Despite frequent adjournments and walkouts, the House manages to discuss important issues when they are in session, thanks to the question and answer session that precedes zero hour.
Since most answers are backed by numbers, they help us understand country’s present state in various departments.
Here is an extract from Tuesday’s Q&A session from both the Houses.
Rupee became stronger
It is a common notion that because Rupee is weakening against the dollar, our economy is also falling. But finance minister Arun Jaitley begs to differ.
While answering a question, Jaitely agreed that the average annual exchange rate of the rupee in 2015-16 increased to 65.5 per US dollar as against an average level of 61.1 in 2014-15 - a depreciation of 6.6%.
Even though we depreciated against dollar, in 2015-16, the rupee performed better than many major currencies of the world. During this period, Euro and Pound depreciated by 12.5% and 6.7%, respectively, against US dollar.
Thus, Jaitely argued that ‘Indian rupee has become stronger against a basket of currencies’. Which means even though we depreciated against the dollar in terms of nominal effective exchange rate, in terms of real effective exchange rates the rupee appreciated by 5.5% in 2014-15 and 3% in 2015-16.
Shortage in the Army
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar sent a written reply to a Rajya Sabha question in which he accepted that the Indian Army is facing a shortage of over 8,600 officers. While the authorised strength is 49,833 officers, the held strength is 41,162.
According to Parrikar, the 17% shortage is due to a rise in authorised strength from time to time, stringent selection criteria and the perceived high degree of risk.
Separate units to curb crime against women
Minister of state for home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary informed the Lok Sabha that separate units to probe crime against women has been planned in 714 police districts in the country. 150 such units have already been established.
The cost incurred will be shared between the states and the Centre on 50:50 basis.
These units will also provide the additional functionalities of proactive policing, intelligence gathering, tackling organised crime, monitoring proper implementation of the legislative provisions, help in awareness generation and social participation in prevention of crime against women.
Agriculture: More workers, less output
Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh told Lok Sabha that although the share of agriculture sector in total Gross Value in 2015-16 is only 15.3% at 2011-12 prices; the share of agriculture workers in the total workers is 54.6% as per Census 2011.
However, the industry and services sectors together account for 84.7% of the Gross value and only 45.40% of the total workers are engaged in these two sectors.
So according to Singh though more workers are involved in Agriculture, they earn less compared to others due to low productivity in the sector coupled with uncertainty of weather, lack of market access and lack of access to irrigation.
614 policemen committed suicide
614 policemen committed suicide in the country between 2012-14 with 40% taking the extreme step due to marriage and family problems and 10% due to job related stress.
There were around 22 lakh vacancies in police forces of which 17 lakhs were filled up while around 5.6 lakh posts are yet to be filled. Because of this, policemen have to do longer duty hours, minister of state for home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary informed Lok Sabha.
58 weightlifters were caught for doping last year.
Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal informed the House that two of them were caught by International Weightlifting Federation.
India was placed in the third spot in worldwide dope violation in 2014, according to a report published by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha informed the Rajya Sabha that the number of wilful defaulters of Public Sector Banks rose from 5,554 to 7,686 in last three years while the amount involved more than doubled from Rs 27,749 crore to Rs 66,190 crore.
FDI in agri
Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh informed the house that FDI of $397.08mn was received for promoting the country’s agriculture sector during April 2012 and February 2016.
Maximum inflow of $141.69 mn FDI was from Mauritius, followed by Singapore $119.95 mn, Germany $25.74 mn, France $20.71 mn and the US $20.60 mn in the said period, he said.
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajpathi Raju told the house that there were 120 incidents of emergency landing since 2014, out of which 23 are attributed to Air India.
Out of the 120, 102 were due to medical emergency and 18 due to technical reasons.
But according to the minister, none of the emergency landings involving Air India resulted in an accident.
(with PTI inputs)