National advisory council to focus on food security bill

New Delhi, June 10 (IANS) The newly-constituted National Advisory Council (NAC) Thursday held its maiden meeting here and decided to focus on pushing pro-poor initiatives including food security bill and a social security net for the marginalised sections of society.

Chairing the meeting, NAC chairperson Sonia Gandhi lauded the contributions of the earlier NAC for playing a key role in enactment of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

‘These laws had enhanced transparency and accountability in administration and promoted the UPA government’s agenda for ‘inclusive growth,’ Gandhi, also chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance, told members of the NAC-II, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office.

Gandhi also stressed that people have high expectations and that it shall be the firm endeavour of the NAC to work sincerely and with dedication.

Gandhi announced that the next meeting of the NAC July 1 will consider the issues relating to the proposed food security bill.

Later, Gandhi and 14 members of the council called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The prime minister ‘expressed confidence that the NAC members endowed with wisdom, experience in diverse areas of social development, knowledge of grassroots realities and tremendous zeal will be able to assist the government in taking the fruits of development to the vulnerable sections of our society,’ said the release.

The members decided to make the the council’s recommendations to the government ‘specific and result-oriented’ to push the pro-poor programmes through policy and legislative inputs.

They decided to focus on ‘broad priority areas’ outlined in President Pratibha Patil’s speech to the parliament June 4, review the flagship programs of the government and suggest measures to address constraints in their implementation.

They identified a host of focus areas that included Food Security Bill, natural resource management, including revitalization of agriculture, development of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, welfare of minorities, communal violence bill, poverty elimination and employment generation, land rights and land reforms.

The inaugural meeting of NAC-II was attended by all members — M.S. Swaminathan, Ram Dayal Munda, Narendra Jadhav, Pramod Tandon, Jean Dreze, Aruna Roy, Madhav Gadgil, N.C. Saxena, Shiva Kumar, Deep Joshi, Anu Agha, Farah Naqvi, Harsh Mander and Mirai Chatterjee.

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