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India needs a harmonious and productive Parliament session

The budget session of Parliament kicks off at a most critical time for the country. This year’s Union budget is being watched keenly for measures to revive economic growth after successive years of disappointing performance on the economic front. It appears that India can now put most of the economically disruptive public health measures to contain the Covid pandemic behind it. But this is also the moment for the polity to unite in the pursuit of national goals.

The government would have learned a lesson from its rushing of the farm reforms in the monsoon session without heeding opposition’s words of caution to refer the bills to a parliamentary committee. However, the budget session is again beginning on a wrong note with many opposition parties boycotting the President’s address to both houses. Walkouts don’t help either side. The opposition cannot claim to have made its position on legislations clear as it did on the farm bills if it stays out of the house. Similarly, passing bills without allowing the opposition a say can undermine the government’s reforms push.

This is a long session culminating on April 8 with a recess between February 15 and March 8. Besides the budget, key bills like the Personal Data Protection Bill, which will have a huge bearing on India’s technology and startup ecosystem, are slated to be tabled. After the farm imbroglio, the thumb rule for future legislations must be threadbare discussion in the house following which parties can test their respective strengths while voting. Parliament functioning as it should will impart great confidence to citizens in overcoming last year’s economic setbacks and instill greater confidence in rebuffing strategic threats, like those posed by China.

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