What is MGNREGA or NREGA?
The National Rural Employment Act (NREGA), which has been renamed Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Act (MGNREGA), was initiated by Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Minister of Rural Development, and was enacted by the Parliament of India.
This act is considered an important measure taken by India's labour law to provide social security to Indian people as the "right to work". MGNREGA was enacted in September 2005, which promises a minimum of 100 days of paid work in a fiscal year. This act covers all members of Indian households who volunteer for unskilled manual labour.
If you register for this system, you can find a job within 15 days from the date of registration by law. MGNREGA applies to all the states in India except Jammu and Kashmir. The allocated minimum wages are equal for all and may vary from state to state.
History, Benefits, and Importance of MGNREGA or NREGA
Prime Minister of India, P.V. Narasimha Rao, passed the NREGA law in 1991, which was later approved by the parliament and enforced in 625 districts of India and later to all the districts of the country by 1st April 2008.
The Indian government describes the law as "the world's most ambitious and law with the widest reach that provides social security and is an initiative towards the benefit of the public. Even the World Bank has termed MGNREGA as a 'fine example of rural development.
Key Highlights and Objectives of MGNREGA or NREGA
Some of the core goals and objectives of MGNREGA are:
- This act is an initiative that guarantees rural workers a minimum of 100 days of unskilled manual labour each year so that rural households can support themselves. The main purpose of this act is to ensure the livelihood of economically vulnerable segments of the population.
- MGNREGA helps rural communities to grow while providing necessary livelihoods, social protection, and self-determination. The program also aims to strengthen Panchayati Raj institutions across India.
- In addition, it can improve the local economy by guaranteeing wage employment and empowering the socially disadvantaged or those belonging to Scheduled Tribes (ST), Scheduled Castes (SC), and women.
- MGNREGA aims to mitigate rural-to-urban migration and create lasting value in rural areas by developing the rural infrastructure that utilises underutilised rural labour.
- MGNREGA is one of the widest-spread and largest employment initiatives taken by the Government of India (GOI) in human history, which is rights-based, human-centric, demand-driven, unique, and unparalleled.
- This is a program where the labour supply is driven by the demand for labour from those seeking wages.
- MGNREGA overcomes coordination issues through an automated beneficiary selection mechanism.
- The law incentivises the state to create jobs, as the centre will bear 100% of the cost of unskilled labour and 75% of the cost of materials for the program.
- Gram Panchayats (GP) must implement at least 50% of the work in terms of cost, which is unprecedented.
- All plans related to the selection of work to be performed, its order, the selection of locations, etc., must be made in a public meeting at Gram Sabha (GS) and approved by the GP. These works are further prepared by the Intermediate Panchayat (IP) and District Panchayat (DP) levels which should be approved by the GS, who also has the right to accept, modify or reject them.
- Most of the responsibility for MGNREGA's success rests with recruiters, GSs, and GPs.
- MGNREGA also has a huge role in aid programs for natural resource management and livelihood creation.
- Social Audit is a vital part of MGNREGA, which leads to performance accountability. An annual report on MGNREGA results are curated by CEGC - Central Employment Guarantee Council, which should be prepared and submitted annually to the Central Government. Similarly, annual reports prepared by the State Employment Guarantee Council (SEGC) must be submitted by the state government to the State Legislature.
MGNREGA's innovative features ensure proper implementation of new elements and keep them updated.
Key Facts Related to MGNREGA
Here are some key facts associated with Mahatma Gandhi NREGA Act:
- Works intended for individual beneficiaries to be included for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Small or Marginal Farmers, and Land Reform Beneficiaries who fall under the GOI-initiated Indira Awaas Yojana.
- Employment will be offered to the applicant within 15 days of submitting the application or the date the job is requested.
- Wages will be received within 15 days of working.
- MGNREGA focuses on women's economic and social empowerment and offers 'green' and 'decent' jobs.
- Social audits of MGNREGA's work are mandatory and contribute to transparency.
- MGNREGA addresses climate change vulnerability and protects natural resources and the interest of farmers from such risks.
- Gram Sabha is the main forum for wage seekers to speak up and make demands. In coordination with the Gram Panchayat, the GS approves and prioritises the shelving of works under MGNREGA.
