PM seeks judiciary’s role in rural job scheme

October 2nd, 2008 - 9:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Oct 2 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday sought greater involvement of the judiciary and the legal fraternity in making the rural job guarantee scheme a success.Speaking at a function here to kick-start greater participation of the legal fraternity for the success of the Congress-led UPA government’s flagship scheme, the prime minister urged it to educate the illiterate rural poor of their legal rights to get at least 100 days of employment per year for every rural household in the country.

Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj, Minister for Rural Development Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and several senior judges and government functionaries were among those who attended the function.

Envisaging a greater role for the legal fraternity in implementing the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the prime minister said: “Given the high levels of illiteracy and the lack of awareness in our country, it is important that the rural poor are made aware of their rights under the programme and also taught how to articulate them.”

Seeking participation of the National Legal Services Authority, Manmohan Singh said: “The rural poor must be educated that the programme is not supply-driven but grants them the right to employment.”

“Apart from educating the potential beneficiaries on the broad aspects of the programme, they must also be made aware of the many procedural aspects so that they cannot be exploited by officials. They need to be told, for example, that the cost of the job card that is to be provided to them and the photograph on it is covered under the programme,” the prime minister pointed out.

“They need to be informed that they must not part with their job cards. They need to be made aware that 10 of them can get together and demand employment and that they are entitled to receive their wages within 15 days,” Manmohan Singh said.

Welcoming the decision of legal service authorities at various levels to work for spreading awareness, Manmohan Singh noted the function was being held on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

“It is befitting that we have gathered on Gandhiji’s birthday to discuss a programme which seeks to smoothen the harsh edges of extreme poverty,” the prime minister maintained.

Terming the job guarantee scheme as “a prayer, a pious offering to the Father of the Nation,” Manmohan Singh said: “It is our duty to make it successful.”

“I am sure the legal fraternity will make an important contribution for the successful implementation of the scheme,” he added.

Singh went on to term the job scheme as Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s “act of worship” for the rural poor. “The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme is a historic initiative of our government. Such a social security
programme exists nowhere else in the world.”

Thanking Gandhi for “for thinking of this initiative”, Manmohan Singh said: “Every working day, she receives the blessings of all those who are benefitting from this livelihood support programme. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was Soniaji’s act of worship. It is our government’s programme of caring.”

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