There has been much ruckus about the inefficiency in the Parliament. If we look at this year’s budget session of the Parliament, it has been the least productive in the last 18 years. The first brief part of the session had 134 percent productivity in Lok Sabha and around 96% in Rajya Sabha but during the prolonged second session, this number took a nose dive with Lok Sabha figures standing at 4% and Rajya Sabha at 8%. The overall productivity of the budget session is estimated at 23% for Loksabha and 28% for Rajya Sabha.
This is not new. Congress, after assuming the opposition position, has deliberately log-jammed the parliamentary sessions. The incumbent BJP government has issued statements time and time again urging the opposition to not log-jam these sessions just for the sake of it. Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu who is also the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, commenting on this specific issue stated the need to propose and oppose for the sake of democracy but condemned such disruptions and reflected upon how it undermines democracy.
Due to this constant log-jamming initiated by political expediency, the country has suffered gravely. Bills which could otherwise have transformed India economically and socially have been pending on the floor. Here are four examples of bills that could have made a huge impact but did not –
The National Medical Commission Bill,2017 –
Introduced on – 29.12.2017, Introduced by- J. P. Nadda (Minister of Health and Family Welfare)
This bill [pdf] was introduced in Lok Sabha by Minister of Health and family welfare, J. P. Nadda on December 29, 2017. The Bill aims to set up the National Medical Commission (NMC). The NMC is to serve as a replacement to the Medical Council of India (MCI). This Bill was introduced after repeated shortcomings from MCI to self-regulate its undertakings. MCI is an elected body will a representation of 100 % medical practitioners. The NMC is to have 25 members, a search committee will recommend the names for the post of Chairman and the part-time members, with 80% representation of medical practitioners and three relevant experts from the non-medical field and two administrative officers. This approach is more pragmatic as the chances of personal preference of medical professionals taking precedence over social interest is more than high as the stakeholders of the current system are only medical professionals, a more diversified structure of the authority will ensure that the social aspect of such an institution is maintained. The reference of the UK’s GMC can be brought here, where half of its members are non-medical members and in Canada, even medical students are members of its medical body.
Four autonomous boards are to be set up under the supervision of the NMC. The boards will focus on undergraduate and post-graduate medical education, assessment and ratings and ethical conducts. This is a commendable step as time and time again Doctors with poor clinical skills are being produced, under the current system.
This Bill also seeks out to make medical education more accessible and affordable for the general populous. This bill gives the NMC the authority to regulate the fees structure of up to 40% of the seats offered by private medical colleges.
The MCI has failed to take any disciplinary action against doctors, thus this bill ensures that proper grievance redressal mechanism is in place by empowering the state medical councils to look into such complaints and the accused or the accuser both can approach the successive higher authorities.
In a country where doctor to population ratio is less than the prescribed 1:1000 of World Health Organization, such a law could prove to be game changing but this bill like others is still pending.
The National Sports University Bill, 2017 –
Introduced on – Aug 10, 2017, Introduced By – Vijay Goel (MoS, Youth Affairs, and Sports)
It is well known that Indian sports infrastructure with the exception of cricket is not of the contemporary standards, though Indian athletes have made India proud despite all the shortcomings, the recent Commonwealth games success is a perfect example of that. Despite this issue of lack of infrastructure being brought forth time and time again the said bill is still pending in Parliament.
This bill [pdf] seeks to establish a National Sports University located in Manipur. The university will promote –
- Sports sciences,
- Sports technology,
- Sports management,
- Sports coaching.
The university is also proposed to be a national training centre for selected sports disciplines. The university is empowered to open new campuses in different parts of this country and subsequently authorized to confer degrees, diplomas, and certificates.
The executive council of the University will handle all the administrative affairs. The members include Vice-Chancellor, who will be appointed by the central government. The chancellor also will be appointed by the Central government, adhering to the clause of that person being an eminent person in the field of sports. The functioning of the university will be reviewed by the central government and if it fails to provide satisfactory results or take action according to the center’s inspection report then it would have to comply with the direction issued by the central government.
The Government of India in an effort to make this facility a world class one has already signed a memorandum of understanding with two Australian universities, University of Canberra and Victoria University.
Such an institution will prove to be vital in creating and sustaining India’s future and current athletes but just like the previous one, this bill is also pending in Parliament.
The National Council for Teacher Education(Amendment) Bill,2017-
Introduced On – December 18, 2017, Introduced By – Prakash Javadekar(Minister of Human Resource Development).
This is another example of a commendable legislative action taken by the incumbent government which is yet to be fruitful due to constant disruption by the opposition.
This Bill [pdf] seeks to amend the National Council for Teacher Education Act, 1993. This act aims to establish a National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE). Which will serve as an authority to plan and coordinate teacher education system throughout the country, bringing uniformity and standardized teacher education for all. It is also empowered to curate the norms and standards of the teacher education system in this country.
This bill seeks to give retrospective recognition to educational institutes which are notified or funded by central or union territory government. Institutions which are outside the recognition of the act and institutions offering teacher education courses on and after the establishment of NCTE act until the academic year 2017-2018. Such an approach will even out any disparity in the curriculum in different institutes offering teacher education, saving hundreds of students from students from harassment.
This bill will also authorize the NCTE to grant permission to such institutions for starting new courses. This will further restrict the possibilities of different curriculum and disparities and aid in achieving the desired objective, which provides students with world-class teaching education so that competent teachers can be produced.
In a country which has yet to reach the desired teacher-pupil ratio, such causal approach to education legislation can prove to be costly.
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill,2016 –
Introduced on– November 21, 2016, Introduced By – J. P. Nadda (Minister of Health and Family Welfare)
This Bill seeks to prohibit commercial surrogacy but the altruistic aspect of surrogacy is preserved. This bill defines commercial surrogacy as where the surrogate mother is being compensated in addition to the medical cost and insurance coverage, by cash or kind.
It also details the couples eligible for surrogacy and makes it mandatory for all applying couple to procure ‘certificate of essentiality’ to authenticate the request by the couple and make sure they fall under the said terms mention in the bill. These include but not restricted to –
- A proven certificate of infertility of one or both members of the family from the district medical board.
- Insurance coverage for the mother.
These are required to ensure that both parties are opting for surrogacy, not for any reason other than having a child and the surrogate mother is not being exploited in lieu of monetary compensation. The couple must also possess a ‘certificate of eligibility’ establishing their eligibility for applying. These include but not restricted to –
- The couple has to be married for at least five years and both of them must be an Indian citizen.
- They do not have any surviving child (biological, adopted, or surrogate).
There are exceptions to the second rule and these exceptions are subject to specified regulations. The Bill also sets a 90-day time limit for central and state government to appoint an appropriate authority who would be responsible to carry out functions which include but not restricted to –
- granting, suspending or cancelling the registration of surrogacy clinics;
- enforcing standards for surrogacy clinics;
- investigating and taking action against breach of the provisions of the Bill.
This bill was introduced with the objective of curbing commercial surrogacy which puts the surrogate mother’s health at risk and creates an ethical issue as commercial surrogacy often leads to buying a life while putting the biological mother’s life at danger. This also could not be implemented. In a country like India where most of the population is economically backward and there exists a lack of such practices and understanding, this delay in implementing a comprehensive surrogacy law is a matter of shame.
These are some of the bills which have been affected by the constant parliamentary log-jam. It is time that the opposition comes forward and act responsibly. In a democracy, the legislative process being hampered by political adventurism is a rare and shameful act.