ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles By Ankita Aggarwal

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.

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.

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.

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.