FACTBOX: India's winter session of parliament | delhi | Hindustan Times
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FACTBOX: India's winter session of parliament

As India's boom gives way to gloom, the government is banking on a brief winter session of parliament that started on Tuesday to kickstart its long-stalled agenda of economic reforms.

delhi Updated: Nov 22, 2011 14:14 IST

As India's boom gives way to gloom, the government is banking on a brief winter session of parliament that started on Tuesday to kickstart its long-stalled agenda of economic reforms.

India's parliament is a rowdy place frequently adjourned by jeering and walkouts, so prospects are slim for much progress on the more than 50 bills to be considered in the month-long session. Here is some of the proposed legislation:

Anti-corruption Bill
Could be passed. Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare galvanized middle-class anger against venal public officials with a hunger strike in August. All parties say they support creating a new anti-graft ombudsman, but wrangling over the details could slow things down.

The 74-year-old Hazare has been weakened by allegations of financial misdeeds by his top aides but maintains a strong presence in the political scene. He threatens a new hunger strike if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh does not hasten steps to create a strong citizen's ombudsman, or Lokpal.

Food security Bill
Unlikely to be passed. The food security bill, promoted by Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, aims to expand the supply of subsidised grain to almost two-thirds of India's 1.2 billion people, a plan that if approved may hurt government finances but help secure voter support.

The government plans to introduce the bill in this session but it is unlikely to be passed until next year.

Expected to cost $20.7 billion annually, the law could also give the government a better idea of how much grain India could export after maintaining comfortable buffer stocks.

It seeks to expand substantially an existing food subsidy scheme that covers about 180 million of India's poorest people who receive about 4 million tonnes of grain every month through licensed "fair price shops".

Land mining Bill
Unlikely to be passed this session. The proposed land mining bill will enable funding of schools, hospitals and roads using profits and royalties from unwilling mining firms.

Despite industry's grumbles, the bill clarifies the rules. It could kickstart stalled projects blocked by protests and broaden rural support for the government.

The bill calls on coal miners to share a maximum 26 percent of their profits with communities in their area and for other miners to pay an amount equivalent to royalties. The government hopes to double revenue from mining royalties if the bill becomes law, from 40 billion rupees ($817 million) now.

The bill has been watered down under pressure from industry.

Initially the proposal said all miners should give 26 percent of profits to local communities where land acquisition is a sensitive matter and many oppose natural resources being exploited by outsiders.

India's mining sector is the source of some of the country's biggest corruption scandals affecting top regional leaders of India's main opposition party.

Pension Bill
Could be passed. The cabinet approved foreign direct investment of up to 26 percent in the pension sector on Wednesday, setting in motion a key reform initiative in the financial sector after years of delays.

The decision needs parliament's go-ahead to become law, and will allow global players access to roughly $12 billion worth of assets, a figure expected to grow rapidly as more people join the workforce of Asia's third largest economy.

The government reintroduced the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Bill in March this year, after which it was sent to a committee on finance. The panel submitted a report in August with some suggestions after which the government decided to set the amount of foreign investment in the sector at 26%.

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party supports pension reforms, but has vowed to disrupt parliament in the session, which could stall all the planned reforms.