Coal block allocation issue disrupts Parliament for 7th day

The Lok Sabha was adjourned once for an hour and then for the day while the Rajya Sabha saw two adjournments till 2pm before being finally adjourned for the day

New Delhi: An adamant Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continued to disrupt Parliament for the seventh consecutive day on Thursday over coal block allocation but the government pushed through two bills amid growing isolation of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) among non-United Progressive Alliance (UPA) parties, reports PTI.
The Chemical Weapons Convention (Amendment) Bill and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (Amendment) Bill were passed in the Lok Sabha by voice vote without any discussion within a few minutes amid din created by BJP members demanding resignation of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
No other business could be transacted as uproarious scenes were repeated in both the Houses with BJP members storming the Well soon after they assembled for the day.
The Lok Sabha was adjourned once for an hour and then for the day. The Rajya Sabha saw two adjournments till 2pm before being finally adjourned for the day.
Janta Dal-United, which has been uneasy over the BJP's tactics of disrupting Parliament, on Thursday rallied behind it in demanding resignation of the Prime Minister taking "moral responsibility" and cancellation of allotted coal blocks.
The disruptions by BJP and some of its NDA allies angered other non-UPA parties. Samajwadi Party took the lead and was supported by Left parties and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in condemning the behaviour of NDA and demanding restoration of normal functioning of Parliament.
In both Houses, members of NDA allies Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) were on their feet but they did not go into the Well while most of the JD-U members remained seated.
The slogan shouting by the BJP was countered by Congress members, who hailed the Prime Minister and attacked the BJP for disrupting Parliament.
Amid the din, the Rajya Sabha also took up a calling attention motion on the situation arising out of casualties during clinical trial in the country. Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Mukul Roy laid a statement on it.
Leading the Congress charge, Pradip Balmuchu taunted the BJP asking it to "stop running away from Parliament".
BJP members shouted "Beimano Ki Sarkar Nahin Chalegi (the government of the dishonest will not be allowed)." Congress members retorted by saying "BJP Ki Goondagardi Nahin Chalegi (the hooliganism of the BJP won't be allowed)."
Earlier in the Lok Sabha, the Speaker took up Question Hour but nothing could be heard as BJP members shouted slogans like 'Pradhan Mantri Istifa do' (Prime Minister, quit) and 'koyele ki dalali hai, poori Congress kaali hai' (commission in coal, entire Congress is blackened)'.
They were countered by Congress members who chanted 'Pradhan Mantri Zindabad'.
AIADMK and DMK members were raising slogans against the government for training Sri Lankan forces in India. AIADMK members carried placards, displaying them in the aisle.
In Rajya Sabha, BJP members started shouting "coal, coal, coal..." as soon as Chairman Hamid Ansari in the morning took up the first listed question of the day.
Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) V Narayanasamy, against whose name the first question of the day on time limit for action against corrupt officials was listed, said he was prepared to reply.
"It is a very important question. I am ready to answer...people of this country should know the action being taken," he said amid slogan shouting.
For a few minutes Ansari tried to conduct the proceedings, asking members to raise supplementaries. But, as the slogan shouting BJP members started coming to the Well, he adjourned the House till noon.
Similar scenes were repeated when the House reassembled, forcing adjournment till 2pm. At 2pm, Kurien wanted to take up the resumed discussion on Whistle Blowers Bill but BJP raised slogans.
Amid the din, the House was adjourned for the day.


Make gold hallmarking mandatory to safeguard consumers: CAG

According to the CAG report, consumers are exposed to the risk of buying impure gold jewellery due to inadequate coverage of Indian jewellers and goldsmiths as the hallmarking is not mandatory

New Delhi: To protect consumers from unscrupulous jewellers, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has advised the government to enforce compulsory hallmarking of gold jewellery, reports PTI.


Hallmarking of gold, which is voluntary at present, is a purity certification of the precious metal. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), under the Consumer Affairs Ministry, is the administrative authority of hallmarking.


"The Consumer Affairs Ministry and BIS may consider hallmarking of gold jewellery under mandatory certification so as to safeguard the interst of the consumers," CAG said in a report tabled in Parliament on Thursday.


Consumers were exposed to the risk of buying impure gold jewellery due to inadequate coverage of Indian jewellers and goldsmiths under the BIS's volunatary hallmarking scheme as the hallmarking was not made mandatory, it noted a report.


It also said BIS Act had not been amended to cover hallmarking under mandatory certification.


Noting that the reply of the BIS is not acceptable that the jurisdication to amend the Act for making gold hallmarking mandatory rested with the Consumer Affairs Ministry, it said, "Since it (BIS) is the national standard body of the country and is mandated to provide quality assurance to the consumers, whether the concerned standard is made mandatory or not."


