Sunday, March 31, 2013


MNREGA is flagship programme of government of India and if implemented in letter and spirit then this law has potential to change, alter and revolutionize the rural quarter. The MNREGA is a flagship programme of the Government of India that guarantees employment to one adult member of the family for minimum hundred days in rural areas. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is essentially demand driven scheme which provides employment to labour. With implementation of MNREGA 2.0, it is aspired that drawbacks of earlier times will be curtailed, minimized, and will be implemented in letter and spirit.
A basis of starting of NREGA is “development economics” and can be called as “Keynesian Economics”. UPA I, came to power on slogan of “aam aadami” and had support of Communist Parties, enacted this act which essentially based on welfare principle. The Ministry of Rural Development’s (MORD) budget has increased nearly 3-fold since FY 2006-07. In FY 2012-13, MORD allocations account for 14% of GOI’s budget. In FY2012-13, MGNREGA allocations account for 36% of total MORD budget. Recently Government has announced that MNREGA will be base of second green revolution. This underlines the pivotal role of this act in all welfare schemes.

 “Ragnar Nurkse, had pointed out that capital starved over-populated countries could build “social capital” in a big way by employing the surplus labour on a variety of projects. He had listed schemes concerning irrigation, drainage, roads, railways, housing, etc. In his view, the only danger was the onset of inflation caused by the increased demand for food and other wage goods,”[1] is written by P.S.APPU is his article on MNREGA in The Hindu. India has surplus and cheap labour which by this act is used for different productive purposes such as WBM road, digging of ponds, irrigation works and plantation. These activities are creating different assets in rural areas.Thus MNREGA is the way by which employment can be generated in rural areas with durable assets. It is often claimed by critics that MNREGA is nothing but “white elephant” and public money is spend and thus money like any other social security scheme is siphoned off to large extent. On other hand, supporters of this act, ideologically left wing, always support this scheme as panacea, cure and solution for all ills of rural India.  

Lot has been written and discussed about this act and diverse opinions are being discussed. Frankly I was very pessimistic about this act if not cynical. My view was this act essentially just concentrating on wage distribution and employment generation and issue of durable assets creation is never considered. Though different safety mechanism like social audit are incorporated in act itself, still major chunk of resources are still siphoned off in different ways. In nutshell I always believed that this “progressive act” should be scrapped altogether and rather concentration should be given on “human resource development”. I also always thought that MNREGA is essentially “regressive act” in the sense that this act is increasing government spending in manifold and diverse ways.

 Since initiation of MNRGEA approximately Rs 1, 10,000 crores has gone directly as wage payment to rural households and 1200 crores person days of employment has been generated. Thus from initiation focus of this scheme was wage payment and may be because of this stance durable assets are seldom created in MNREGA and I think this is the biggest drawback of this act. Similarly problems associated with implementation of MNREGA are like Competence of field staff, wasted interest of different agencies, General deterioration of development administration, Lack of effective community participation, Worsening of Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs), Lack of effective monitoring, Delay in wage payment, Lack of adequate monitoring and No durable asset creation. Though different safeguards are envisaged in act itself, still these problems hamper the implementation of the act. All these problems in detail explained in Section, MNREGA problems in implementation.
Though there are different problems involved in implementation and execution of MNREGA act, it has contributed substantially, over the years, in increasing rural wages and in process weaker sections of society has got bargaining power and also new sense of identity. In rural areas assets are created, barren areas are being used for cultivation and distress migration from rural migration has been decreased.


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