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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 01 February 2023


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 01 February 2023


Contents

  1. Prioritizing the Worker and their Dues in NREGA Reforms  
  2. Groundwater Governance in Nigeria is Better

Prioritizing the Worker and their Dues in NREGA Reforms


Context

  • The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has undergone reforms before, but they are frequently enacted with a zeal that exceeds the capacity for adaptation.
    • Because of weaker administrative capacity, poorer States struggle more to adapt than those that are better off.
    • Every time the administrative system recovers from a reform movement, it is hit by another.

Relevance:

GS Paper-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Mains Question

State governments have played a pivotal role in the successes and failures of NREGA, and any proposed reforms must be tabled in State assemblies in addition to Parliament. Discuss (250 Words)


Key Points:

  • A committee to suggest reforms has been formed instead of paying attention to the long-standing demands of workers and their collectives;
  • NREGA is underperforming because its most fundamental design principles have been forgotten or purposefully ignored;
  • The most recent concern of the central government is over the program’s “regressive” spending pattern, where poorer States spend less NREGA funds than better-off ones.

MGNREGA

  • MGNREGA is one of the biggest work guarantee programmes in the world. It stands for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
  • The scheme’s main goal is to provide 100 days of guaranteed employment each fiscal year to any adult member of a rural household who is willing to perform unskilled manual labour for the public good.

The following are the main characteristics of the programme:

  • The right to work is a legal one;
  • Wages must be paid in accordance with the statutory minimum wages set by the States.
  • A legally supported, demand-driven guarantee that any adult living in a rural area will find employment within 15 days, or else a “unemployment allowance,” should be provided.
  • The act encourages decentralisation and gives the PRI a big part in planning and carrying it out.
  • Social audits of MGNREGA projects are required, which promotes transparency and accountability.
  • The Gram Sabha is the main venue where wage-seekers can speak up and make demands.
  • The Gram Sabha and the Gram Panchayat approve the list of projects funded by MGNREGA and establish their order of priority.

The following are problems with MGNREGA:

  • A lack of funding messes up the employment demand-supply cycle. Lack of resources inhibits the demand for work and the post-covid rural economic recovery.
  • Inefficiencies and an unholy alliance between PRI and officials make it difficult to implement a scheme correctly, such as when job cards are duplicated.
  • The phenomenon of low quality and high inefficiency in work, which has a negative impact on rural economy asset creation.
  • Long before NREGA was implemented, corrupt practises such as improper pay distribution to employees, the production of fake bills, payment delays, and fund scamming were practised there, which resulted in the program’s epic failure and government criticism.
  • Insufficient support: Offering just 100 days of employment is insufficient given that the unemployment rate has reached a 45-year high of 6%.
  • Gram panchayats are unable to effectively and efficiently implement this act due to their limited autonomy, which plays an ineffective role in the PRI.

Measures Required to Address the Problems

  1. Address wage payment delays
    1. To address wage payment delays in order to regain the workers’ trust in the programme.
    1. The Supreme Court of India ordered the government to make sure that wages were paid on time in 2016, describing the practise of making employees wait for pay for months as “forced labour.”
    1. In order to eliminate bottlenecks, the Ministry of Rural Development must streamline the payment process and be open about unpaid wages in stages one and two.
  2. Boosting Capabilities for Implementation
    1. To increase implementation capabilities where spending is minimal rather than reducing spending where employment generation is substantial.
    1. States that spend more money on the programme are doing a better job of implementing it because they have better capacities, according to a number of studies, including the government’s own Economic Survey from 2016.
    1. Reforms cannot be based on “targeting” more effectively for a social security programme that is universal and demand-based like NREGA.
    1. The emphasis must be on exclusion rather than “errors” in inclusion.
  3. Implement software like a demand-based law
    1. To implement the programme as a demand-based law rather than a scheme. One of the main causes of State governments’ inability to guarantee the full potential of NREGA is the central government’s sporadic and unpredictable fund releases.
    1. As of right now, 24 States are owed 18.191 crore in liabilities.
    1. States with poor performance typically discourage and frequently reject the demand for work due to insufficient funding.
  4. Hold conversations about any proposed reforms. Participatory:
    1. Discussions about any proposed reforms need to be participatory. o The NREGA was created in response to the demands of a strong people’s movement in India, and one of its main pillars has been its ground-breaking provisions for public accountability.
    1. Since state governments have had a significant impact on the NREGA’s successes and failures, any proposed reforms must be discussed with representatives from civil society organisations, labour unions, and self-help groups in addition to being presented to State assemblies and Parliament.
  5. Map the Impact of Each of its “Reforms”: It is time for the Indian government to make a sincere effort to map the effects of each of its “reforms” on NREGA spending and access, especially in States with lower incomes.

Conclusion:

Instead of concentrating solely on administrative and fiscal efficacy, NREGA reforms must prioritise providing workers with easy and dignified access to entitlements.


Groundwater Governance in Nigeria is Worth following


Context

  • With nearly 18% of the world’s population, India occupies 2.4% of the planet’s land area and uses 4% of its water resources.
  • The country’s groundwater resources are under stress due to a rapidly expanding economy and population, so groundwater resource governance has become a crucial issue for the nation.

