Ratna De Nag asks a Question on ODF villages/districts


Thank you very much, Madam. It is pertinent to point out here that out of 23 districts in Bengal, 14 have been declared Open Defecation-Free districts and out of 38,000 villages, 33,525 villages have been declared Open Defecation-Free villages with the active initiative of our Chief Minister.

Through you, Madam, I would ask the Hon’ble Minister, has the Ministry tried to find out, since the programme came into being, the impact of the programme on the health of the people? Have the toilets been made disabled-friendly? If yes, the details thereof.

Ratna De Nag asks a Question on assistance for setting up of dairies


Thank you very much Madam for giving me the opportunity to ask this Supplementary Question. Through you I would like to ask the Hon Minister what efforts are being made to introduce state-of the-art of technology in the processing, storage and distribution of milk products. If yes, how has it impacted the dairy sector.

Ratna De Nag speaks on The Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2017


Thank you, Sir, for giving me the opportunity. I think The Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2017 is primarily brought before the House to amend the Act of 2014 by way of declaring the Indian Institute of Technology, Manufacturing and Design in Kurnool (Andhra Pradesh) as an Institute of National Importance. I welcome this prima facie.

I will request to the Hon Minister to set up an Indian Institute of Technology, Manufacturing and Design in West Bengal in my Parliamentary Constituency which includes Singur. I know it is a very difficult task but I hope the Hon Minister would give serious thought to my request.

Declaring an existing institute as an institute of national importance is welcome but it should be done with the noble vision of spreading knowledge and information to all parts of the country and to be vested with the best of infrastructure like laboratories, trusts, paraphernalia, faculty with PhD. If possible, bring faculty from foreign and best universities. Only then declaring these existing universities and institutes as institutes of national importance will serve the purpose.

With these words I conclude. I welcome this Bill. Thank you.


Trinamool Congress’ Lok Sabha MPs complete three years in the 16th Lok Sabha

June 5 was the third anniversary of the All India Trinamool Congress’ Members of Parliament (MP) taking oath for the 16th Lok Sabha. It has been three eventful years (since June 5, 2014) for the party in Parliament. Speeches by the party’s MPs have had a major impact on national politics. The strategies adopted, and debates participated in, in Parliament, by the MPs have left a lasting impression on parliamentary politics in this largest democracy in the world.

Now Trinamool Congress is the fourth largest party in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.

Here are a few of the important speeches that Trinamool Congress MPs have given over the last three years:



August 14, 2014: Sugata Bose on the need for a mechanism to tackle the rising incidents of communal violence in the country

May 5, 2015: Kalyan Banerjee on the GST Bill

May 12, 2015: Sudip Bandyopadhyay on The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 (Land Bill)

February 24, 2016: Sugata Bose on the prevalent situation in universities in the country

March 8, 2016: Satabdi Roy on International Women’s Day

February 7, 2017: Saugata Roy speaks on The Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Bill, 2017

March 9, 2017: Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar on The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016

April 11, 2017: Ratna De Nag on The HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2017



November 25, 2014: Debabrata Bandyopadhyay on The Labour Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2014

August 13, 2014: Derek O’Brien on the working of the Ministry of Women and Child Development

May 6, 2015: Sukhendu Sekhar Roy on The Constitution (One Hundred and Nineteenth Amendment) Bill, 2013 (Land Boundary Agreement)

November 24, 2016: Derek O’Brien on demonetisation

April 5, 2017: Derek O’Brien on the GST Bill


Ratna De Nag speaks on The HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2017


The HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill aims to provide essential support to national AIDS control programme arresting new infection and thereby achieving the target of ending the epidemic by 2030 according to the sustainable development goals.

India has the third largest HIV epidemic in the world after South Africa and Nigeria.
As per the report of 2015, there are 21.17 lakh persons estimated to be living with HIV in India, out of which 6.54 percent accounts for children. The adult prevalence is in the range of 0.3 percent of which around 40 percent is women and estimated 48 thousand population died from AIDS related instances in 2015. However, at present India’s HIV epidemic is slowing down. In 2015, 44 percent of adult were eligible for antiretroviral treatment (ART) rising from 36 percent in 2013.

Despite the rise, in the number of people on ART remain slow. The introduction of new 2013 World Health Organisation treatment guideline has more people eligible for antiretroviral treatment. Focussing treatment at patients is to be the priority area.

