Sonia Gandhi-headed NAC meets for last time

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: May 7 2014, 02:40am hrs
SoniaSonia Gandhi described NAC as a 'unique experiment' of involving civil society in decision-making. Reuters
The National Advisory Council, a "unique experiment" of involving civil society in government's decision-making, held its last meeting today where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh lauded its "legendary" role with a regret that more could not be achieved due to fund crunch.

UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who headed the NAC, told the meeting here that its success would not have been possible without the support of Singh who has "extraordinary consensus-making abilities", sources said.

She described NAC as a "unique experiment" of involving civil society in decision-making.

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Singh, who is not its member but attended the last meeting, said the government wanted to achieve more but could not do so because of financial constraints. He was particularly referring to the suggestion for National Right to Health legislation.

The 18-member NAC, which was seen as a force behind several landmark initiatives including MNREGA, Right to Information, Food Security Act and Land Acquisition Act, adopted a report which contains the proposals made and their status.

Hailing the contribution of NAC, the Prime Minister said its role has been "legendary" as many policies of the government had key inputs from the body.

"The inputs provided by the NAC contributed to the policy changes which are far-reaching," he said.

The Council made 41 recommendations in six categories -- food security and human development, empowerment of SCs and STs, empowerment of women, empowerment of other vulnerable groups, enhancement of efficiency, transparency and accountability and promotion of sustainable development.

In her foreword to NAC's 'Report for the Period 2010-2014', Sonia Gandhi said the Council has, quite clearly, worked towards transforming "unjust" social circumstances.

"The rights-based approach was further widened and deepened in the NAC with the right to food, and fair compensation in land acquisition.

"Inclusiveness, social justice and opportunity for all has been the guiding principle of the NAC, knowing that inequalities breed resentment among the deprived, which in turn gives rise to delinquency, crime and terrorism," she said.

The NAC members, the Congress President added, have been particularly sensitive towards addressing the causes and consequences of inequalities and finding solutions.

"This is reflected in the recommendations (numbering more than 40) made to the government. The wide-ranging subjects include food security, land acquisition, universal health coverage, environmental sustainability, social security, occupational health and safety, skill development, reforms in the delivery of public services, pre-legislative processes and development in the North East," she added.

The pragmatic wisdom and institutional insight of NAC members was instrumental in skillfully harmonising varied viewpoints to fit into the constitutional and legal mould, she further said in her message.