Kudos to Sonia, Singh - Bhandaru Srinivasrao (I.I.S)
Last week, the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre has announced a 14-member National Advisory Council. Significantly, for the first time, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh and the UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, seems to have taken utmost care to ensure nominating only apolitical personalities with excellent professional and academic track records.
Does the ‘realization’ have come among the political parties, especially the Indian National Congress, while choosing people for such an important panel? Has the ‘mind set’ of Congress leadership changed for good?
The members of the high-profile NAC include eminent scientists, academics, intellectuals and civil society activists. While four members of the previous NAC -- Aruna Roy, Jean Dreze, N.C. Saxena and A.K. Shiva Kumar - have been re-nominated to the panel, the rest are new faces.
The new names include agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan, technocrat V. Krishnamurthy, also a member of Planning Commission, economist Narendra Jadhav, Mirai Chatterjee, coordinator of social security at NGO SEWA, civil rights activist Farah Naqvi, vice-chancellor of North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong, Pramod Tandon, and former IAS officer and social activist Harsh Mander.
Ram Dayal Munda, MP, entrepreneur Anu Aga of Thermax Ltd and Madhav Gadgil of Agharkar Research Institute, Pune, have also been nominated to the new NAC that is expected to push for inclusive growth and social justice.
In its last incarnation during the first tenure of the United Progressive Alliance, the NAC became identified with signature social sector reforms such as introduction of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and the Right to Information Act.
It is no secret that it is a brainchild of Congress party president, Sonia Gandhi Sonia. It is also informally called as UPA's Planning Commission for social agenda. On 23 March 2006, Sonia Gandhi had resigned from the post of chairmanship of the NAC after Office of profit controversy. On 29 March 2010, she was back as the chairperson of NAC.
Though it was initially meant to guide and implement in the Common Minimum Programme of the UPA-I, now it was asked to play its role to foster the social agenda of UPA-II. The NAC serves as an interface between the government and the Congress party.
That the other members of this council are nominated by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Chairperson, give credence to my argument – that’s change in the ‘mind set of the party leadership.” The funds for the functioning of this council are provided from the budgetary allocation for the Prime Minister's Office.
I wish to join those millions, who wish to hail Sonia and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, for overlooking claimants among political parties. Indeed, a good sign, as those who nominated not only high-profile and eminent personalities, but can guide the country impartially in designing and implementing the social agenda of the UPA-II to benefit those who need the help most.(22-06-2010)
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