The National Consortium on NREGA is a loosely federated collective of civil society organisations (CSOs) that have come together with a vision to try and make NREGA a success. The Consortium seeks to move beyond the more traditional civil society role of acting as a watchdog for NREGA. The idea is to actively participate in making NREGA effective and its implementation true to the spirit of the objectives of the Act. This, of course, incorporates the vigilance role but focuses on an integrated approach to planning, implementation and social audit of NREGA works. The perspective of the Consortium is to look at NREGA as not merely giving rise to wage employment but leading to equity, food self-sufficiency and sustainable livelihoods in rural India. We also believe that NREGA affords an unprecedented opportunity for governance reform at the grass roots. Even while recognising the great difficulties CSOs and panchayat raj institutions (PRIs) have faced in working together, a key element of the Consortium’s strategy is to facilitate partnerships between grass-roots CSOs and PRIs, given the crucial role assigned to PRIs under NREGA.
The Consortium gives greatest importance to work with women, Adivasis, Dalits, landless and small and marginal farmers, the old and the challenged, especially in the rainfed areas of India. Our vision is that work done under NREGA would create the necessary water infrastructure on whose basis a whole range of nature-based livelihood opportunities could be created for the disadvantaged. Planning for this convergence needs also to be done co-terminus with NREGA work.
The Consortium believes that a diversity of approaches, which builds on the common ground outlined here, only gives strength to our work. The Consortium’s members include grass-roots CSOs working directly with PRIs as also a number of support agencies that provide technical/institutional/logistical backstopping and financial support to these grass-roots CSOs. Different agencies could also combine a range of roles.
Anyone subscribing to what is said here and wanting to contribute in any of these specific respects is welcome to join the Consortium, which is an inclusive entity. The Consortium opposes discrimination of any form based on grounds of region, community, caste, religion, gender or colour. Individuals or agencies engaging in such discrimination are not eligible to be members of the Consortium. Our aim is to enable work of the highest possible quality to take place across the length and breadth of India so that the potential of NREGA is realised. The Consortium will help document innovations and good practices. It will promote learning across contexts and facilitate reform of policies and practices at the state and national levels.