Evaluation of the MGNREGA Act, 2005: Impact and Implementation in India

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PREVIOUS YEAR QUESTION PAPERS

Evaluate the implementation of the MGNREGA Act, 2005 in India. (HPAS Mains Question Paper 2022 – GS 2, Q.20)

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) of 2005 is a landmark social welfare programme in India. The Act guarantees any rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual labour 100 days of employment in a fiscal year.

MGNREGA implementation has had both positive and negative effects on the socioeconomic status of rural households in India. 

The following are some of the critical advantages of MGNREGA implementation:

  • Employment Creation: The MGNREGA has successfully created jobs for rural households in India. Millions of people in rural areas have found work due to the program, particularly during agricultural distress. According to data on the MGNREGA website, the programme has generated over 4.1 billion person-days of employment since its inception in 2006. (as of February 2023).
  • Wage Rate: MGNREGA has played an essential role in raising wages for unskilled labour in rural areas. The minimum wage under MGNREGA is higher than the minimum wage in many states, which has helped to improve rural workers’ living standards.
  • MGNREGA has also aided women’s empowerment in rural areas by providing them with employment opportunities and a source of income. Women’s participation in the programme has steadily increased, assisting in reducing gender inequality in rural areas. The MGNREGA programme has played an essential role in empowering rural women by providing them with job opportunities. Women’s participation in the MGNREGA programme has increased from 46% in 2012-13 to 57% in 2021-22, according to data available on the MGNREGA website.
  • Asset Creation: The implementation of MGNREGA has resulted in the creation of several community assets, such as water conservation structures, rural roads, and public works, all of which have improved the overall living conditions of rural households. According to data on the MGNREGA website, 24 lakh works were completed under the MGNREGA scheme in the fiscal year 2021-22. (as of February 2023)

However, there have been some difficulties in implementing MGNREGA:

  • Delayed Payments: One of the most significant challenges in implementing MGNREGA is the delay in wage payments. This has led to a loss of trust in the programme among the rural population.
  • Corruption: MGNREGA implementation has also been plagued by corruption and misappropriation of funds, resulting in a decline in the program’s effectiveness.
  • Lack of Awareness: There is a lack of awareness among rural households about the entitlements and benefits provided by MGNREGA, resulting in low programme participation.
  • MGNREGA coverage is limited to rural areas only, and there is a need to expand the program’s coverage to urban areas to address unemployment in these areas.

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