Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will table the Economic Survey for 2021-’22 in Parliament’s Budget Session on Friday, News18 reported.

The Survey, an annual document prepared by the chief economic adviser, is meant to provide an accurate picture of the economy as well as offer policy recommendations to the government. It is tabled in Parliament the day before the finance minister delivers the annual Budget speech.

This year’s document, prepared by Chief Economic Adviser KV Subramanian and his team, will be tabled in Parliament three days before the presentation of the Union Budget on February 1.

In his first Survey in 2019, Subramanian had set an agenda of achieving 8% sustained Gross Domestic Product growth to make India a $5-trillion economy by 2024, as envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his re-election in 2019. But the coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted India’s growth this year, sending its already-teetering economy into an apparent recession.

The economy saw its worst contraction in decades, with the Gross Domestic Product shrinking by a record 23.9% in the April to June quarter, and reflected the severe impact of the coronavirus-induced lockdown. India’s GDP growth rate contracted by 7.5% for the second quarter (July-September).

With this, India slipped into a technical recessionary phase for the first time ever when its GDP growth is negative or declining for two consecutive quarters or more. The new figures firmly established the country’s position among the world’s worst-performing major economies.

Since the pandemic shut businesses in March, unemployment in the country has also surged sharply. The country’s unemployment rate climbed to a six-month high of 9.06% in December, according to Mumbai-based think-tank Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy. The report also warned that the rise in the unemployment rate raises serious doubts about the economic recovery process.

Stormy Budget session

The first day of the Budget session of Parliament will begin with President Ram Nath Kovind addressing a joint sitting of both the Houses on Friday.

The session, which will conclude on April 8, is set to be stormy one, with the Opposition set to take on the government over the contentious agricultural laws amid the farmers’ protests.

In fact, 16 Opposition parties, including the Congress, on Thursday said they have decided to boycott the president’s address in solidarity with the farmers protesting against the farm laws.

In a joint statement, the parties said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party government have remained “arrogant, adamant and undemocratic” in their response to the farmers’ demand of repealing the agricultural laws. The parties also demanded the withdrawal of the three contentious legislations.

The Opposition parties also alleged that the central government agencies had a role orchestrating the violence that broke out during the farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day. They have demanded an impartial inquiry into the incident. They said that the protests have remained largely peaceful except Tuesday’s incident, which was condemned unequivocally. The parties also expressed sadness over the injuries sustained by the Delhi Police while handling the situation.

Question Hour makes comeback

This will be the first session of Parliament since the Monsoon Session was cut short due to concerns over the coronavirus. There was no Winter Session.

The proceedings will be curtailed with staggered timings and physical distancing rules, in view of the pandemic. Like the previous session, both the Houses will sit in shifts, with the Rajya Sabha meeting in the forenoon and Lok Sabha in the evening between 4 pm and 9 pm, as part of health measures adopted due to Covid-19.

The Question Hour, which had been cancelled in the September session, will be allowed for a fixed duration of one hour.

The Opposition, constitutional experts and citizens had widely criticised the Narendra Modi government for unilaterally deciding to scrap the Question Hour during the entire session of September, noting that the rules of the House do not sanction it.

Usually, every sitting starts with questions, which last for an hour. Questions are asked by members of Parliament to seek information on various activities of the government.

The Centre had cited the “extraordinary situation” due to the coronavirus crisis for its decision. But Opposition parties said the Question Hour was cancelled as the government wanted to evade questions on China, the coronavirus pandemic, the state of India’s economy, and most recently, the new agricultural legislations.