'..Here we have the sovereign authority of India, responsible for the country's governance. Surely, there can be no higher responsibility or greater privilege than to be a member of this sovereign body, which is responsible for the fate of the vast number of human beings who live in this country. All of us, if not always, at any rate from time to time, must have felt this high sense of responsibility and destiny, to which we had been called. Whether we were worthy of it or not is another matter' said Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in his famous speech in Lok Sabha on March 28, 1957
Of all the tasks before Parliament, perhaps the most important one is to debate, discuss and legislate laws -- laws of far-reaching consequence that affect the lives of millions of people across the nation. Over the last two sessions, Parliament has been barely able to perform this important task, owing to repeated, almost-constant disruptions from Opposition parties.
Even as the Monsoon session of Parliament begins today, the Congress-led UPA government is planning to introduce a number of significant Bills which need to be passed at the earliest for they affect the lives of people across the length and breadth of this nation. These legislations will deeply impact the socio-economic landscape of India.
Following are some of the important legislations that are going to be tabled during the Monsoon session of Parliament.
The National Food Security Bill, 2013 (Ordinance)
The Congress-led UPA government has worked untiringly to bring this Ordinance of Food Security, which was promulgated on July 3, 2013. The Ordinance will legally back the grant of subsidised food grain to 67 % of India's 1.2 billion people, and will ensure food and nutritional security to the common people.
The poorest of poor households would receive 35 kg food grain per household per month under subsidised prices of Rs.3, Rs.2 and Re.1.
Ironically several Opposition parties who have dubbed the Food Security Ordinance as a 'poll gimmick' are now offering foodgrains at cheap rates in states ruled by them. The critical difference though is what the Congress-led UPA government is offering is a constitutional right, while the other schemes are largely one-off schemes that would run its course once the funding for them is over.
As per this Bill, there is special focus on nutritional support to women and children. Pregnant women and lactating mothers, besides being entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional norms, will also receive maternity benefit of at least Rs.6,000 for six months. Children in the age group of six months to 14 years will be entitled to take home ration or hot cooked food, as per prescribed nutritional norms.
The proposed legislation also contains provisions for reforms in the Public Distribution System (PDS) through doorstep delivery of food grain, application of information and communication technology (ICT) including end-to-end computerisation, leveraging 'Aadhaar' for unique identification of beneficiaries, diversification of commodities under the Targeted PDS (TPDS).
The ordinance, when passed by the Parliament, would become a law, fulfilling the 2009 election manifesto promise, of the Indian National Congress and 'Right to Food' will be a reality for every Indian.
The Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation & Resettlement Bill, 2013
The Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation & Resettlement Bill proposes adequate compensation to the people whose land is acquired by the government for public purposes. A wide range of sections in the Bill deal with protection, rehabilitation, and resettlement of people whose lands have been acquired.
Proper compensation and rehabilitation in a transparent manner are the cornerstones of the bill. The Bill addresses widespread need of development, but with a human face.
Under the Constitution, land is a 'State subject' but land acquisition is a 'Concurrent subject'. So far, the main law governing the land acquisition process has been the archaic Land Acquisition Act, 1894.
In recent times, there have been widespread agitation across the country against forceful land acquisition. It may be recalled in 2011, Congress Vice-President Shri Rahul Gandhi had supported the farmers'agitation against Uttar Pradesh government's forceful land acquisition policy in Bhatta Parsaul and neighbouring villages of western UP.
Forcible land acquisition has been an issue in different parts of the country ' from Singur in West Bengal to Niyamgiri in Odisha, with the original land dwellers almost never getting due compensation. The new legislation will ensure adequate compensation for the displaced.
It is expected that the Bill will directly affect 132 million hectares (326 million acres) of rural land in India, over 100 million land owners, with an average land holding of about 3 acres per land owner.
It is the vision of the Congress-led UPA Government, that soon, every citizen in India will have the 'right to adequate compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement', if this bill becomes a law.
Women's Reservation Bill
The Women's Reservation Bill proposes to provide reservation for women at each level of legislative decision-making. The Bill ensured that one-third of the total available seats would be reserved for women in national, state and local governments.
The Congress-led UPA Government has already passed the Bill in the Rajya Sabha in March 2010. It has considerable support from majority of the political parties. It is the Congress which is the votary of women's voice .Women reservation in Panchayats has led to wider participation at grassrootsNot surprisingly the Congress-led UPA government is keen that this Bill is passed at its earliest.