GS Mains Model Question & Answer: In the light of completion of 10 years of MGNREGS, discuss its achievements and limitations

GS Mains Model Question & Answer: In the light of completion of 10 years of MGNREGS, discuss its achievements and limitations.

Q. In the light of completion of 10 years of MGNREGS, discuss its achievements and limitations. (12.5 Marks)

(General Studies Mains Paper III- Economy: development and employment)

Model Answer :

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), which was initially called National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005, completed ten years of its implementation on 2 Feb 2016.


  • Under the MGNREGA scheme, 100 days of work is given to job-card holders, which was designed as a safety net to reduce migration of the rural poor by providing them with work and wages.
  • According to the Rural Development Ministry, out of all the workers benefited under the scheme, the percentage of Scheduled Caste workers has consistently been about 20% and of Scheduled Tribe workers has been about 17%.
  • Out of the total jobs created so far, the percentage of hours put in by women has increased steadily, much above the statutory minimum of 33%.
  • The 2015-16 financial year had seen a revival of the programme, the person-day generation was the highest in the second quarter at 45.88 crore and in the third quarter at 46.10 crore in comparison to what it has been in the last five years.


  • A recent Planning Commission evaluation of the MGNREGA has questioned the effectiveness of projects implemented under the Act in boosting productivity and creating assets.
  • Planning Commission highlighted the dearth of technical and professional support for implementing projects under MGNREGA, delays in payments to workers, and issues of corruption and leakages.
  • Payments to workers are being delayed as there is a late measurement of work. It also says only 19% of the 850,000 differently abled people registered for the scheme have got work under NREGA.
  • Another issue is that of fake muster rolls and bills being generated, so-called elite groups within the workers capture most of the job cards.
  • There was corruption in implementing the programmes and no real asset was being created.

Changes made to the scheme by NDA Government

Despite initial criticism, when the NDA government decided to tweak the scheme, several economists had sent petitions to PM Modi, requesting him not to dilute it. However, the government only made some significant changes to it like tweaking the labour-material ratio and restricting it to only backward districts.

The NDA government altered the labour-material ratio for MGNREGA from 60:40 to 51:49.

However, what had left the state governments worrying was the lack of requisite funds needed to sustain the scheme. According to the state governments, rationing of funds and in the absence of refunds on their liabilities to the tune of Rs 5.92 lakh crore, was hitting the scheme.

The government also approved changes to the payment system, initiating payments directly to the bank accounts of workers.

As per the scheme, the wage component of MGNREGA will be released following the State Employment Guarantee Fund window directly to the workers' accounts based on a fund transfer order generated by states' implementing agencies in accordance with procedures prescribed by Rural Development Ministry.

Even now, the scheme faces criticism over its functioning. For instance, recently social activist Aruna Roy filed a petition before the Supreme Court alleging "glaring irregularities" in the implementation of the MGNREGA. She suggested timely payment of wages, timely compensation and regular social audits.

Overall, the scheme has been regarded as a success with the sheer amount of employment it has managed to create in its ten years.


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