The Prime Minister's Office on Sunday finalised the names of 11 members of the National Advisory Council, the consultative body chaired by Congress president Sonia Gandhi that is intended to serve as an interface between the government and civil society and as the laboratory for inclusive economic and social legislation and policy initiatives.

While economist-activist Jean Dreze, Right to Information campaigner Aruna Roy, retired bureaucrat N.C. Saxena and economist A.K. Shiva Kumar have been renominated into the body, which has been defunct since 2008, seven key civil society personalities have been drafted for the first time.

These are the women's rights and minority rights activist Farah Naqvi, businesswoman and philanthropist Anu Agha, agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan, Planning Commission member, the former Reserve Bank of India economist and noted Dalit writer Narendra Jadhav, social worker Deep Joshi, ecologist Madhav Gadgil and former bureaucrat-turned-rights activist Harsh Mander.

Rita Sharma, an IAS officer who retired as rural development secretary earlier this year, will be member-secretary.

A few more names will be finalised in the next few days, senior officials say, but the NAC will remain a compact body that can help the government frame key laws like the proposed Food Security Act.

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