The Bill highlights the provisions to safeguard the rights of the people living with HIV and affected by HIV. It also lists various grounds on which discriminations against HIV positive persons and those living with them is prohibited.

These include the denial, termination, discontinuation or unfair treatment with regards to employment, educational establishment, healthcare services, residing and renting property, standing for public and private office and provision of insurance. The requirement for HIV testing as requisite for obtaining employment or accessing healthcare is also prohibited. The Bill seeks to provide legislative framework of the existing state of non-discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS.

Alongside, the aim is also to enhance the legal accountability and establish formal mechanism for the grievances. Under this Bill, every HIV infected or affected person below the age of 18 has the right to reside in shared household and enjoy the facilities of household. The Bill prohibits any individual from publishing information and advocating feeling of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them. The Bill provides for the guardianship of minors. The Bill requires that no person shall be compelled to disclose his HIV status, except with the informed consent and if required, by a court order.

According to the Bill, the Central and State Governments should undertake measures to

  • prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS,
  • provide antiretroviral therapy and infection management of persons with HIV and AIDS,
  • facilitate their access to welfare schemes, especially women and children,
  • formulate HIV and AIDS education and communication programmes that are age-appropriate, gender-sensitive and non-stigmatising, and,
  • create guidelines for the care and treatment of children with HIV and AIDS.

The Bill makes the provision for the appointment of an ombudsman by the State Government. Cases relating to HIV positive persons shall be disposed off. Most of the recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare were undertaken into the Bill. Some amendments were suggested during the discussion in the Rajya Sabha. Medically advised safeguards and precautions should be adopted to minimise the risks of infection from HIV positive persons, which shall not amount to discrimination. Central and State Government should formulate schemes to address the needs of all protected people under the Bill as opposed to only the HIV and AIDS-affected women and children. In the case of an emergency, the ombudsman will pass an order within 24 hours; otherwise the ombudsman shall pass an order within a period of 30 days.

The Bill, in a way, is a landmark Bill as it extends the first-ever explicit legal endorsement in the case of a specific health condition, for people living with HIV and AIDS in our country. There cannot be two opinions about the exalted aims of the Bill. However, while the Bill and the amendments take important steps in the struggle of tackling HIV and AIDS, there are certain limitations which create further gaps in catering to the main aims of the Bill. The Bill brings a rights-based approach to AIDS treatment, making it imperative for both Central and State Governments to provide treatment as far as possible.

Number one, under Section 14 (10), though the Bill lays down that treatment is the right of the patient, it restricts its reach to convert it into a legal right. Thus a person with HIV and AIDS denied treatment cannot generally initiate any legal proceedings against government authorities.

Number two, the prevention programme does not look at how women’s bodies are different from men. Sexual violence heightens the risk of HIV transmission and infection, travelling from mother to child during pregnancy or breast-feeding. These are factors that deserve more attention.

A UNICEF report says that only 23% of pregnant women living with HIV undertook antiretroviral treatment in 2009 because of factors like social customs and family restriction. Even its report in 2015 highlights that 39.5% of HIV infected adults in India were women and that this was a growing proportion. While two years ago, it was reported that HIV prevalence for women who inject drugs is almost double than that of men.

The Bill fails to include provisions for the protection of people who are most vulnerable to contracting the disease, for instance, people frequently using contaminated injection equipments. Under Section 2 of the Bill, definition should have included vulnerable people. What is known as the most at risk population? We should include transgender women, men who have sex with men, female sex workers, people who inject drugs. Also proposed is the deletion of Clause 22 which relates to the strategies for reduction of risk of HIV transmission is needed as it protects the legality of the needle, syringe exchange.

Civil courts have the rights to fully address the employment and discrimination only in public sector. It is important that courts should be conferred power to address discrimination in private sector as well as to make it inclusive and effective.

The Bill does not illuminate on the legal dissonance between the provisions of non discriminations and other acts and case laws that discriminates against sex workers, homosexuals and transgenders.

In conclusion Sir, stigma attached to HIV-AIDS victims in India remains intense despite ongoing efforts of the government. The stigma is not only confined to social obstacle but, economic too. With the advent of the Bill, the first step has been initiated to stop the spread of disease and help those who have been infected by HIV, and AIDS, through ART.

