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One nation one election: From inception to constitutional/logistical issues

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‘The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity.”

In the yesteryears, when Late Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru was injecting the idea that India will awake to life and freedom, he certainly would not have had any idea that the same speech, to the same public and with the same zeal will be delivered by dissecting few of the words and adding spice wrapped in polarized feelings. Those occasions were five yearly festival of Indian democracy- elections where such speeches jumbled every now and then – could be heard and read.

But one could never fathom of a situation where complex electoral processes does not go simultaneously for the centre and state and in fact, takes place at intervals of every few months in the diversified though unified country like India. And the saga of speech would start once again, every second, for months. It took 20 years of independence and 17 years of first general election to break the chain. 1967 was the last time when India had near simultaneous elections.

The Constituent Assembly had scholars like Dr. BR Ambedkar who raised the issue of deciding the status of election commission i.e. whether it has to be a permanent body or a temporary one, giving logic for his take on the issue. At the same time, the far-sightedness of ones like Prof. Shibban Lal Saxena, threw light on the issue that mid-term dissolution of assemblies would push us to a situation of having elections before completion of five years and hence we cannot have such a commission which sits free for five years after conducting one and waiting for other election, and hence we have Article 324 in our constitution.

Kerala Assembly made debut for the mid-term dissolution and elections were held in the year 1960, unlike for rest of the country which was held in 1962. Nagaland and Pondicherry should also be kept under exceptions because assemblies here were formed only after 1962. Like every beginning has an end, similarly every end has a beginning. The end of simultaneous election had its beginning in 1970 when, on the wishes of Indira Gandhi, there was a premature dissolution of Lok Sabha on December 27, 1970 and mid-term elections were held in February 1971. The next political event was declaration of National Emergency, 1975. General Elections were held in the year 1977 and the newly formed Janta Parivar started to focus on dissolution of assemblies of few states after the 1977 victory. Such attempts, both at centre and state level, were rusting the greased process of simultaneous elections. The 1998 and 1999 dissolution of Lok Sabha acted as a catalyst for such rusting of simultaneous elections and now only three to four states go for elections with the Lok Sabha polls for last few years. Thus, the Election Commission now conducts state elections once or twice every year and so we get to hear the saga of speeches discussed earlier every few months.

The Hurdles in the path

The Representation of People Act, 1951 is relevant to throw light on the legal aspect of the possibility and shortcomings faced by the authorities for conducting simultaneous elections. Section 14 and Section 15 talk about notification for general elections to House of People and State Assembly respectively. These provisions are empowering in nature and hence the Election Commission, by virtue of these provisions, can notify elections keeping a gap of six months from the end of tenure of the house and this gap period has to be strictly adhered to. Usually, the election schedule is announced a few days before the notification is issued so that the individuals and institutions involved in the process gear up. Hence we can surmise that for the present state of affairs regarding elections of different states and for those assemblies ending their tenure in the span of less than six months, simultaneous elections are legally possible. But, this is not the only changes that shall be required.

Our constitution’s basic structure not only includes parliamentary democracy but also federalism. Also, the tenured elected legislatures are equally important to sustain parliamentary democracy. By bringing the scheme of simultaneous elections, tampering of constitutional accountability shall take place. This shall further deteriorate the structure of federalism that we uphold.

As we have a quasi federal state, our President and Governor neither reigns nor governs unlike United States where the President both reigns and governs and England where the King reigns but does not govern. Thus, by bringing simultaneous elections, we shall be indirectly bringing Governor and President at the pedestal to govern and reign, as when the Lok Sabha or the State Assemblies would be dissolved, the President and Governor shall be appointed as head of the executive. This was even suggested as one of the proposals in The Niti Aayog discussion paper, 2017.

The Paper and the Draft Report of the Law Commission in 2018 also suggested to shorten the tenure of few legislative assemblies and to extend the same of the others in order to synchronize the cycles. This would lead to chaos as why would an elected assembly would want a tenure of two years in place of the earlier promised five years. Similarly, it was also proposed to conduct only two sets of election in a time span of five years. This action in itself is anti-democratic as it goes against the right of citizens to elect their leaders at regular intervals.

This anti-democratic action can be curved into a democratic one by bringing the necessary constitutional amendments. In order to sync the tenures and terms, amendments shall be needed in the following Articles of The Constitution of India, 1950

Article 83(Duration of Houses of Parliament) and 172(Duration of State Legislatures) – These article provides for fixed tenure of five years of the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly. It shall need to be amended to match the requirements of flexible tenures in case of synchronizing elections.

