ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Fairness of Minimum Wages for MGNREGA

Since 2009, wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme have been delinked from the Minimum Wages Act and have not changed from their real value in that year. As a result, MGNREGA workers have been victims of stagnating real wages. In some states, they are paid even less than the minimum wage. This raises serious questions of legality and fairness.

Tyranny of MGNREGA’s Monitoring System

The management information system of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 was hailed as a pioneering tool for enhancing transparency and accountability. However, it is now being used with impunity to centralise the programme and violate workers’ legal entitlements, causing frequent disruptions on the ground and opening new avenues for corruption in the programme.

Ten Ways MGNREGA Workers Do Not Get Paid

Recent evidence suggests that a significant number of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act workers are not paid at all for their work. An analysis of this phenomenon revealed that the increasing dependence on technology in the implementation of the act is creating new hurdles for wage payments.

The MGNREGA Crisis

A decade after coming into force, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is suffering from a decline in employment, budget caps, delays in wage payments and rampant violations of workers' entitlements. An examination of the case of Jharkhand points to reasons for this crisis, including the absence of a strong grievance redressal system, weak financial institutions, acute shortage of functionaries and indiscriminate use of technology. However, some initiatives taken by the state government and civil society in the recent past open up new possibilities for improving the programme.

Caste and the Power Elite in Allahabad

This article examines the social composition of public institutions in Allahabad, and specifically, the share of different castes and communities in positions of power and influence - the Press Club, the university faculty, the Bar Association, the police, and the commanding positions in trade unions, non-governmental organisations, media houses, among other public institutions. These turn out to be heavily dominated by a small group of upper castes - Brahmins and Kayasthas in particular. Disadvantaged castes, for their part, are largely relegated to subordinate or menial positions. The findings raise troubling questions about the resilience of caste hierarchies. Aside from better enforcement of reservation norms, there is an urgent need for more voluntary attention to diversity in public life, of the sort that has significantly reduced ethnic or gender imbalances in other countries.

Abandoning the Right to Food

The proposed legislation on the National Food Security Act has been steadily watered down since it was fi rst mooted in 2009. The Parliamentary Standing Committee that examined the 2011 Bill has disappointingly continued with "targeting". If the government passes the bill incorporating the committee's suggestions, a historic opportunity to combat hunger and malnutrition would be lost.

Evaluation of NREGA Wells in Jharkhand

A common criticism of the National Rural Employment Guarantee programme is that it does not lead to the creation of permanent assets and a sustained increase in incomes. This fi eld study of the construction of wells in one block in Ranchi district of Jharkhand shows that asset creation under this programme can result in the creation of income-generating assets.

The PDS in Rural Orissa: Against the Grain?

A report from a sample survey of the functioning of the public distribution system in 12 villages in two districts in Orissa, a state usually associated with a poor PDS. While there are errors in exclusion and inclusion of households covered, there has been a vast improvement in operation of the PDS; below the poverty line households seem to be receiving their entitlements. The households also express a strong preference for distribution of grain over cash.

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