Relevance:

GS Paper-2: Government Policies, Governance and related issues.

GS Paper -3: Water Resources and its conservation.

Mains Question

What steps is the Indian government taking to improve groundwater governance? Include some recommendations for additional improvement. (250 Words).


Key Points:

 According to a World Bank report, India uses more groundwater than any other country in the world. There is no federal law governing the use of groundwater, and each State has its own laws governing its extraction that are applied haphazardly.

Significance of Ground Water

  • Groundwater is crucial to India’s agriculture and drinking water security in both rural and urban areas, providing nearly 80% of the nation’s drinking water needs and 2/3 of its irrigation requirements.
    • India, one of the economies that is expanding the fastest, will require sufficient groundwater resources to handle anthropogenic pressures.
  • In order to fulfil the Jal Jeevan Mission’s goal of providing clean drinking water to every rural household by 2024, it is crucial to ensure source sustainability.
  • Indian water security depends heavily on groundwater.

Dynamic Ground Water Resource Assessment, 2022

  • A report titled “National Compilation on Dynamic Groundwater Resources of India” that provides an overview of the groundwater situation in India was recently made public by the Ministry of Jal Shakti.
    • The results of the groundwater assessment point to a favourable tendency toward groundwater management.
      • Key Results
    • The number of “overexploited” groundwater units has decreased by 3%, and the number of “safe” category units has increased by 4%, according to the most recent assessment.
    • The annual extraction of groundwater is 239.16 BCM, while the total annual groundwater recharge is 437.60 BCM.
    • In 909 units, the state of the groundwater improved.
    • The assessment also revealed a decrease in annual extraction (of about 9.53 billion cubic metres); the figures for irrigation, industry, and domestic use are 208.49 BCM, 3.64 BCM, and 27.05 BCM, respectively.
  • According to the assessment for 2022, groundwater extraction is at its lowest level since 2004 (231 bcm).

Initiatives for Better Groundwater Governance:

  • The federal government is working with the states and union territories to manage groundwater sustainably.
    • During this process, a number of significant initiatives have been noted, including A reduction in groundwater extraction to below 70%.
  • Extending the groundwater observation well network.
  • Setting up digital water level recorders for ongoing observation.
  • routine groundwater quality inspections.
  • Data dissemination and aquifer mapping.
  • Improving industry regulation of groundwater extraction.
  • Supporting routine groundwater resource assessments and participatory groundwater management.
    • Establishment of the Jal Shakti Ministry (by combining the former Ministries of Drinking Water and Sanitation, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation), which will help to advance the management of water resources with a focus on demand and supply.
    • After recognising the value of community involvement, the Jal Shakti Abhiyan was started to turn Jan Shakti into Jal Shakti through the creation of assets, rainwater harvesting (the “Catch the Rain” campaign), and a broad awareness campaign.
    • Other initiatives, such as the National Project on Aquifer Management and the Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABY), have been taken to effectively manage and regulate groundwater (NAQUIM).
      • In order to achieve “participatory groundwater management,” ABY seeks to foster the kind of behavioural modification made possible by incentives.
  • Aquifers that contain water are to be mapped as part of NAQUIM in order to collect accurate information and allow for well-informed decision-making.
  • Out of the nearly 25 lakh square kilometres that can be mapped, about 24 lakh square kilometres of the country have been mapped. By March 2023, the remaining area should be mapped.
  • Rapid and precise aquifer mapping has been achieved by combining traditional exploratory techniques with a heliborne-based survey (state-of-the-art technology).
    • Boosting the Number of Monitoring Stations
      • There are currently 7,885 automated monitoring stations in India, which makes up about 65,025 total monitoring stations. o This number is expected to rise to over 84,000, with over 35,000 automated stations being added, with a particular focus on identifying groundwater-stressed areas and industrial and urban clusters that extract a lot of groundwater. o Dynamic groundwater assessments will now be performed annually, and a committee has been formed to review the assessment methodology.
  • Additionally, a programme called the “India-Groundwater Resource Estimation System (IN-GRES)” has been created.

Need Of The Hour

  • Communities will need assistance from numerous governmental and non-governmental organisations to better manage their groundwater resources.
    • In the context of climate change, efforts must be made to find solutions that are crucial for sustainable development as uncertainties in relation to groundwater resources will grow.
    • According to a draught national water policy, recycling should take precedence over using freshwater for industrial purposes and water-intensive crops should be abandoned.
    • Water shouldn’t be viewed as a free, private resource; instead, its costs should be calculated and shared fairly.
    • Despite the fact that water is still a divisive political issue in India, the global warming crisis should inspire agreement on the need to discourage wasteful consumption of this limited resource.
    • The initiatives taken by various governments have started to show results, which is why the groundwater resource assessment report for 2022 predicts a better future for groundwater conditions in the nation.
      • This is a fresh start, and action must be taken to make India a water-surplus country, achieving one of the main Sustainable Development Goals of the UN: providing access to clean water for all.

Conclusion:

The government’s efforts to improve the general groundwater situation in India show a commitment to cooperative federalism in the management of this priceless resource.


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