Department Wings
SF 1 (MGNREGA)

Introduction

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (NREGA) guarantees 100 days of employment in a financial year to any rural household whose adult members are willing to do unskilled manual work. The Act has come into force with effect from February, 2006 in 200 districts initially and later on extended to all the rural districts of India from the financial year 2008-09. The Act is an important step towards realization of the right to work. It is also expected to enhance people’s livelihood on a sustained basis, by developing the economic and social infrastructure in rural areas. The choice of works seeks to address the causes of chronic poverty such as drought, deforestation and soil erosion. Effectively implemented, the employment guaranteed under the Act has the potential of transforming the geography of poverty. NREGA is the most significant act in the history of Indian polity in many ways like grass-root level participation of every citizen and beneficiary through democratic process, multilayered social audit and transparency mechanism by involvement of civil society, comprehensive planning at village level towards sustainable and equitable development etc. Important salient feature of the Act is to improve the quality of life of rural households who are vulnerable to outmigration in search of daily wage employment by channelizing the wage workforce towards developmental activities at the village level itself. The scheme was initially in progress in the first phase of 200 districts during its cognitive stage has generated lot of enthusiasm among social scientists, and NGOs and led them to initiate several surveys on their own. The surveys as in the cases of any other scheme are centered on the end results such as targeting all the needy beneficiaries, and implementation of the Act in letter and spirit. The scheme is gigantic in nature and in the process of implementation and achieving the desired output; there are many issues which are straddling the implementing agencies right from District to Gram Panchayat. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, besides, the main features mentioned in the above background note, also involves participatory planning and implementation of the scheme through (i) proactive role of Gram Sabha, (ii) rigorous & continuous monitoring by way of social audit, and (iii) involvement of ordinary people at the grass-roots level. It addresses (i) chronic poverty, (ii) drought, (iii) deforestation, (iv) soil erosion etc. It also aims at (i) generating productive assets, (ii) protecting the environment, (iii) empowering rural women, (iv) arresting rural-urban migration. The scheme is implemented through collaborative partnership right from Grama Sabha to Central Government Community. participation by way of (i) Grama Sabha, (ii) local vigilance & monitoring committees, and (iii) Self Help Groups (SHGs), and ensures active role by Civil Society Organizations. At official level, the scheme was embedded with inbuilt monitoring & evaluation mechanism at every layer of implementation including online monitoring through Monitoring and Information System (MIS). The scheme is implicitly strengthened by mandatory and active participation of local community, and complete transparency in all operations and record keeping. Nevertheless, due to massive funding, extensive coverage of beneficiaries, there is a necessity to identify and assess the ground realities, channelizing labor-intensive activities into sustainable assets at village level, besides, studying the impact of the scheme on migration, quality of life etc. Since the scheme is going to be in place for an undefined period of time, and is being enlarged in terms of scope and geographical coverage, there are many challenges like no homogeneity in its effectiveness, region specific disparities and outcomes etc. It is exactly due to this reason; few NGOs have already done some surveys. However, they are very much confined to one or two districts, and more importantly centered on systemic defects, rather than probing the impact on beneficiaries. Against this background, there is a necessity to carry out an empirical study with two pronged strategy i.e., (i) All India study by capturing signals from all corners of the country, taking into account all the regions, and (ii) comprehensive coverage of all the objectives and clauses enshrined in the NREG Act in a broad manner.

Administrative Branch
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