Parliament Speech – Feburary 23rd, 2011

Transcript of a speech made by H K Dua in the Rajya Sabha on February 23, 2011 on the debate on the President’s Address to the joint session of Parliament.

SHRI H.K.DUA (NOMIATED):   Thank you, Mr Vice-Chairman, for giving me time. I have heard the debate, during the last two days, on the President’s Address.  Members of all shades of opinions have expressed their opinions on the President’s Address and the various issues confronting the country.  In a nation of one billion people, there are bound to be differences of opinion, but I do find that despite the acrimony witnessed during the last several months in the country, despite the different views expressed in the House and outside, there is no difference of opinion among the leadership of various parties and the people that this country should emerge as a major economic, political and military power of the 21st century.  There is no difference of opinion on this central aim which has emerged after 64 years of freedom.  This is not an armchair  dream of any one political party, but this is the national aim.  Everybody, whether on the Treasury benches, or on the Opposition benches, realizes that the country has achieved the potential of becoming a major power of the 21 century.

The world is also acknowledging, possibly; the world is acknowledging this, more liberally, than we are doing ourselves, considering a sort of cynicism and cynical mood that has developed over the last few months or over the last few years.

But are we, as a nation, doing all what needs to be done to emerge as a major power of the 21st century? And if we examine this question, in detail, the answer will be, “NO.” All that is sought to be done, all that needs to be done, we are not doing.  If we have to build this country into a big military, political and economic power, befitting a nation of a billion people, then we need to do much more.

And one of the things which we need to develop is, to evolve a national consensus on some essential issues. This kind of attempt — although feeble — has been made, often during the last few years to evolve a national consensus on some issues, but these efforts have not succeeded. The time has come now, fairly in the beginning of the 21st century, to evolve a consensus over some issues on which the parties should sink their differences and evolve a consensus and approach which facilitate achieving that potential aim which we can possibly achieve.

What are those issues? Considering the time, at my disposal, I will be brief, Mr Vice-Chairman.  Issues of national security, for instance, deserve  national consensus. I do not find anybody, in this House, who will place any obstacles in evolving a national consensus on security issues, both internal and external. There are formidable challenges to national security  Terrorism is one; nobody can differ on the need to combat terrorism. In the last few months there has been no real big terror strike. But that does not mean that the threat of terrorism has disappeared from the country.

SHRI H.K. DUA (CONTD): One weapon which the terrorists have, which we can’t anticipate, is the weapon of surprise. They can strike anywhere they like, at any time they want, unless there is a danger to them on a crucial occasion. The vigilance which the President’s Address speaks about fairly in the beginning of the Address is necessary. But that should have the backing of all shades of opinion and a national consensus which is necessary.

Another is the Maoists’ threat. It is not, in a sense, a threat that cannot be tackled.  Over all, there are 160, or 180, districts affected by Maoists threat. Out of them, 60 districts have been identified as very sensitive. Even 60 is not a small number.  Essentially, the Maoists threat to the State is very serious and can’t brook a partisan approach. It has to be met with a national approach.

Not only the parties have to cooperate with each other, but  also the Central and the State Governments, irrespective of the denomination which governs there, have to cooperate to find a way to tackle this national menace.  The Maoists also strike a surprise. Dantewada was one where 76 people of the CRPF were killed one night. Now they have the temerity to kidnap a District Collector in Orissa and keep him in custody. He is a public-spirited officer, which is a very rare breed these days. He is popular among the people and that popularity itself is nagging the Maoists.  They captured him and wanted some of their  people to be released. I am glad that he has been freed and some praise should go from this House for the brave officer like him.

But the essential message which comes out clearly is that the Maoists are not relenting in their efforts to disturb peace in the country and they want to strike wherever they want. They do spring surprise, some time in Chhattisgarh, another time in Jharkhand and the third time in Orissa, and tomorrow they can do it at another place.

Sir, I will keep it brief. There is a need for national consensus also on…

THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF P.J. KURIAN): Your time is going to be over. What can I do? There is so much of time constraint.

SHRI H.K. DUA: I WILL CUT IT SHORT. Mr. Vice-Chairman. I am sure, you will give me marks for patience.


SHRI H K DUA; There is a need for consensus on Kashmir. I am afraid, this has been lacking and even if some consensus was evolved a few years ago,  I find  it is disappearing. There is no political consensus on it now.  The fact is that we have been promising autonomy to Kashmir over the years. Successive Prime Ministers have promised autonomy. Mr Narasimha Rao had promised autonomy to Kashmir; Mr Vajpayee had promised autonomy to Kashmir; and the present Prime Minister Dr Manmohan singh has promised autonomy to Kashmir.  I don’t think that we should relax on that aim. How the consensus can work in Kashmir is evident from the President’s Address acknowledgement of the mission of All-Party Delegation which visited Kashmir a few months ago and came back with the impression that it was possible to evolve a solution of Kashmir. The message will go much deeper if all the parties agree on Kashmir.


SHRI H.K. DUA: I will cut it short. I will take just two minutes.

