More parliamentary panels pick Covid-19 for discussion
The Covid-19 outbreak continued to attract the attention of Parliamentary Committees with four more panels choosing various aspects of the pandemic to scrutinise the government's preparedness and actions in dealing with the situation.
The Parliamentary Standing Committees on Science and Technology, Home Affairs, Labour and Health have already held one meeting each on the aspects of the pandemic and government response.
Now, the Standing Committees of Human Resources Development, Commerce and External Affairs as well as Committee on Estimates have decided to discuss the pandemic.
The Standing Committee on HRD headed by senior BJP MP Vinay P Sahasrabuddhe will be meeting on August 10 to discuss 'Preparedness of School, Higher and Technical Education Sectors during Covid-19 pandemic' at a time when the academic activities have gone for a toss.
Educational institutions are closed till August 30 with no clarity about when they could reopen as several states are reluctant to start academic activities amid a spread of Covid-19 cases.
The panel is likely to ask the government about its digital education plans even as a section has been arguing that overemphasis on this mode could be detrimental as a large section of students does not have access to such accessories. Also, the exam calendar may also come up during the discussion.
Headed by BJP MP P P Chaudhary, the panel on External Affairs will meet on August 11 to talk about 'Covid-19 Pandemic - Global Response, India's Contribution and the way forward'. It has summoned officials from the Ministries of External Affairs, Education, Women and Child Development, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and Labour for briefings.
The Standing Committee on Commerce headed by YSR Congress MP V Vijayasai Reddy wants to look at 'Attracting investment in post-Covid Economy: Challenges and Opportunities for India' even as the government has announced Rs 20 lakh crore under the 'Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan' (Self-Reliant India Programme) during the national lockdown.
It will also look at the opportunities and challenges before the country at a time New Delhi is trying to shake off the Chinese imprint in various sectors following the border row.
The Committee on Estimates has also chosen to take up discussions related to the virus with the topic being 'Impact of Covid-19 pandemic on Budget Allocation and Utilisation on the various Sectors viz. tourism, aviation, hospitality, power, etc. and steps for employment generation'.
Meanwhile, the Standing Committee on Labour, which had discussed Covid-19 and the labour situation on July 20, will be briefed by officials from the Ministries of Rural Development and Skill Development on August 7 on social security and welfare measures for inter-state migrant, unorganized and informal sector workers. This meeting is likely to touch upon Covid-19 as the lockdown had resulted in a mass exodus of migrant labourers to their home states.
The first meeting on Covid-19 was held on July 10 when the Standing Committee on Science and Technology headed by senior Congress MP Jairam Ramesh took up the issue of "preparedness to deal with Covid-19 and other pandemics in future".
In the meeting, top officials said that a Covid-19 vaccine is expected only after a year while the panel on Home Affairs led by Congress Deputy Leader Anand Sharma on July 15 asked officials to check black marketing of Covid-19 drugs like Remdesivir. The panel on Health held the meeting on August 4.