Ashok Jacob Mathews
Dept. Of Political Science and Development Administration,
Gandhigram Rural Institute,
MGNREGA ENSURING EFFECTIVE DECENTRALIZATION
MGNREGA has made its impact all over the nation in supporting the poverty alleviation measures. As a flagship programme, it has attracted the rural masses in such a way that the success of application illustrates acceptance among the people. The core idea behind schedule was to provide a supportive measure in eradicating poverty, but on the other side, the program has made a plethora of developmental activities from wage generation to the strengthening of the local governance. The schedule has created spillover effect in strengthening other plans. The village level outcomes are the real examples of the spillover effects made by the program beyond considering the household effects. The real stakeholders of the application are the rural masses who directly depend on agriculture for their income generation. These commonalities were having only minimum participation in the activities of the panchayat, whereas the involvement in the programme has made them to act as a real citizen by fulfilling their rights. The right-based actions made them participate in the activities of the gram panchayat from gram sabha to people’s election. When a person himself can portray himself in questioning the violation of his rights makes him empowered from the individual perspective. The programme has caused the people educate them self to be the part of deliberative democracy by making the community-based generation of awareness among the rural masses to produce effective public deliberation. The sustainable livelihood approaches have made the programme to be more viable among the masses as it created a feeling of public service delivery among them. MGNREGA programme itself made it as a quasi by law to the 73rd amendment as it provides better developmental scenario from poverty alleviation to environmental protection. Indian paradox of governance is entirely different from that of other countries in the world as we have to accommodate a large mass in the process where the programme has made its implication in transforming the real stakeholders towards it.
Apart from providing the social security to the rural masses, the programme has brought empowerment to the women and thereby activated the gram sabha and promoted the developmental activities which resulted in the overall development of the villages. Panchayat Raj institutions are the backbone of Indian democracy whereas the community development programmes like MGNREGA has initiated powerful people movement which can ultimately result in transformation for a stronger and broader justice. Thus MGNREGA plays an essential role in deepening democracy and also provide social security for the poor through the creation of durable assets, improved water security, soil conservation and higher land productivity. From the time MGNREGA was implemented the programme has provided transformation to the society whereas also efficiently strengthened the governance at the grass root level where it is primarily performed thereby ensuring effective decentralisation. G. Palanithurai, in his work ‘Needing Social Action for Effective Panchayati Raj”, point out the fact that in the process of democratic devolution of powers the initiatives come from the centre and not from the people, But, to ensure success to this dispensation, the efforts have to come from the people. Social action, community participation, owning the institutions and taking responsibilities are the imperatives for the success of the Panchayati Raj institutions. In the process of devolution of power, people have to come to the forefront pushing the government into the background. He has underlined the importance of conscientization of the people on the role of the people in governance at the grassroots. The effectiveness of devolution depends on the participation of the people, and its efficacy judged on how they participated. The programmes like MGNREGA has made the people get closer to the government especially the panchayats as they are the primary implementing platform. The scheme has improved the lives of the people and has brought stability and assured income to the families that were until recently desperately poor (Vidya Subramanian). The application has initiated the people to get closer and work for the better deliverance. The people used to work on the schedule actively as it was a livelihood possibility for them and the work ensured them with better living conditions.
The programme has made it be the platform for the poor people to engage themselves in a job which provides them with better livelihood options. The income earned from the programme ensured better living facilities for them. MGNREGA programme has its impact from the very base level as the people used to work in the schedule for better livelihood. According to OECD “the primary objective is the provision of social protection to help the chronically poor at times of vulnerability by providing a form of income insurance”. The panchayats at the implementing level made the people to get closer to its activities and to make themselves active in the functions of the panchayat. The involvement of the panchayats caused the people participate in the activities of the panchayats. The participation of the people in Gram Sabha meetings has increased all over India as it was a platform which enabled them to demand their needs and concern. The rural women used to indulge in the household activities came forefront in lack of their demands. The programme made it be a platform for the women to empower themselves and to demand their needs. The act established the women be aware of their rights. The constitutional provisions have enabled them to be active and to participate themselves in the functions of the panchayat. The social audit provision made them to engage themselves in the transparency of the programme and to prepare themselves to be more concerned about the regulations which they have missed. The rights-based approach made the schedule to reach the people more close to their panchayats to raise their demands as the program caused the people get aware of their rights.
