Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday said the attendance in the meetings of the Committees of Rajya Sabha has crossed the 50 per cent mark for the first time.
Noting that the functioning of the Upper House of Parliament has shown certain winds of change, Naidu said that the attendance in the meetings of these Committees has crossed the 50 per cent mark for the first time during the last one year (since reconstitution in September, 2019).
The attendance has been 50.73 per cent during 2019-20 as against the average attendance of 42.90 per cent during the two-year period of 2017-19, Naidu said at an event marking his completion of three years in office as Vice President and Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
He stated that the number of meetings of these Committees held without quorum has fallen to 10.20 per cent during 2019-20 as against 38.77 per cent during the previous year. “The number of meetings held with attendance of over 50 per cent has risen to 51.02 per cent during 2019-20 from 14.28 per cent during the previous year.”
Naidu said it is also evident in the consistently higher level of productivity and increased legislative output over the last few sessions. Contrary to initial apprehensions and hesitancy, the Rajya Sabha Chairman said, COVID-19 induced confinement over the last four months has kept him more busy and engaged than before.
Naidu said before the corona induced confinement he had 20 engagements per month during which he spoke at over 70 public events and 14 convocation ceremonies. Naidu informed that he spoke to over 1,600 people over phone individually sharing his experiences of coping with the confinement and made extensive use of social media urging the people not to panic 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 coronavirus, its spread, the Covid pandemic and the ways of dealing with it besides several articles,” Naidu said.
Referring to the functioning of the Rajya Sabha over the last three years since his assumption of office on August 11, 2017, Naidu gave evidence of what he called the winds of change in this regard.
The Rajya Sabha Chairman 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 per cent only once in 1999 during the last 20 years.
Naidu informed that the overall productivity of the last eight sessions presided over by him during the last three years has been 65.50 per cent, despite the intervening election year seriously impacting the functioning of the House for three sessions.
He informed that the productivity of the Rajya Sabha was only 28.90 per cent during the 248th session, 27.30 per cent during the 247th and a low of 6.80 per cent during the 248th session. As a result, the annual productivity of the Rajya Sabha has been 35.75 per cent, 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 per cent during the 249th session, 99 per cent during the historic 250th session and 76 per cent during the last and 251st session. He said that this turnaround resulted in average productivity of 78.42 per cent during 2019, the highest since 2010.
Referring to the improvement in legislative output as yet another indication of change, Naidu said that out of the 93 Bills passed by the Rajya Sabha during the last three years of his Chairmanship, 60 of them accounting for 65 per cent of the total were passed during the last three sessions. He added that despite the given composition of the House and stated positions of different parties, the 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 the 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.