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HindustanTimes Fri,25 Apr 2014

Amartya Sen urges Parliament to pass food security bill

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 06, 2013
First Published: 16:57 IST(6/5/2013) | Last Updated: 11:07 IST(7/5/2013)

With key government legislations stuck in Parliament because of disruptions, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen urged the opposition parties to be "responsible" and discuss the issues in Parliament instead of disrupting it.

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Sen was speaking at a Press conference organised by civil society groups seeking passage of key legislations such as National Food Security Bill, whistleblower legislation and grievance redressal bill. They were aghast the second part of the budget session had failed to function because of disruptions.

Sen said that "killing debate" raised suspicion that the opposition arguments were weak and they were not interested in debate or discussion.

He also expressed his anguish over the way Indian Parliament was functioning and said that the people were losing faith in the biggest institution of a democracy.

MR Madhavan from Parliamentary Research Service said the recent past has witnessed "alarming" decline in working days per year of Parliament.

"While in the 1950s and 1960s, the norm was 140-150 working days per year, this has crashed to 50-60 days in recent years," he said, adding that even a small number of MPs can disrupt Parliament and hold it to ransom. "Informed debate is also a casualty of this situation as there is no space or time for debate".

Sen also pointed out that the bills such as food security - stuck because of disruptions - were important as they would lead to "substantial enhancement" of entitlements. He was not happy with the Ordinance route for the bill as being suggested in the UPA government and said the best would have been its passage from an informed debate.

Development economist Jean Drèze said apart from food and grievance redressal bills, other important social legislations were also being held up by a political paralysis for which all political parties bear some responsibility.

"The stalemate must be resolved whatever it takes - even an extension of the Budget session of Parliament if need be," he said.

Nikhil Dey of National Campaign for People's Right to Information stressed that the Grievance Redressal Bill was important for a successful implementation of all social programmes, and that all political parties support it. He said that people "cannot wait" any longer for this bill, which is closely linked to their survival.

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