Underprivileged sections of the society in Maharashtra would be benefited if the state government properly implements the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, said experts at the International Conference on Combating Poverty in a Market Driven World on Tuesday.
The two-day conference at Powai, which started on February 7, was organised by NGOs — Creative Handicrafts, Fair Trade India and Mumbai Smiles — in association with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. The conference was attended by several activists of NGOs from Africa, the UK and the US.
About the government policies for the creation of economic opportunities for the poor, Ashwini Kumar, member of the Central Employment Guarantee Committee, termed the job guarantee act a “radical tool”, which will benefit the rural population.
“In Maharashtra, the existing Employment Guarantee Scheme mostly favours rural contractors,” Kumar said.
He added that that the new act will help the government phase out the old guarantee scheme and find ways to generate employment opportunities for more poor people. “Correct implementation of this act can help in stopping the farmer suicides in Vidarbha,” he pointed out.
The participants at the conference also discussed how the infrastructure development in the urban India has helped corporates rather than the poor.
Nicholas Hildyard, an activist from the United Kingdom, said: “The development projects displace the poor and they are the ones who cannot enjoy its benefits. There is a need for the organisation of these poor people and their participation in the policy-making process.”
Incidentally, Hildyard is part of Corner House, an NGO, which supports the cause of environmental and social justice.
The participants discussed issues such as how funds from the public sector, government and private sector can be used to alleviate poverty. The key focus was of the meet was how civil society groups can tap the resources from the available public and private funds to create opportunities for poor.