Rajasthan passes Minimum Guaranteed Income Bill, brings social security measures under ambit of rights

CM Gehlot deems the bill to be historic, guarantees 125 days of work for all families, a minimum of Rs 1,000 as a pension to the elderly, women, widows, and disabled people
Image: PTI

The Rajasthan Minimum Guaranteed Income Bill was passed by the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly on July 21, 2023 through a voice vote. Ashok Gehlot, Chief Minister of Rajasthan, announced that his administration is committed to providing social security as a matter of right. Gehlot further added that by passing the said minimum guaranteed income bill, the Rajasthan government has given the nation a special development model and that he expects other governments would pass similar legislation to include every citizen in the social security system.

“There is a difference between a law and an administrative order. The minimum guaranteed income bill makes social security a right. The minimum guaranteed income law is historic as it is perhaps the first time since independence that social security measures like pension or minimum days of work have been brought under the ambit of rights,” Gehlot said on July 22, as per a report by the Wire.

CM Gehlot provided that he was waiting for the governor to approve the law, and hopes to frame the rules and have the law implemented by August 15, 2023.

What does the bill entail?

The law guarantees 125 days of work for all families of the state and a minimum of Rs 1,000 as a pension to the elderly, women, widows, and disabled people, with the provision of a 15% increment every year. The Bill brings the rural employment guarantee scheme, the urban employment guarantee scheme, and the pension scheme under one legislation that will be implemented under the Mahatma Gandhi Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme.

A copy of the bill is attached.


What was the need for the bill?

There has been a persistent need for the State to implement universal urban and rural employment schemes ever since the enforcement of the Right to Work began. The NREGA’s passage in 2005 gave the movement a triumph, but the demand for a legal right to urban employment was still unmet at that time. COVID and the ensuing lockdowns re-energized the advocacy for an urban employment programme and served as a stark reminder of the urgent need for income-based social security for urban workers.

Several states, including Jharkhand, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, and Tamil Nadu, introduced urban employment programmes after COVID, but Rajasthan would become the first State in the nation to have a legal entitlement to urban employment with the impending passage of the Minimum Income Guarantee Bill here. It would also be the first State in the nation to extend the NREGA’s legal eligibility by 25 extra days on its own dime through the force of legislation.

A strong answer to the ongoing political discourse- Soochna Evum Rozgar Adhikar Abhiyan

The passing of the said bill has been purported by the concerned citizens of Rajasthan as a strong response to the ongoing political discourse pushed by the Government of India that equates welfare rights to “doles” and “freebies”. As provided by Soochna Evum Rozgar Adhikar Abhiyan (SEVAA), since the formation of Pension Parishad in 2009, there have been campaign and protests demanding legal entitlement for pension which is universal in nature, indexed to inflation and amounting to half the minimum wages. According to them, the insensitivity of the Central Government to these demands and the plight of elderly has been evident with their allocation to the National Social Assistance Programme being limited to Rs 200 per month for BPL families since 2007.

Expressing solidarity and support to the bill passed, the Soochna Evum Rozgar Adhikar Abhiyan stated that the bill would become the first instance in the country of a State guaranteeing a universal minimum pension indexed to inflation by Law. Calling it a significant breakthrough for SEVAA ‘s continual advocacy, the group stated that 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 cannot. According to them, this move can be summarized in their slogan “Har haath ko kaam do, kaam ka poora daam do, budhaape me aaram do, pension aur samman do!!

“The said law merely a start, will move forward in this direction if re-elected”- CM Gehlot

On July 22, while addressing a press earlier, CM said that the said law is along the lines of similar social security cover for citizens of developed nations like the US, England, Germany, and other European countries, as per a report by the Wire. During his speech, he also took a dig at Prime Minister Modi and stated, “In India, we haven’t seen such a law. Our Prime Minister claims to be Vishwaguru. I want to ask him what he is doing about problems like hunger, malnourishment, and unemployment in India. Why is he not making social security a right for 140 crore Indians, a figure he often likes to cite?”

Gehlot claimed that the bill was only the beginning and that if his government gets re-elected, his administration would work to extend social security coverage to every resident of the state. “Most state governments provide very poor sums for the pension scheme. The union government gives Rs 200 as a pension to the elderly and Rs 300 if the claimant is above 80 years. Tell me does this amount even qualify as any financial support? That is why we have made Rs 1,000 as the minimum support to the pensioners,” he said, as provided by the Wire. CM Gehlot further added that all the subsequent governments in the state will have to abide by the provisions of the law.

“Rajasthan is a progressive state. Rajasthan was also the first state to implement Right to Information, Right to Health, and the Minimum Employment Guarantee Act before it became national laws,” the Congress chief minister also said.

Clearing any doubts about the funding of the said law, he added that the new law will be financed from the improved financial health of the state under his leadership. “We have not introduced any new tax. Instead, our revenues have increased by 17%. Our fiscal deficit has also come down from 9.25% from the time of the BJP government to around 3% now,” as per the Wire.



Rajasthan’s Health Law: An ongoing saga of promises and protests

Karnataka Budget 2023-24: CM announces Rs. 4 lakh life & accident insurance policy for gig workers

Karnataka: Gruha Shakti scheme offers free travel to women, increasing footfall and revenue dramatically



Related Articles