The 73rd amendment made it possible to implement the decentralisation policies in India. It made India to transform the power from the governments to rural local bodies. It enabled the people to have adequate democracy as the participation of the rural people increased at the grass root level. According to G.Palanithurai “The whole local governance system has to work for economic development and social justice. The reason for governing clause of the amendment to the Constitution of India. It should go through a participatory process”. Participation has got a broader and deeper connotation in this process. It has to enable every segment of the society to participate actively in governance and development process. The role of an ordinary man raised in the community with his higher level of involvement in the governance process. The decentralisation process was a revolution in the history of India as it enabled the people to have fruitful democracy. The decentralisation only allowed the people to have participated in the governance and to indulge themselves in the growth of their place. The decentralisation process with a higher level of involvement made the people think about self-sufficiency with a sustainable livelihood. The implementation of MGNREGA has also become a milestone in the history rural Indians as it provided opportunities for the rural people. The programme enabled the rural masses to gather together, and done by the functionaries of Panchayati Raj.
The MGNREGA has promoted decentralisation in the country as the participation of the people has increased considerably. The participation increased among the women as the programme made them come out of their social structures and to make their own income. The opportunity to earn a better livelihood made them participate in the schedule for their goodness. In certain places especially during the lean season NREGA had been the only source of income (Sudha Narayan: 2008). The participation has enhanced the collective behaviour of the people as the cooperation among the people has increased. The increased collaboration made them to get together for their rights and to stand for it. Dreze point out that NREGA is an unprecedented opportunity for the rural poor. The programme has promoted the people to deal with officials and representatives at the panchayat level and changed their hesitation to mingle with the officials. The panchayat involvement made them to initiate themselves towards their needs and to present it in front of the authorities. The implementation of the programme mainly targeted at promoting the livelihood of the people by ensuring the protection of the natural resources. The works focused on the protection of the environment by promoting sustainable development. According to P.S Appu “NREGS has facilitated ‘people coming together’ irrespective of the sex and caste working together in creating productive assets.” The actions at the grass root level made the people close to the local institutors and thereby enabled them to have efficient decentralisation practices. The participation of the people in the MGNREGA made them engage more in the activities of the local institutions. According to Kaustav Banerjee the right to work under NREGA could be a transformative right to bring about deep changes in the power structure of the rural society. The assistance caused the people involve themselves more in the activities of local administration especially in Gram Sabha meetings and other events of the panchayats. The participation of people mainly focused on the effectiveness of the programme in reaching the people. The spillover effects created because of the programme are many and it not only gave results to the people but also made transformation to the whole panchayats where the programme was implemented. The effectiveness of the programme made the people to be closer towards the programme and to make it as a transformative measure for them to progress along with their locality. The participation made them to be close towards administrative institutions and to indulge them more in its activities all over India. Thus the MGNREGA programme has initiated in ensuring effective decentralisation in the country.
*Ashok Jacob Mathews, Research Scholar, Department of Political Science & Development Administration, Gandhigram Rural Institute, Gandhigram.624302.
- G. Palanithurai Needing Social Action for Effective Panchayati Raj, Kurukshetra, Vol.XLV; No.9, June 1993.
- G.Palanithurai, Decentralization: Critical Issues from the Field, New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company, 2009.
- Jean Dreze, NREGA: Dismantling the contractor raj, The Hindu, 20th November
- Sudha Narayan “Employment Guarantee Women’s Work and Childcare”, Economic and Political Weekly, March 1st, 2008.
- Kaustav Banerjee, The Right to Work in Theory and Practice: A case study of NREGA in India, Oxford University Press, 2010.
- Appu P.S, “Expand and reorient NREGA”, The Hindu, October 14th, 2009.
- Vidhya Subramanian, “Social and Political Dividend from NREGA”, The Hindu Oct 19th,
- OECD (2006, 2009), ‘What role for policy in tackling inequality?
 G. Palanithurai ‘Needing Social Action for Effective Panchayati Raj’
 Vidhya Subramanian, “Social and Political Dividend from NREGA”
 OECD, ‘What role for policy in tackling inequality?
 G.Palanithurai, Decentralization: Critical Issues from the Field
 Sudha Narayan “Employment Guarantee Women’s Work and Childcare”
 Jean Dreze (2007), NREGA: Dismantling the contractor raj The Hindu, 20th November
 Appu P.S, “Expand and reorient NREGA”
 Kaustav Banerjee, The Right to Work in Theory and Practice: A case study of NREGA in India