In his invincible style, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took on the opposition parties while highlighting the achievements and goals of his government while addressing the Lok Sabha during the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address. While taking potshots at his rivals, Modi said that his only aim is to work for the country and ensure its development which can be achieved only if all the 125 crore people of India put in their efforts. He also said that India can progress only by working together and everyone should join hands to fight terror. His speech, as usual, was very good, as he is very good orator. He has proficiency in delivering speeches. I was expecting him to be more practical while saying so many things.
He took potshots at the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government and termed schemes launched by them like MNREGA a complete failure. Today, after 10 months of his government in power, he is still attacking Congress Party as he is yet in election mode. Really, Modi needs to get out of Congress phobia. Anyway, when MNREGA was passed and was still in implementation, none of the BJP leaders had ever suggested on improving it. As an opposition, they were having some responsibility.
India has about 638,000 villages, and about 150 million families live here. At least, 70 per cent of the villages fall under extreme poverty levels. All said and done, we need to work out methods that would help bring average per capita family incomes @ Rs.150,000 (about $2500), with at least two able bodied persons in each family having full time jobs – a final target of 300 million direct employment of average monthly income of Rs. 6000. We should work on local resources based industries creating energy, bio-fertilizer, engineered products etc. MGNREGA is a laudable village development scheme. However, we cannot create development through such low quality approach toward socio-economic needs. The government should involve IITs, IIMs, and farmers, NGOs etc to define, design and carry out such projects.
MGNREGA is the scheme in post-independence period of our country which raised hopes in the minds of poor/unemployed to earn something. In post-independence period, left parties have played positive roles in supporting Indira Government by supporting bank nationalisation, abolition of privy-purse, supporting V.V.Giri in Presidential election etc. During tenure of UPA-1 government with Left parties support, the government introduced MGNREGA to provide minimum 100 days employments to poor village people. It might have been misused in some areas by some political forces but it cannot be discarded or curtailed. Rather, it can be linked to create wealth for local bodies. Other unfortunate trend by subsequent Governments are renaming of the schemes introduced by earlier Government. In relation to the issue of MGNREGA, they might introduce it with other name and will tell that they initiated it.
If we focus on eliminating some loopholes in this scheme, it will become fruitful to the nation, mainly plans and strategies based on the state’s geographical conditions to eliminate drought and to increase the water harvesting techniques. These plans should be prepared by local government and should give some points based on their performance and targets. After implementation of this programme, the issues of the small and medium farmers might be eliminated. The labour charges will be increased. No doubt, it’s a good sign but it will affect small farmers. This programme should be helpful in agricultural activities also. So, the labour shortages will be reduced and farmers will also gain some benefits from this scheme. This scheme should be helpful to increase greenery in rural areas.
MGNREGA, which is the largest work guarantee programme in the world, was enacted in 2005 with the primary objective to guarantee 100 days of wage employment per year to rural households. Secondly, it aims at addressing causes of chronic poverty through the ‘works’ (projects) that are undertaken and thus ensuring sustainable development. Finally, there was an emphasis on strengthening the process of decentralisation through giving a significant role to Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in planning and implementing these works.
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) was not 100 per cent a failure as PM Modi has stated. Relatively, the scheme was successful at places where peoples’ movements or civil society organisations were strong. It was also successful at places where the district administration is sympathetic and efficient. At many places, the rural poor have been demanding inflation linked wages. Congress has implemented many good schemes and flopped, but there are various reasons for its getting flopped. Anyway, it’s high time; Modiji should start delivering what he has promised during Lok Sabha campaigning instead of delivering speeches. He is thinking that he is still in election mode or Delhi election has jolted him. He will be judged on many parameters. Countdown has already begun. He should stop attacking Congress Party and show some capability.