Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employmement Guarantee Act-Making People lazy?

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) is an Indian job gurantee scheme, enacted by legislation on August 25, 2005. The scheme provides a legal guarantee for one hundred days of employment in every financial year to adult members of any rural household willing to do  unskilled manual work at the statutory Rs.100 per day. The nature of public work may be decided by the local panchayat. However the nature of work should ulitmately lead to rural development. Works like water conservation by renovation of existing ponds and tanks and also contruction of new water harvesting structures, afforestation, rural connectivity, construction of check damsThe financial outlay for the scheme in 2010-11 is Rs40100 crores, which indeed is a big money
Though it was a scheme to ensure rural employment it was made mandatory through the MGNREG act of 15th August, 2005.
The scheme might have a wonderful objective of ensuring income to a family and that a family should not suffer due to lack of employment. The scheme is implemented at field level by local panchayat, were a person People welfare assistant supervises the work and the local governing body decides on the nature of work to be done in the work and also the wages.
Earlier there were many loop holes and the money was largely misused. Intstead of people, Bulldozers and other machineries were used for the work and in the accounts it was shown that the wages was given for labour work to many poor people. But that ensured that the particular work is atleast half done.
Now it is ensured that real labour work is done. But practically there are states where a agricultural labourer gets more than Rs100/day (especially men). In Madurai the wage for Masonry  work for Kotthanar is Rs450/day. I states like Bihar the wage for labourers is pretty low.
The Present loop holes
            Having watched closely the manner in which this scheme is implemented in villages around Madurai District of Tamilnadu , the following questions came to my mind.
  1. The act guarantees 100 days of employment to adult members of family. Practically Job cards were issued to women members (more than 90% of the total members enrolled in the scheme). The age group ranges from 18 to even 50 and above. The physical fitness of some of them is a cause of concern. Many of older age has fainted unable to bear the hard sun.
  2. Mostly tank renovation work is given, in which each women member is allotted with a specific area. Women find difficult to do the digging works using “Manvetti” and “Kadapari”, especially the aged one. Since the wage is uniform,  the productivity of women who has stamina is also reduced. They willfully under perform.
  3. Though the work is stipulated for 8 hrs, they  start the work only late from 9.00 to 10 Am usually and close by . It’s a common sight that, many rest under the tree after doing an hour or two hrs of work. Women use this as a place for gossip, playing dice and they really enjoy the leisure.
  4. Men do not prefer this work since they get higher pay outside.
  5. On contrary, women do not go for agricultural labour work in individuals land since they have to work atleast for hrs and also less paid. Compartively this scheme of Government offers them wage without or with meager work.
  6. The purpose of rural development viz renovation of tanks and ponds etc. remains in paper. Desilting, deepening of tanks rarely happens.
  7. The local panchayat and block administration knows everything and yet they could not do anything about this.
  8. Some of the women on the other hand who received job cards did not go work work at all since they have other income sources.

This is an example of how a big scheme like this, ends in a failure and does not end in producing desired results. People have become too selfish. If the tank is renovated, it can catch more water, the ground water level will increase, agriculture will be better and the whole village has a chance of growing economically better. But the money goes as waste. Worse, again the people will blame the Government for not solving their water problem. Everybody should realize the responsibility .

Free Television, free gas stove, waiver of agricultural loans (only landlords got benefited largely) and now this employment guarantee act is reducing the morality of the people. Everybody knows about the havoc caused by Tsunami. The flow of foreign funds to affected area, made the fisherman community to forego work in many villages for six months to one year, since they got money even without working. Even Compassion should be executed with caution and that is the curse of todays society.

If  the above passage gave you the message that the poor should not be supported you are really wrong. We are very good at evolving schemes and we fail in the implementation part. We should ensure that the purpose is achieved. The end result should be beneficial and not negative. Mostly, it yields negative. Politicians are happy as long as people are happy. They never mind about how far they are spoiling the society. They mind only about one thing- to be in  power and amass wealth.

People who have real concern for the Nation, should not get dejected by the happenings. Contribute to the society. Educate the people. Make them understand where the society is leading. Make effort like a spider keep spinning its web. And that will keep you happy. One day the society will change and the world will change. Afterall, nothing is permenant except change

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