With a population as abundant as India’s, the task of voicing out and alleviating the issues faced by all of 1.3 billion people in the parliament is arduous beyond comprehension.
This is where the significance of a Private Member’s Bill comes into play. A private member includes members of a legislature other than the ministers, and they need not belong to the ruling party to introduce a bill.
A Member of Parliament (MP) can present a legislative proposal for its enactment as law during parliament sessions.
These bills shed light on pertaining issues affecting the country on the whole or particular sections of the society and require the approval of both the houses followed by the final assent by the President of India.
Despite the existence of biannual parliamentary sessions where numerous bills are introduced per sitting, so far only 14 private member bills have been passed by the parliament since independence.
In 2017, many private member bills were introduced by MPs in both the sessions, which addressed prevalent issues from varied domains across the country.
Here are five bills proposed by the lawmakers that have emerged as the need of the hour and if passed, would benefit millions in the country:
1. Two days of paid menstrual leave each month
Proposed by Congress MP Ninong Ering from Arunachal Pradesh, the Menstruation Benefit Bill proposes that women employees in private or public sectors be entitled to two days of paid menstrual leave each month. She put forward the proposal after realising that no such provision existed in the public sphere and neither was there any impending plan of action on the government’s behalf.
2. Decriminalisation and regulation of marijuana and opium
In a bid to tackle the war on drugs, an MP from Patiala, Dr Dharamvira Gandhi has proposed for the legalisation of traditional intoxicants like marijuana and opium. If passed, the bill would bring a landmark change in the country, which still abides by Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985, making the possession or use of drugs a punishable offence.
3. Two time zones in the country
Being geographically vast, the need for separate time zones in India has been a topic of debate for a very long time. Compared to the rest of the country, it is the Northeast that suffers the most regarding daylight savings and work efficiency, owing to a much earlier sunrise. To attain an equitable, inclusive and progressive administration across the country, Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi from Assam took the lead and presented the bill for establishing two time zones in the winter session.
4. Probation on distribution, sale and advertisement of online games with violent and indecent content
From the time gaming culture entered into the public sphere, there have been heated debates across the globe upon how these have played a role in the increase of violent behaviour in the younger generation. With games becoming more and more accessible on the Internet, the concern further extended to the suggestive and pornographic content being generated in them, which profoundly influences the thought process of young children.
To order to screen through such content, Shrikant Eknath Shinde, a Shiv Sena MP from Kalyan constituency, has put forth a bill seeking probation on distribution, sale and advertisement of online games in India.
5. Financial assistance to farmer widows and dependent family members
Farmer suicides have been one of the most burning issues in the country, and there doesn’t seem to be any end to it. The burden of survival only carries forward to the deceased’s wife or dependent family members, who are left to fend for themselves with little or no help from the state.
Congress MP Supriya Sule presented a legislative proposal in the winter that would entail the government to provide financial assistance to widows and dependent family members of the farmers who took their lives. The bill, if passed, will bring respite to countless women and children across the country.