Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

Caste-wise split in MGNREGA wage payments


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: MGNREGA

Mains level: MGNREGA

The Centre has asked the States to split wage payments under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme into separate categories for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and others from this financial year.

What is MGNREGA?

  • The MGNREGA stands for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act of 2005.
  • This is a labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee the ‘Right to Work’.
  • The act was first proposed in 1991 by P.V. Narasimha Rao.

The objectives of the MGNREGA are:

  • To enhance the livelihood security of the rural poor by generating wage employment opportunities.
  • To create a rural asset base that would enhance productive ways of employment, augment and sustain a rural household income.

What is so unique about it?

  • MGNREGA is unique in not only ensuring at least 100 days of employment to the willing unskilled workers, but also in ensuring an enforceable commitment on the implementing machinery i.e., the State Governments, and providing a bargaining power to the labourers.
  • The failure of provision for employment within 15 days of the receipt of job application from a prospective household will result in the payment of unemployment allowance to the job seekers.
  • Any Indian citizen above the age of 18 years who resides in rural India can apply for the NREGA scheme. The applicant should have volunteered to do unskilled work.
  • Employment is to be provided within 5 km of an applicant’s residence, and minimum wages are to be paid.
  • Thus, employment under MGNREGA is a legal entitlement.

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.Among the following who are eligible to benefit from the “Mahatma Gandhi national rural employment guarantee act”?

(a) Adult members of only the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe households.

(b) Adult members of below poverty line (BPL) households.

(c) Adult members of households of all backward communities.

(d) Adult members of any household.

What is the move?

  • States were asked to verify if job cards for SC and ST beneficiaries were being properly allocated at the field level.
  • They were told they would be given fund allocations according to this criterion, indicating that labour budgets would also be segregated on a caste basis.
  • It was aimed at timely wage payments.

Reasons behind

  • There is some inbuilt positive discrimination in the scheme, reflected in the fact that more than 50% of workers are women and almost 40% are SC/ST.
  • However, it felt that the proposed reform would not help SC/ST workers, but would expose all workers to further uncertainties as the system struggles with changes.

Issues with the announcement

  • Workers’ advocates feared this move would cause unnecessary delays and complications in the payment system, and worried that it could lead to a reduction in scheme funding.
  • The rationale was very simple. It is not as if the payments made to SC and ST are not reported on the NREGA website, but overall, in terms of the budgetary outlay.
  • When people take an assessment merely on the Budget head under which the programme is budgeted, then they miss out on this intricate nuance.
  • So the Finance Ministry advised that both the Centre and States should make Budget provisions under SC and ST components as well.

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2 years ago



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