What is MGNREGA?
- The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is an Indian law enacted on August 25, 2005.
- The MGNREGA provides a legal guarantee for “100 days of employment in every financial year to adult members” of any rural household willing to do public work-related unskilled manual work at the statutory minimum wage.
- The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Govt of India is monitoring the entire implementation of this scheme in association with state governments.
- Performance since inception:
- Persondays Generated (In Cr.): 3960.19 Total expenditure(Rs.In Cr.): 847982.27
- When first implemented, it was very controversial, for many considered it to be too ambitious in scope and a potential drain on the fiscal capacity of the Indian state.
- Before the World Bank lauded it as the world’s largest social security scheme, they cautioned against it, calling it a “barrier to development”.
- Over time, however, MGNREGA has emerged as one of the strongest social security nets for the rural poor in India.
Success of MGNREGA
- On an average, around 3 crore households seek work under MGNREGA and the number of active workers stands at over 15 crore. Around 3.16 crore households demanded work under MGNREGA in June 2022, compared to 3.07 crore in May, a jump of 2.9%. This indicates that the recovery in labour market is slow and daunting.
- MGNREGA has not only mitigated rural unemployment distress, it has also facilitated the empowerment of rural women. The scheme mandates that 3% of workers be women, trends over the last decade have regularly averaged at over 52% nationwide. Women’s participation in the scheme has historically been high.
- According to the MGNREGA MIS, around 40% of the total households employed under MGNREGS each year belong to people of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
- MGNREGA has also helped to reduce distress migration from rural areas to urban centres in search of bread and butter.
MGNREGA @ 17
- Same Issues @ 17
- Low budgetary allocation
- Delay in releasing funds & job cards
- Lack of effective coordination between centre & states
- Delay in states paper work over release of funds
- Season mismatch between demand & availability of work
- No unemployment allowance
- Non implementation of social audits
- Asset quality is always in question
- (Narega mafia on the rise )Leakages and corrurption in payment of wages
What else can be done?
- Hike in guaranteed days from 100 to 150
- Complete utilization of funds & timely documentation
- Unified wage rates across the country linked to inflation
- Compulsory Labour budget of MGNREGA
- Compulsory social audit of every project/asset
- Perhaps, a scheme for Urban employment too..!
Can we explore idea of Universal basic income?
- Lets hope for the best MGNREGA, which completes 17 years in 2022, has been a transformative legislation, enabling livelihoods and social security for millions.
- MGNREGA has been serving as an employment alternative for many not just during crises like Covid-19 pandemic but and in a “jobless”, yet a fast growing, economy.