7.5% dip in active workforce under MGNREGS, says study
According to a data analysis conducted by LibTech India, a consortium of academics and activists, the number of active workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) has decreased by 7.5% from April to September 2023. According to data accessible to October 6, 2023, the workforce has decreased from 15.49 crore in the previous fiscal year to 14.33 crore.
What is MGNREGS?
In September 2005, the Indian government passed the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. The Act guarantees adult members of rural households who want to work and are willing to conduct unskilled manual labour a hundred days of paid employment in a fiscal year.
What are the recent findings in the study done by LibTech India?
- Workforce Reduction: From the previous fiscal year, the number of active workers under MGNREGS reduced by 7.5%. During the designated period, the workforce shrank from 15.49 crore to 14.33 crore.
- Comparative Analysis: To give a comparison, LibTech’s MGNREGS tracker reviewed data from the prior fiscal years (2021-22 and 2022-23) within the same time frame.
- Net Worker Deletion: There was a net deletion of 80 lakh workers from the program during the current fiscal year.
What are the possible reasons for the dip in the workforce?
- Economic Conditions: Improvements in economic conditions or job possibilities in some locations may have prompted people to look for work outside of MGNREGS, lowering the program’s workforce.
- Agricultural Sessions: Seasonal fluctuations in agricultural work might have an impact on workforce participation. If the agricultural season overlaps with the MGNREGS time, more people may prefer farm employment to MGNREGS work.
- Urban Migration: People migrating to cities in quest of better career opportunities may limit the rural workforce’s participation in MGNREGS.
- Skill Development and Education: Some persons may have sought skill development or educational possibilities, causing them to exit from MGNREGS temporarily or permanently.
- Reduced Participation as a Result of Deletions: The report’s net deletion of 80 lakh workers shows administrative difficulties, such as faulty documentation or deletions from the program’s records, which could have resulted in lower workforce numbers.
- Variations at the State Level: As stated in the report, there were state-level variations in employment trends. These variances could be attributed to factors unique to each state, such as local economic situations, government policy, or administrative efficiency.
How is the dip in the workforce going to affect the programme?
- Reduced job possibilities: With a smaller workforce, fewer rural residents will be able to take advantage of the program’s guaranteed job possibilities. This can be harmful to those who rely on MGNREGS for a living during difficult times.
- Increased Workload for Active Workers: As there are fewer workers, the workload on those who continue to participate in the program may grow, perhaps leading to longer working hours and more physical strain.
- Inadequate Service Delivery: Because of the reduced staff, public works projects may take longer to complete, compromising the timely supply of important services such as road building, water conservation, and other infrastructure development in rural areas.
- Economic Implications: MGNREGS is critical in providing a safety net for rural households. A decrease in the program’s workforce can have an impact on rural families’ economic well-being, perhaps leading to increasing poverty and economic suffering.
- Rural-Urban Migration: If employment possibilities in rural regions fall due to a reduction in the MGNREGS workforce, it may result in greater rural-to-urban migration in search of work, contributing to urbanization difficulties.
What is the way forward from this issue?
- Comprehensive analysis: Conduct a detailed investigation to discover the exact variables causing the workforce reduction. This analysis should take into account both regional and program-wide characteristics.
- Reinstatement of Deleted Workers: Address the deletion issue and reinstate workers who were incorrectly deleted from the program. This can aid in the expansion of the workforce.
- Improved Awareness: Launch awareness efforts to make rural residents aware of the benefits and opportunities offered by MGNREGS. This can help the program attract additional staff.
- Wage Rate Adjustment: Review and alter wage rates regularly to make MGNREGS more appealing to potential workers while also evaluating the impact on program sustainability.
- Wage Payments on Time: Ensure that salaries are paid on time and without delay. This can encourage workers to enrol and rely on the program for a living.
- Infrastructure Development: Improve the accessibility and infrastructure of work locations to make it easier for workers to reach and participate in projects.
- Community Engagement: To make MGNREGS initiatives more community-driven and appealing, encourage community engagement and cooperation.
This data reveals a troubling trend of decreased participation in the MGNREGS program, despite an increase in labor demand. The report emphasizes the need for additional research to better understand the variables behind this reduction and to develop strategies to reinforce and improve the program’s performance.