The export of soymeal during April 2013 was 0.1 million tonnes compared to 0.33...
While profusely thanking Sonia Gandhi-led NAC, the social activist criticised Manmohan Singh for rejecting minimum wages under MNREGA and his government for failing to pass several money-guzzling schemes that would have put tremendous strain on the fiscal situation. Ms Roy has, of course, always been completely silent about large scale economic mismanagement and corruption that causes inflation and hurts the poorest of the poor
Social activist Aruna Roy, best known as a prominent leader of the Right to Information movement, which led to the enactment of the Right to Information (RTI) Act in 2005, has decided not to continue working as a member of the National Advisory Committee (NAC).
Ms Roy has written to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi requesting that she should not be considered for another term of NAC and Ms Gandhi has accepted the request. Ms Roy’s term as member of NAC comes to an end on 31st May.
In the letter the social activist, has recorded her ‘deep appreciation’ and ‘gratitude’ for Ms Gandhi and chosen to criticise Prime Minister (PM) Manmohan Singh for slow progress of some of the money-guzzling schemes of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and also for opposing minimum wages to workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
Ms Roy had questioned the rejection of recommendation of the NAC by the PM. She said, "I do believe that it is extremely unfortunate the Prime Minister rejected the NAC recommendations on payment of minimum wages to workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and chose instead to appeal the Karnataka High Court judgment ordering the payment of minimum wages to workers under the MGNREGA. More distressing is the Government's refusal to pay minimum wages even after the Supreme Court refused to stay the Karnataka High Court judgment. It is difficult to understand how a country like India can deny the payment of minimum wages and still makes claims of inclusive growth. However, I realise that this effort to persuade the Government to respect the minimum wages law must now continue outside the NAC."
Highlighting the role of NAC, she said the NAC working group on implementation of flagship programmes took up several issues related to implementation of the MGNREGA.
“The recommendations of the working group were sent to the Ministry, which has set up a programme advisory group to oversee implementation of these recommendations and the new guidelines that have been issued by the Rural Development Ministry. Despite its contribution to changing the lives of the rural poor, implementation of this crucial flagship programme remains a challenge,” she said.
She also criticised the UPA government for not getting passed the Food Security Bill, Lok Pal Bill, Grievance Redress Bill, Whistleblower protection Bill.
Here is the letter sent by Ms Roy to Ms Gandhi...
Mrs. Sonia Gandhi
Motilal Nehru Marg,
New Delhi 11th May 2013
Dear Mrs Gandhi,
This is in continuation of the conversation we had some time ago, when I had requested that I not be considered for another term in the NAC. I am grateful for your accepting my request, while assuring your continued support to campaigns for social sector causes being taken up outside the NAC.
While the NAC has dealt with many important issues over the last year, I would like to take this opportunity to record my appreciation for issues taken up by the working group I co-ordinated. These issues have been processed by the NAC and have been sent to Government for necessary action.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA): The NAC working group on implementation of flagship programmes took up several issues related to implementation of the MGNREGA. The recommendations of the working group were sent to the Ministry, which has set up a programme advisory group to oversee implementation of these recommendations and the new guidelines that have been issued by the MoRD. Despite its contribution to changing the lives of the rural poor, implementation of this crucial flagship programme remains a challenge. There is a huge group of MGNREGA beneficiaries who are critical, but supportive of the law. They are losing public and political space to a small, vocal, and powerful minority determined to undermine the basic objectives of the MGNREGA. I feel it is time to concentrate on building peoples campaigns for effective mobilisation around the MGNREGA. Hopefully, the measures initiated by the Ministry will provide support to these efforts, and the MGNREGA will come closer to achieving its true potential.
I do believe that it is extremely unfortunate the Prime Minister rejected the NAC recommendations on payment of minimum wages to MGNREGA workers and chose instead to appeal the Karnataka High Court judgment ordering the payment of minimum wages to MGNREGA workers. Even more distressing is the Government’s refusal to pay minimum wages even after the Supreme Court refused to stay the Karnataka High Court judgment. It is difficult to understand how a country like India can deny the payment of minimum wages and still makes claims of inclusive growth. However, I realise that this effort to persuade the Government to respect the minimum wages law must now continue outside the NAC.
Pre Legislative Process: It is a matter of great significance that the NAC has approved a pre legislative consultative process and will send it to Government for necessary action. In my opinion, the NAC is itself a kind of pre legislative body that has benefited immensely from the public consultations it has held. The functioning of the Justice J S Verma Committee, and its celebrated report were also an outcome of a pre legislative consultative process. The NAC recommendations on this issue, are the beginnings of what will hopefully grow into a more robust and detailed process of public consultation. Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that mandatory public consultation and engagement is one of the most important facets of a participatory democracy. Indian Democracy will certainly be strengthened, if the NAC recommendations are acted upon by Government.
The recent record of Parliament on debating policy and legislation underscores the need for this process. Given the hunger and malnutrition scenario in the country, a food security Bill should have been debated and passed by Parliament by now. There has been extensive and healthy debate within the NAC as well as in the public domain on the provisions of the Bill, making it clear that if Parliament were to take it up, it would most likely result in robust and well supported legislation. While questions of poor delivery of social sector programmes continue to plague us, the debates over the past two years have given us a very sound set of measures which should be enacted without delay.
The Working Group on Transparency and Accountability also took up a number of accountability legislations, including the Lok Pal, Grievance Redress Bill, Whistleblower protection Bill etc albeit for a short period of time. Many of those legislations have been through Parliamentary committees and now urgently need to be enacted. The campaign to have these legislations enacted, and peoples monitoring mechanisms such as social audits, must be strengthened. I feel the immediate enactment of these measures is critical to the future of democratic governance in India. The primary need is to act, and I realise once again that the place where I now need to concentrate my energies is outside the NAC.
I would like to place on record my gratitude and appreciation to you, and other members of the NAC for the opportunity I have been given to pursue causes of the poor and marginalised, as well as issues related to transparency, accountability, and democratic governance. I have had in the NAC a very competent and capable set of colleagues who extended the critical, analytical support needed to turn ideas that originate in peoples campaigns and movements, into workable draft policy initiatives.
I would also like to record my deep appreciation of the democratic freedom I enjoyed as a member of the NAC. I can say with absolute certainty, that I have expressed my views fully and openly. It has never been even mildly suggested by you as the Chair, that I curtail my expression either within, or outside the NAC. This has given me the space to finish my term with the NAC, with the confidence that I contributed my best to its functioning; without intellectual compromise, or negatively affecting my role outside.
I look forward to a continued association with you, and all the members of the NAC, and to petitioning the NAC from the outside!
With many thanks
With warm personal regards,