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THE RAJYA SABHA


hour et cetera are also organized from time to time. Owing to the need to provide


better understanding to the media about parliamentary functioning, the Secretary-General has been organizing an orientation programme for media persons intermittently since 2003.


The programme seeks to


familiarize journalists with the conduct of business in the House and the practice and procedures being followed. This would directly help them in putting the proceedings of the House into a proper perspective in electronic and print media. Media orientation consists of


lectures and panel discussions on relevant topics such as: the role of the Rajya Sabha in Indian polity, raising matters of public importance through questions and other devices, press and parliamentary privileges, the committee system in Parliament and the use of information technology in Parliament. Sessions are conducted by eminent Parliamentarians and Officers of the Rajya Sabha. The programme has been well


received and well attended by the media. On one occasion, by popular demand, a “website familiarization programme” was also conducted within the orientation programme.


Administrative duties The Secretary-General heads the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, under the overall control of the Chairman. Article 98 of the Constitution of India ensures the independent status of the Secretariats of the two Houses of Parliament. Clause Article 98(3) enables the Presiding Officers to have a say in the framing of rules for recruitment and conditions of service of the persons to be appointed in their respective Secretariats. The Secretary-General exercises


powers vested in the Chairman, including the determination of the strength, method of recruitment and of qualifications, et cetera for the various categories of posts. He is the appointing, disciplinary and appellate authority for certain classes of officers and staff of the Secretariat.


He exercises financial powers


and initiates budget proposals relating to the Rajya Sabha and its Secretariat. He is the chief accounting authority for the money sanctioned by the House for expenditure under the Demands for Grants of the Rajya Sabha and its Secretariat and this responsibility is discharged by him through and with the assistance of the Pay and Accounts Officer, who works under his supervision. The Secretary-General functions


as Secretary to all the parliamentary committees serviced by the Secretariat. He either attends committee


meetings himself or causes his officers to attend them. He supervises all the Secretariat work of the committees and gives directions, wherever needed. The Secretary-General also


ensures that the secretarial work of the House and its committees is performed by qualified, competent and experienced officers and is organized and conducted properly and smoothly under his guidance and control.


Duties of the officers are not


rigid and do not fall in watertight compartments. Their duties are flexible and may be expanded or changed under the orders of the Secretary-General. Allocation of work among the officers of the Secretariat is the sole prerogative of the Secretary-General. He is assisted by a hierarchy of


officers, such as Secretary, Additional Secretary, Joint Secretaries, and Directors who, with the assistance of subordinate officers and staff members, perform the entire gamut of functions of the Secretariat. The Secretary-General renders parliamentary services and facilities to Members. This duty extends to giving guidance to Members in their parliamentary work. Members of various political


parties approach him for advice. To a very large extent, he has to render such services, on demand, objectively and impartially. In addition, international relations are assuming new dimensions and


parliamentary diplomacy has become quite prominent in today’s world to address security, development, environment protection, human right and other issues. Likewise, inter- parliamentary co-operation is also increasing. The Secretary-General represents the House in various international fora.


A day in the office of Secretary- General A typical day of the Secretary-General during a session starts early in the morning when he apprises himself, through scanning of newspapers, about various political, economic and social issues. He also goes through different parliamentary papers/bulletins regarding issues which are likely to come up before the Chairman, the House and in various committee meetings including the Business Advisory Committee and Leaders meeting. A day in the office is not a typical


desk job of going through files and making decisions, but a long haul of meetings of committees, interaction with Members, receiving representations of officers and employees of the Secretariat, taking decisions regarding matters pertaining to the House and so on. Before the Secretary-General can call it a day, it is quite late in the night, particularly during sessions when there is no fixed closure time. To look into the Secretary-


General’s multifarious responsibilities, the Organization and Method (O&M) Section of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat was asked by the Secretary-General to conduct a Work Study of the Secretary-General, Rajya Sabha. The study involved collection of


work sample for two weeks during a session as well as non-session periods in April 2010. In a calendar year, it was


calculated that the Secretary-General, on average, works for 13 and a half hours a day during sessions while during non-session periods he works for 10 and a quarter hours a day. To make an in-depth study of the


Secretary-General’s parliamentary duties, the O&M Section again took a work sample for two weeks during non-session and session periods in February 2011. In a nutshell, the Secretary-General was found to spend just over 40 per cent of his total working hours on parliamentary duties. The most revealing feature of the


work studies is the fact that almost 40 per cent of the Secretary-General’s time is spent on work generated by the administrative sections and another 20 per cent is spent on dealing with matters relating to services provided to Members. The Survey did not cover a key activity relating to writing and reviewing more than 70 annual performance appraisal reports. On the whole, the daily schedule of the Secretary- General leaves very little time for substantive academic and intellectual pursuits.


High-level guidance Being the Officer of the House and occupant of the apex office of the Secretariat, the Secretary- General is in a unique position to comprehensively understand the manner in which the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha are conducted, the Secretariat is run and its activities are organized. The guidance and directions


of the Secretary-General provide coherence and unity of command to the organizational set up. They throw light on many subtle aspects of running the House, taking care of the requirements of the Chairman, addressing the concerns of the Members, streamlining the functioning of the committees and managing the business of the Secretariat. A book entitled Instructions


and Observations of the Secretary- General (2007-2011) has been brought out recently by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat to serve as a handy guide to deal with many emergent situations and adopt appropriate strategies for carrying out responsibilities assigned to different officers and sections.


The Parliamentarian | 2012: Issue Three | 195


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