Even if it can not do away with the stigma, the law offers a clear legal course also to successfully eradicate HIV and AIDS by 2030. The process would require a high degree of commitment and thus would equally require us to address the shortcomings. We should fill up the gaps and ensure a far-reaching impact of the Bill.

At the end Sir, I would like to mention what has been done by our West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. She has initiated a programme called Muktir Aalo for the sex workers, which includes skill development and vocational training.

Thank you Sir.


Ratna De Nag speaks on The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016


In India, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, 2015, more than 1 lakh people were killed and in 2014, 1 lakh people were injured in road traffic crashes. Government reports indicated a loss of 3% of GDP from 1999-2000 due to road mishaps. It was reported that the total number of road accidents in 2015 were more than 5 lakh, which is 2.5 per cent more than 2014. The National Highways accounted for 29 per cent road accidents in 2015, compared to 29.9% in 2014. The State (West Bengal) registered for 28 per cent deaths last year, and 54.1 per cent of all persons killed in road accidents from the 15-30 years age group during the year 2015. Road transport plays a vital role in the economy of the country. To address the issues faced by the transport sector, the Motor Vehicles Bill, 2016, was introduced in Lok Sabha on August 9, 2016 by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. These new laws intend to have the number, the dates and the injuries due to due to road accidents by 2020.

The Bill has many good provisions. I would like to mention all the good things. There is cashless treatment for road accident victims, inclusion of goods return guidelines,,empowering the Central Government to recall vehicles, electronic monitoring, national registry for licenses, national registry for license registration, national transportation policy for compensation and insurance, the higher penalties for road-traffic violations.

But, Sir, there are some points which I want to raise. The Bill lacks clarity with regard to the limit to the liability of third party insurance under Section 147 of the Act, and Clause 49 of the Bill. It caps the maximum liability of third party insurance in the case of a motor accident to Rs 10,00,000 and in the case of death to Rs 5,00,000. This implies that the insurance company is liable to pay only upto these specified amounts.

However, the Bill does not cap the compensation amount to be decided by the Courts. If the Court awards compensation amounts higher than the maximum liability prescribed under the Bill, it is unclear who will pay the remaining amount. The need for a new fund is unclear. With a fund already existing for hit-and-run cases, the purpose of the New Motor Vehicles Accident Fund with regard to hit-and-run cases is unclear. For example, there is no clarity.

Thank you.


Ratna De Nag speaks on miscarriages during Question Hour  


Thank you Madam.

Pregnancy is the most exciting period in the life of a woman. But not every pregnancy has a happy ending  Miscarriage is a term used for a pregnancy which ends on its own, before 20 weeks of gestation, after that it is stillbirth. But the incidents of miscarriage in clinically recognised pregnancies is 10 to 25 per cent.

In the case of chemical pregnancies is 50 to 75 per cent. There are many causes of miscarriages – malnutrition, socio-economic condition, anaemia, different diseases and lack of proper antenatal care, and in many cases we cannot even pinpoint the cause.

Through you, Madam, I would like to ask the Hon. Minister what the main goal of treatment is in the case of chromosomal abnormalities.


Ratna De Nag asks a Supplementary Question on neurogenetic test facilities


Thank you, Madam. Neurological and neurogenetic disorders are one of the greatest threats to public health. Unless immediate action is taken, the neurogenetic burden is expected to become more serious and unmanageable.

What initiative has been taken by the Hon. Minister to deliver affordable diagnostic tests and treatment to the Indian urban and rural Committees for better qualities of life?


Ratna De Nag speaks on The Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016


Thank you Sir for giving me the opportunity to speak on The Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016. The Bill seeks to promote and improve the rights of the patient in need of the mental healthcare.

National Human Right Commission conducted a detailed study of the patients in mental institutions and condition they live in. They found numerous instances of cruel treatment – people being beaten, people being chained and being denied dignity of any kind.

Sir, at present we have about 300 district mental health programmes. But the effectiveness of the programmes varies across the States because of the restricted funding, lack of trained human mental health care providers and low motivation among the health providers at the all stages.

The access to mental health programmes is going to be a big concern in India. Up to 40% of the patients do not get access to the mental health programme because they have to travel more than 10 km.

