More than 10 years since coming into force, the MGNREGA continues to be one of the most ambitious schemes of modern India. Discuss the impact of the scheme and highlight issues in its implementation.

More than 10 years since coming into force, the MGNREGA continues to be one of the most ambitious schemes of modern India. Discuss the impact of the scheme and highlight issues in its implementation.
Approach:
  • Introduce with MGNREGA
  • Enumerate the positive outcomes of the legislation
  • Highlight issues in its implementation
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :

The enactment of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) provided a legal guarantee for 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to any rural household. Its demand-based legal framework promised to provide a new dimension to the rural empowerment efforts.

Positive outcomes of this Act:
  • Social Capital: An institutional platform is provided for enabling the mobilization of all the stakeholders into group action which fosters cooperation and community action.
  • Physical Capital: Creating durable assets of higher quality, resulting in an improved production base.
  • Economic Opportunities: Income enhancements, savings and investments become possible through various allied activities.
  • Social empowerment: Mainly women and people from lower castes got benefit leading to their financial autonomy.
  • Strengthening Democratic Processes: Convergence awareness and planning at the grass root level has potential for greater ownership of projects.
  • Check on migration: As rural people get source of employment through this scheme, it led to reduction in migration.
  • Insurance against calamities: In case of draught and other natural calamities, this scheme provides an alternate source of income for farmers.
However, after a few years, the scheme’s performance and its impact on rural economy started waning. The scheme was also criticized for not creating durable assets, while the beneficiaries complained of corruption and delay in payments. Its implementation was also uneven across states.
Issues with the implementation:
  • There is a lack of appreciation of a demand driven, rights-based approach, both among communities and officials leading to inadequate community participation and consultation.
  • Poorly attended gram sabhas resulted in an incomplete or inappropriate list of activities to be undertaken.
  • While multiple cards being possessed by a single household is observed in some cases, the exclusion of several households is also quite common.
  • Delays in raising and approving bills and consequent delays in wage payments have also been quite common.
  • Poor capacity of Gram Panchayats, and poorer capacity support from official agencies, are common features.
Conclusion:
To overcome issues in the implementation and create durable assets, the MNREGS scheme has recently been revamped towards use of ICT tools, space technology, focus on improving livelihood resource base of people etc. Measure like National Electronic Fund Management System (NeFMS), Aadhaar seeding for direct wage payment, Geo tagging of assets and strengthening of Social Audit System are some steps being taken towards bringing in more transparency and accountability in the programme implementation.
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