Article 85(Sessions of Parliament, prorogation and dissolution) and 174(Sessions of the State Legislature, prorogation and dissolution) – These sections empowers the President and governor to dissolve the Lok Sabha and Legislative assembly respectively. it shall need to be amended to include synchronization as a reason to dissolve.

Article 356(Provisions in case of failure of constitutional machinery in States) – This article provides for when president or governor can act as head. This shall need to be amended to include manual tampering of tenures so as to create a path to shorten the tenures and also provide for a way to president or governor to act in situations.

In addition to these constitutional issues, there are logistical issues too. The logistical issues which are of major economical value bring with itself the shortage of the number of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM). Presently, the complete set of single EVM including the voter-verifiable paper audit trial can be used for different elections taking place at different time and places for so long as is the recommended life of an EVM. One EVM can have the names of 16 candidates at maximum. Hence for those constituencies where candidates are even one more than 16, the second EVM has to be used. As a precautionary measure, few of the EVMs are kept as reserve and they are to be used in case the once installed earlier face issues. The number of polling stations in India is more than one million. Now the calculation has to start from providing every polling station with EVMs, that too double in number in case of simultaneous elections for centre and state. The procurement of such large number of EVMs does not limit the expenditure. Storage and security of the EVMs adds to the expenditure which undoubtedly counts to thousands of crores and this does not adds to decrease in the expenditure as is the view of proponents for simultaneous elections. As far as local body polls are concerned, the polling stations, the superintending authority and the judicial authority for taking cases of local elections are different from those of state or centre elections. Hence such issues only add to the logistical issues already faced by the election commission.

Conclusion

The idea of one nation one election is not alien to India. 1952, 1957, 1962 and 1967 pave way for the history of simultaneous elections. The synchronization shall definitely bring stability and strengthen nationalism. In long run, it might also help to cut expenditure and speed up development but the immediate expenses seem to be more than the cost benefit analysis. Moreover, the authors are of the opinion that one election might make the country more centralized and lead to tangential behavior towards local issues and regional parties. It might also transform our democracy to a managed democracy like in Russia. It might give the pretence of free and fair elections but the reality shall be far from it.

Thus, it is imperative that electoral reforms are needed but one nation one election is not the correct scheme to embrace under the ambit of electoral reforms.

The Constituent Assembly had scholars like Dr. BR Ambedkar who raised the issue of deciding the status of election commission i.e. whether it has to be a permanent body or a temporary one, giving logic for his take on the issue. At the same time, the far-sightedness of ones like Prof. Shibban Lal Saxena, threw light on the issue that mid-term dissolution of assemblies would push us to a situation of having elections before completion of five years and hence we cannot have such a commission which sits free for five years after conducting one and waiting for other election, and hence we have Article 324 in our constitution.

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Policy & Politics

THIRD ROUND OF INDIA-UAE CEPA NEGOTIATIONS DUE TO BEGIN IN DELHI ON MONDAY

Tarun Nangia

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Union Minister of Commerce and Industries, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Textiles, Piyush Goyal, met the representatives of Aluminium, Copper, and Chemicals and Petrochemicals Industry here today as part of the ongoing multi-stakeholder consultations related to the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiations.

The third round of India-UAE CEPA negotiations are scheduled to be held in New Delhi on 06-10 December 2021 wherein both sides aim to conclude the negotiations. Shri Piyush Goyal apprised the representatives from the Industry about the importance of the CEPA in elevating the overall economic and commercial relations with UAE which in turn will not only benefit bilateral trade but also create new jobs and provide wider social and economic opportunities.

Providing a way forward on these discussions, Goyal appreciated the accommodative spirit of the Industry and urged the Industry representatives to continue to support the CEPA negotiations in the same spirit in the wider interests of the nation contributing to the holistic development of multi-sectoral economic value chains in the country.

The Minister also stressed on the potential benefits from the envisaged CEPA agreement for Industries which are labour intensive in nature and also on the numerous complementary spill-over economic benefits, including increased investments, job creation and employment opportunities. Further, industry representatives were also apprised of the strategic importance of the agreement which encompasses deeper bilateral economic engagement and wider market access.

The stakeholders expressed gratitude to the Minister for taking into consideration concerns of Indian Industry and provided constructive inputs on this matter with a view to ensure overall balance between market access and domestic sensitivities.

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Policy & Politics

Rice has a share of more than 45% in the total APEDA basket of exports in April-November 2021-22

India’s exports of agricultural and processed food products witness an increase of more than 13 per cent in the first eight months of current fiscal notwithstanding logistical challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic

Tarun Nangia

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Notwithstanding logistical challenges posed by COVID19 pandemic, India’s exports of Agricultural and Processed Food products rose by more than 13 per cent in terms of USD in the first eight months of the current fiscal (April-November, 2021-22) compared to the same period of the previous year.






