After 11 yrs, RS witnessed highest productivity in 2020

In 2020, Rajya Sabha witnessed highest productivity in 11 years

The House spent a high of 57% of the functional time of the House on legislative work during the monsoon session this year as against the general average of 28%

The outgoing year may have just two sessions with the Winter Session of Rajya Sabha being dispensed with for the first time after 1984 but the Upper House created a sort of record in 2020 clocking the highest annual productivity of 82.27% in the past 11 years despite having the lowest number of sittings.

Rajya Sabha altogether held 33 sittings with both the Budget Session (23 sittings) and the Monsoon Session (10) being impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic with each session losing eight each sitting.

The high productivity should also be seen against the backdrop of the Upper House meeting for the lowest number of sittings in a year due to the impact of the pandemic. Three other occasions when the Rajya Sabha met for less than 50 sittings in a year were 1999 (48 sittings) and in 2004 and 2008 (46 sittings each).

The pandemic had led the government to dispense with the Winter Session, which is usually held in November-December every year. This is the fourth time that the Winter Session sittings of Rajya Sabha are not happening, the last being in 1984 while the previous ones were in 1975 and 1979.

On the productivity side, 2020 recorded the highest productivity since 2010. The productivity of Rajya Sabha during 2010-2020 ranged from 35.75% in 2018 to 78.42% in 2019 and 82.27 this year.

With the recent sessions witnessing high productivity, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu had earlier observed that the trend indicates the "ship of Rajya Sabha sailing through stormy waters is being steadied".

The House spent a high of 57% of the functional time of the House on legislative work during the monsoon session this year as against the general average of 28%.

A total of 39 Bills ---- 12 during the Budget Session and 27 during the Monsoon Session -- have been passed by the Rajya Sabha during 2020. The Bills which cleared the Rajya Sabha hurdle included three Bills related to farm sector reforms, Direct Taxes Vivad Se Vishwas Bill, Bills amending salaries and allowances of Ministers and Members of Parliament.

While the Monsoon Session was held in September owing to a surging pandemic, it witnessed high drama in Rajya Sabha during the passage of the contentious farm Bills. Seven Opposition MPs, who trooped into the well along with others, damaged the Chair's mike and threw papers, were suspended after they protested against the way in which the Bill was being passed.

It also saw the Opposition boycotting the Session demanding revoking the suspension while they also submitted a notice for the removal of Deputy Chairman Harivansh, which was rejected by the Chairman. The Opposition had accused Harivansh of not allowing the division of votes during the passage of the bill, an allegation rejected by the Chair.

The suspended MPs also sat on an indefinite dharna near the Gandhi statue in Parliament House complex demanding the withdrawal of the Bills.

The Winter Session was also unique in Rajya Sabha's history as it functioned from six locations with members seated in the Chambers of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha and four galleries of Rajya Sabha.

Naidu also took a keen interest in the working of the Parliamentary Standing Committees under the Rajya Sabha and regularly kept in touch with floor leaders to nudge them to ensure attendance in panel meetings.

The average attendance in the meetings of the eight Standing Committees for the first time crossed 50% of the total membership of the committees during 2020. The average duration of the meetings also crossed two hours for the first time in 2020.