Depression is the leading cause of death in the world and it is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 years old. According to World Health Organisation, about 350 million people suffer from depression worldwide. As per the National Crime Records Bureau, 1.31 lakh people committed suicide in India in 2014. Lack of funding, lack of human resources, and social stigma associated with mental illness – along with lack of access – are the main reasons for the failure of effectiveness of these programmes.

Lack of funding, lack of human resources, and social stigma associated with mental illness – along with lack of access – are the main reasons for the failure of effectiveness of these programmes. There are about four thousand psychiatrists in India. Most of them are in the private practice, so there is a massive shortage of psychiatrists in the public sector. This will lead to large number of people, requiring treatment, remaining undiagnosed.

But Sir, there are some good provisions in the Bill also. For example, Advanced Directive, stating how he or she wishes to be treated for a future mental illness also how he does not wish to be treated. Such an Advanced Directive can also be challenged by families, professionals.

Decriminalisation of suicide is a much needed reform. A person attempting suicide shall be considered to be under serious stress and will not be liable to be prosecuted under Section 309 of IPC. The Government shall provide care, treatment and rehabilitation to all such persons.

Another good provision, Sir, is that the Bill provides protection to patients from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Some treatments currently being used will be prohibited, most importantly, electroconvulsive therapy given without anesthesia and the practise of chaining the patients to their bed.

But, there are some points Sir, I would like to raise. The Provision of appointing a nominee and then subsequent decisions being taken by them may lead to damage to the bonding and goodwill between the families.

Furthermore, a mental patient can only be admitted in a mental institution after review by the Mental Health Review Commission.This may lead to undue delay in the treatment and make the entire process more complicated. Furthermore, this reason may discourage the families from playing a proactive role.

The Mental Health Review Commission has six members, out of which one is a psychiatrist and another a mental healthcare personnel. This means that it will lead to crucial decisions being taken in the field of mental health by a non-expert.

The Bill speaks about ECT, that is, electroconvulsive therapy in the case of some mental illnesses for minors. But, Sir, the Board advises it with the consent of the parents with prior permission of a psychiatrist. Sir, due to serious hazards of electroconvulsive therapy on minors, it is a controversial implementation in the case of mental health issues of a minor, and so a blanket ban on electroconvulsive therapy for the treatment of mental illnesses of minors should be implemented, as advised by the World Health Organisation.

The Bill states that medical records can be assessed by the patient unless it causes a “serious mental harm”. But there is no definition as to what would constitute a “serious mental harm”, and it is linked to the psychiatrist’s decision. This may lead to unscrupulous people taking advantage of these patients for their own benefits. Sir, the Bill must provide for a stringent punishment in cases of falsifying medical records.

The Bill states that there shall be one district board for eight north-eastern States covering at about 262.230 sq km. This would make it inaccessible to large number of people, due to difficulties in connectivity and terrain.

Sir, the Bill states about the community-based rehabilitation establishment and health services. But is not defined. A clear-cut definition is required.

Sir, I would request the Hon. Minister to:

  • include Dementia under Mental Healthcare Bill,
  • incorporate a neurologist in the Board,
  • ensure that the admission and discharge of a mental patient in a mental health institution should be under the jurisdiction of the physician,
  • organise regular mental health awareness camps. They can be organised by government and non-government organisations,
  • review and assess the programme by an expert, and finally,
  • assess and analyse the benefit of the programme and response of the people.


I would request the Hon. Minister to look into these issues so that the country gets a good Bill and we are able to eradicate the social stigma associated with mental illness.

Thank you, Sir.




Ratna De Nag speaks on the need for subsidies for potato growers


Thank you very much Sir.

Potato growers in Bengal and some other States like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are facing difficulties as their produce is sold at half the price. With the result they are incurring huge losses; they are not deriving any profit in spite of toiling in the farm to produce potatoes. There is an urgent need to provide subsidy to the potato growers as the Union Government extended subsidy to the rice growers.

To give an example how potato growers is undertaking hard times: 1 bigha of land = 1600 square yards; whatever they are spending they are not able earn profit. On the other hand they are losing Rs 2000 to Rs 10000. If efforts are not taken by the Central Government they would find it difficult to make both ends meet.

I would like to ask the Union Government to make measures to come to the rescue of the potato growers at this hour of despair and helplessness.