Naidu rues 'steep decline in productivity' of RS

Conveying his sense of anguish over disruptions in the Upper House, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venakaiah Naidu on Wednesday presented a "Report to the People" on the performance of the House — the first of its kind — in which he rued a "steep decline in the productivity of the House".

Recalling the setting-up of a two-member committee by him in May last year to examine the existing provision for their adequacy to enable smooth functioning of the House, Naidu informed the House "this report has been received and the same will soon be referred to the General Purpose Committee of the House".

Naidu said that productivity of the House during five years (2014-19) was only 60% and only 154 bills were passed in this period in Rajya Sabha as against 251 during last Last Lok Sabha (2004-09).

He appealed to all sections of the House to evolve a "collective conscience" to enable effective functioning of the House to prevent any further damage to its standing and expressed concern over the efforts by some sections to force the House in to a kind of "suspended animation".

"Obstruction of proceedings can't be allowed to emerge as the preferred form of parliamentary expression substituting informed debates," he said.

Taking stock of the over-all functioning of the House, he said that he has to say with a heavy heart that this short Budget session turned out to be "yet another wasted opportunity" and only reinforced the "dysfunctional pattern" that has been evident over the last few years.

Holding that it poses a "serious threat to parliamentary democracy", the chairman said this session and the last one have witnessed heightened efforts by some sections of the House to force this "august House into a kind of 'suspended animation'.

He was alluding to the action taken by him a few times of sending out some of the members for continued disruptions.

He rued that despite his best effort to enable normal functioning of the House, reason did not prevail.

"This is very unfortunate. Ultimately, this august House would be what you want it to be — a performing one or a dysfunctional one. People of the country want it to be a performing one. If you have other ideas, you owe an explanation to the people, the ultimate masters," Naidu said.

Reeling out figures, he said the Rajya Sabha functioned at below 5% of available time during this Budget Session eve as bonhomie prevailed on last day, during which five bills were passed.

As against the available total time of 48 hours during this Budget session, 39 hours and 51 minutes were lost due to disruptions reducing the productivity of the House to only 4.90%. Six new bills have been introduced during this Budget Session and only 16 Zero Hour submissions could be made.

Naidu said that since June 2014, Rajya Sabha has held 18 Sessions and 329 sittings to date and passed 154 bills, which comes to less than a bill in two sittings.

This legislative output is 34 lesser than the 188 bills passed during 2009-2014 and an astonishing 97 bills lesser than the 251 Bills passed by the Rajya Sabha during 2004-09.

Naidu said that while the average sittings of the House per year since 2014 was between 60 and 70, a steep decline in the productivity of the House was a matter of serious concern.

The chairman noted with concern that "Every Question Hour lost means forfeiting the opportunity of seeking answers from the government on eight issues of policy, implementation and governance by 40 members. Every Zero Hour lost means depriving 15 members from raising issues of immediate public importance."

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Naidu rues 'steep decline in productivity' of RS

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