Significance of MNREGA Related Issues for UPSC
All MNREGA related issues are very important for UPSC Civil Services Examination. As, since the inception of MNREGA Scheme, almost every year the UPSC asks questions linked to this scheme in both UPSC Prelims and Mains Examinations.
Under Civil Services Mains examination syllabus MNREGA covers GS Paper 2 : Poverty, Government Policies & Interventions, Issues Relating to Development and GS Paper 3: Employment, Growth & Development.
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA)
Why MNREGA is in News?
- The Central government has recently constituted a Panel/committee to review the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme.
- The committee, headed by former Rural Development secretary Amarjeet Sinha, had its first meeting on November 21, 2022, and has been given three months to submit its suggestions.
Background of the MNREGA Panel
- The standing committee on rural development which submitted its report in February 2022, had suggested a complete revamp of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme keeping in view the changing times and emerging challenges.
- The committee strongly recommends the department of rural development to undertake a holistic review of the MGNREGA scheme in such a way which could ensure an increase of guaranteed days of work from 100 to 150 days.
Know about MNREGA Scheme
- The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was passed in 2005, and this demand-driven scheme guarantees 100 days of unskilled work per year for every rural household that wants it.
- MGNREGA was launched as a poverty alleviation instrument for the rural region, providing them with a safety net in the form of guaranteed work and wages.
- There are currently 15.51 crore active workers enrolled under the scheme.
- But states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where there is higher level of poverty, they haven’t been able to utilize the scheme optimally.
What did the standing committee on rural development recommend on Revamping MNREGA?
- The parliamentary standing committee on Rural Development and Panchayati Raj tabled the report on MNREGA in February 2022.
- In its critical analysis of the scheme, standing committee on rural development had suggested that the number of guaranteed work days under the scheme be raised to 150 from 100, its wages be revised upwards, 60:40 wage and material ratio should be reviewed and giving free basic medical facilities to all job card holders.
- The committee strongly recommends the department of rural development to undertake a holistic review of the scheme MGNREGA in such a way which could ensure an increase of guaranteed days of work from 100 to 150 days.
- The committee is also of the strong opinion that in prevailing situation of rising medical emergencies, it is imperative that all laborers working under MGNREGA must be given free basic medical facilities attached with job cards at the doorstep of respective villages.
- The committee strongly believed that value addition to the scheme such as skilling of laborers in different aspects, introduction of provision to upgrade the quality of life of the beneficiaries, increased utilization of technologies and software to ward off obstacles associated with wage transfer and verification of job cards are required changes needed to the scheme.
- Analyzing the budgetary allocation to the scheme year after year and substantial hike in the revised estimates each year, the Committee firmed up the view that the scheme is definitely showing an increase in demand as elicited by the ever increasing budgetary demand.
- The committee is of the view that budgetary allocation of a scheme of such enormous magnitude should be done in a more pragmatic manner so that there is no dearth of funds in mid-year and flow of funds for payment of wages, material share, etc. is maintained seamlessly.
What is the Task of MNREGA Panel?
- The Centre has formed Panel to Revamp MNREGA Scheme, especially to assess the program’s efficacy as a poverty alleviation tool.
- The Sinha committee to study the various factors behind demand for MGNREGA work, expenditure trends and inter-State variations, and the composition of work.
- It will suggest what changes in focus and governance structures are required to make MGNREGA more effective.
- The present committee will also look at the argument that the cost of providing work has also shot up since the scheme first started.
- MGNREGA critics also slam the scheme for the lack of tangible asset creation. The committee will study if the composition of work taken up presently under the scheme should be changed. It will review whether it should focus more on community-based assets or individual works.
The MNREGA Panel has to review the reasons and recommend ways to bring in a greater focus on poorer areas. Bihar, for example, despite its levels of poverty, does not generate enough work to make a concrete difference, and on the other end of spectrum we have Kerala which is economically better but has been utilizing it for asset creation. While Bihar needs MGNREGA more, we cannot deny Kerala the money because of the current structure of the program.
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Q. Who will head the MNREGA Panel to Revamp MNREGA Scheme?
Ans. Rural Development secretary Amarjeet Sinha will head the MNREGA Panel to Revamp MNREGA Scheme.
Q. Who recommended center to form a panel on Revamping MNREGA?
Ans. The standing committee on rural development which submitted its report in February 2022, had suggested a complete revamp of the MNREGA Scheme keeping in view the changing times and emerging challenges.
The committee strongly recommended the department of rural development to undertake a holistic review of the scheme MGNREGA.