The National Advisory Council has suggested amendments to the Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010, and to the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Rules. It is also awaiting the comments of the Department of Personnel and Training (DOPT) to its suggestions on the new Right to Information Rules. Finally, in a bid to strengthen the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), as part of its food security scheme, the NAC feels it should be expanded.

These were some of the issues taken up by the NAC on Monday, when it met here under the chairpersonship of Sonia Gandhi. The meeting was attended by M.S. Swaminathan, Narendra Jadhav, Jean Dreze, Aruna Roy, Madhav Gadgil, Anu Aga, N.C. Saxena, A.K. Shiva Kumar, Farah Naqvi and Mirai Chatterjee.

The NAC members felt that exclusion of domestic workers from the purview of the Sexual Harassment Bill would render them vulnerable and deny them protection from abuse. Also, the inclusion of Clause 14 (punishment for false or malicious complaint and false evidence) would deter victims from seeking protection of the proposed legislation.

Extending protection

The NAC has, therefore, recommended extending protection to domestic workers; and removal of Clause 14. It will constitute a Working Group of its members to evolve an integrated and holistic approach to providing safeguards and security to domestic workers.

Dr. Saxena made a presentation on child malnutrition and the ICDS, emphasising the need to revamp it. For, nutrition support guaranteed to children under it is integral to any food security initiative. He suggested that the ICDS be expanded to include children from the age of six months to two years. Now it covers children aged 3-5. After discussions, the NAC decided to constitute a Working Group on ICDS Reforms.

Dr. Gadgil, Convener of the NAC Working Group on Tribal Development, made a presentation on issues of implementation of the Forest Rights Act. The Working Group has suggested amendments to the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Rules. The recommendations will be finalised after receiving comments from the Ministries concerned.

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