Rajya Sabha

June 11, 2014

Sukhendu Sekhar Roy speaks on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address | Transcript

Sir, while participating in the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address moved by Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi yesterday, I would like to raise a few points on behalf of my party, All India Trinamool Congress, in addition to the points made by my distinguished colleague, Mr. Derek O’ Brien yesterday.

Janadesh ke bare mein pehle hi bahut charcha ki gayi hai. Kisi ne bola ki janadesh sada and paisa yatnu hi hi bahut kharab hi chiz hai. Hum nahi mante ki janadesh ki kambakht chiz hoti hai. Janesh ko hum sirf mante nahi hai, balki hum isko pranam karte hai. Janadesh chahke bhi hum paksh mein hai. Lekin janadesh humare lokantar ke adhar hai.

And the will of the people is supreme in a democracy and all of us bow down before the will of the people. Lekin jo janadesh humne is baar dekha gujrat ke arab sagar se lahar uthi aur woh lahar ab Bengal ki khadi tak bahuchti hai, toh backwater ban gayi.

Vindhya, Himachal, Yamuna, Ganga, Gujarat, Maratha har jagah ek tarah ka jan aadesh dikhayi diya hai. Dravid, Utkal aur Banga yahan humne dusri hi tarah ka janadesh dekha hai, lekin dono hi jan adesh hai, aur dono hi jan adesh ko humein manna parega. Sir, now I shift to paragraphs 7, 14 and 25 together of the President’s Address.  Pichle dino humne jaribi hatao, inclusive growth, sustainable growth ke bare mein bahut suna. Hindustan ki chitra aaj kya hai? Jab Rashtrapti ki jo abhibhashan hai poverty elimination ki baat kar rahe hai, toh aazadi ke 67 saal baad humari asliyat kya hai? Hidustan kahan par khadha hai?

I would like to refer to UNDP’s Human Report published last year. Sir, 53.7 Indians live in multidimensional poverty and another 16.4 per cent are vulnerable to multidimensional poverty. We share our position with equalitarian feeling, a country the name of which is hardly known to the people. Azadi ke 67 saal baad bhi humari arthik sthiti yeh hai. Sir, the Press-release of World Bank published on 10th of April this year says that the total number of the poorest of the poor who cannot earn even 1.25 dollar a day is 1.2 billion, that is, world’s poorest of the poor and one-third of them, that is, 40 crores of the world’s poorest of the poor population live in India.

That also constitutes one-third of our total population. Yeh haalat hai humri. As per State of the World’s Mothers 2013 report, in India, 3,09,300 children die on the very first day of their birth. And, this is 29 per cent of the world’s first-day mortality rate of the children. India ranks top among all other countries.

Sir, aazadi ke 67 saal bad bhi humari yeh haalat hai. This is what we have achieved in the 67 years of our Independence. While this is the situation, on the other hand, if we go through the report published in today’s Times of India, the Boston Consulting Report, it says that India had 1,75,00 millionaire households in 2013, ranking 15th in the world, and is projected to become the 7th wealthiest nation by 2018. Millionaire, of course, is in terms of dollars. Such a huge economic inequality persists in our country, notwithstanding what has been stated in the Preamble of our Constitution – justice, social, political, economic. We have forgotten everything. We have given a goodbye to all these things. It has been established beyond doubt that the major share of the benefits of the so-called economic reforms, after the liberalization policy, has gone to the kitty of the richest people of this country and not to the poorest of the poor people of this country. This is a hard reality that we are confronted with. I think, the new Government has a duty, a paramount duty, to have a re-look, to re-visit the so-called economic reforms of the liberalization policy, which is being pursued since 1991, for almost 23-24 years. The Government must try to initiate steps to reform the reforms. Reforming the reforms is the only step that is required in the present economic situation of this country, and which has been adopted by some of the Latin American countries. Sir, in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, we have read the carnival of aristocrats. Shakespeare has described the carnival of aristocrats. Here, we do not want to see the carnival of the crony capitalists. I am sorry to say all these things because this has been our experience, bad experience. We assure of our best cooperation to the new Government for all upcoming poverty elimination programmes and all programmes which are in public good. But whenever there is any attempt on the part of the new Government to adopt any policy which is otherwise anti-people, we shall oppose it tooth and nail. This is the role of a responsible opposition and we shall play that role of a responsible opposition for all days to come. Sir, in para 9 of the President’s Address, the urbanization – the new nomenclature – is nothing but socalled ‘Gujarat Model’. According to the statistics of the United Nations, India’s urban population forecast is 631 million, and it will account 41.8 per cent of our total population by 2030.

