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Two Rajasthan Bills 'as strong response' to GoI equating welfare rights with freebies

By Our Representative 
Calling it a "significant development", several civil rights leaders, welcoming the Rajasthan Minimum Guaranteed Income Bill, passed in the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly, has said that it is a "strong response to the ongoing political discourse pushed by the Government of India (GoI) that equates welfare rights to doles and freebies."
The legislation doubles the minimum pension to Rs 1000 per month for all elderly widowed and disabled, with an inbuilt guaranteed annual increment of 15% per year. The law has an enhanced entitlement of 25 days per rural family for work under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), and an entitlement of 125 days of work under an urban employment programme.
"The introduction of the Bill is a historic step forward for many of the demands that the Right to Work Campaign, Pension Parishad and the Soochna Evum Rozgar Adhikar Abhiyan have been advocating for over the past two decades", senior activists, who include Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Shankar Singh and Kavita Srivastava, said in a statement.
The statement said, "Ever since the advocacy of the Right to Work began, there has been a consistent demand for the State to put in place universal urban and rural employment programmes. While the campaign gained a victory with the passage of the NREGA in 2005, the demand for a legal entitlement to urban employment remained unfulfilled then."
It explained, "COVID and the subsequent lockdowns reminded us of the dire need for an income based social security for urban workers and reinvigorated our advocacy for an urban employment programme. Multiple States like Jharkhand, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, and Tamil Nadu introduced urban employment schemes subsequent to COVID, but with the passage of the Minimum Income Guarantee Bill here, Rajasthan has become the first State in the country to have a legal entitlement for urban employment."
Stating that Rajasthan would also be the first State in the country to enhance the legal entitlement of NREGA by 25 additional days at its own cost by force of law, the statement continued, "Since the formation of Pension Parishad in 2009, we have been campaigning for a legal entitlement for pension that is universal, indexed to inflation and amounting to half the minimum wage through continual dharnas."
Criticising the "insensitivity of the Central government to these demands and the plight of elderly", it said, this has been "evident with their allocation to the National Social Assistance Programme being limited to Rs 200 per month for BPL families since 2007."
Asserting that the Rajasthan Minimum Income Guarantee Bill "would become the first instance in the country of a State guaranteeing a universal minimum pension indexed to inflation by law", the statement continued, "We believe the Bill is a strong response to the ongoing political discourse pushed by the Government of India that equates welfare rights to 'doles' and 'freebies'."
With passage of Minimum Income Guarantee Bill, Rajasthan has become first State to have legal entitlement for urban employment
It added, "The approach adopted by Rajasthan to guarantee a minimum income through right to dignified work for all those who can, and dignified social security for all those who can’t, is a significant breakthrough for SR Abhiyan's continual advocacy over the past decade which can be summarized in our slogan 'Har haath ko kaam do, kaam ka poora daam do, budhaape me aaram do, pension aur samman do'!"

Gig workers' welfare Bill  

After the passage of the historic Rajasthan Minimum Guaranteed Income Law on 22nd July 2023,the Rajasthan Assembly passed the Rajasthan Platform Based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill, 2023 in order to "become the first State in the country to pass a legislation ensuring social security of platform-based gig workers in the State", said a civil rights platform.
The Bill allows setting up of a tripartite board with the representation of aggregators, worker organizations and Government tasked with the powers to register platform-based gig workers in the State, notify and administer social security schemes for them and monitor the implementation of the Bill.
It. introduces a dedicated welfare cess fee on each bill generated by the aggregator to the customer. The fee collected from individual transactions will be credited to a social security fund which shall be used towards financing schemes meant for the welfare of platform-based gig workers.
The Bill requires automatic registration of all platform-based gig workers operating in the state as soon as they ‘onboard’ aggregator platforms, irrespective of the duration of their association with the platform. It has presence of a centralized tracking and management system which will function as a common portal for all financial transactions taking place on the aggregator’s platform.
The Bill makes the Department of Labour and the Tripartite Board responsible for registering, acknowledging and redressing grievances faced by platform basis gig workers in a time bound manner.
Claiming to be involved with the advocacy and drafting of the Bill, the civil rights group Soochna Evum Rozgar Adhikar Abhiyan said, it "welcomes this critical breakthrough that ensures the rights of a class of extremely vulnerable workers in present times. We recognize this as an important first step towards a long path ahead for ensuring their rights to a decent, dignified and safe livelihood for all unorganized workers in rural and urban areas."

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