Report on “The Slow Poisoning of NREGA: How a Rural Lifeline can be stifled by a Technocratic Government”

As the surge of COVID cases in the country continues for months now, the employment opportunities in rural India have been steadily decreasing; following the return of a large section of migrant workers, the unorganized sector faces a severe humanitarian crisis with stifled scopes livelihood adding to the existing food insecurity. Since the imposition of this unplanned nationwide lockdown, the rural population had to fall back on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) that guarantees 100 days of wage employment to every household that ensures their ‘right to work’. For the 8th Jayanta Dasgupta Memorial Lecture, Calcutta Research Group (CRG) organized a discussion of the factors leading to the stifling of the act in the past six years, especially using technocratic aids to subvert certain provisions. The speaker for the session was Rajendran Narayanan, Assistant Professor at Azim Premji University and the moderator was Nasreen Chowdhory, Vice president of CRG. The talk focused on the central problems concerning the NREGA act, like wage payment delays, under-funding and infrastructural designs on the bureaucratic levels which is failing to create adequate assets to boost the rural economy. Nirajana Chakraborty reports.

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Report on “Covid-19 in South Asia: Regional Perspectives on Vulnerabilities and Dispossession”

While there has been a lot of discussion about how India has handled, and currently is handling the Covid-19 pandemic, it is also important to place it in the larger geographical context in South Asia to see how it has fared in comparison to its neighboring countries. It is also essential to understand how the neighboring countries themselves are handling the pandemic and how it has affected the lives of their citizens. Studying the experiences of the people in countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan, as well as the responses of the states – then becomes necessary to understand how the entire South Asian region has been battling the pandemic Covid-19, which specific experience is unique to each country and what they could learn from the other in terms of mistakes and precautions. The webinar organized by Calcutta Research Group in association with Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna and Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, South Asia, invited a diverse panel consisting of Amena Mohsin, Hari Sharma, Saqib Jafarey and Reza Hussaini for a dialogue. Sukanya Bhattacharya reports on the webinar organized on 24th August (from 6-8PM IST).

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