The government has reconstituted the National Advisory Council (NAC), appointing eminent sociologist Virginius Xaxa to replace activist Aruna Roy.
Roy last week opted out of the panel and criticised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for refusing to pay the beneficiaries of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in line with the Minimum Wages Act.
The NAC, which is headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, now has 11 members, with all having terms co-terminus with that of the present government.
Xaxa, who was earlier a member of the faculty of Delhi University, is now a professor at Tata Institute of Social Sciences’ campus in Guwahati. He has written extensively on tribal communities.
Except Roy, all the other 10 members of the NAC have been given extension, while Xaxa has been inducted as the new face in the panel. Roy had been a member of the first NAC ever since the panel was constituted in June, 2004 – just about a month after the UPA came to power.
With Gandhi as the chairperson of the NAC, Roy and a few other development activists gave shape to the UPA Government’s agenda for social sector, including framing the landmark Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
Though the first NAC was dissolved with Gandhi’s resignation as its chairperson in the wake of the Office-of-Profit controversy in 2006, Roy returned as a member of the panel when it was reconstituted in 2010.