But, what about the measures to be adopted in regard to pollution in the cities and towns? There is no whisper about it in the President’s Address. In 2012, India was the third largest polluted country in the world. What measures would be taken by this Government in this regard? There is no mention about it.

I would urge upon the Government to come out with a definite plan and programme on this issue. Sir, in paragraph 20 of the President’s speech, the slogan of cooperative federalism has been raised. We salute cooperative federalism. My Leader, Ms Mamata Banerjee, is the champion for the cause of federalism in this country. As per Article 1 of the Constitution of India, India, that is, Bharat shall be a Union of States. Therefore, it is a Union of States, not a unitary State. We respect this Article. This is an article of faith to us.

Sir, in the recent past, we have seen that the successive Governments at the Centre set up the Sarkaria Commission and the Punchhi Commission on Centre-State relations and no uncanny respect has been given to the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission and the Punchhi Commission which submitted their Reports in 2010. We are in the middle of 2014. They have been sent to cold storage. There is no murmur about them. I would urge upon the new Government to bring out the Punchhi Commission Report from the cold storage, go through it and try to implement the recommendations in letter and spirit. Sir, I would like to quote two, three lines from the report of the Commission on Centre- State Relations, that is, the Sarkaria Commission, and reiterated by the Punchhi Commission. I quote: “When the emphasis is on the social justice, there is no escape from realignment of resources in favour of the States because services and the programmes which are at the core of a more equitable social order come within the purview of the States under the Constitution.” This is the recommendation of the Sarkaria and the Punchhi Commissions. Sir, this is a Constitutional scheme which must be taken care of. If you want to have cooperative federalism, my point in this context is whether the Government is thinking to eliminate the vintage-Gadgil formula.

Whether this new Government will adhere to the demands of the States for 50-50 sharing of the resources and revenues. Sir, my point is, as per Articles 268, 269, 270, 275, 280, 282 and 293, Finance Commission is the only Constitutional authority to look into financial relations between the Centre and the States. But what has happened? The Planning Commission, which was set up by an executive order, has emerged as the most robust extra Constitutional centre of authority over the years. We demand that the Finance Commission must have a permanent status and, if necessary, an appropriate legislation should be made in this regard. This is my humble suggestion to the new Government. Sir, in para 23 of the President’s speech, black money has been talked about. There cannot be two opinions about it.

But what about those big companies which have diverted 13,000 crores of rupees during the past three years violating external commercial borrowing scheme? What about the on-going inquiries by the Income-tax Department against 498 Indian entities, operating from the tax havens like British Virgin Island, Vox Island and Cayman Islands? Therefore, the entire net of the black money is to be unearthed and it should be possessed by the Government of India only and none else.

Sir, paragraph 35 of the President’s speech says that. I want a concrete assurance from the Government that the compensation towards Central sales tax should be paid before implementing the GST in the country. What about the national security? What will be the role of the DRDO? I would like to know whether there will be any existence of DRDO because even the software will be manufactured by the foreign investors. It is reported in the newspapers. I don’t know about it. That should be clarified. सर, expedited.

Finally Sir, I would like to quote the concluding sentences. Two lines only. I am concluding. I will not even take two minutes. Sir, in fine, I would like to quote the concluding sentences of the book titled ‘Undercover Economist’. It is authored by internationally-famous writer Tim Harford. It says in concluding lines and I quote, “Haste with the risks of trial and error, should you and I try to experiment and adopt more than we do? What price would we pay in our quest to succeed?” Hence, the new Government must be very cautious in its quest to succeed. We wish it all success. But the Government must be very cautious in its quest to succeed because the road is not rosy as I have tried to emphasize the situation. With these words, I conclude. Thank you, Sir, once again for giving me this opportunity.