Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA)- UPSC Current Affairs

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme

Here’s our today’s edition of Current Affairs Dialog box wherein we will discuss Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) in detail.

Navigate through the article to get useful insights on the topic and enhance your UPSC preparation. Its relevance to the CSE syllabus is mentioned below:

For Prelims:  Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, MGNREGA, MRD, MGNREGA Act, etc.

For Mains:  Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Issues and concerns related to MGNREGA, MGNREGA Funds.

Context

A report finds that the Union government owes funds to 15 States under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA).

Probable Question

Discuss the achievements and issues related to MGNREGA Scheme.  

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About MGNREGA

  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) was implemented through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005.
  • It is monitored by the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Government of India.
  • The core objectives of the MGNREGS are:
    • Providing not less than one hundred days of unskilled manual work as a guaranteed employment in a financial year to every household in rural areas as per demand, resulting in creation of productive assets of prescribed quality and durability;
    • Strengthening the livelihood resource base of the poor;
    • Proactively ensuring social inclusion and
    • Strengthening Panchayati Raj Institutions.
  • Salient Features of MGNREGA: 
    • The works have been divided into ten broad categories like Agricultural and Livestock related works, Flood management works, Fisheries and works in coastal areas, Watershed, Irrigation, and Rural Drinking water and Sanitation related works.
    • Nature of work provided can be semi or unskilled work.
    • It provides for employment of around 1/3rd of the women workforce under MGNREGA. 
    • In case the scheme fails to provide employees with 15 days, then the unemployment allowance needs to be paid.
    • A Social Audit of MGNREGA works is mandatory to increase accountability and transparency in the scheme.
    • The Gram Sabha and the Gram Panchayat approve the shelf of works under MGNREGA and fix their priority.
  • Beneficiaries in the scheme: 
    • Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST).
    • Small or marginal farmers.
    • Beneficiaries of land reforms.
    • Beneficiaries under the Indira Awaas Yojana of the Government of India.
  • MGNREGA Funds:
    • There are 3 components of the MGNREGA funds wage, material, and administrative. Out of these three, the entire (100%) responsibility of the wage component of MGNREGA, is on the Central Government.
    • The Central government is mandated to meet the cost of the wage bill by directly transferring it to the workers’ bank accounts.
    • The Central government is also required to pay the administrative cost and 3/4th of the material cost.
    • The cost of unemployment has to meet the State government, along with 1/4th of the material cost.
    • The wage seekers can raise their voices and make demands from the Gram Sabha, which is the principal forum for the same. 

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Concerns related to MGNREGA

  • The delay in releasing funds is in direct violation of the MGNREGA Act, which specifically mentions the payment of wages within a fortnight. 
  • The procedural problems include the absence of social audits to ensure transparency. 
  • More and more people are seeking work under MGNREGA, however not enough productive jobs are being created in rural areas.
  • It usually fails to provide promised 100 days of work and unemployment allowances. 

Way Forward

Following gaps needs to be filled to make MGNREGA more effective:

  • Funds Gap: Funds and resources provided by the government are not catering the need of the scheme in terms of work allocation, execution and payments, etc.  
  • Wage Gap: Wages provided under MGNREGA are less than the average minimum wages in the country. This needs to be increased considering the spike in prices of daily consumption goods and services.  
  • Employment Gap: The demand for work is more than the work provided to the seekers. There is a need to speed up projects and open them for MGNREGA workers.  
  • Administration Gaps: Due to political equations at various levels of governance, inadequate staff and governance machinery, work seekers keep waiting for work as well as wages for a long period of time. Filling these gaps will enhance the efficiency of the Scheme. 

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