On the third day of the Monsoon Session of the Parliament, the Lok Sabha Wednesday passed the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which brings cooperative banks under the supervision of the Reserve Bank of India in a bid to protect the interests of depositors.
Meanwhile, in the Rajya Sabha, the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020, was passed. This paves the way for the establishment of a state-of-the-art Ayurvedic institution called the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda (ITRA) at Jamnagar in Gujarat, and confers the status of Institution of National Importance (INI) to it, the Ministry of AYUSH said in a statement.
As for Thursday's session, the main highlight is likely to be Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's statement on the India-China border issue in Rajya Sabha.
Singh will addres the Upper House, days after acknowledging in the Lok Sabha that India was facing a "challenge" at the border, but assured that the armed forces were prepared to deal with all contingencies.
No infiltration along India-China border in last 6 months: Govt tells Rajya Sabha
Meanwhile, the government on Wednesday said there has been no infiltration along the India-China border in the last six months, while 47 infiltration bids have been reported along the India-Pakistan border during that period.
The Union Home Ministry also informed the Rajya Sabha that 594 attempts of infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani militants have been reported in the last three years, of which 312 were successful.
"No infiltration has been reported along India-China border during the last six months," Union Minister of State for Home Nityanad Rai said in a written response to a question.
This comes just a day after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh made a statement in the Lok Sabha over the India-China standoff, where he stated that China has mobilised a large number of troops and armaments along the LAC as well as in the "depth areas". Singh had said that the LAC was not commonly delineated.
An MHA official, however, clarified Rai's statement in Rajya Sabha, in an interview with India Today, saying that "infiltration" is not the same as "transgression" or "incursion" which is common parlance for the Military action at Line of Actual Control (LAC). Infiltration is used for terrorists crossing from Line Of Control (LoC), hence it is incorrect to say there was any infiltration.
Replying a separate question, Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said 582 terrorists were killed in Jammu and Kashmir by security forces in the last three years, while 46 terrorists were arrested during that period. As many as 76 army personnel were also killed in Jammu and Kashmir from 2018 till 8 September, 2020, he said.
Ties with China have 'not worsened': MEA tells Parliament
The Ministry of External Affairs informed the Lok Sabha that India's ties with China have not worsened in the aftermath of the border tensions. Minister of State for MEA V Muraleedharan said this in a written reply to a question raised by Trinamool Congress MP Sougata Roy.
Tensions have been escalating between China and India, along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh after the Galwan Valley clashes on 15 June in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed.
Congress raises issue of alleged surveillance by Chinese company
Congress members on Wednesday raised in both Houses of Parliament the alleged tracking of over 10,000 prominent Indian individuals and organisations by a Chinese technology company and asked the government to build an "impregnable firewall" to deal with the "digital aggression" by the neighbouring country.
Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu asked the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs to inform the minister concerned to "see what can be done and find out the veracity also", after Congress members, KC Venugopal and Rajiv Satav expressed concern over a media report in this regard, during the Zero Hour.
Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said China has been behind the spread of coronavirus, physical aggression in Ladakh, and now "digital aggression".
"We are in clutches of China. Is the government not aware of it?... Our national security is being shattered," Chowdhury said while raising the issue during the Question Hour in the Lok Sabha.
He requested IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to build an "impregnable firewall to resist the new menace". His party colleague Suresh Kodikunnil too raised the issue.
Earlier in the day, Congress members Venugopal and Satav took up the issue during the Zero Hour in the Upper House.
"I would like to invite the attention of this House through you Chairman, shocking news which is related to national security and privacy of Indian citizens," Venugopal said.
He said The Indian Express has reported that a Shenzen-based technology company with links to the Chinese government, and the Chinese Communist Party, is tracking over 10,000 Indian individuals and organisations in its global database of foreign targets.
"This includes... very shocking, the President of India also, you the Vice President of India, the Prime Minister of India and the opposition leaders, including Congress president, chief ministers, MPs, the army chief, and industrialists," Venugopal said.
The Chinese company has also collected database of bureaucrats in key positions, judges, scientists, academicians, journalists, actors, sportspersons, religious figures, and activists, he added.
"This is a major area of concern. I would like to know from the government whether it has taken note of it. If so, what action has been taken," Venugopal asked.
The Congress leader also charged that the government was not answering and discussing reports regarding Chinese intrusion in border areas. Echoing his views, Satav said this is a very serious issue.
"The government should clarify. The truth should come out. How can a Chinese company spy on prominent people," Satav said.
To this, Naidu asked the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs to take note of the matter.
"It has appeared prominently. So inform the minister concerned and see what can be done and find out the veracity also," the Rajya Sabha Chairman said.
