Union Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday announced the cancellation of recently held postal examinations and said they would be held again in all local languages after the Rajya Sabha was adjourned thrice by parties who protested because candidates were not allowed to write the examinations in Tamil, The Hindu reported.

The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam led the demonstrations, according to PTI. Communist Party of India member TK Rangarajan also said exams for all departments must be held in local languages.

As the proceedings began, AIADMK members told the House that questions asked in the examination held to recruit postmen and assistants in rural areas held last Sunday were only in Hindi and English, and not Tamil. The party’s MPs were joined in their protests by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

At first, Upper House Chairperson M Venkaiah Naidu ordered that transmission of House proceedings on television be stopped, and then adjourned proceedings till 12 pm. Later, when the House met, the AIADMK continued with their protests and sought the cancellation of the exam.

Members of AIADMK stormed the Well when Deputy Chairperson Harivansh urged them to allow Question Hour to be taken up. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan said the chairperson had already held a meeting on the matter with Ravi Shankar Prasad.

The request to let the House function went unheeded and the deputy chairperson adjourned the proceedings for 15 minutes. The members again continued with their protests and Harivansh adjourned the House till 2 pm.

Bad loans of commercial banks declined: Sitharaman

Bad loans of commercial banks declined by Rs 1.02 lakh crore to Rs 9.34 lakh crore in the 2018-’19 financial year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told the Upper House. She added that the government had come up with strategies to recognise non-performing assets transparently, recover value from stressed assets, recapitalise public sector banks and introduce reforms in banks to reduce bad loans.

“Enabled by these steps, as per RBI data on global operations, the NPAs of scheduled commercial banks, after reaching a peak of Rs 10,36,187 crore as on March 31, 2018, have declined by Rs 1,02,562 crore to Rs 9,33,625 crore as on March 31, 2019 (provisional data for the fiscal ended March 2019),” Sitharaman said.

Lok Sabha discusses toll collections

Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari told the Lok Sabha that people have to pay toll if they want good roads. He said the toll system would stay as the government did not have enough funds, PTI reported.

Gadkari said the money collected from tolls was utilised for building roads in rural and hilly areas. “Toll system can never end though the rates may vary from time to time,” he said. “Toll is my brain child. If you want good services, you have to pay for it. Government does not have money.”

He said more people get killed in road accidents than due to terror attacks or natural calamities, The Hindu reported. He said most of these accidents can be avoided if government ensures safety in roads.

Gadkari also quoted John F. Kennedy: “American roads are not good because America is rich. America is rich because of American roads.”

Citizenship Bill discussed

Meanwhile, the Centre told the Lok Sabha that the basic objective of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was to facilitate granting Indian citizenship to members of six minority communities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan even if they do not have valid documents.

Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai said the Citizenship Act, 1955, treats such persons as “illegal migrants” and disentitles them from applying for Indian citizenship. He said the central government issued a Gazette Notification on October 24 under Section 16 of the law to facilitate granting Indian citizenship only to legal migrants from the six minority communities from the three countries if they fulfill the eligibility criteria.

“This notification does not amend the provisions of The Citizenship Act, 1955, or the rules made thereunder,” said Rai. “The notification of October 24, 2018 and the lapsed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 thus deal with different categories of immigrants from the six minority communities of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.”