Below the line

Our Bureau | Updated on September 26, 2019 Published on August 05, 2019

In his element

Last week, Prakash Javadekar, Minister for Environment and Forests, entertained the audience with some light banter at an event to give away awards — instituted by the non-governmental Centre for Science and Environment — to Indian fertiliser companies that have done commendable work in minimising their carbon footprint. The CSE recognises eco-friendly initiatives of the firms in terms of number of green leaves that they can earn, four green leaves being the maximum. Javadekar quipped that in political parlance, two leaves means Jayalalitaa and three leaves means Mamata Banerjee, triggering laughter among the audience.

For the uninitiated, while the AIADMK, helmed by late J Jayalalithaa for a long till the time her demise two years ago, has two green leaves as its election symbol, Banerjee's Trinamool Congress has a green shoot depicting two pairs of three leaves as its poll emblem.

To go paperless or not

The Lok Sabha is clearly smitten by the digital age. Now the lower House wants to go completely ‘paperless’ soon. The law-makers (Members of Parliament) are not convinced this is a good idea and want the powers that be (Speaker) to tread a cautious path. Reason: The Supreme Court’s experience. After going paperless, the apex court retracte, and is now back to paper-based mode.

So the other day, when Speaker Om Birla referred to the issue of going ‘paperless’, an MP from the Opposition reminded him of the SC experience and went on to explain the virtues of reading text from a paper than from a digital screen. For now, the Speaker has opted for the middle path — make it optional for members to go ‘paperless’!

Canteen payments, digitally?

If Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has his way, digital payments will end up being the norm at even Parliament canteens near the Central Hall. But some MPs are sceptical about its utility given the poor wi-fi connectivity inside Parliament, especially in the canteens near the Central Hall. Now, one is not sure if the poor Wi-Fi is on account of security issues or telecom problems.

Will a GST rate-cut help?

A cut in GST rate on automobiles (now subjected to 28 per cent) would have been a far better antidote for the slowing Indian economy than a sharp reduction in GST rate on electric vehicles. This is how an NBFC honcho put it when asked what could serve well for the current ailing Indian economy.

We need immediate cure and not long term health benefits that EVs may bring, the honcho quipped! Interesting thoughts, but the GST Council, it appears, knows best on the right cure for the economy.

Panels yet to be formed

Two distinct developments happened as the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha entered its last leg before sine die. First, the session has been very productive. And, the second, but worrisome one, is that the Department-related Standing Committees (DRSCs) are yet to be formed.

While the government has maintained that various political parties are yet to send in their nominations, the Opposition said that the way Bills are being passed, it seems there is no need for such committees.

However, when asked if they have sent in the names, there was complete silence.

These committees are considered to be extensions of the House where members can give their opinions freely. The report of a DRSC has persuasive value and is treated as considered advice. However, suggestions contained in the report are not binding on the government.

The rules prescribe formation of 24 DRSCs covering all the Ministries/Departments of the Central government. Each of these committees will have 31 members — 21 from the Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha — to be nominated by the Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman, respectively.

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Published on August 05, 2019
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