Monday, October 20, 2014


Tuesday, 21 October 2014 | PNS | BHUBANESWAR | in Bhubaneswar

Leading economists, intellectuals and academicians of the country have expressed concern over the Central Government’s move to bring amendments in the MGNREGA. They said it would dilute the spirit of the poverty alleviation programme and affect millions of poor people across India.
 In a letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 13, the economists pointed out that MGNREGA was enacted in 2005 to bring subsistence to millions of poor people of the country. 
Despite numerous hurdles, the MGNREGA has been able to provide jobs to about 50 million households every year. After introduction of MGNEGRA, it has helped in creation of productive asset in rural area, besides providing benefit to women. Moreover, corruption declined after introduction of the programme, they pointed out.
 It is alarming to hear that moves are on to restrict different provisions of the Act.
“Wages have been frozen in real terms, and long delays in wage payments have further reduced their real value,” the letter said.
The Act’s initial provisions for compensation in the event of delayed payments have been removed. The labour material ratio is sought to be reduced from 60:40 to 51:49 without any evidence that this would raise the productivity of NREGA works. For the first time, the Central Government is imposing caps on NREGA expenditure on the State Governments, undermining the principle of work on demand,” the letter said.
 Last but not least, the Central Government appears to be considering an amendment aimed at restricting the NREGA to the country’s poorest 200 districts.
This runs against a fundamental premise of the Act: gainful employment that affords basic economic security is a human right.
Even India’s relatively prosperous districts are unlikely to be free from unemployment or poverty in the foreseeable future, the letter said further.
 The message seems to be that the new Government is not committed to the NREGA and hopes to restrict it as much as possible. The letter also reads, We urge you to reverse the trend and ensure that the programme receives all the support it requires to survive and thrive.
 The signatories are Dilip Abreu (Professor of Economics, Princeton University), Pranab Bardhan (Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of California Berkeley), V Bhaskar (Professor of Economics, University of Texas at Austin), Ashwini Deshpande (Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics), Jean Drèze (Visiting Professor, Department of Economics, Ranchi University), Maitreesh Ghatak (Professor of Economics, London School of Economics), Jayati Ghosh (Professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University), Deepti Goel (Assistant Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics), Himanshu (Assistant Professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University), Raji Jayaraman (Associate Professor of Economics, European School of Management and Technology), KP Kannan (former Director, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum), Anirban Kar (Associate Professor, Delhi School of Economics), Reetika Khera (Associate Professor, IIT Delhi), Ashok Kotwal (Professor of Economics, University of British Columbia), S Mahendra Dev (Director, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research), Srijit Mishra (Associate Professor, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research), Dilip Mookherjee (Professor of Economics, Boston University), R Nagaraj (Professor of Economics, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research), Sudha Narayanan (Assistant Professor of Economics, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research), Pulin Nayak (Professor of Economics, Delhi School of Economics), Nalini Nayak (Reader in Economics, Delhi University), Bharat Ramaswami (Professor of Economics, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi), Debraj Ray (Professor of Economics, New York University), Atul Sarma (former Vice-Chancellor, Rajiv Gandhi University), Abhijit Sen (former Member, Planning Commission), Jeemol Unni (Director, Institute of Rural Management, Anand), Sujata Visaria (Assistant Professor of Economics, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)  and Vijay Vyas (former Member, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister).

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