The export of products under the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) ambitincreased from USD 11,671 million in April-November 2020-21to USD 13,261 million in April-November 2021-22.

The target for exports under APEDA basket products has been fixed at USD 23,713 million in 2021-22.

The export of rice was the top forex earner at USD 5937 million during April-November 2021-22, growing 11 per cent over the corresponding period in 2020-21 when it touched USD 5,341million.

Meat, dairy and poultry products exports grew 12 per cent standing at USD 2665 million in April-November 2021-22compared to USD 2371 million in the corresponding eight-month period of 2020-21. Fruits and vegetables exports were up by 12 per cent to touch USD 1720 million during April-November 2021-22 against USD 1536 million in April-November 2020-21.

Exports of cereal preparations and miscellaneous processed items grew by 26 per cent during April-November 2021-22 to touch USD 1418 million against USD 1127 million in April-November, 2020-21. The cashew exports also grew by 29 per cent to USD 302 million in the first eight months of current fiscal compared to same period previous year.

The exports of oil meals declined by 12 per cent to USD 626 million in April-November, 2021-22, compared to same period in 2020-21.

Table: Agricultural and processed food products exports (April-November), 2021-22 vs 2020-21

Exports (April-November 2021-22) in USD million

Exports (April-November 2020-21) in USD million

Note: only oil meals exports declined Year-on-Year

The significant rise in agri-exports is seen as a testimony of the government’s commitment to increase farmers’ income through giving thrust on boosting exports of agricultural and processed food products of the country.

“We continue to focus on creating infrastructure for boosting exports by focusing on clusters in collaboration with state governments while taking into consideration objective of Agriculture Export Policy, 2018,” Dr M Angamuthu, Chairman, APEDA, said.

APEDA has been engaged with State Governments for the implementation of Agriculture Export Policy. Maharashtra, U.P., Kerala, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Manipur, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, M.P., Mizoram and Meghalaya have finalized the State specific Action Plan for exports while the action plans of other States are at different stages of finalization.

The rise in export of agricultural and processed food products has been largely due to the various initiatives taken by APEDA such as organizing B2B exhibitions in different countries, exploring new potential markets through product specific and general marketing campaigns by active involvement of Indian Embassies.

APEDA has also taken several initiatives to promote geographical indications (GI) registered agricultural and processed food products in India by organizing virtual Buyer Seller Meets on agricultural and food products with the major importing countries across the world.

In order to ensure seamless quality certification of products to be exported, APEDA has recognized 220 labs across India to provide services of testing to a wide range of products andexporters.

APEDA also assists in upgradation and strengthening of recognized laboratories for export testing and residue monitoring plans. APEDA also provides assistance under the financial assistance schemes of infrastructure development, quality improvement and market development for boosting export of agricultural products.

APEDA organizes participation of exporters in the International Trade Fairs, which provides a platform to the exporters to market their food products in the global marketplace. APEDA also organizes national events like AAHAR, Organic World Congress, BioFach India etc. to promote agri-exports.

APEDA also initiates registration of pack-houses for horticulture products for meeting the quality requirements of the international market. Registration of export units for peanut shelling and grading and processing units, for instance, is to ensure quality adherence for the EU and non-EU countries.

APEDA carries out registration of meat processing plants and abattoirs for ensuring compliance with global food safety and quality requirements. Another key initiative includes development and implementation of traceability systems which ensure the food safety and quality compliances of the importing countries. For boosting exports, APEDA compiles and disseminates various international trade analytical information, market access information amongst exporters and address trade enquiries.

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PIYUSH GOYAL REVIEWS PREPAREDNESS FOR MITIGATION OF CYCLONE JAWAD

Public Private Partnership necessary for Disaster Management and mitigation and for protecting lives and livelihoods, said Goyal

Tarun Nangia

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Piyush Goyal today reviewed preparedness for mitigation of cyclone Jawad.

Under the guidance of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, proactive disaster preparation and management are being institutionalized. Prime Minister has personally reviewed the preparation for Disaster Management and has also given instructions to various Ministries to work with State Governments, industry and all other stake holders to ensure minimal damage to life and property.

In line with these efforts, the Minister for Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Textiles, Shri Piyush Goyal today reviewed the arrangements and preparations made by the State Governments of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal today in a Video conference with the State Chief Secretaries concerned. National level Industry Associations like CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM and PHD Chambers were also represented at the Conference.

