New Delhi, Oct. 10: L.K. Advani has lauded the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), the ruling UPA’s showpiece social scheme, at the UN.
The praise for the rural job scheme came yesterday during a debate at the General Assembly where the BJP leader was delivering an address on “social development”.
Advani commended the NREGA, pushed by Sonia Gandhi, as the world’s largest cash-for-work scheme that responded to the needs of 53 million poor rural households by ensuring 100 days of employment every year.
“This programme has helped break down social inequalities, empower rural people, build up rural infrastructure and revive economic growth,” the BJP veteran said.
Advani is part of a group of Indian MPs visiting the UN and participating in various sessions of the General Assembly.
He listed efforts made by India to help women and vulnerable groups, particularly in villages, education initiatives, health interventions and programmes to help differently-abled persons.
A stickler for propriety and decorum in public conduct, Advani was particular that domestic political battles should not spill over to the international arena, BJP sources said. He had directed his colleagues to observe the cardinal rule that, when on foreign soil, the Opposition must use the same tone, tenor and content on policy issues as the ruling party.
Today, the BJP tried to score brownie points on “decency” by referring to Advani’s address even as Congress spokespersons lashed out at the Opposition on several issues.
“The Congress is bereft of ideas. Its leaders don’t understand the basics of public behaviour such as decency and protocol. Advaniji spoke like a senior statesman, representing India at the UN. We do not carry differences of opinion outside the borders of India,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
He added that the only issues the BJP had with the job scheme was that it should include city youths and that it should lead to asset creation.
Although Advani brought up the issue of corruption, it was in generic terms of how it needed to be “tackled on a war footing” because “its consequences are more severely felt in the developing countries where it undermines the delivery of services and impacts the people directly”.
He also spoke on the generation of “unaccounted wealth or black money”, saying it had a “major debilitating impact on the economy, limiting growth and investment in productive sectors”.
Therefore, “all countries need to ratify the UN Convention Against Corruption to co-operate in recovering “monies and assets stolen through corrupt practices stashed abroad”, Advani added.
But while dwelling on India’s growth story, Advani’s speech focused only on the human narrative.
“Our targets for economic growth are anchored in measurable performance indices relating to poverty, education, health, women and children. These targets, disaggregated state-wise which implement most (central) programmes, have helped monitor, assess and improve them.”
Advani explained how government initiatives in education had helped India attain nearly full enrolment in primary schools and then narrow gender gaps in middle and higher education.
Similarly, health interventions enhanced life expectancy, increased the rates of immunisation among children and caused a substantial decline in infant and maternal mortality, he said.
Advani ended by stressing that “comprehensive and inclusive social development” was essential to foster “stable, harmonious, peaceful and just societies”.