Time to act on MGNREGA -Ankita Aggarwal and Anmol Somanchi
-The Indian Express
Covid-related crisis offers NDA government opportunity to increase work days, entitlements under the employment guarantee scheme.
In a recent article (‘Credit where it isn’t due’, IE, June 10), Union Minister for Rural Development Narendra Singh Tomar described the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) as a “failing scheme” before 2014. MGNREGA under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was by no means perfect, but when the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government came to power at the centre, it initially displayed hostility towards the programme, almost throwing it under the axe. In the recent past, the NDA has made some effort to increase the scale of MGNREGA employment and reduce delays in wage payments. But this has been the result of repeated censure by the Supreme Court and to mitigate the destitution caused by its ill-conceived policies such as demonetisation and the recent lockdown.
The initial five years of MGNREGA was a period of much progress. Expenditure and the scale of employment in the programme rose steadily till 2009-10. While corruption was a serious problem in the early years, introduction of bank payments in 2008 and the online management information system (MIS) in 2009 played an important role in increasing transparency in the implementation of the programme. Despite functioning with various irregularities, till 2014-15, MGNREGA exerted an upward pressure on rural agricultural wages, especially for women.
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The Indian Express, 12 July, 2020, https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/web-edits/mgnrega-unemployment-rural-development-swaraj-abhiyan-6502406/