(Sample Material) Study Kit on Current Affairs for UPSC Mains Exam: Polity, Governance and Social Justice: Livelihood for the Marginalised

(Sample Material) Study Kit on Current Affairs for UPSC Mains Examination

Polity, Governance and Social Justice: Livelihood for the Marginalised

The most fundamental of all human rights is the right to life. Every person’ has the right to live a dignified life. A life of dignity cannot be ensured by providing free food, clothes, medicine and other necessities but by providing a means of livelihood. The various employment generation programmes of the government, culminating in the present Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) is a recognition of this fact. The MNREG Scheme is the largest employment programme in the human history (Shah, 2008). Though the scheme was initially introduced in only 200 districts, it is now functioning in all the districts of the country. It has been introduced in a phased manner, phase-I, 200 districts (2.006-07), phase-II, 130 districts (2007-08) and phase-III, all the remaining districts (April 20.08).

Impact of NREGS-An Overview

The salient features of NERGS are livelihood security, right based employment programme, demand driven, universal, participatory planning and implementation, good governance and more female oriented. The NREGS is providing livelihood security by providing 100 days of employment within 15 days of application to all people, who have applied for wage employment. If no work is provided within 15 days of application, the applicants will be eligible for unemployment allowance. The work should be given within 5 km radius from the applicant’s residence and the work site should have all basic facilities. The payment for the work must be made within 15 days. The workers are also eligible for medical aid.

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The scheme has guaranteed wage employment to 4.47 rural households. During the past 3 ½ years 19.49 lakh works have been taken up under this scheme. The thrust areas of work under the scheme are water resource development and water conservation. It is, further, reported that 75 per cent of the works are irrigation related and so it will certainly enhance the productivity in agriculture. The increase in productivity will eventually increase the dependency of people on agriculture and reduce the dependency on government sponsored employment schemes. It is also estimated that the additional flow 0 fin come is Rs. 18,155 crore (Lakshman, 2009), (Prasad, 2009), (Roy, 2009), (Singh, 2009). Swaminatban (2009) points out that the employment generated is over 450 crore person days and the wage payment is over Rs. 15,000 crore while, Prasad, (2009) asserts that through this scheme, the government is pumping about Rs.30,000 crore every year into the rural economy Above all these, it is found that of these man days of employment generated, the major share is enjoyed by women and dalits and adivasis. The most benefited because of this scheme are the poorest and most marginalised communities particularly SC/ST or people below poverty line. The scheme has not only raised the scale of employment; but has also put an end to the exploitative practice of private contractors. India is experiencing employment growth_ after the phase of jobless growth during the] 990s only because of NREGS .Thanks to the programme, every week a huge purchasing power is being pumped into the rural economy. There an increase in the social capital as most of the work is directed towards assets creation It also increases saving of the people particularly the rural poor to a great extent.

According to Mathur (2007) 2.10 crore households were given-employment to the extent of 90 crore person days in the year 2006. The total number of households sought employment was 2.16 crore. It means that 97 per cent of households which sought employment got wage employment on an average of 45 days in the year.

Khera and Nandini Nayak (2009) say 71 per cent of persons working under the NREG are SC/ST and 82 per cent are illiterate women against 52 per cent uneducated men. The minimum wages fixed in different states are different and so the wage payment under NREGS also differs from state to state. The highest wage, Rs.175 is paid in Mizoram. It is followed’ by Kerala, Rs.121, West Bengal Rs.1 04, Andhra Pradesh Rs.86 and Rs. 80 in Tamil Nadu.

Apart from these impacts the NREGS has also a strong positive impact on the social structure (Narayanan, 2008). High caste people are working along with dalits and tribals. They are working even in the lands of dalits as the land development works cannot be carried out in the lands of high caste people before the development works in the lands of dalits and tribes are exhausted. Thus, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme not only provides livelihoods to the marginalised people but also removes caste discrimination to a certain extent.

Performance of NREGS in Tamil Nadu and Kanyakumari District

In Tamil Nadu, 10 districts were covered with NREGS in the first phase and another 10 districts in the second phase. The remaining 20 districts including Kanyakumari district were covered in the third phase. The details regarding job cards issued, the person days of employment generated, total attendance, individuals employed and expenditure on water resources up to 01.03.2010 are given in Table No. 1 Prom the Table l, it is seen that in Tamil Nadu, in total] 978.99 lakhs person days of employment were generated up to 01.03.2010. Of the total employment generated, 58.10 per cent is enjoyed by the SC/ST persons and women constitute 78. 72 per cent. Certainly these are very encouraging aspects of the NREGS. However, only 7.68 per cent of the households have completed 100 days/above 100 days of work and only 63.79 per cent of the fund available is spent. Further, it is also estimated that 76.67 per cent of the total expenditure incurred is on water resources development and water conservation programmes. As a whole, the performance of the NREGS is good in providing employment and livelihood.

