, what we are seeing is that it rose steadily from an average 3.8 per cent in April 2006 to 5.1 in August 2006. Then it crossed 6 per cent mark in January 2007, and on January 27, it reached up to 6.58 per cent, and on February 3 it reached up to 6.53 per cent. Due to this high inflation, the prices of foodstuffs and essential commodities have risen terribly. Now we are seeing that the price of moong dal which was earlier Rs. 22.50 per kg has increased to Rs.49. So, the percentage of hike is 118 per cent. In the case of uard dal, 82 per cent, wheat 33 per cent, atta 44 per cent, and onion prices have gone up to 186 per cent. Now this situation that we are seeing is due to this high inflation and price rise. Now the Government has woken up very late. The Finance Minister, while addressing a meeting of the industrialists said, "We are going to take some fiscal measures and fiscal measures in the shape of easing the imports, banning exports and slashing the interest rate." And then he said that the banks are going to apply their own monetary tools. So, what we are seeing is that in spite of all these fiscal measures, it is having very little impact because the Government has woken up very late. They should have had a long pronged strategy. But unfortunately, they could not have visualised what things were going to come and which way they had to check the price rise. Actually what is happening is that the Government does not have any long-term strategy. In order to impress the masters of globalisation the Public Distribution System is very much weakened and as a result of this the essential commodities are not reaching the public. If we go through the process of procurement, this year we are seeing that the procurement has fallen down to 37 per cent. Even though the local players and other traders were in a position to pay higher procurement prices and they stocked a very huge quantity by hoarding in their own godowns, unfortunately, the Government did not move further to procure by giving some higher rates. What we were seeing in the country was that when the Government was in the midst of this crisis, they went for purchases from abroad and that too by giving higher prices. What we want to impress upon them is that instead of giving higher prices abroad while purchasing wheat either from Australia or Canada, they could have hiked their own procurement prices for our farmers. So, in that way, we could have had buffer stock. While drawing attention to a very glaring example of Bengal Famine, Amratya Sen, a Nobel Laureate, said that there was no shortage of food stock at that time; it was only due to hoarding and black-marketing that the people of Bengal had to suffer the great Bengal Famine. When we think of Bengal Famine, we can understand that even though there was a little bit low agrarian productivity, but in spite of all this, we were in a position to augment and then go ahead steadily. (Contd by 2T)
SHRI SYED AZEEZ PASHA (CONTD.): But, unfortunately, the Government relied only upon certain measures which have not helped in any way. Now, as per the economic tools which were applied by the Reserve Bank of India, the Reserve Bank of India thought that credit should be hiked and the interest rates should be lessened and then they have also taken certain other measures to think that the money supply should be shortened. But instead of all these measures, there was a little bit impact on the inflation side. In the second week of December, Reserve Bank of India announced a plan to hike the cash reserve ratio. The hike proposal of 5 per cent to 5.25 per cent and 7.5 per cent was to seek out Rs. 13,500 crores from Indian economy. Later, on 13th February, RBI announced another hike of 5.75 and 6 per cent to observe a liquidity of Rs. 14,000 crores. But it has got little success. Don't you feel that these monitoring tools are more effective in economising greater financial inclusion? So majority have no access to banks. What we are seeing is a bitter reality that the majority of the people do not have access to the banks. It means only 12 per cent of the rural India is having access. On the contrary, the other day, the Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank has set an example of UK. When they had a survey of bankers association, they said that 90 to 94 per cent in UK have accounts either in current or in savings. In India, only 59 per cent of adult population, with 80 per cent in urban and 12 per cent in rural India, is having. Another contention of the Finance Minister is that due to this fiscal measure, there won't be any sort of impediment in the growth. But, what I want to say is that high inflation does not give automatically higher growth. Now, there is an example of Asian countries who had 7 per cent growth rate successfully for 25 years but still we are seeing that there was no high inflation rate. But still, we are seeing that there was no high inflation rate. On the contrary, we can cite examples of countries where there is high inflation but they tended to have a lower growth. So, all these hypothetical things and measures, which were taken by Government, have not yielded any sort of results. What we are saying is that the productivity is going down and then, farmers are getting a raw deal. Now, the acreage in pulses and cereals are going