In early January, the Cabinet had approved the BIS (Amendment) Bill that aims to expand the ambit of mandatory hallmarking to include more products, including gold. The Bill has not yet been introduced in Parliament.




4 years ago

The way in which public funds and nation’s resources are treated and the revelations about scant attention paid to even simple regulatory reforms that can safeguard citizen’s interests makes one wonder about what actually the legislators are doing. One has to be stupid to believe that responsible authorities were not aware of the benefits implementation of the suggestion for compulsory hall-marking of gold jewellery will bring. Delay, as in many other cases which are scam-infected, is protecting the interests of unscrupulous and greedy elements in the society profiteering from the loop-holes in law. Beyond standardization and hall-marking, gold management needs a makeover from policy angle.
Time is opportune for authorities to think in terms of dedicated professional institutions at regional/state level which will handle gold from a banking angle, equipped with linkages for import and export of gold and gold products as also gold processing and certification, with borrowing and lending capabilities. States like Kerala have successfully intervened in other similar sectors like chits/kuris and lotteries, which were also areas of exploitation by vested interests, whereby players in private sector had to fall in line and function with discipline and self-regulation.M G Warrier

Little growth sacrifice inevitable to rein in prices: Subbarao

Responding to criticism over high inflation, the RBI governor said some sacrifice of growth in inevitable, a necessary price we have to pay to bring down inflation

New York: As India seeks to control high inflation, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor D Subbarao has said a little sacrifice in growth is "inevitable" amid efforts to bring down prices to acceptable levels, reports PTI.
Subbarao said criticism is often directed towards the central bank that even though it has raised interest rates and runs a tight monetary policy, inflation is still "high and persistent" and growth has been hurt.
The RBI's response to the criticism is that "some sacrifice of growth in inevitable, a necessary price we have to pay to bring down inflation. But that sacrifice of growth is only in the short term.
"In the medium term, a low and stable inflation is a necessary precondition for securing India's growth prospects," Subbarao said during a lecture at Asia Society on 'India in a Globalizing World - Some Policy Dilemmas', here on Wednesday.
Inflation based on the Wholesale Price Index stood at 6.87% in July, declining from 7.25% in June.
It is still however much above RBI's comfort level of 5-6%.
Noting that inflation was down from 11% in 2010 to below 7% in July this year, Subbarao said inflation could have been much higher if RBI had not run a tight policy.
The challenge for the RBI is to ensure inflation is reined in without hurting growth, he said.
"In order to support growth, we need to keep interest rates low but in order to rein in inflation we have to keep interest rates high. The challenge is how do we manage growth-inflation trade off," he said.
The Reserve Bank had cut rate in April by 50 basis points to 8 percent but the central bank left the benchmark interest rates unchanged in its first quarter credit policy review in July despite pressure from the industry, which wants reduction in interest rates to spur growth.
Subbarao refused to comment when asked if there will be a change in interest rates when the central bank reviews its policy on 17th September.
"Inflation hurts the poor the most. We have to listen to the silent voice of the poor. They do not have a mechanism for articulating their demand for bringing down inflation.
"So even as we listen to demand of potential investors for low interest rate regime, we also need to be sensitive to the burden of the poor because of high inflation," he said.
He said the structural food inflation is a "problem of success". "As India grew, benefits of growth are going to lower income groups," which are eating better.
While oil and commodity prices have softened in the recent months worldwide, India has not had the full benefit of this softening because of the rupee depreciation, he added.
The Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council had pegged GDP growth for the current financial year at 6.7%.
Industrial production recorded a dismal growth of 2.4% in May and the overall economic growth slowed to nine-year low of 6.5% in 2011-12.
Subbarao said while part of the growth moderation is because of the global slowdown, domestic factors like the tight monetary policy, high interest rate regime, infrastructure bottlenecks, slow clearances of projects, host of governance issues and decline in sentiment of potential
He said fiscal deficit in India is also high and that is putting pressure on demand and inflation.
The Current Account Deficit was 4.2% of GDP last year, which was a quite high.
"One of the dilemmas in managing capital account is that we have to run a fairly stable regime. We cannot be fickle- minded in terms of policy. It cannot be that we allow capital today and disallow it tomorrow," he said.
Potential foreign investors have to have confidence that India has a stable, predictable, transparent capital sector regime," he said.
Subbarao sought to allay concerns that the investment climate in India is losing its attractiveness among foreign investors, saying the country still has an investor friendly environment with the central and state governments anxious to attract investments.
"India has to run a stable policy regime and have a stable taxation and investment regime," he said in response to a question on what India should be doing to inspire trust and confidence of investors.
"We need to streamline our foreign investment policy and procedures, improve infrastructure, improve our governance," to make the system more friendly for investors, he added.
He said his recommendation to the government will be to "embark on credible fiscal consolidation, as fiscal deficits are bad since they exacerbate inflationary pressures".


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