New Delhi,15,Apr:Union Rural Development Minister Dr. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has called for the inclusion of field visits for study of National Rural Employment Guarantee Schemes (NREGS) as a part of the curriculum in the Universities spread across the country as this will enable the young minds to acquaint themselves with the intricate process of generation of livelihood and through mobilization of surplus human resources in a democratic framework. Also some of them may be stimulated to undertake productive research also in this area. In a letter addressed to the Chairman of University Grant Commision, Prof. Sukhadeo Thorat, Secretary General Association of Indian Universities, Prof. Dayanand Dongaonkar and all the Vice-Chancellors of Indian Universities Dr. Singh has highlighted the potentials of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (NREGA) and said that it spans a range of possibilities from basic wage security and recharging rural economy to a transformative empowerment process of democracy.
The Minister opined that Some important aspects of the Act and some significant implications of its intervention in rural economy that could be studied by the Universities in their course of field visits include, inter alia Rights- based design and operations and the profile of the rural households engaging with NREGA; Labour market relations: wage, work opportunity, migration, livelihood security, income generation; Nature and impact of assets created under NREGA on environment and beneficiaries: quality of assets, relevance to livelihoods of target groups, downstream effect on agriculture, sustainability of natural resource use; Strengthening Governance: Transparency, accountability, people’s participation; The social, economic and cultural context in which NREGA is implemented; Gender dimension in NREGA: wage differential, receipt of wages, workforce participation, awareness, influence on decision making, broader empowerment, multiplier effects;The institutional mechanisms to plan, execute and monitor NREGA.
He said the significance of NREGA lies in the fact that it operates at many levels, viz as a social safety net for the vulnerable by providing a fall- back employment source, when other employment alternatives are scarce or inadequate and is a right-based framework for wage employment programmes, by conferring legal entitlements and the right to demand employment upon the workers and makes the Government accountable for providing employment in a time bound manner. It is also a growth engine for sustainable development of an agriculture based economy, by prioritizing natural resource management, and emphasizing the creation of durable assets.Finally, its operational design built around strong decentralization and lateral accountability to local community offers a new way of doing business and a model of governance reform anchored on the principles of transparency and grass root democracy. The Act assigns an important planning and monitoring role to instrumentalities of Panchayat Raj Institutions – Zilla Parishads, Panchayat Samities and Gram Panchayats.
With the assistance of the District Programme Coordinators and the Programme Officers, these institutions formulate project plans and implement them. All the projects are subject to social audit by the Gram Sabhas. These novel features of the Programme are poised for a far reaching impact on rural governance by building the agency of the local community and the Panchayati Raj Institutions. Dr. Singh further expressed the hope that his request will have a positive response in this regard Under the Programme, so far, 3.08 crore rural households have been provided employment, of which the major share belong to the disadvantaged groups, as 58% of the share of employment generated is of the SC and ST and 42% of women. About 15 lakh works have been taken up, focusing on natural resource management such as water conservation drought proofing, afforestation and land development. The Programme has also impacted on minimum wages for agricultural labourers that have shown a trend towards increasing and distress migration of rural workers also appears to begin to be stemmed wherever, the programme has been effectively implemented. The detailed information on every aspect of NREGA are available on www.nrega.nic.in.
Commenced in 200 most backward districts of the country on 2.2.2006, the Act was first extended to another 130 districts from 1.4.2007. Now with effect from 1.4.2008, the NREG Act has been extended to the remaining 274 districts of the country.