- Introduction on MGNREGA.
- Discuss the merits & demerits.
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 or MNREGA, earlier known as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or NREGA, is an Indian labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee the ‘right to work’.
Merits of MNREGA:
- Reduced rural and agrarian distress by providing alternative livelihood opportunities.
- Reduced distress migration to cities.
- Creation of durable capital assets like irrigation canals, tanks etc. to further rural development.
- MGNREGA has played a significant role in revitalizing the labour market in rural areas. The bargaining power of workers has increased due to MNREGA, and thus are able to command better wages.
- The legislation provides for in built checks like social audits.
- Provides employment to poor and disadvantaged during lean periods when no other work is available.
- Statistics indicate the inclusive nature of MNREGA with high participation of SC/ST and women.
- The scheme acts as a safety net to the rural poor during times of adversity such as droughts, floods or a failed harvest.
- MNREGA helped in lifting lakhs of people out of poverty, increasing consumption levels and boosting rural economy.
- Empowering gram panchayats by allowing them to plan their own works and untied funds to execute these works. No other programme has placed funds at this scale directly with gram panchayats.
De-merits of MNREGA:
- Corruption, leakages & inordinate delay in disbursement of wages.
- The average work days utilised per household is around 45 days, much less than stipulated 100 days.
- Fluctuation in fund allocation as a percentage of overall budget spending. There are huge delays in disbursing the funds to states, leading to people losing faith.
- Poor quality of assets created under the programme.
- Some economists view MNREGA as a populist scheme which is hurting India’s development by reducing urban migration, wasting human resources and creating wasteful assets.
- The rate of work completion has also reduced. It has fallen from 88% to 51% in the last three years.
Even World Bank has praised MNREGA for creating a revolution in rural India. MNREGA must be improved by addressing the above challenges, given its potential of touching the lives of grassroots and bringing in inclusive development.