New Delhi [India], Nov 18 (ANI): Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday said that the Upper House has played a significant role in the socio-economic transformation of the country during its journey of last 67 years but "all is not well" and there is a lot to be desired amid concerns "over the way we have been conducting ourselves in the House".
Setting the context for the discussion on 'Role of Rajya Sabha in Indian Polity and the Way Forward' on the first day of its historic 250th Session, Naidu made 10 suggestions for consideration of members for better functioning of the House.
Naidu urged the members to look within to find an answer to the question -- Are we contributing to enhancing the standing of this august institution by our words and deeds both within the House and outside?
He said that both the Upper and the Lower Houses were virtually co-equal except in matters of no-confidence motions and money bills, Naidu said that Rajya Sabha has a specific role and mandate evolved from the discussions in the Constituent Assembly, the core of which is that the members should enrich the proceedings of the House with enlightened discussions and debates by bringing into play their wisdom, knowledge, and expertise.
He called for collective reflection over the journey of the House and introspection over the missed opportunities, failing which he said: "There is an inherent risk of making ourselves irrelevant."
He listed 10 suggestions for consideration by the members of the House for making a difference to the functioning of the House.
"Adequacy of the number of the sittings in the context of the House meeting for about 60-70 days in a year now, keeping in view the nature and volume of legislations and time available for discussing issues of public importance," he said.
"Adequacy of the present Rules of Business of the House and changes required, if any; adequacy and effectiveness of various instruments presently available for the members to present their views on legislative proposals and raising issues of public concern; adequacy and effectiveness of the present procedures currently being followed in the House," added Naidu
He went on to suggest: "Norms to be followed for enabling equitable and wider participation of members in the debates; ensuring that members with right background and abilities to enrich debates are sent to the House."
"Ensuring self-discipline on the part of the members to ensure compliance with the Rules of the Business for the orderly functioning of the House, and requirement of infrastructure support to the members to enable informed contribution to the debates in the House," he said.
The Chairman of the House stressed the need for "ensuring an adequate presence of members in the House all through the proceedings and in the meetings of the Department Related Standing Committees and other committees of the House; and technology adoption for improving the functioning of the members and for more lively conduct of the proceedings of the House."
He referred to the role of the Rajya Sabha in transforming the state of affairs in the country at the stroke of freedom marked by poverty, illiteracy, poor healthcare, low level of industrialisation and economic growth.
"This is an occasion for recalling the good things done and a pat on our backs. But all is not well. There is a lot to be desired with widespread public concerns over the way we have been conducting ourselves in the House. These concerns are very well known and I don't have to go into them in great detail," he said.
"The question that each one of us needs to ask of us is ... Are we contributing to enhancing the standing of this august institution by our words and deeds both within the House and outside? Looking for answers helps in mending our ways," he said.
On the role of the Upper House, Naidu quoted former President of India and veteran Member of Rajya Sabha Pranab Mukherjee and said: "It will be desirable on the part of the Members of Rajya Sabha to remember that they have to maintain a fine balance between becoming obstructionist and redundant."
"The Rajya Sabha cannot mischievously veto everything and anything that the Lok Sabha passes and become obstructionist, and at the same time, it should not rubber-stamp anything and everything passed by the Lok Sabha, lest it becomes redundant. "
Vice President Naidu also called for sending and nominating members of the right quality and ability to the Rajya Sabha.
He said that since the first sitting of the House on May 13, 1952, the Upper House, during the last 249th Session held 5,466 sittings and passed 3,817 Bills.
Naidu complimented all the 2,282 persons who have been members of the Rajya Sabha so far, the presiding officers, panel chairpersons, ministers, leaders of the House and Opposition and all others who have played a role in the journey of the Upper House in the last 67 years. (ANI)