31 Oct : In a major boost to education sector, the Union Cabinet has cleared the long-pending Right to Education Bill, which promises free and compulsory education for children between 6 and 14.
"The Bill has been considered at several levels by the Group of Ministers (GoM). The Cabinet has approved the text of the Bill," Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters in New Delhi on Friday about the decision of the Cabinet which met on Thursdasy night.Observing that it was an important promise to the children as education would become a fundamental right, he said that it would be legally enforcible duty of the Centre and the states to provide free and compulsory education.
Chidambaram said that the HRD Ministry would release the text of the Bill after consulting the Election Commission in view of the assembly polls in some states.
The GoM, entrusted with the task of scrutinising the Bill, had cleared the draft legislation early this month without diluting the content including some of the contentious provisions like 25 per cent reservation in private schools for disadvantaged children from the neighbourhood at the entry level.
Other key provisions in the Bill are no donation or capitation or interviewing the child or parents as part of a screening procedure.
The Right to Education Bill is the enabling legislation to notify the 86th Constitutional amendment, which gives every child between the age of 6 and 14 years the right to free and compulsory education. It was passed by Parliament in December 2002.
Govt to table insurance bill on FDI hike, draws flak from Left Three months after its break up with the Left parties, the UPA government has decided to introduce a bill one of the three concerning financial sector reforms to hike FDI cap in private insurance firms.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Friday announced the decision of the Union Cabinet, which met on Thursday night, to table a comprehensive bill to amend various laws relating to the insurance sector and among other things seek to raise the FDI cap to 49 per cent from 26 per cent now.
The Left parties criticised the decision as one that will demolish institutions that helped India withstand the impact of global financial crisis.
However, private sector insurers hailed the decision to amend the Insurance Regulatory and Development Act, 1999 to raise FDI limit in insurance from 26 to 49 per cent which would enable them to enhance capital for business expansion.
The bill, which was strongly opposed by the Left parties for the last four years, was referred to the Cabinet by a Group of Ministers only after the Left withdrew support to the Congress-led government on the Indo-US nuclear deal issue.
"The Union Cabinet gave its approval for introduction of the Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2008 for amendment to Insurance Act 1938, General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act, 1972, and Insurance Regulatory and Development Act, 1999, in the Rajya Sabha on the basis of recommendations made by GoM," Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters on Friday.
However, he said the Bill was unlikely to be passed by the present Lok Sabha, mainly due to lack of time, as it will go to a Parliamentary committee. Parliament, which is having a recess now, will reconvene on 10th December.
FDI cap is proposed to be hiked through amendment to IRDA Act, 1999.