Activities Covered under MGNREGA
Para 1 of Schedule-I of the MGNREGA Act specifies the permissible activities for employment which are as follows:
- The Federal Ministry for Rural Development has notified the majority of work under MGNREGA, related to agriculture and related activities, besides facilitating large-scale rural sanitation projects.
Operations are grouped into broad categories, including:
- Agriculture and Livestock related operations.
- Irrigation and flood management operations.
- Rural drinking water and sanitation operations.
- Fisheries and coastal operations.
- Rural Development has announced that 30 new works contained in Appendix 1 will also be contributed, which include jobs related to soaking pits, toilet facilities, and solid and liquid waste treatment for the first time.
- A 60:40 ratio of labour and material components is maintained at the Gram Panchayat level, along with the flexibility to modify the same.
- Construction of the Anganwadi Centres building is included in the permitted activities under the MGNREGA Act. On 13th August 2015, the guidelines were published with approved spending of up to Rs. 5 lakhs per AWC will be allotted.
National Rural Employment Guarantee Act App
The MGNREGA App allows users to access the following information:
- The list of work down by all states for each Gram Panchayat in India.
- Payment details are given out to each Gram Panchayat by the government.
- All work that is operated under the MGNREGA scheme.
- Inauguration of new schemes and much more.
Who Are the Workers Who Fall under the Special Category as per the MGNREGA Scheme?
The special category of workers under MGNREGA includes:
- People with disabilities or who are internally displaced.
- People who are HIV positive.
- Senior Citizens who are more than 65 years old.
- People who belong to Nomadic, De-notified, or Primitive Tribal Groups.
- Women - Under Special Conditions.
- Released bonded labour.
Eligibility for MGNREGA or NREGA Scheme
The central government administers Mahatma Gandhi NREGA or NREGA, and people who can enjoy the benefits of the scheme should meet the eligibility criteria that are given below:
- The applicant should be an Indian citizen and should have completed 18 years of age at the time of application.
- He should be a part of a local household under the local Gram Panchayat.
- The NREGA applicant should have volunteered for unskilled labour.
What is NREGA Job Card?
The NREGA Job Card is an important document that identifies individuals registered for employment under the system with the approval of the local Gram Panchayat. The Job Card is an ID card containing NREGA registrant details and is important documentary evidence of the employee's eligibility.
This card allows eligible workers from rural households to apply for paid jobs in their local gram panchayat, bringing transparency to the process and protecting workers from potential fraud. Workers can also use this card for KYC to open a bank account at banks and post offices.
How to Apply for Maha NREGA Job Card
Currently, the application process is offline because of the low internet connectivity in rural areas, but the objective is to bring it to the official website slowly.
You can now use the site to download application forms for free. The MGNREGA or NREGA Job Card application form can be retrieved from the local Gram Panchayat, and the applicant must include all details required, like:
- The applicant needs to affix their Photograph and give details about their Name, Age, and Gender.
- The name of the Village, Gram Panchayat, and Block should be specified in the form.
- The applicant must mention whether they belong to the SC/ST/IAY/LR group.
- They need to either sign or leave a thumb impression on the form.
- They should submit additional proof documents, such as an Aadhar Card, PAN card, Voter ID card, or Ration card.
- The NREGA job card will be issued to the applicant within 15 days when the application is submitted, verified, and approved.
NREGA Job Card Details
The NREGA Job Card includes the following:
- Photograph the MGNREGA applicant and details such as name, gender, age, father's name, Bank or Post Office account details, address, etc.
- Job/Employment Record including dates and details of the employment.
- The JC will contain details of the unemployment allowance payout if the minimum guaranteed employment cannot be provided within 15 days of applying.
Registration and Verification under NREGA Scheme
The Gram Panchayat will roll out an intimation through an SMS (if a mobile number is given), letter, or public notice to the people who have been allocated work.
The Program Officer receives this intimation from the GP and will be further percolated to the workers. If a worker has not been assigned any work, the neighbouring Gram Panchayat can help that particular person with another task. NREGASoft has initiated this contingency.
