The National Advisory Council (NAC) formally began the task of steering the government’s pro-poor and pro-people social programmes by putting food security, Left-wing extremism and the prevention of communal violence bill as among the immediate issues and challenges it will take up.
The government’s anti-Naxal policy does not seem to go down well with some members. When the 14 experts on the panel, alongwith chairperson Sonia Gandhi, called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after the NAC’s first meeting on Thursday, Ram Dayal Munda warned him: “You are losing the war against Naxalism.’’
The PM heard him out. The Rajya Sabha member from Jharkhand, who noted the absence of administration in Naxal areas, underscored the need for development and local participation in it. His comment came just ahead of Cabinet Committee on Security’s meeting to discuss a greater involvement of armed forces in dealing with the problem. Gandhi had, in the party’s magazine, Congress Sandesh, recently stressed that while terror must be dealt with firmly, it was necessary to bring development to backward areas.
The NAC will discuss Left-wing extremism and the communal violence bill, tentatively on July 14.
But before that, the panel will meet on July 1 to deliberate on the Food Security Bill that seeks to provide the poor foodgrains at Rs 3 per kg per month.
While flagging the issue, the panel is keen that food security should not be a dole but must be accompanied by efforts to make people self-reliant. “This must be accompanied by revitalisation of agriculture,” said a member.
According to a Prime Minister’s Office release, the NAC — which gave the right to information and rural employment guarantee acts in its first tenure — will now focus on the welfare of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, besides minority welfare, natural resource management, poverty alleviation, employment generation, land reforms, etc.
The NAC members include M.S. Swaminathan, R.D. Munda, Narendra Jadhav, Pramod Tandon, Jean Dreze, Aruna Roy, Madhav Gadgil, N.C. Saxena, A.K. Shiva Kumar, Deep Joshi, Anu Agha, Farah Naqvi, Harsh Mander and Mirai Chatterjee.