THE VICE-CHAIRMAN; I am unwillingly saying. I am also helpless.

SHRI H K DUA:  Just a couples of minutes more and I will be done with this.

On foreign Policy issue, we require a different Foreign Policy for the 21st century from the earlier one. It is no longer a bipolar world. It is a multi-polar world. I think that a consensus on foreign Policy will help the Government to deal with the rest of the world better.

But one other thing certainly needs to be done and I would like to lay emphasis on it in my concluding remarks. We need to have a consensus on how to run this Parliament; how to bring about  judicial reforms which are very badly needed and how to bring administrative reforms because they are  key to the governance of the country.

I am sorry to say this – I am a new Member comparatively – that the way  Parliament has conducted itself for some time does not enjoy the support of the people. The judiciary is also losing support of the people when  cases are not decided for twenty years, or thirty years and some times after a person is no more.

SHRI H K DUA (CONTD): At the district level, at High Courts level, prestige of the courts has suffered, and somehow, the Supreme Court lately is also hitting the headlines for wrong reasons which I don’t  have the time to elaborate. On electoral reforms which have been promised in the President’s Address, I hope, the political parties will support.

Thank you, Mr. Vice-Chairman.

THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KURIEN): Duaji, in fact, an erudite person like you should be given more time, but I am helpless. There are three speakers and the time allotted is 17 minutes.

Parliament Speech – 15th March, 2012

Transcript of the speech by H K Dua, MP, in the Rajya Sabha during the debate on the President’s Address on March 15, 2012

India a union of states, not a federation of states National consensus essential on terrorism

SHRI H.K. DUA (NOMINATED): Thank you Mr. Vice-Chairman,

Sir, I rise to support the Motion of Thanks. For the last two days, we have been discussing the President’s Address and a variety of opinions have been expressed. Some of them are in agreement while others are conveying differences.

I am happy about one thing: Parliament has come back on the rails, whatever may happen to the Railway Budget. Hopefully, in all its glory. This is the only way to sort out important national issues.

Dissent, differences, and a diversity of opinions are natural in a democracy. We

are a nation of over a billion people and there can be a billion issues. Statesmanship and leadership lie in sorting out and bringing about a consensus on  important issues of national concern. We are, by nature, argumentative people. But we should not allow the argument to lead to a confrontationist atmosphere, which often develops in our debates. The discussion in the House, or outside, should not be allowed to become a kind of a zero sum game – your victory is my loss and my victory is your loss. Despite differences,  the country has to evolve effective policies for India of the 21st Century — and that can be done only  by exchanging ideas and  a great deal of thought.

One of the questions, which has cropped up lately, is of the federal powers

and the state powers, of the federal rights and the Centre’s rights. My impression is – whatever I know about Constitution – we are not a federation of States. We are not a unitary State either. Founders of our Constitution had tried to evolve a unitary-cum-federal setup. In many areas, the Centre has got a prominent role; in some areas, the States have got prominent role; and, there is some overlap in a few areas, which are mentioned in the Concurrent List. There is also a provision for the residuary powers of the Centre.

But for a layman: If it is a national question, the solution has also got to be national; even the laws have to be national, which have to be followed across the boundaries of the  states. Terrorism, for instance, is no longer a state question. The entire country is facing threat from terrorism. The terrorists have  surprise as big a weapon. We do not know where the terrorist groups will strike next. 26/11 was a surprise, Delhi bomb blasts were a surprise, other incidents of terrorist violence in Mumbai, in Ajmer, and Hyderabad also were a surprise.

Most States have got to be vigilant. The country has to be vigilant. Now, differences have cropped up on the Centre’s proposal to set up NCTC. I am sure this question will be sorted out by talks between the Centre and the states. But to convert the whole question into the Centre versus the states or the states versus Centre, I think, is unfortunate. What needs to be done is: the Centre and the States together have to fight terrorism in the country. The terrorist threat is still serious. Steps have to be taken by the States and the Centre together to combat terrorism. One strategy should be adopted, whatever may be the outcome of the talks between the Centre and the States on NCTC.

Certainly, law and order is a State subject. But when a State is failing to combat on its own law and order situation, it asks for the assistance of the Army, the  BSF or the CRPF. And such assistance  is always given. The Centre also cannot fight terrorism alone because the State Police is closer to  the ground and  can sense trouble, from wherever it may come. Imagine, if a beat constable had been there at Badhwar Park in Mumbai on 26/11, I am sure the beat constable would have been able to find out where those rubber boats had come from. If a vigilant beat constable had been there, we would have come to know about the terrorist threat which was emerging and which brought about a very grisly event in country’s fight against terrorism. Our country has paid a  heavy price for it. Thus, the Centre and the States  have to fight terrorism together.

However, in tackling the law and order problem, the lead role should be of the state. The Centre should assist the states whenever they need to sort out the law and order situation. However, in  fighting terrorism, the lead role should be of the Central Government and the States should assist. Together, I think, a kind of team spirit needs to be evolved on the NCTC, and on combating terrorism. I am sure, the states and the Centre will have the maturity to find a way out.  I am told that more talks are going to take place very soon, in the near future to sort  out the issue.

