One of the
long-standing demands of the right to food campaign (and of the labour movement
in India) is a national "employment guarantee act". This demand was
partially met in mid-2005 with the enactment of the National Rural Employment
Guarantee Act (NREGA 2005). Under this Act, any adult willing to do casual
labour at the minimum wage is entitled to employment on local public works
within 15 days, subject to a limit of 100 days per household per year.
The NREGA is a landmark in the history of social
security legislation in India and a major tool in the struggle to secure the
right to food. However, this breakthrough required sustained campaigning on the
ground, lobbying with political parties, and overcoming active opposition from
votaries of the "minimal state" (see the archives).
Since the enactment of the NREGA, a wide range
of organisations across the country have been struggling to ensure that people
are able to claim their entitlements under the Act. Regular "updates"
on NREGA-related activities can be found in the updates page (if you would like to
receive these updates by email please send a line to email@example.com).