In 2005, India introduced a national anti-poverty program NREGA, now called the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), which offers up to 100 days of unskilled manual labor per year on public works projects. The MGNREGA provides a legal guarantee for one hundred days of employment in every financial year to adult members of any rural household willing to do public work-related unskilled manual work at the statutory minimum wage.


In Nagaland, like most Centrally Sponsored Schemes, the impact of MGNREGS on the lives of the target group has yet to be evaluated. As per unconfirmed reports, implementation of this otherwise novel scheme is being mismanaged at all levels from the top down to the village level. There are reports of the implementing agencies depriving the poor villagers of their rightful earnings guaranteed through this scheme.


There are also reports of funds from this scheme being diverted for other community development works other than the stated purpose. However, there seems to be no one to investigate the unconfirmed reports, and neither are the villagers informed enough about the scheme to air their grievances.


Unfortunately, there are no rights groups in Mokokchung, or even in Nagaland, to take up such issues and the various NGOs and intellectuals apparently find no interest to address the issues of the poor and unfortunate lot. It will be interesting to know if any scholar has even undertaken any research on the implementation of such a massive project as the MGNREGS.


An impact evaluation of the project would show if the scheme is being implemented the way it was designed to. Findings from such an evaluation would help policy makers to design appropriate mechanisms and improve the ability of implementing agencies to provide better service. It is high time to conduct an evaluation to find out if the workers are getting the work they wanted, whether they are not getting the full wages they were due.


An independent investigation, or at the least a scholarly research, would help identify the implementation complications and deficiencies in financial management or monitoring, if any. This scheme was meant for helping the poorest and most vulnerable sections of the society and it is the duty of all right thinking citizens to ensure that those who need it are not denied their right.


For starters, the NGOs particularly the students’ unions of each village should take the lead in ensuring that it is implemented properly. All details of each village can be found in the official portal of the scheme. All data is available online in the public domain and it only needs courage to speak up.



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