But what is needed, essentially, is a national consensus. Democracy cannot work without a consensus on major issues; and terrorism is one of them. Fighting naxalism is another  matter of internal security needing consensus. Also, issues concerning  external security need to be resolved by a consensus. I don’t think it is difficult to evolve a consensus among the leaders of various parties — they are all responsible. On these issues, there should be a national consensus. We will go far ahead —and much faster into the 21st Century — if major issues are kept out of partisan or a state-versus-Centre kind of  controversies.

Sir, the world around India is changing fast.  It is not going to wait for us. The House cannot ignore the kind of a situation that is developing around us. Three major powers are going to have a change in their rulers. Putin  has just taken over as President again in Russia, practically. The USA is going to have presidential elections soon. We don’t know who the winner will be and what the policy of the United States will be. China is going to have new sets of rulers in a few months’ time. I think, by October they will be able to complete the process. But we do not know how these three powers are going to look at the world, particularly, this region, which is of vital importance to our country – and the  South Asia and also West Asia. There is a situation developing in West Asia which should get the attention of the House and the Leaders of all parties –- the Government as well as those sitting on the Opposition Benches. The situation in West Asia can lead to a conflagration any time. It may not be  imminent, tomorrow or the day after, but the situation can go out of hand in the near future.

Most of our oil comes from West Asia.  Even a minor  conflagration in a corner of West Asia can lead to a rise in oil prices. A major conflagration can  lead to blockage of  oil supplies to India. The closure of the Hormuz Straits, which was a threat only a few weeks ago, itself can be a serious development for India. No country has enough oil reserve; you can’t afford to keep oil in reserve for a long time. Secondly, 5.5 million people of India live in the Persian Gulf and other West Asian countries. If there is trouble in West Asia, do we have a plan to pull them out? The immensity of the task itself is forbidding. What we need to do is: play a more effective role in international affairs. We used to do that once upon a time during Jawaharlal Nehru’s days when we were not that strong. Now I think, when we have emerged as a country to reckon with, we can play a diplomatic role in sorting out the problems, particularly in the neighbourhood.

The Americans are going to quit Afghanistan in 2014 —in just two years’ time. They could not continue fighting that war for long. We need to work out a roadmap to safeguard  our interests in Afghanistan as  Afghanistan is important for us for our access to Central Asia. Who will  fill the vacuum once the Americans leave? Are the local people going to fill the vacuum? The tenure of Karzai —with whom we signed a strategic partnership agreement only  last year — is coming to end later this year.

Are the Taliban likely to come back to Kabul? Americans are already talking to the Taliban. They are not even letting Pakistan; and Hamid  Karzai know what is the agenda of the talks. Now if the Taliban come to power in Kabul, what will be its impact on India’s policy on Afghanistan? What about India’s presence in Afghanistan? We have spent over USD 2 billion  on Afghanistan’s development projects, which I am told have been doing  well. And India’s presence in Afghanistan is welcome to the people. But once the Taliban, backed by Pakistan and ISI, come to power in Kabul, it will be a totally different situation for us. Thus, we need to draw a roadmap for whatever happens there after the US pull-out.

Our relations with the neighbours are better. Certainly, with Bangladesh, except for the Teesta  issue – which  I am sure, they will be able to sort it out one day by talks at home and by talks with Bangladesh. With Nepal, our relationship is much better under the  new Prime Minister in Kathmandu.  With Myanmar, our relationship has improved quite a bit and our Parliament has been visited by their delegations and the Head of the Government has been here. There is indeed much more understanding between Myanmar and India.

Sir, recently, in the Maldives, I think, we were taken by surprise by developments. The Maldives  is of crucial importance to us considering our vital interests in the Indian Ocean. Are we, as a nation, bothered about the Indian Ocean? The  Chinese Navy is very active and going to be more and more active in the Indian Ocean, despite its preoccupation in the Pacific. The Chinese are present in the Arabian Sea; they are present in the Bay of Bengal, and, in the Indian Ocean, their growing   interest is well-known. We have a boundary problem with China; we have recurring problems or continuing problems with Pakistan, but we cannot ignore our

interests in the Indian Ocean. And, next time, if something happens in  the Maldives, we should not be feeling surprised about it.

Now, the nexus between Pakistan and China.  I don’ think there is going to be a war between India and China, but I assume the nexus between China and Pakistan is of a very vital concern to us. Pakistan and China  have a relationship in the nuclear programme, and in the missile programme. Together these create  a formidable defence situation for us.

I don’t think India can be complacent about the overall situation in the neighbourhood. What is the way out? The way out is that on the issues of security, internal and external security, plus defence matters, there is a need for having a consensus in the country.  Along with this we have to develop the strength of our economy, plus military power, backed by national support emerging out of a national consensus. This can help us a great deal in meeting our challenges.

Thank you, Mr Vice Chairman.