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

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The MGNREGA Crisis

Insights from Jharkhand

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.

The author would like to thank Jean Drèze and Siraj Dutta for their comments and suggestions.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has been in a crisis for a few years now. Rural workers are finding it increasingly hard to get work and payment on time. Most of them are also denied their other entitlements under the act such as worksite facilities, unemployment allowance (when work is not given on time), and compensation in case wages are paid with delays.

This article discusses the nature and scale of the MGNREGA crisis in the country and goes on to examine the reasons for the crisis in Jharkhand, in the hope that this will help shed light on the situation in other parts of the country. Lastly, it discusses some of the promising initiatives that have been taken recently to improve MGNREGA in Jharkhand.

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