MGNREGA stands for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. MGNREGA is the world’s largest social security measure that aims to guarantee ‘the right to work’.
India is a country where the majority of the population lives in poverty. These population do not have even minimum funds to fulfil the necessities of their daily life. The government, therefore, brings out various types of welfare schemes for low-income individuals. MGNREGA is one such scheme that aims to improve the living condition of rural India. Since its inception, MGNREGA has benefited millions of people of rural India.
It was enacted in 2005 with the primary objective to enhance the livelihood of rural India. It provides 100 days of wage employment each financial year to rural households. The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Government of India monitor the implementation of this scheme in association with the state government.
Initially, MGNREGA was implemented as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in 2oo districts, in 2006. Later, the scheme was implemented in an additional 130 district. With the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2009 NREGA was renamed MGNREGA.
MGNREGA is an all-encompassing scheme with higher participation of women and SCs and STs individuals. It provides opportunities for women to earn and empower themselves. Under this scheme, payments are done by direct transfer into the beneficiary account. Interestingly, this has enabled the households to get freed from the clutches of local money lenders.
Moreover, it provides an alternative source of income to rural households and climbs out of poverty. It has also empowered the local Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) through the implementation and monitoring processes.
The program influences the life of rural masses and boosts their development. It addresses the cause of chronic issues like deforestation, drought, soil erosion, land and water conservation and so encourages sustainable development. Therefore, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act has the following goals:
- To revive the natural resource base of village areas.
- It empowers the socially disadvantaged groups such as women and SC and ST.
- To provide social protection to vulnerable groups of rural India by wage employment opportunity.
- To act as a vehicle for sustainable development of the agrarian economy.
- It focuses to deepen democracy at the grass root level by strengthening Panchayati Raj Institutions.
The Pitfalls of MGNREGA Scheme
We know, MGNREGA is the world’s largest program to alleviate poverty. It has reduced poverty and empowered the disadvantaged groups of the rural India. But some inherent flaws of the MGNREGA scheme limits the effectiveness of the program. Have a look at some of the pitfalls of the scheme:
Delay in Payment: MGNREGA workers face delay in their regular payment. Delay in payment take place due to several implementation issues in the states such as inadequate staff, poor record and report of attendance, data entry, generation of wage list, Fund Transfer Order (FTO) etc. Furthermore, the poor infrastructure of the bank in rural areas is another source of delay in wages of the workers. Moreover, such untimely payment risks the goal of poverty alleviation, the first Sustainable Development goal of ‘No Poverty’.
MGNREGA scheme mandates to provide wages within 15 days and to compensate in case there is a delay in payment of wages. Most of the states have failed to follow this rule and as a result, workers are losing interest to work under such a scheme.
Insufficient Budget Allocation: To ensure proper implementation of the scheme, a sufficient budget is necessary. The budget 2021-22 allocates Rs. 73,000 crores for MGNREGA. It is 35.52% below the revised estimate of Rs. 111,500 crores for 2020-2021. However, this is much lower than the World Bank recommendation of 1.7% of GDP for the proper functioning of the program. Due to inadequate budget allocation, the flow of funds in states is low. Consequently, it becomes difficult for the state government to meet the demand for employment under the MGNREGA scheme.
Ineffective Role of Panchayati Raj Institution: With very little power, gram panchayat is unable to implement the program in an effective and efficient manner.
Changes MGNREGA Brought:
- In 2014, World Bank refers to the MGNREGA as a stellar example of rural development. As per studies, MGNREGA initiatives has reduced poverty in rural areas. Moreover, it has prevented many from falling into poverty.
- It has created work and boosted incomes during the lean period. Furthermore, food, nutrient intake and health of people have improved as a consequence of the employment program.
- As a social protection measure, it attracts and has attracted the poorest of the poor to the employment scheme.
- The participation of Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribes and women are high since its launch. Majority of the workers in the MGNREGA scheme are women which accounts for more than 52% of the workers.
- Additionally, it accommodates the differently-abled as well as elderly by giving them tasks according to their ability.
Completing the 15 years of its launch, MGNREGA has provided social employment to the poor. The scheme is helping to alleviate poverty but it has several flaws that need attention. Moreover, the allocation amount must be increased for the proper implementation of the program. Reforms in other areas are necessary to reach the goal of ‘No Poverty’