The Minister took stock of the preparations being made by the respective State governments. He also reviewed the suggestions for successful mitigation made by Ministries, State Governments, industry bodies and other organizations and appreciated the concerted efforts being made to mitigate the cyclone. He said that this collaboration was a worthy example of cooperative federalism at its best. He also underscored the need for the drawing of a comprehensive action plan towards managing this natural disaster in a most effective way by incorporating the inputs and suggestions given by all stakeholders.

Goyal said that public private partnership is necessary for Disaster Management and mitigation and for protecting the lives and livelihoods of those affected. Observing that the cyclone seems to be a milder one, the Minister said that we must constantly upgrade our learnings and keep upgrading our capabilities. He also called for preparedness in the banking and insurance sectors to tackle the effects of the cyclone.

As per the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the low-pressure region in the Bay of Bengal is expected to intensify into Cyclone Jawad and is expected to reach the coast of north Andhra Pradesh – Odisha around the afternoon today, with the wind speed ranging up to 100 kmph.

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Job generation: Big scope for expansion of labour intensive plastic, footwear and textile sectors, says Goyal

Tarun Nangia

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Piyush Goyal

Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution and Textiles, Piyush Goyaltoday called upon the captains of Indian Industry to set ambitious targets as our economy is poised for a sustained spell of rapid growth. Addressing the 5th Meeting of the CII National Council in New Delhi, he said the Industry has a huge role to play in the uplift of the poor and underprivileged.

Goyal encouraged the Industry to have a greater appetite for taking risks, to invest in Industries that may be less profitable at the start, but are labour oriented and create lakhsof jobs. He also urged the Industry to promote tribalhandicraft products as part of their CSR activities.

Goyal said there is big scope in the expansion of labour intensive Plastics, Footwear and Textiles industry. India cannot be truly Aatmanirbhar, without empowering its poor to be Aatmanirbhar, he added.

Goyal conveyed his appreciation for the Industry’s positive approach in FTA consultations. “Right now we are engaged in FTA negotiations with 6/7 countries,” he said. Citing India’s foreign trade as “very, very comfortable”,

Seeking accommodation in trade deals, Goyal said, “On our part, I believe, that it’s time that we engaged more with the world, we look at deeper engagement, – both imports and exports.” “If we (don’t) open our autos or spirits sectors, for example, it will open greater opportunities for India than the other way round,” he said.

Observing that 2020 has been a year of resilience for the Indian economy, Goyal said that in these unprecedentedtimes India has emerged as the ‘World’s Trusted Partner’ andis poised to contribute significantly to global growth. Policies of the Government in the last more than seven years, under the able leadership of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, have laid a solid foundation for growth of the Indian economy, he said.

Stating that all economic indices hinted at a fast growth trajectory, Goyal said India has Cost advantage as well as Trust advantage. “Services is growing at a fantastic pace, exports also are, of course on Merchandise,… Similarly remittances continue to be strong, FDI is at never before levels for the 7th time in a row, but this year the growth would be even much more, the capital markets are buzzing which means FII investments also and the IPO market is also gaining a lot of traction,” he said.

Goyal said the way we have fast bounced back since Covid, the way Industry geared itself up, Services sector, for example, reoriented their processes, Government supported Industry adopt WFH, we met all our international commitments throughout the Covid period including the lockdown. “Not for a second did any international supply chain, dependent on India, had to suffer, particularly the Services sector and for that matter even in the Goods sector,” he said.

Stressing that India is going through a sharp and strong revival, the Minister said that rising economic indicators point towards “India is shaping up for a growth decade.”

“Apna time aa gya (Our time has come)! This is the time to be in India & invest in India”, Shri Goyal said, adding “If we fail our Young Generation, it will be truly a sad day for India. We are at the cusp (of history). It’s our time to grab now, we’ll probably regret if we miss this opportunity.”

Goyal said that the Government is doing its part byundertaking transformational reforms such as PLI, PM GatiShakti, ODOP, Single Window, Retrospective tax amendment, National Asset Monetisation Pipeline, etc and opening up sectors like Defence, Space & Atomic Energy, Mining & Minerals, etc.

The Minister urged the top 100 CII members, that could comprise 1,000 companies, to onboard the NSWS Single Window clearance system and make full use of IILB Land Bank System. Resolving to use Indian materials to make a truly Aatmanirbhar Bharat, he said this will transform the future of India by making it self-reliant, resilient & competitive and will create jobs.

