Respected Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Shri Prahlad Joshi ji, Leader of the House Shri Thawarchand Gehlot ji, Leader of the Opposition Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad ji, Ministers and honourable leaders of different parties and groups in Rajya Sabha !
I extend a warm welcome to all of you for this meeting ahead of the landmark 250th session of Rajya Sabha beginning tomorrow. On this historic occasion, it is expected of us to collectively reflect on the journey of the august House since it came into being in 1952. It is also required of us to collectively introspect on it’s functioning and focus on addressing the shortcomings that are in the public domain as a matter of concern.
The last and the 249th session of Rajya Sabha proved to be a turning point by being the best session in the last many years in several aspects of it’s functioning including the productivity, the quantum of legislative work transacted, the range of issues of public importance taken up, duration of the session etc.
Given the wide appreciation received including from the media for the functioning of the House during the last session, it is expected of us to sustain with such positive momentum.
The Department Related Standing Committees were reconstituted in September this year after receiving proposals from various parties. I am happy to know that these Committees have got into action soon thereafter by identifying various issues and subjects for examination and reporting thereon. The Committees are meeting regularly. One report has already been submitted to me by the Committee on Science and Technology. But I like to share my deep sense of concern over the reports of poor attendance at some of the meetings with the leaders of various parties assembled here today.
DRSCs have been conceived as effective instruments of bipartisan and detailed examination of various issues identified by them and Bills referred to them by acting as mini-Parliament. We should not let the standards of functioning of these Committees drop. Proper attendance is an important feature of their functioning. I urge the leaders to take personal interest and ensure proper attendance of MPs in the committee meetings.
To mark the 250th session of Rajya Sabha, we have discussed and planned a few events befitting for the occasion. These include;
1) Release of a publication on the ‘Journey of Rajya Sabha since 1952’ which gives a glimpse of the functioning of the House so far. This publication is the first such effort which I am sure would be found interesting.
2. Discussion in the House on the ‘Role of Rajya Sabah in Indian Polity: Need for Reform’;
3. Release of a commemorative volume on various aspects of functioning of the House with articles from the present and past members of the House and those associated with the functioning of the House;
4. Release of Rs.250 silver coin;
5. Release of Rs.5.00 postal stamp;
In addition, marking the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of India by the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949, a special joint sitting of members of both the Houses of Parliament will be held in the Central Hall on the 26th of this month.
Respected Leaders !
As all of you are aware, we have two parliamentary channels namely, the Rajya Sabha Television and the Lok Sabha Television. We are among the very few democracies to have such channels for live telecast of the proceedings of the Parliament.
Further to the suggestions and feedback on the effectiveness of these two channels, I have had detailed discussions with the Lok Sabha Speaker on the issues related to operating two separate channels and exploring avenues for more effective functioning of these two channels through synergy and integrated single line of command.
I have set up a Committee to examine and recommend on more effective functioning of parliamentary channels with the prime objective of increasing the viewership for the proceedings of Parliament through proper branding and content presentation.
I am given to understand that the rapidly expanding mobile phones including smart phones and the ever increasing social media are proving to be more potent in amplifying the reach of the debates and discussions in the Parliament. The Committee will consider all these issues and submit a report for further consideration.
While reminding all of you of the context and significance of the 250th session beginning tomorrow, I would request all of you to ensure that the positive momentum of the last session is maintained during this session as well.
As the historic 250th session of Rajya Sabha begins tomorrow, I thought it appropriate to release a publication, “Rajya Sabha : The Journey Since 1952” in the presence of leaders of various parties and groups. This publication has been brought out after extensive research on the volume and details of Bills so far passed by the Upper House, details of some major Bills passed sector-wise, membership details, Constitution amendments made with objectives, some unique events that occurred in the House etc. It also contains a statistical summary and some first moves by the House.
Rajya Sabha held it’s first sitting on May 13, 1952 and held a total of 5,466 sittings till the end of the last 249th session. During the last 67 years, the Upper House passed a total of 3,817 Bills including 108 Constitution Amendment Bills. A total of 2,282 persons have had the honour of being the members of Rajya Sabha including 208 women and 137 nominated members.
Rajya Sabha has been an integral part of the socio-economic transformation of our country since it came into being in 1952. From passing the Hindu Marriage and Divorce Bill in 1952 to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill in 2019 (Triple Talak Bill), from imposition of additional excise duty on dhotis in 1953 to introduction of Goods and Services Tax in 2017, from passing the Industrial Disputes (Amendment) Bill in 1954 to the New Delhi International Arbitration Bill in 2019, from the passage of the Andhra State Bill in 1953 to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill in 2019, from clearing the All India Institution of Medical Sciences Bill in 1955 to the National Medical Council Bill in 2019, from setting up of the University Grants Commission in 1954 to empowering the children with the Right to Free and Compulsory Education in 2009 and from passing the Preventive Detention (Second Amendment) Bill in 1952 to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill in 2019, Rajya Sabha has come a long way in addressing the challenges faced and meeting the requirements of the nation from time to time. But we still have ‘miles to go’ in letting our country realize it’s full potential by making up for the missed time and opportunities and in respect of the functioning of the House itself.
Let us cover a few more miles during the historic 250th session beginning tomorrow.
Thank you all !