down so we are only thinking that whenever there is a shortage we can go for purchases from abroad. So, instead of going abroad it is better if we become self-sufficient and then we take so many measures on agrarian sector. In this I want to cite an example of the Sixth Five Year Plan. In the year 1980-85, due to the allocation of 12.5 per cent in irrigation, we had a growth rate of 5.7 per cent. Now, of course, in the Budget Speech, our Finance Minister has envisaged an agricultural growth of 4 per cent but allocation is not at par with the growth which we are visualising. So, coming to suggestions of how to contain inflation in price rise, what I feel, first of all, is that we must give higher credit to farmers. Already in Swaminathan Commission, the National Commission for farmers have recommended that four per cent interest should be levied on farmers. (Contd. by NBR/2U)
SHRI SYED AZEEZ PASHA (CONTD.): But, now, we are seeing that 8 per cent to 12 per cent, or, even more than that, is being charged. And if you go to Mahajans and others, it goes up to 100 per cent also. So, this is one of the reasons where we have to be more cautious. Sir, more acreage for pulses has to brought under cultivation. Now, we are seeing that a very small portion of land is reserved for pulses. We should reserve more land for pulses. The other point is cropping pattern should be shifted from water-intensive to less water-intensive crops. We have to apply some technological tools. Then, what we are seeing is that middlemen are creating havoc. Sir, from producer to market, we see that, there are, at least, four to five players. And the entire profit is eaten by the middlemen. So, from farmer to consumer, there are many stages and the consumer is compelled to pay 6 per cent higher. To eliminate middlemen, who are eating away the major chunk of benefit through speculation and through their involvement, we have to take steps. As I already said, from low productivity to higher yield, we have to apply so many technological methods. The Government, whenever there is inflation and outcry from the public, announces certain policies. But, it does not give any clear serious signals to contain inflation and price rise. What I feel is that the Government has failed to give a clear cut signal. We should also have a long-term strategy. The production of sensitive items like wheat and cereals have to keep pace with the rising demand. Now, we are seeing that there is a lot of demand but the supply is very weak. So, these bottlenecks have to be plugged.
Now, I come to imports. Wherever we have shortages, we are going in for import. That is not a final solution, because, we are, now, seeing that international prices are also going up. So, the Government has to pay extra money. Instead of paying more money in the international market, the same can be paid to farmers who will come forward merrily and we can have more procurement.
Another thing is, as I said, while giving the example of Bengal Famine, there was lack of will on the part of the then British Government to check hoarding. But, now, we have the Essential Commodities Act. Unfortunately, it is now a little bit diluted. So, first of all, it has to be strengthened. And, secondly, the Act should be strictly implemented against the defaulters. Unfortunately, we are not doing this.
Finally, Sir, I come to PDS. Unless and until we strengthen the PDS, we are not gong to get better results. I want to give an example of Kerala. I think, it is one of the best examples, where they are having not one or two but four different layers of public distribution system. The consumer cooperative sector goes much earlier to mandies, wholesale markets and they even go up to Nasik to procure onions. They go to various other places to get essential items at cheaper rates. The Civil Supplies Department, the private consumer federations and others go. So, there are four layers of distribution in Kerala. So, they are able to contain the price rise. In this way, the Central Government also can give a directive to the State Governments to follow that example where they can have more vigilance by finding out what sort of shortage or what sort of problems we are going to have. And, through our PDS, we are supplying only three or four basic commodities. But, what I want to urge upon the Government is to extend the distribution system by including more items, because we are having only a limited number of items distributed through the PDS. (CONTD. BY USY "2W")
SHRI SYED AZEEZ PASHA (CONTD.): So, why can't we extend the public distribution system, giving facility of more items, like, cereals, pulses, etc. Even vegetables can also be included to give relief to the common man.
So, these are some of the measures. I feel that the Government has failed to take effective measures. They lack long-term strategy. What is going to happen? They have failed to take effective measures whether it is implementing the Essential Committees Act or it is checking black-marketing and hoarding. These are some of the measures which the Government did not take properly. I urge upon the Government to think seriously and effective intervention by taking all these measures because only then we can give a little bit relief to the common man by checking the inflation in prices.
The question was proposed.
