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Indian Parliament roundup, 30 November – 4 December 2009 December 7, 2009

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Sundaram, Manu , trackback

Manu Sundaram

This week, the Central Universities (Amendment) Bill 2009 was passed through the Lok Sabha. This Bill amends the Central Universities Act 2009 which deals with the setting up and running of centrally funded universities across the country. The Central Universities Act 2009 had proposed to establish a Central University of Jammu and Kashmir, based in Srinagar. Following protests by Kashmiri youths, the Government promulgated an ordinance – the Central Universities (Amendment) Ordinance 2009 – to establish separate universities for the Jammu and Kashmir divisions. This Bill seeks to replace the ordinance and provide Rs 240 crores for each university to start operations before the next academic year (commencing June 2010). The Government of India has launched a concerted effort to greatly expand the number of higher education institutions on the recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission and Yash Pal Committee Report. While speaking on the floor of the Lok Sabha, the Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Kapal Sibal, stated that the Government aims to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio for higher education from the present 12 per cent to 30 per cent by 2020.

Following extensive negotiations between India and the United States of America on the issue of climate change, the Lok Sabha witnessed an enthusiastic discussion on the topic, under Rule 193 (which provides for a discussion without voting). The Union Minister for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, outlined three non-negotiables for India at the Copenhagen Summit:

  1. No legally binding emission reduction cuts
  2. No announcement by developing countries of when their emissions will peak
  3. The subjection of mitigation actions to international review, contingent upon international financial and technological assistance

Furthermore, Mr Ramesh explained that the Government’s policy action plan to mitigate climate change included bringing in mandatory fuel efficiency measures for automobiles from 2011, devising an ‘Energy Conservation Building Code’ to be to be recommended to State and Local Administration buildings and utilizing the 12th Five Year Plan to target low carbon growth in order to reduce emissions by 20% – 25% between 2005 and 2020. The international diplomatic pressure on India which was evident at the Prime Minister’s state visit to the United States and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Trinidad and Tobago seems to have worked, as it was announced that Dr Manmohan Singh will now lead the Indian delegation and join 80 world leaders at Copenhagen on 17 and 18 December.

The Rajya Sabha debated the Worker’s Compensation (Amendment) Bill 2009, which amends the antiquated Worker’s Compensation Act 1923. The Bill seeks to provide compensation for workmen and dependents in case of injury or death caused by industrial accidents. The Bill replaces the word “workmen” with “employee” in order to make the Act gender neutral and also expands the category of workers who are covered. Members cut across party lines to welcome this Bill but requested that the compensation amount payable be raised higher than the proposed Rs 1,40,000. The Bill had previously been passed by the Lok Sabha.

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