[op-ed snap] Is the MGNREGA being set up for failure?


MNREGA has been under constant criticism for being leaky and addressing only the symptom but not the disease.

However,the criticism ignores 2 very important things –

  1. Nearly all studies on MNREGA show its contribution in removing poverty.
  2. The voice of actual beneficiaries is hardly heard in any criticism.

Studies reveal that work under MNREGA have helped create rural infrastructure like anganwadis, toilets, rural roads etc. It has also helped in boosting agricultural productivity through development of wasteland/fallow land, and construction of post-harvest storage facilities and work sheds.

  1. It has been of huge help especially to female headed households.
  2. In many states, up to half of the MGNREGA income was spent on food, which improved health and nutrition — a critical factor in a country plagued by malnutrition.
  3. Skill development is necessary but it can effective only on a filled stomach – which MNREGA tries to achieve.

In recent years, effectiveness of MNREGA has not been upto mark because of delays in assigning work to those demanding and late payment of wages.

MGNREGA is a demand-driven scheme.

A widespread denial of work under MGNREGA and endless delays in wage payment would end up killing the demand for work. If that happens, it wouldn’t be long before the program is deemed a failure and wound up for good.

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