From tailors to paani poori sellers: MGNREGA lends a hand to migrant returnees -Ishan Kukreti

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published Published on Jul 22, 2020   modified Modified on Jul 24, 2020

-Down to Earth

DTE visited village Dhamna in Uttar Pradesh’s Jalaun district to see how life in rural India is being sustained by the biggest employment guarantee scheme in the world

People don’t eat paani poori during a pandemic. Out-of-business garment shops don’t employ tailors or hire security guards.

It’s been five months since the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and the subsequent countrywide lockdown stripped migrant labourers of their livelihood, leading to a wave of reverse migration.

Many workers have left metropolises and big cities to return to smaller towns and villages. But what do they do? Tailors, watchmen or vendors of snacks like paani poori don’t have much work in villages.

In villages, several returnees are landless or own small land holdings, which was primarily why they migrated to cities — for a better income and life. So, falling back on agriculture is hardly an option.

Help, though, has arrived through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005. Once criticised as the biggest failure of the United Progressive Alliance government by the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi and touted as a scheme geared towards “nothing but digging holes”, the scheme is now making sure that returnees are not without an income.

New job cards essential to get work under MGNREGA are being made on priority; works are being sanctioned reportedly without red tape; and payments are being made fast.

Down to Earth visited village Dhamna in Uttar Pradesh’s Jalaun — a district counted among the most backward — to see how life in rural India is being sustained by the biggest employment guarantee scheme in the world.

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Down to Earth, 22 July, 2020, https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/economy/from-tailors-to-paani-poori-sellers-mgnrega-lends-a-hand-to-migrant-returnees-72414


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