From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Parliamentary committees and its types
Mains level : Parliamentary committees
Amid the on-going India-China border tension, a Parliamentary Standing Committee report on Sino-India relations post the Doklam standoff has been released. It assumes significance as it is the only detailed report on the border issue that has been made available to the public.
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Report on Sino-Indian relations post Doklam
- Submitted by the Shashi Tharoor-led Standing Committee on External Affairs, the report on Sino-India relations including Doklam throws light on border situation and cooperation in international organisations,
- This Standing Committee report – a bipartisan one as the committee has members from ruling and opposition parties – is one of the very few documents available in which the defence and foreign secretaries.
- It clarified the government’s official position on India-China border issues including the reported transgressions by the Chinese in the region.
- It had cautioned the government that it needed to have “healthy scepticism” while dealing with China.
- The Committee has urged the Government not to let its vigil down in order to prevent any untoward incident in future.
What are the Parliamentary Committees?
- A good deal of Parliamentary business is transacted in the committees. Both Houses of Parliament have a similar committee structure, with a few exceptions.
- Their appointment, terms of office, functions and procedure of conducting business are also more or less similar and are regulated as per rules made by the two Houses under Article 118(1) of the Constitution.
- Broadly, Parliamentary Committees are of two kinds – Standing Committees and ad hoc Committees.
- The former are elected or appointed every year or periodically and their work goes on, more or less, on a continuous basis.
- The latter are appointed on an ad hoc basis as the need arises and they cease to exist as soon as they complete the task assigned to them.
- Apart from debates on bills and issues discussed and debated on the floor of the House, more detailed and in-depth discussions take place on issues as well as legislation in the parliamentary standing committees.
- Here, MPs belonging to all major parties put forward their views without much consideration to the political differences they have.
- A considerable amount of legislative work gets done in these smaller units of MPs from both Houses, across political parties.
- Their reports are tabled in both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. The Houses do not hold a specific debate on the report, but it is often referred to during the discussions on the bills and the key issues.
- Committee meetings also provide a forum where members can engage with domain experts as well as senior-most officials of the concerned ministries.
Additional readings: https://knowindia.gov.in/profile/the-union/parliamentary-committees.php