Congress president Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to discuss the Direct Benefits Transfer programme of the UPA government.
The 11-member NAC is meant to serve as an interface between the government and the Congress and provide inputs to the government on policy issues. According to two NAC members, the meeting will have the crucial Direct Benefits Transfer project on its agenda with Unique Identification Authority of India chairman Nandan Nilekani making a presentation to explain the programme and address their concerns. NAC members are expected to make suggestions to Nilekani. The council is unlikely to take a decision during the meeting.
Four members of the NAC — Deep Joshi, A K Shiva Kumar, Farah Naqvi and Aruna Roy — along with former NAC members Jean Dreze and M S Swaminathan had in December last year expressed reservations against the project. Along with more than 200 academician and activists, these members had issued a statement saying they “oppose” the government’s plan for “accelerated mass conversion of welfare schemes to UID-driven cash transfers”. Though they said they supported the cash transfer mechanism for welfare schemes like old age pensions, widow pensions, maternity entitlements and scholarships, they objected to UID-linked welfare entitlements under public distribution system and MGNREGA.
The project, launched on January 1, has raised doubts after its rollout in 20 districts was largely unsuccessful and clouded in confusion, delays and logistical drawbacks.
The NAC is also expected to discuss programmes for SCs and STs and issues concerning implementation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.