The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the flagship rural employment Scheme of the Government of India, was launched in February 2006. It is perhaps the largest and most ambitious social security and public works programme in the world.
Six years after its implementation, the basic principles and high potential of the MGNREGA are well established. The fact that about one-fourth (25 per cent) of all rural households in the country participate in the programme every year, is testimony to its resounding popularity.
Since its inception, around Rs 110,000 crore has gone directly as wage payment to rural households, and 1,200 core person-days of employment have been generated. MGNREGA with its demand-driven design, rights-based structure and unprecedented scale has attracted the attention of several scholars, researchers, social activists, and policymakers and analysts around the world. This anthology is a synthesis of over a hundred studies on MGNREGA, its impact and implementation. It provides a readable summary of these studies and popularly expressed concerns. It also seeks to identify unanswered questions on both the impact and potential of MGNREGA that will require further research. The report is objective in identifying both the positive impact of the Scheme as well as the constraints that limit MGNREGA’s effective implementation.
There is a thread of optimism that runs through the chapters—the conviction that MGNREGA, if implemented effectively, can create vital rural infrastructure and address social and economic development concerns that will be sustainable. MGNREGA Sameeksha
will be a useful reference and resource for policymakers, academics, journalists, civil society organisations, social activists and general readers.