Right To Food campaign asks Govt to raise pension and NREGA budget

In a scathing statement issued on Wednesday, the NGO demanded a ‘full disclosure’ of how, when, why and by whom the ‘reckless’ decision was made to demonetise

NH Political Bureau

Widows, the elderly and the disabled having suffered the most following Demonetisation, the Right to Food campaign today demanded a five-fold increase in social security pensions from the token ₹200 at present to ₹1,000 per month “by way of partial compensation for the intolerable hardship imposed on the people by reckless and pointless demonetisation”.


In a statement signed by activists from across the country, the NGO has put forward the following demands:


  • Immediate increase of the centre's contribution to social security pensions for widows, the elderly and disabled persons (under the National Social Assistance Programme) from ₹200 per month to ₹1,000 per month
  • Immediate implementation of National Food Security Act provisions for universal maternity entitlements (₹6,000 per child)
  • Immediate central assistance for the inclusion of milk, eggs and fruits in school midday meals and ICDS
  • Immediate increase in the annual NREGA budget to ₹60,000 crores, with effect from 2016-17
  • Immediate compensation for all families of victims of demonetisation- related deaths
  • Immediate reversal of all recent reductions in social spending by the central government, as a share of GDP


Demonetisation, the statement said, has undermined the Right to Food and the Right to Life. The ‘Right To Food Campaign’ is dismayed by the Indian government's reckless attempt to renew currency notes without any serious attention to the consequences it may have for poor people. This move serves no clear purpose and is a major attack on the right to food and the right to life, the statement maintained.

“It does not require a Ph.D in economics to understand that when the bulk of the population is strapped for cash, economic activity and employment take a dip. Every day, fresh reports confirm that this is happening. Farmers have been dumping vegetables on the roads for want of a remunerative price. Traders and vendors have seen their sales dive, often by 50 per cent or more. Sales of durable goods have crashed across the board. Construction activity has slowed down. And most importantly, workers have been laid off on a large scale.”
Right to Food campaign

It accuses the Government of showing no interest in measures that are likely to be more effective in curbing corruption. Three years after the Lokpal Act came into force, no Lokpal has been appointed, the statement points out. Likewise, the Whistleblowers Protection Act (passed in February 2014) awaits implementation. “In fact, the government has introduced amendments in Parliament to dilute these two Acts. It has also failed to reintroduce the Grievance Redressal Bill, which had support of all parties but lapsed with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha in 2014. And of course, political parties continue to evade financial transparency,” it added.


“The main beneficiaries of this approach are the private companies involved in cashless payments. Never has state power been put so blatantly at the service of corporate interests,” the statement goes on to point out.


In a scathing indictment of demonetisation the campaign says, “It does not require a Ph.D in economics to understand that when the bulk of the population is strapped for cash, economic activity and employment take a dip. Every day, fresh reports confirm that this is happening. Farmers have been dumping vegetables on the roads for want of a remunerative price. Traders and vendors have seen their sales dive, often by 50 per cent or more. Sales of durable goods have crashed across the board. Construction activity has slowed down. And most importantly, workers have been laid off on a large scale. Other victims include pensioners and NREGA workers, who find it difficult to secure their meagre pensions and wages at the best of times. Now, with the banking system jammed, millions of them are in danger of their lifeline being cut off for weeks or even months.”

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Published: 28 Dec 2016, 2:32 PM