Lok Sabha passes Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2020
The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2020 that empowers the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to keep an eye on banking activities of cooperative societies.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who had introduced that Bill earlier this year, told the Lower House that the said amendments are aimed at improving their governance and protecting depositors' money. Moving the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020, in the Lok Sabha, Sitharaman said the government was compelled to come out with an ordinance during the lockdown period as the condition of the cooperative banks was "grave".
Opposing the Bill in the Parliament, RSP MP NK Premachandran on behalf of his party said that states were not taken into confidence before bringing the Bill. "Many poor marginal populations depend on co-operative societies in Kerala," he said. He asked for the Bill to be sent to a standing committee for review.
AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi questioned the government's selective intervention in the Yes Bank crisis but not for PMC. "SBI immediately flowed funds in Yes bank case, but not into PMC bank. What was RBI doing when Yes Bank happened?" he asked. He further said that the Bill was an attack on federalism.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while responding to queries raised by 32 MPs during the session said, "We want to regulate banking activity, within our power and will not interfere with 'federalism'."
"The financial status of 277 urban cooperative banks is weak. 105 cooperative banks are unable to meet the minimum regulatory capital requirement. 47 banks have a net worth in negative. 328 urban cooperative banks have more than 15 percent gross NPA ratio", she said.
"This Bill does not regulate cooperative banks. The amendment is not for the Central Government to take over the cooperative banks. It is not for the first time that this regulation of extending some powers to RBI is happening," she added.
India's exports fell 25.42% between April and June, Centre tells Parliament
In a written reply in the Lok Sabha, Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal informed the Parliament on Wednesday that India's overall exports (merchandise plus services) had reduced by 25.42 percent during the months of April and June, when compared to the figure during the same time last year. The government attributed the reduced figure to the nationwide lockdown to control the coronavirus.
Goyal said that the export figure was showing signs of improvement. the latest merchandise exports show a recovery, with the export decline rate at 12.66 percent in August, 2020, he said.
Revenue of Indian airlines' fell by 85.7% to Rs 3,651 crore, says aviation minister
The revenue of Indian airlines fell by 85.7 percent to Rs 3,651 crore during the first quarter of 2020-21 in comparison to the corresponding period a year ago due to COVID-19, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told the Rajya Sabha.
Moreover, employee count at the Indian carriers went down from 74,887 on 31 March to 69,589 on 31 July, a decrease of 7.07 percent, Puri stated in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha.
"The revenue of airport operators has reduced from Rs 5,745 crore during April-June 2019 to Rs 894 crore during April-June 2020," he said.
The minister said the employee count at airports has reduced from 67,760 on 31 March to 64,514 on 31 July.
Scheduled domestic flight services were suspended in India from 25 March to 24 May due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown. They were resumed from 25 May but in a curtailed manner.
Tata Projects wins bid to construct new Parliament building at Rs 861.90 crore
Tata Projects Limited on Wednesday won the bid to construct a new Parliament building at a cost of Rs 861.90 crore, officials told PTI.
The L&T Ltd had submitted a bid of Rs 865 crore, they said.
"The Tata Projects Limited has won the contract to build a new Parliament building," an official said.
The new Parliament building will be constructed close to the existing one under the Central Vista redevelopment project, and is expected to be completed in 21 months.
According to the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), the new building will come up at plot number 118 of the Parliament House Estate. The CPWD said the existing Parliament building will continue to function during the entire period of execution of the project.
RS passes Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill 2020
The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020, which paved the way for the establishment of a state-of-the-art Ayurvedic institution, ITRA, at Jamnagar in Gujarat, and conferment of the status of, Institute of National Importance (INI), to it, the Ministry of AYUSH said in a statement. The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on 19 March.
The ITRA is sought to be established by conglomerating the presently existing Ayurveda institutes at the Gujarat Ayurved University campus in Jamnagar, the statement said.
This is a cluster of highly-reputed institutions, namely the Institute for Post Graduate Teaching and Research in Ayurveda, Shree GulabKunverba Ayurveda Mahavidyalaya, and Institute of Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical Sciences, Maharshi Patanjali Institute for Yoga Naturopathy Education & Research (to be made part of the Department of Swasthvritta of the proposed ITRA.
The synergies among the different constituent institutions will help ITRA to demonstrate high standards of such education and to emerge as a lighthouse institution to the entire AYUSH sector. The decision comes at a time when global interest in health solutions based on traditional wisdom is at an unprecedentedly high level and ITRA is poised to take Ayurveda education to new vistas, a statement said.
With inputs from PTI