You are here: Home » Economy & Policy » News
Business Standard

Economists petition Modi against dilution of MGNREGA

Alarm bells on rural jobs guarantee law

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

MNREGA

A group of around 30 economists from India and abroad have written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to ensure there is no dilution or restriction of the provisions of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

They have argued the scheme has wide-ranging social benefits, beside creation of productive assets. They have said corruption was and remains a problem in implementation but experience shows this can be curbed. And, the gains achieved have been substantial and amply justify further efforts to make it a success.

“Against this background, it is alarming to hear of multiple moves (some going back to the preceding government) to dilute or restrict the provisions of the Act. Wages have been frozen in real terms and long delays in wage payments have further reduced their real value. The Act’s initial provisions for compensation in the event of delayed payments have been removed,” the letter said.

There have been reports that the rural development ministry has plans to scale down coverage under the programme to 250 backward districts, instead of the entire country as now.

The economists who wrote the letter include Dilip Abreu, professor of economics at Princeton University; V Bhaskar, professor of economics at the University of Texas at Austin; Jean Dreze, visiting professor at the department of economics in Ranchi University; Pulin Nayak, professor of economics, Delhi School of Economics and Sujata Visaria, assistant professor of economics at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

The letter said the labour to materials ratio under MGNREGA is sought to be reduced from 60:40 to 51:49, without any evidence that this would raise productivity of works under the programme. For the first time, the central government has plans for capping MGNREGA expenditure by state governments, undermining the very principle of work on demand.

The economists point to signals from the government on an amendment aimed at restricting the scheme to the country’s poorest districts.

“This runs against the fundamental premise of the Act; gainful employment that affords basic economic security is a human right,” the letter said.

“We urge you to reverse this trend and ensure the programme receives all the support it requires to survive and thrive,” the letter said.

MGNREGA was enacted in 2006 by the previous UPA government, with the objective to provide a legal right for at least 100 days of unskilled wage employment in a year to willing adult members. Implemented initially in the 200 most backward districts, it was later extended in two phases to all over India.

Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Tue, October 14 2014. 00:47 IST
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
.