Table 1: Households, Individuals Registered and Individuals Employed in Tamil Nadu up to 01.03.2010



Households Demand Employment


Households Provided Employment


Total Number of Households


Job Cards Issued



2595054 (41.77%)

Person Days Generated

1978.99 lakhs

SC/ST 11.49 lakhs


Women 1557.91 lakhs

(78.72 %)

Total Attendance (all)

1387.53 lakhs

Completed 100 days

65.88 lakhs

Completed Above 100 Days

40.66 lakhs

Employment completed 100 days

132.79 lakhs

Total Availability of Fund

216824.88 lakhs

Total Cumulative Expenditure

138306.53 lakhs (63.79%)

Expenditure on water Resources

105958.21 lakhs (63.79 %)

Figures in brackets are percentages to total.

Source: www.nrega.nic.in, Tamil Nadu & Report, NREGS, Namil Nadu - 2008

Table 2: Households Total and registered, Individuals total and Registered in Kanyakumari District up to 01.03.2010



Total No. of Households


No. of Households Registered

90053 (57%)

Total Populatiou


SC/ST Persons Registered

120128 (20.71%)

No. of Persons Registered

11727 (9.76%)

Women Registered

46792 (38.95%)

Minorities Registered

77333 (64.38%)

SC/ST Women Registered

7241 (61.75%)

Job Cards issued

120128 (100%)

Figures in brackets are percentages to total.

Source: The Report, NREGS-Kanyakumari District-2010

In Kanyakumari District NREGS has been implemented from April 2009 and very successfully so. The details regarding the expenditure made and households applied up to 01.03.2010 are given in Table 2.

Table No. 2 shows that the job cards have been given to all those who registered for the wage employment. The share of persons registered constitutes 20.71 per cent of the total population. It is a welcoming fact that 11,727 SC/ST persons and 46,792 minority persons have registered themselves under the NREGS. The respective percentage is 9.76 and 38.95. The percentage of SC/ST persons registered (9.76%) is more than the percentage of SC/ST persons to the total population (4.36%) while the percentage is less for minorities (44.47%). The number of women registered is 77,333. It constitutes 64.38 per cent of the total persons registered. The share of SC/ST women to total SC/ST persons registered constitutes 61.75, in absolute term it is 7,241.

The details regarding expenditure, works approved and completed, person days generated and average wage paid are given in Table 3.

Table 3: Amount sanctioned and spent, works carreid out, person days generated and average wage paid in Kanyakumari District up to 01.03.2010

Catogoery Amount / Number
Released Rs. 2225.81 lakh
Amount Spent Rs. 1014.69 lakh (45.59%)
Work Approved 462
Work Completed 142 (30.74%)
No. of Persons days Generated 1342633
Agerage Wage Paid Rs. 76/

Table 3 clearly depicts that only 45.59 per cent of the total amount released is spent and only 30.74 per cent of the works sanctioned is completed so far. It is very important to indicate that the person days of employment generated in the district within one year and eleven months are 13,42,633. The average wage paid daily is Rs. 76 for the whole period. However, the average wage paid daily is only Rs. 73/- for the year 2009 and for the year 2010 (January 2010 to February 2010) it is Rs.88/-. From the facts and figures discussed above it is very clear that the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme has brought in a silent revolution in the rural areas by providing stable employment to the vulnerable and marginalised. In Kanyakumari District, it generated wage employment to the extent of 13,42,633 person days and on an average the number of days of works given in a year is 76 and the average wage paid is also Rs. 76/-. Thus, a person who works under NREGS is able to earn an income of Rs. 5776/- per annum. Certainly, it increases the standard of living of the marginalised people.

Though there are some defects in the implementation of the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, it helps to remove poverty from the rural areas, provides stable income to those who are ready to do manual work, grants some relief during the period of unemployment and under employment, avoids migration of workers from rural areas to town areas. In short, it is easy to infer that, the NREGS provides not only food security but also financial security to the rural masses particularly the poor and the marginalized.

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