Shri Goyal said the Government has initiated several schemes for the benefit of the Industry and the public in general, including Power sector, One Nation, One Ration Card, world’s largest health insurance programme, – AyushmanBharat, UPI payments transfer and Jan Dhan banking for each and every home. “Government has focussed on saturating schemes,” he said.

Expressing confidence on the continuous Public-PrivatePartnership, Goyal said the Government is always thinking of how to empower the Industry and urged the entrepreneurs to come up with new ideas in nation-building.

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Policy & Politics

Share of agri-exports in GDP

Tarun Nangia

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The year-wise details of value of India’s agri-exports of principal agri commodity group along with its share in our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at current prices during last five years is as follows:

The agricultural products having exports of more than Rs 10,000 crore over the last five years is given in the table below. Last year we had 22.8% of growth in agri-exports with a share of 1.6% to GDP (highest in terms of growth and share in the last five years).

Source: DGCI&S, Kolkata and CSO, MoSPI

Source: DGCI&S, Kolkata

Government has taken several measures to boost exports, including agri-exports, such as:

(i) A comprehensive “Agriculture Export Policy” has been introduced toharness export potential of Indian agriculture and raise farmers’ income. Twenty One States viz. Maharashtra, U.P., Kerala, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Manipur, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, M.P., Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh and the 2 UTs vizLadakh and Andaman & Nicobar Islands have finalized the State specific Action Plans. State Level Monitoring Committees (SLMC) has been formed in 26 States and 4 UTs. 28 States & 4 UTs have nominated Nodal agencies for implementation of this AEPs. As part of the Agriculture Export Policy, 46 unique product-district clusters have been identified for export promotion. Twenty-Nine Cluster Level Committees have been formed in cluster districts of different clusters. Country and product-specific action plans have also been formulated to promote exports.

(ii) Products Specific Export Promotion Forums give impetus to the export of potential products as well as to remove the bottlenecks in the supply chain, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has formed Export Promotion Forums (EPFs) under the Chairmanship of Chairman, APEDA and having representatives of Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture, State Governments, National Referral Laboratories and top 10 leading exporters of each product for the products, viz., Grapes, Onions, Mango, Banana, Pomegranate, Floriculture, Rice, Dairy Products and Nutricereals.

(iii) 13 Agri-Cells in Vietnam, USA, Bangladesh, Nepal, UAE, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, China, Japan and Argentina were created in Indian embassies abroad to provide inputs on real time basis to enable us to improve Indian exports.

(iv) Further, In order to boost honey exports, India has made NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) testing mandatory for honey exported to USA.

(v) A Farmer Connect Portal has been set up for providing a platform for farmers, Farmer-Producer Organizations (FPOs) and cooperatives to interact with exporters. Buyer-Seller Meets (BSMs) have been organized in the clusters to provide export-market linkages. Regular interactions, through video-conferences, have been held with the Indian Missions abroad to assess and exploit export opportunities. Country specific BSMs, through Indian Missions, have also been organized.

(vi) Assistance provided through several other schemes to promote exports, including food export, viz. Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES), Market Access Initiatives (MAI) Scheme, etc. In addition, assistance to the exporters of food products is also available under the export promotion schemes of APEDA, Tea Board, Coffee Board and Spices Board.

(vii) Government has also introduced a Central Sector Scheme –‘Transport and Marketing Assistance for Specified Agriculture Products’ – for providing assistance for the international component of freight to mitigate the freight disadvantage for the export of agriculture products.

(viii) Common Digital Platform for Certificate of Origin has been launched to facilitate trade and increase FTA utilization by exporters.

(ix) Active role of Indian missions abroad towards promoting our trade, tourism, technology and investment goals has been enhanced.

(x) Package announced in light of the COVID-19 pandemic to support domestic industry through various banking and financial sector relief measures, especially for MSMEs, which constitute a major share in exports.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Anupriya Patel, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today.

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Policy & Politics

Share of India’s exports in annual GDP

Tarun Nangia

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The details of exports of goods and services and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at current prices, and percentage share of India’s exports to the GDP for the last five years and current year are as follows:

Source: National Accounts Division, CSO, MoSPI Note: RE: Revised Estimate, PE : Provisional Estimate

Source: National Accounts Division, CSO, MoSPI

The share of export of goods and services in GDP has increased to 18.7% during 2020-21 over 18.4% in 2019-20 and 21.7% in 2021-22 (April-September) over 19.4% in 2020-21 (April-September).

The details of the annual rate of growth of exports of goods and services and the corresponding annual rate of growth of GDP at current prices for the last five years and current year are as follows: This information was given by the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Anupriya Patel, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today.

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