Rumours spread as members’ term not renewed yet
Prasanna Mohanty | June 28, 2012
Uncertainties and confusion prevail as the super policy-making body, the national advisory council (NAC), is about to start the third year of its second term. The first meeting was to happen on June 29 (tomorrow) as per the minutes of the last meeting (May 23, 2012), but the NAC secretariat has rescheduled it to July 6.
Two things have happened between NAC’s last meeting and now. One, the term of the members expired on May 31 and hasn’t been renewed yet. It is to be renewed by the PMO. As per the government order of 2010 reconstituting the NAC (the first edition functioned from June 2004 to May 2008), all the 14 members were appointed for a term of one year, as has been the practice right from 2004. Their term was extended for another year in 2011. There is no official word on when the renewal will come.
Secondly, information has been leaked to the media that three members – Harsh Mander, Madhav Gadgil and MS Swaminthan – are being dropped and would be replaced by new members. It is not yet clear why they are being dropped or who would be their replacements. It is also not clear whether more members will be dropped. Strangely, and inexplicably, the leaked information has been received as “expected”.
Two vacancies had been created last year because development economist Jean Dreze opted out of it and educationist Ram Dayal Munda passed away. Dreze had withdrawn himself immediately after the food security bill was drafted by the NAC in protest against the formulation. He sent a dissent note, saying that he was not happy with it because he firmly believed that the food entitlement should be “universal”, rather than targeted. He also said that his interest was limited only to the food bill and hence, no desire to continue in the NAC.
Thus, there are five vacancies to be filled now. While the NAC secretariat is looking at the PMO for clarity, the PMO is not letting out anything, presumably because it is too busy fixing the economy now that the PM has taken over finance ministry.
Needless to say the NAC has a lot of grounds to cover, judging by what it set out to achieve in 2010 – food security, natural resource management, plan for SCs and STs, communal violence, poverty alleviation, welfare of minorities, right to education, social security for the disadvantaged, urban poverty, development of NE region and others. All that it has done so far is to address three of the issues – education, food security and communal violence. The right to education bill has been legislated but the other two bills are pending.
The last two NAC meetings had focused on child sex ratio and considered some recommendations of the working group on child sex without approving it.
What happens now will be clear only after the PMO reconstitutes the body.
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