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I would appreciate Dr.Jose for circulating the task force report and I read lot with lots of interest.
The report has touched many important areas and has raised a number of very important issues.

Probably our country would stand out standing in the number of government offices and
departments. For example to have a water connection at home you need to get clearance from
at least three departments and more depending of where you live. Even after that we cannot be
assured that we will get the connection. I think the presence of too many department makers the
decision making slow and I also fear that this is a real block for faster development. Places where
development has been faster has greater devolution and stronger interdepartmental
coordination. In another words subsidiary is some thing very important and it should be practices
at all levels which make the administrative machinery stronger. More over public money will be
managed more efficiently and the revenue will increase. I see a strong association between
public revenue and regulation. There is an assumption that no law means no revenue / evasion
of public payments like taxes. My argument is to the other way. Less regulation means more
revenue. I need to do some further research on this to endorse these arguments.

Let me give my thoughts on the issue of convergence. I see NREGA important from the following

    -      Decent work
    -      Effectively addressing of Gender
    -      Local Economic Development
    -      Productive Asset Building
    -      Community Development

Primarily it is a wage employment guarantee scheme but I am glad that it is not seen as a
strategic approach to local economic development through revitalizing local economy. To make it
successful the following are very important

    -      Local Level Capacity Assessment and finding of gaps: It is important to assess
           the local economic capacities and find out the gaps. Activities to fill in the gaps could be
           planned and this could be linked with the NREGA activities. NREGA should be seen as a
           scheme that supports with free labor force the local economy. This means the relation
           between the cent re-state and the local bodies is very important.
    -      Identifying the development stakeholders: Identifying the various stakeholders in
           the local economic development and involving them in local development planning is very
           important. The development plans prepared at the local level could NREGA initiatives.
           What strategy that a local body follow to achieve the goal of local economic development
           si very important.
    -       Employment Generation for Economic Growth: activities like NREGA also have a
           component of local demand generation though increasing the cash flow and the
           purchasing power which in way will improve the production. More than convergence I
           look at these schemes as more relevant in supporting other productive activities at the
           local level.
    -      Convergence/ Integration/ Intra and inter sectional coordination: This is very
           critical for its success. Since the asset building is an important aspect of NREGA activities
           I think again the departments should have a supportive role to enhance local economic
           development. NREGA should continue to be an autonomous wage employment
           guarantee entity. More than the convergence I consider this as an employment
           guarantee entity. Like the employment exchanges NREGA could be a part of the labor
    ministry and it should have a data base of unskilled laborers across the country. The
    provision of unskilled employment should not be just limited to the public sector rather it
    could be opened up for the private sector. The employable population register should
    provide detail of the unskilled labor force available with in the country. This would also
    facilitate regulating the employment of unskilled workers across the country.
-   Skill Up gradation: another area NREGA could look in to u upgrading of the skills
    through various trainings and other activities. Probably schemes like TRYSEM could be
    implemented through NREGA.
-   I thing the technical consortium should work with the local level planning
    body and should support them local government with technical advise. Now the issue is
    whom these technical bodies are accountable and if not accountable to the local
    government how is it possible to enforce certain technical consultations? I am a little bit
    skeptics how far the consortium shall be of beneficial and how productive it would be??
-   One significant change in the administrate process could be interdepartmental
    coordination to fasten the decision making on the technical clearance. Departments
    should work in coordination rather than being antagonistic.
-   It is also important to align the NREGA activities with the national
    development goal and work undertaken should match with the national development
-   Along with the technical advisory body it might be advisable to have a
    professional consultant team identifies who would provide support with preparation
    of local plans. A single window system for linking the local governments with the state
    and national governments and its various departments might be of great help.
-   Technological Integration- Use of ICT and an electronic data base of the potential
    employees could also better facilitate the convergence exercise.
-   Convergence not only at the planning level but it is important to have at the
    implementation and monitoring levels. More than a technical consortium a
    departmental consortium should be developed. The services of the departmental
    consortium are quite important. Some thing on the lines of the tax collection centers
    developed by FRIENDS could be worked out the planning and implementation of the
    development activities at the local, state and national level.
-   Not just merging of fund but merging of functions is very critical to have faster
    decision making and economic development. A standard convergence structure could be
    as follows;

                                                                                  Departments     C
                     ADMINISTRATIVE CONSORTIUM                                                    O
         L                                                                  C                     O
         O                                                                  O      Agriculture    N
                             Technical             Professional
         C                  Consortium             Consultants              N
         A                                                                  V                     I
         L                                                                  E         Health      N
                                                                            R                     I
         P                                                                  G                     U
                                         NREGA                                                    M
         L                                                                  A       Education
         A                                                                  N                     P
         N                                                                  C                     L
         S                                                                  E         Natural     A
                    Employee Register            Employer Register                   Resource     N
Convergence should be mainly to improve the effectiveness of NREGA and provide broader
employment options to those registered under the NREGA with various local governments. The
NREGA employee roaster should be consolidated at the district level and employee concentration
pockets could be provided through electronically managing the employee register.

The convergence could improve the out reach of the aspirants for job under NREGA and can
facilitate faster local economic growth.

Hope these thoughts would help.


Toms K Thomas

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