50 days extra work for drought hit areas under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Act (MGNREA) … a review.

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Soumen Maitra, EMBA KOL 2015-18, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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People in drought-hit areas will get additional 50 days of work under the MGNREGA scheme due to monsoon deficit in various parts of the country. At present, 100 days of work is provided to rural job card holders under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). The social targets of MGNREA was to give Income and livelihood Security, Gender and social empowerment, Sustainable asset creation, Environment and Agricultural productivity, Labour market and migration, Governance and process challenges, Initiatives to strengthen MNREGA.In line with that the announcement has been done to support the farmers and rural people to sustain. But, to go to the basics, that actually shall this help in long term?

The main drawback of this scheme is lack of durable asset creation. Yes it is true that it had created a lot of opportunity in rural areas, and employment is also given to rural un-skilled citizens, but  success of NREGA should not only be assessed in terms of employment provided but also the asset created. In that matter it is not as successful as it should be.

The Controller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its performance audit (2011) of the implementation of MGNREGA has found “significant deficiencies” in the implementation of the act.

A recent study by R. Jha and R. Gaiha, India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme as it is — interpreting the Official Report, using official data, concludes that “it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the NREGA has not performed well…. It is difficult to rationalise providing even more funds to this initiative.” They also find that “official claims of higher agricultural wage rates and lower migration are mostly exaggerated, if not fantasised…field-report suggests a growing sense of entitlement”

According to NREGA guidelines, payments for the work should be made within 14 days of the completion of the work. However delay in payment and incorrect payments are a common problem under NREGA. A Bench comprising Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan and Justices Deepak Verma and B. S. Chauhan of Supreme Court also found that “There is no uniform policy. The money is not reaching actual beneficiaries,” in a judgement in July 2012.

In conclusion MNREGA cannot be a long-term solution to the unemployment problem of rural India and a contingency tool. A comprehensive and a more sustainable solution that creates large-scale self-employment opportunities in the secondary and tertiary sectors in the rural areas, stimulates demand and last but not the least, increases rural productivity still need to be found.

Refernces:

  • Business Today ; New Delhi ; 16 Sep
  • All-India Report on Evaluation of NREGA
  • MGNREGA Sameeksha 2012
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