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...Rambeti from Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh, graphically described the predicament of MGNREGA workers like her in a recent press conference in Delhi. “The government repeatedly states that it will not let us die of starvation. But the truth is, it does not allow us to live either.” That is a terrible evaluation of MGNREGA — a landmark legislation enacted to protect the right to life, dignity of labour and build permanent assets for the rural poor. There are prominent ways in which it is evident that the government is prioritising saving at the cost of its poorest people — a breach of the law and the Constitution. In 2017, more than 80 per cent of the budgetary allocation was spent in the first four months. The ministry of rural development’s (MoRD) request for an additional Rs 17,000 crore has so far been ignored. ...Indian Express on Dec. 5, 2017, 12:54 a.m.
...If policymakers can’t guarantee inclusion, they must halt this digital nightmare. Representational Image. Sita of Karkala village, Lassadiya Panchayat, was one of many who spoke at the annual MKSS Mazdoor Mela in Bhim on May 1. “I have no Aadhaar card, I don’t know why they say my fingerprints don’t show. Without Aadhaar, I am denied work under the MGNREGA, and get no rations. I am a single woman, and have no other source of income. What will I eat, and how will I survive?” she said. Her anaemic condition is apparent, and she should be classified as a gross administrative failure, triggering emergency corrective action. But for the ruling elite in Delhi and Jaipur, she is just a digit — one more, or one less in a policy framework they are determined to impose for their own ends. There are many women who share Sita’s anguish. Though already enrolled in Aadhaar, “voluntarily” as the government would have it, the biometric eco-system, for one reason or another, has failed to authenticate them, denying them access to rations, pensions, work. ...Indian Express on June 5, 2017, 12:35 a.m.
... Demonetisation is, by its very nature, an autocratic, coercive step. The demonetisation of November 2016 has affected every single Indian. We are, as usual, persuaded to bear the pain and suffering, to “sacrifice” for the nation. The rhetoric continues but it now seems clear that the objective to root out black money has failed. Having failed to deliver the promise, the new goal post is to get rid of money altogether — to go “cashless”. In a fait accompli, this government coerces us into a cashless world. For the poor and the marginalised, with little cash in the first place, this dark digital nightmare promises to “swipe” them out, before their marginalisation from the economy is even addressed. The “acche din” promise mocks at them. Combining the digital medium with money and state support is lethal. It decisively removes choice. Work under the MGNREGA, access to the PDS, cooking gas or medicines from the PHC mandate presentation of an Aadhar card. ...Indian Express on Dec. 30, 2016, 12:39 a.m.