Choking the Lifeline of Rural Economy: MGNREGS during COVID-19 Lockdown -Manish Kumar
When the entire country is under a lockdown and many economic activities stopped, thousands of unemployed workers are returning to their home states due to lack of money and food. In such a situation, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) could have played a very important role in generating income and demand in the economy. However, the official data available from the MGNREGS website of the Ministry of Rural Development show that the employment generation in the MGNREGS has been abysmally low during the period of lockdown.
The MGNREGS has been subject to an overall neglect under the NDA government. Under the current regime, the processes of social oversight and auditing were progressively weakened, the scheme was bureaucratized, and allowed to be used to serve narrow local political interests. There is also a growing problem of delays in payment of wages in the scheme. In terms of the overall political narrative, the scheme has been subjected to the typical double-speak of the present government. In 2015, the Prime Minister characterized the MGNREGS as a symbol of failure of previous governments. On the other hand, in 2016, the PM underlined the scheme as “a landmark in our history in removing poverty from the face of the nation”. Although the scheme has been retained, its implementation has been marred by paucity of funds and delays in release of allocated funds. In the current financial year (2020-21), the Government has reduced the allocation for the scheme to Rs. 61.5 thousand crores from Rs. 71 thousand crore spent last year.
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Vikalp.ind.in, 13 May, 2020, https://www.vikalp.ind.in/2020/05/choking-lifeline-of-rural-economy.html?fbclid=IwAR0ZZ2Q71XU19ptMFdOmFXhfa8skHpnCoZMzlQ-eHB5YFK7hb24s2KWiJo8