SHRI SHANTARAM LAXMAN NAIK (GOA): Sir, I do not agree with the contents of the resolution moved by my learned colleague. Although I share his concern, and the entire House obviously, over the inflationary tendencies being shown recently. I do not agree because he blatantly blames the Government for, what he calls, failure of the Government to check the inflation and steep rise in prices. This is not necessarily so. In fact, it is like AIDS, still we don't know what the causes of AIDS are. If you ask economists what are the basic things which lead to price rise. You will get 4-5 versions. In other words, the science of determining price rise is not definite. Therefore, to blatantly blame the Government is not justified, although we all share his concern over whatever is happening. But first thing I would like to say that we have been rather a bit shy of using the Essential Commodities Act. Everybody seems to be shy of using the Essential Commodities Act. When certain things are very much known that in the entire economy hoarding takes place to a large extent, not to use the Essential Commodities Act is not a good measure. Therefore, a rationale use of the Essential Commodities Act has to be done because artificial scarcities were created and are being created at present. It is a well known thing. But how do you curb it? Earlier, when the Essential Commodities Act was in full force, even the smallest trader used to display prices of commodities. There was a discipline at every consumer store. Even average common man used to go there to read the prices, in whatever local language. That was a deterrent. Deterrent punishment is there for anybody hoarding or not displaying prices, etc. Therefore, in this vast country of millions of people to allow things to go without being checked will not be a good sign. It will not be a thing like free economy, free trade, etc. and keep aside the basic laws. Therefore, this aspect has to be looked into. Then, in the interest of the common man we should also see that more items, even like cooking oil, soap, etc. should be made available at reasonable prices through the public distribution system.
(Contd. by 2x -- VP)
SHRI SHANTARAM LAXMAN NAIK (CONTD.): Today on account of advertisements, costs of essential commodities, I do not say essential commodities technically, but they are essential commodities, have risen far above the true price. A soap which would have cost Rs. 5/- costs Rs. 15, only because we see on television advertisements, actors and actresses showing a particular brand of soap. The same is the case with palm oil and other things. Therefore, if you want to serve the common man and give him commodities apart from rice, wheat, sugar etc., that is, something more, then, according to me we should also venture into that. The Congress President Sonia Gandhiji also, sometime back, during the Chief Ministers' Conference said that we should give teeth to the Essential Commodities Act. She stressed on the strengthening of the Public Distribution System and checking of forwarding trading. This was the message given during that meeting. Even many Chief Ministers said that they would like to take the help of the Central Government to get the Essential Commodities Act strengthened because during the earlier regimes this Act was neutralised, kept aside, and they were looking after only particular section of society. ..(Interruptions).. Therefore, no; no. I am not naming anybody. They were very keen that the Essential Commodities Act should be thrown into the dustbin. Therefore, during that regime, the Essential Commodities Act of ..(Interruptions).. During those regimes, the Essential Commodities Act was buried and people were allowed to make huge profits. And those profits were siphoned off in a particular direction. That is known. The other side knows it very well. They can enlighten us on this.
Another aspect is this. The fallout of rising prices is there politically also. It affects any political party. Whenever prices rise, people, many a time, keep aside all things and throw the Government that rules, from power. Sometimes, I feel if people judge Governments really on economic issues, we should not regret it. I personally feel that on real economic issues people should decide whether this Government should be there or not. But many a time, Sir, we have to educate people why prices are rising. We have to educate them. If we find that the controlling machinery is not fully responsible, then, we should tell the people that this is the thing. Today nobody knows, as I said, even experts do not know. Therefore, we should try to explain to the people the mechanics of price rise and then decide whether the Government of the day has faulted or not. And what happens, thereby, is this. Suppose, there is a party which is ruling, which is secular and during that regime prices rise and the Government falls. Then, communal forces can take advantage. They would not do any better to the State, they will do worse; they would add their own communalism to this. Therefore, they take advantage of it. People, sometimes, are not aware of who will get the advantage of their voting pattern. Therefore, it is essential that people should be aware of who causes the price rise, and then vote. I think, that will be welcome. These NGOs can do this process of educating people of the real reasons of price rise.
As far as retail trade is concerned, my colleague, who is an expert, Mr. Joshi, is here. I would like to say that everybody today is coming into this. Ambani is selling potatoes and tomatoes. If Ambani starts selling tomatoes and potatoes, what will be the fate of average vegetable vendors, one does not know. I also do not know the economics of retail trade. But, I would like, certainly, the Government to keep monitoring these things so that retail trade does not go out of the hands of the common vendors and out of the hands of the common consumers. (Continued by PB/2Y)