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Rajasthan legislations impressively move from schemes to laws, ensure rights of people

Rights, not revdi: A civil note on media conference on Rajasthan model for social security and social justice:
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The Suchna Evum Rozgar Adhikar Abhiyan (SR Abhiyan) and the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) welcome the progressive legislations passed by the Rajasthan Government this year, in line with its commitment towards guaranteeing comprehensive social security for all in the state. Civil society organizations have been at the forefront of leading public campaigns for the passage of these laws, and consider it a significant development for democracy that the Rajasthan Government has responded to these assertions. These include:
  1. Rajasthan Minimum Guaranteed Income Act, 2023: 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 MGNREGA, and an entitlement of 125 days of work under an urban employment programme. Rajasthan is the first state in the country to pass such a legislation.
  2. Rajasthan Platform Based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Act, 2023: This Act will ensure registration of platform based gig workers in the country; Introduction of 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 and 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 Act. Rajasthan is the first State in the country to pass such a legislation
  3. Rajasthan State Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Development Fund (Planning, Allocation and Utilization of Financial Resources) Act 2022: A dedicated fund of Rupees 1000 crores will be available for spending towards economic and social empowerment of SC and ST families and improving the physical infrastructure of villages and towns where SC and ST communities live
  4. Right to Healthcare: All residents of Rajasthan will have a right to free medical treatment in all Government hospitals in the State. When people are facing a life threatening illness or injury, they can go to any hospital with more than 50 beds and avail medical care free of cost.
The above are in addition to a series of other policies for empowering women (through subsidized bus travel), children (enhancement in mid-day meal), performing communities (minimum employment of 100 days), orphaned children (enhanced social security of guardians), exam aspirants, the homeless (a dedicated policy for identification and welfare), nomadic communities (a dedicated policy for identification and welfare) etc. The comprehensive social security framework guaranteed by the State with ensured budget provisioning will cater to a wide range of vulnerable and historically marginalized communities.
The SR Abhiyan organized a press conference in New Delhi on 26 July 2023 to celebrate the victory of workers in the state. The panelists included Prabhat Patnaik (Jawaharlal Nehru University), Nikhil Dey (Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan), Naveen Gautam (Global Forum of Communities Discriminated on Work and Descent), Kavita Srivastava (People's Union for Civil Liberties ) and Shaikh Salauddin (Indian Federation of App-Based Transport Workers).
At the press conference, Nikhil Dey highlighted the process of pre-budget and more importantly, post-budget consultations held by the Rajasthan government with more than 2000 members of civil society organisations in Rajasthan. He also reiterated the importance of involving entitlement-holders in the process of planning, designing, implementing and monitoring government welfare policies.
Prabhat Patnaik said that the “Rajasthan legislations are very impressive as they have moved from schemes to laws to secure rights of the people in Rajasthan” and that “these legislations are a step forward in the direction of ensuring fundamental economic rights for the people of India”. In response to the ongoing debates around “freebies / revadis”, he underscored the importance of ensuring minimum entitlements with regard to health, education, and food being fundamental to the participatory democracy and added that calling such rights based laws “freebies” are “anti-democratic and anti-poor”.
Shaik Salauddin underscored the importance of inbuilt accountability and transparency measures within the law around ensuring social security for the gig and platform-based workers in Rajasthan and said that the “tripartite board has given gig and platform-based workers an opportunity for collective bargaining with the aggregators who otherwise would not even acknowledge them as their workers”.
This is a strong response to the discourse being pushed by the BJP equating welfare rights to "revadis" and "freebies". We welcome the progressive steps taken by the Rajasthan Government to honour its obligations towards guaranteeing the implementation of the Directive Principles of State Policy and hope that such a model of development grounded in social justice and inclusivity will serve as a beacon for the rest of the country.

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