Aug 11: The Vice President of India and Rajya Sabha Chairman Shri Venkaiah Naidu today said that contrary to initial apprehensions and hesitancy, the corona induced confinement over the last four months has kept him busier and engaged than before. Shri Naidu further said it has been so possible as he could quickly reset his mind and defined a new normal to cope with the change.
Speaking at an event marking the completion of three years in office as Vice President and Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Shri Naidu said that the functioning of Rajya Sabha has shown certain Winds of Change as evident in the consistently higher level of productivity and increased legislative output over the last few sessions and the attendance in the meetings of the Committees of Rajya Sabha crossing the 50% mark for the first time.
A publication titled “Connecting, Communicating, Changing” was released today by the Defence Minister Shri Rajnath Singh at an event organised by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting at Uparashtrapati Bhawan. Minister of Information and Broadcasting Shri Prakash Javadekar released the electronic version of the publication. The Publications Division brought out the 251 page book with 334 pictorial illustrations about the range of engagements and activities of Shri Naidu during the last one year.
Shri Venkaiah Naidu said that before the corona induced confinement he had 20 engagements per month during which he spoke at over 70 public events and 14 convocation ceremonies. The Vice President said that by coming to terms with the confinement quickly he redefined the norms of engagement and made extensive use of technology platforms to connect with the people. Shri Naidu informed that he spoke to over 1600 people over phone individually sharing experiences of coping with the confinement and made extensive use of social media urging the people not to panic under the situation and instead make simple alterations in daily habits to deal with the situation. 350 tweets and 55 Facebook posts were used to reach out to the people with facts about the Corona Virus, its spread, the Covid pandemic and the ways of dealing with it besides several articles. Shri Naidu described this “Mission Connect” as very rewarding.
Referring to the functioning of Rajya Sabha over the last three years since his assumption of office on August 11, 2017, Shri Naidu gave evidence of what he called the winds of change in this regard.Presenting the context of his assumption of responsibility, Shri Naidu said that the research and analysis commissioned by him has revealed that the productivity of the House has been declining over the last 25 years with the House reporting annual productivity of 100% only once in 1999 during the last 20 years.
Shri Naidu informed that the overall productivityof the last eight sessions presided by him during the last three years has been 65.50%, despite the intervening election year seriously impacting the functioning of the House for three sessions. He informed that the productivity of Rajya Sabha was only 28.90% during the 248th session, 27.30% during the 247th and a low of 6.80% during the 248th session. As a result, the annual productivity of Rajya Sabha has been 35.75%, the lowest ever, he said.
The Chairman said that the functioning of the House subsequently was marked by sustained high levels of productivity of 104% during the 249th session, 99% during the historic 250th session and 76% during the last and 251st session. He said that this turn around resulted in average productivity of 78.42% during 2019, the highest since 2010.
Referring to improvement in legislative output as yet another indication of change, Shri Naidu said that out of the 93 Bills passed by Rajya Sabha during the last three years of his Chairmanship, 60 of them accounting for 65% of the total were passed during the last three sessions. He further said that despite the given composition of the House and stated positions of different parties, Rajya Sabha has passed some major Bills like the Triple Talaq Bill, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Bill.
Stating that the functioning of the eight Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committees of Rajya Sabha has been an area of concern and focus for him, the Chairman informed about the improvements in this regard as further indication of the change. He said that the attendance in the meetings of these Committees has crossed the 50% mark for the first time during the last one year (since reconstitution in September, 2019). The attendance has been 50.73% during 2019-20 as against the average attendance of 42.90% during the two-year period of 2017-19. He also stated that the number of meetings of these Committees held without quorum has fallen to 10.20% during 2019-20 as against 38.77% during the previous year. The number of meetings held with attendance of over 50% has risen to 51.02% during 2019-20 from 14.28% during the previous year.
Chairman Shri Naidu thanked all sections of the House and leaders for the understanding shown and cooperation extended in improving the functioning of the House. He, however, referred to about 1/3rd of the functional time of the House lost due to disruptions during the last eight sessions and urged them to effectively address this disruption quotient.
Referring to celebration of the 75 years of independence of the country in 2022, Shri Naidu urged all individuals and institutions to give out their best for building a new India of the dreams of every aspiring citizen, inspired by the ideals of freedom struggle as propounded by Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders. He particularly urged the youth to more vigorously join the task of nation building.
Stating that it is the economic power that gives the required space and voice for India that it deserves to influence the course of global events, Shri Venkaiah Naidu urged all concerned to collectively endeavour to leave behind the economic disruption caused by the Covid pandemic and place the country on the much required high growth trajectory. Shri Naidu stressed on the need to fully meet the targets set for various sectors by 2022 and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development goals by 2030.
The Vice President has lauded the recent initiatives of the Government to improve the ecosystem of governance, innovation and entrepreneurship besides removing various hurdles adversely impacting different sectors and the emphasis being laid on building a knowledge society. Citing the New Education Policy-2020 in this regard, Shri Naidu stressed on the need to promote mother tongue as the medium of instruction at least at the primary level. He also called for appropriate application of science to make agriculture more productive and create greater wealth for farmers.
Shri Venkaiah Naidu has stressed on converting Swaraj in to Su-raj (good governance) and for bridging the urban-rural divide besides reaching the fruits of development to all. Referring to the energetic efforts of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for transforming the nation, Shri Naidu called for a strong resolve and collective efforts to realise Shreshtha Bharat, Swastha Bharat and Atma Nirbhar Bharat.