Daily Editorial Analysis for 20th February 2023

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Going off-course


  • Union Budget allocated for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme for 2023-24 cut by 33%.

What is MGNREGA?

  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) 2005, is a flagship rural job scheme of the government aimed at providing employment opportunities to the rural poor.
  • It is one of the largest public work guarantee programs in the world and it has been instrumental in addressing the issue of rural poverty and unemployment in India.
  • Objective: The main objective of the program is to guarantee 100 days of employment in every financial year to adult members of any rural household willing to do public work-related unskilled manual work.
  • It aims at addressing the causes of chronic poverty through a rights-based framework.

Chopping of funds

  • Union Budget allocated for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme for 2023-24 is only ₹60,000 crore.
  • It has been cut by 33% lower than the ₹89,000 crore revised estimates for the scheme.
  • It is 18% lower than the ₹73,000 crore budget estimates for the current year.

Major criticism

  • Peoples’ Action for Status Guarantee and the NREGA Sangarsh Morcha activists have condemned the allotment for failing to reach the basic criteria of providing eligible households with 40 days of work rather than the constitutionally mandated 100 days.
  • The allotment has been criticized for being harsh on the poor, as well as a planned move by Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan to kill the law.
  • Fewer than 3% of families hired under MGNREGA completed the 100 days of labour required by law, with the average number of days of employment offered per home being 42, a five-year low.
  • The budget allocated to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) will only enable 16.64 days of work per active household.

What can be done to improve employment through MGNREGA?

  • Enhancing the ability and efficiency of the administration and implementing agencies to strengthen the implementation system.
  • Improving transparency and accountability: It is critical to establish clear and effective methods of monitoring, assessment, and grievance redressal to ensure that the programme is executed in a transparent and responsible way.
  • Improving financial management: The plan should be financially viable and have adequate mechanisms for tracking expenditures, work, and payment disbursement.
  • Promoting community ownership entails encouraging active community engagement in the scheme’s design and implementation to guarantee that the scheme’s benefits reach those who need them the most.
  • Developing human resources and technical capacities: Increasing the ability of field functionaries such as Gram Rozgar Sevaks and technical personnel to enable the scheme’s efficient execution.
  • Convergence with other schemes: To optimize its impact and efficacy, MGNREGA should be linked with other rural development schemes and initiatives.

Way forward

  • MGNREGA has been a game changer in tackling India’s rural poverty and unemployment. Nevertheless, it has a number of obstacles, including corruption, a lack of transparency, and insufficient funding, which must be addressed if the programme is to be more effective.
  • Despite its challenges, MGNREGA remains an important safety net for India’s rural poor, contributing to rural empowerment and inclusive growth.

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