A Guaranteed Employment Act?
July 11, 2005
Activists Debate Alternatives for Grappling with Unemployment
In August 2004, activists of the Right to Food Campaign and other concerned Indian citizens prepared a draft National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. The basic idea of an Employment Guarantee Act (EGA) is very simple: it provides a legal guarantee of employment on a public works project to any adult who is willing to perform casual manual labor at the statutory minimum wage. The proposed rural guarantee is restricted to 100 days per household per year.
But movement on this issue has not stopped at the city limits. The "Common Minimum Programme" of India's new United Progressive Alliance government includes a pledge to "immediately enact a National Employment Guarantee Act." This pledge has led to renewed hopes for the eventual adoption of a full-fledged EGA and has generated extensive debate on the feasibility of new public policy strategies for grappling with the unemployment and poverty that has plagued India for the past decade.
The Right To Food Campaign website has more information on this emerging debate and on the growing campaign for decent work in India.
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