Rahul Gandhi attends national workshop on NREGA

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New Delhi, Aug.20 (ANI): A national workshop on National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) was organised in the capital on Thursday to discuss various modes for the better implementation of schemes under the Act.

Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi was the guest of honour at the national workshop.

Union Minister of Rural Development C. P. Joshi, Chairman of National Knowledge Commission Sam Pitroda, Chief of Unique Identity Authority of India Nandan Nilekani, and Union Minister of State for Rural Development Agatha Sangma, were among the distinguished guests who participated in the workshop and discussed different ways for better execution of schemes under the Act.

Sam Pitroda, the Chairman of National Knowledge Commission, which would synergise the Government's various e-activities such as e-governance, and e-learning, called for the need to integrate political will with funds and technology to deliver to the poor.

"We have this great combination, with political will, allocation of substantial amount of funding and the right timing for technology specially universal ID focus. We can begin to integrate a lot of these ides create synergy and really provide the best practices and best solutions to make sure that the poor deliver or get what they deserve through technology," said Sam Pitroda addressing the workshop on NREGA.

Nandan Nilekani, Chief of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIAI), said that his project was complementary to most of the developmental programmes launched by the Central Government, as it will empower the poor to enjoy the benefits meant for them.

"As we look at creating a next stage of transparent effective and transformation governance in NREGA, we think the UID (Unique Identification) is initiative is very very closely aligned with that because the goals are very similar. Both are about inclusion, both are about pro-poor, it is about pro-people it its about getting or outside the system to be able to participate and therefore this collaboration we think we think is very very critical," said Nandan Nilekani, Chairman of Unique Identity Authority of India.

Minister for Rural Development Agatha Sangma, on this occasion, said the NREGA project was now enable helping the poor to receive the benefits but in the long term it would help them to create opportunities for themselves to be self-reliant.

"If a man is hungry do not give him fish to eat but teach him how to fish and this very moment what the NREGA is trying to do is give the man the fish to eat. I think that is in a sense the immediate aim of NREGA but the long term vision of NREGA must be to ensure that we teach the rural people to actually fish," said Agatha Sangma.

The participants discussed ways and means to reach the benefits of NREGA to the rural poor and made recommendations on issues relevant to the next phase of NREGA including legal provisions of the Act, securing workers entitlements and rights, capacity building of functionaries and workers, local expertise required at Gram Panchayats (village councils) and quality of works and sustainable development.

State legislators, secretaries of various State governments overlooking rural development programmes, eminent academicians, professionals and representatives of NGOs and Panchayat Raj (village council) institutions also attended the workshop.

According to the Ministry of Rural Development, the NREGA programme had provided employment to 4,500 million households in 2008-09 and generated 48 average person days of employment per household.

The total expenditure under this scheme was more than 27,000 crore rupees in 2008-09 and out of this 67 percent was spent on wages. (ANI)

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