Maha NREGA or NREGA Payment Process
After calculating wages based on the work performed, the payment will be directly processed to the job cardholder's bank account. The bank/postal account for such remittances is the same as stated on the job card.
- Without a bank account, the MGNREGA applicant must open a bank account, and they can use their job card as KYC proof.
- There is also a contingency for cash wages under some relevant Gram Panchayat, but only after appropriate approvals and prior knowledge of the ministry or state government.
- There is no discrimination in MGNREGA wages based on the gender of the person paid.
Relationship between MGNREGA and MGNREGS
Let us understand the key points of interdependence, similarity, and difference between MGNREGA and MGNREGS:
- MGNREGA stands for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, while MGNREGS stands for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment.
- MGNREGA is the foundation created to guarantee employment to the vulnerable class of society in India, and it overpowers MGNREGS.
- MGNREGS, on the other hand, ensures that the guarantee issued by MGNREGA is duly met and implemented, and it comes under the aegis of MGNREGA.
- The Central Government designated the functions and situations for assured employment in Mahatma Gandhi NREGA 2005. In contrast, in the other case, the State Government includes all functions of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA withinside the State Mahatma Gandhi NREGS as noted in Schedule –I and circumstance of employment inside noted in Schedule-II of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA.
- The Central Government has the power to make policies and amend Mahatma Gandhi NREGA. In contrast, in the other case, the State Government has the power to make policies and amend the Mahatma Gandhi NREGS.
- MGNREGA is National legislation, and it has been notified via the Gazette of India Extraordinary notification. Mahatma Gandhi NREGS of a State is notified via the Official Gazette of the Concerned State.
- Mahatma Gandhi NREGA came into existence after being officially notified on 7th September 05, whereas different States have notified Mahatma Gandhi NREGS on exclusive dates. However, within 12 months of the notification issued for Mahatma Gandhi NREGA.
In general, Gram Panchayats (GP) run the program under MGNREGA, and the role of contractors/brokers is strictly prohibited. NREGA promotes economic stability and strengthens rural assets. This scheme also empowers rural women, protects the environment, reduces rural-to-urban migration, and promotes social justice, ensuring transparency and accountability.
Women's empowerment is a key objective wherein the system ensures that one-third of all jobs are reserved for women and provides equal pay between men and women. MGNREGA also strengthens the bargaining power of workers who are generally exploited in the market.
Despite some controversy, several people in rural areas live their daily lives thanks to MGNREGA, which creates job opportunities and maintains them.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What's the difference between NREGA and MGNREGA?
NREGA full form is 'The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act of 2005, which was amended on 2nd October 2009 to change the name of the act from NREGA to MGNREGA full form, which is Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
This change occurred due to an amendment in section 1(1) of the bill, and the title has been expanded. Under this act, all rural households in India are entitled to a minimum of 100 days of employment with guaranteed wages under the MGNREGA scheme.
What are the obligations of MGNREGA?
MGNREGA's mission is to provide at least 100 days of guaranteed wage work in the fiscal year to all rural households whose adult members volunteer.
What are the core objectives of MGNREGS – 'Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme?
The main objectives of MGNREGS are:
- To provide quality and durability
- To strengthen the Panchayati Raj institution
- To enhance the livelihoods of the poor
- To ensure social inclusion
What are the goals of MGNREGA?
The goals are to:
- To provide social protection to the most vulnerable people living in rural India by ensuring wage employment opportunities
- To improve the lives of the rural poor by creating opportunities for wage employment in jobs that create lasting wealth
- To activate the natural resource base of rural areas
- To create a sustainable and productive local wealth base.
Is the Employment Guarantee Act limited to certain states or districts?
No, it will be implemented in all districts nationwide. MGNREGA was deployed in Phase 1 with 200 districts in February 2006 and expanded to 113 districts and 17 districts on 1st April 2007 and 15th May 2007, respectively.
The remaining districts were incorporated into legislation effective 1st April 2008. The law is currently in force in 644 districts with a sizeable rural population.
Can the central and state governments delegate enforcement powers?
Yes, the central government may delegate powers, and the state governments may delegate powers to subordinates (other than the power to make regulations) by appropriate notification (Article 26).