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Govt renames NREGA after Mahatma Gandhi

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj C.P.Joshi and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi at the National Convention to commemorate the 50th anniversary of launching of Panchayati Raj and observing 2009-10 as ‘Year of Gram Sabha’, in New Delhi on October 02, 2009.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj C.P.Joshi and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi at the National Convention to commemorate the 50th anniversary of launching of Panchayati Raj and observing 2009-10 as ‘Year of Gram Sabha’, in New Delhi on October 02, 2009.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today announced that the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) would be renamed as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.

The Union Cabinet had taken a decision this effect at its meeting here yesterday, Dr Singh said while inaugurating a National Convention of Panchayati Raj Ministers and Zilla Parisad Presidents of all states here this morning.

"Mahatma Gandhi gave more emphasis on Gram Swaraj. To name NREGA after him, is a humble tribute from us to the Father of the Nation," he said at the function that coincided with the 140th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

The convention was organised by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj to mark the Golden Jubilee of Panchayati Raj institutions (PRI) in India. It is also being attended by elected representatives of Panchayats who have served for more than 25 years from across the country.

Among others, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Panchayati Raj Minister C P Joshi addressed the meeting.

Dr Singh, Ms Gandhi and Dr Joshi are also due to attend a public meeting later today at Nagaur in Rajasthan, where India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had inaugurated Panchayati Raj 50 years ago on this day.

The Prime Minister said that the Union Government had to play a major role in making Panchayati Raj institutions more effective.

Referring to the implementation of NREGA by the Panchayati Raj institutions, he said that, although there might be initial hurdles while delegating new responsibilities to them, it was his firm belief that the outcome would be fruitful and in the interest of the country.

"We have to strive continuously to make Panchayati Raj institutions an effective instrument. With the proper training to the PRI representatives in the implementation and monitoring of schemes, accounting and information technology etc., these institutions can play a major role as the units of decentralised governance in a more effective manner. In addition, there is a need to provide basic facilities to these institutions," he said.

Dr Singh said he was happy that 2009-10 was being observed as the "Year of the Gram Sabha". He said Gram Sabha was a forum which provided direct participation to the people in democracy.

"The people of the village get an opportunity through the Gram Sabha to discuss, deliberate, accept or reject the proposals of Gram Panchayat," he said.

The Prime Minister said people's participation was a must to implement the Government's programmes and schemes in a transparent and effective manner and this could be ensured only by Panchayati Raj institutions.

"In a vast country like India, we can reach out to the people only through decentralisation and the panchayati raj institutions are an effective instrument," he said.

He recalled that, based on the initiatives of late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, a legal framework was provided to PRI. The 73rd amendment of the Constitution provides that the State legislatures should empower PRI as the institutions of Local Self Government and strengthen them so that they can evolve schemes for social justice and economic development, he said.

"But these legal provisions have not been used effectively in our country till date. Even today in many States, the functions, the funds and functionaries have not been delegated effectively to the panchayti raj institutions. We need to reform the system," he said.

"PRIs are the means to fulfil the dreams of Gram Swaraj of Mahatma Gandhi. Come, let us pledge together for an all-out effort to make PRIs more powerful and effective," he added.

Among other things, there will be presentations on activating the Gram Sabhas and Gram Panchayats and on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) at the convention.

A film on Hiware Bazaar, a model Panchayat in Maharashtra, will also be screened for the gathering. The convention will also discuss plans for observing 2009-10 as the "Year of Gram Sabha".

NNN

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