MGNREGP AND THE MUSLIM MINORITIES
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme is the first programme to provide guaranteed livelihood security to India’s rural poor. The MGNREGS is an innovative program to boost (1) the rural economy, (2) stabilize Agricultural production and (3) to provide livelihood security to the poor and thereby transform the scenario of poverty.
The MGNREGA, by providing legal guarantee to Work, marks a paradigm shift from all earlier wage employment programs. MGNREGA aims at ensuring livelihood security to rural poor through provision of gainful employment opportunities. It also attempts to create productive and durable assets (community and individual) for generation of employment and income on sustainable basis.
MGNREGA can address the problems of agriculture adequately and in the process generate 100 days of guaranteed employment to all the willing workers through participatory planning process. MGNREGA can play a key role in elimination of absolute poverty in the medium run and move towards achievement of sustainable livelihoods even while achieving the goal of sustainable agriculture in the long term.
MNREGA was launched on February 2, 2006 from Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh. The Act covered 200 districts in its first phase, Implemented on February 2, 2006, and was extended to 130 additional districts in 2007- 2008. All the remaining rural areas have been notified with effect from April 1, 2008.
The Act has the potential to increase the purchasing power of rural poor, reduce distress migration and to create useful assets in rural India. Also, it can foster social and gender equality as 23% workers under the scheme are Scheduled Castes, 17% Scheduled Tribes and 50% women. In 2010–11, 41 million households were employed on NREGA worksites.
It is an Inclusive program covering all the disadvantaged sections of the society. Still, the participation levels of the special groups like minorities, disabled and aged are very low.
Needs of these groups are presented below
RESONS FOR NON PARTICIPATION/LESS PARTICIPATION OF MINORITIES
• Lack of awareness
• Cultural taboos
• Low preference to unskilled work
· Muslim women generally possess some skills and therefore, probably do not venture out for MGNREGS (unskilled) works.
· Taboo of carrying head-load.
• Lack of information about the scheme, organizational setup and trained human resource, etc.
· MGNREGA is a demand driven individual beneficiary scheme so it cannot serve the needs of the Minorities.
· No special quota of providing Job Cards for Minorities under the MGNEGA. Many commentators see this as a major flaw in the scheme
Capacity building/Recommendations For Minority Participation
· The participation levels are very low among the minority women in MGNREGS. They prefer skilled work in the place of unskilled. Though there is no ban on their Participation still cultural taboo exists which does not motivate minority women to Participate in MGNREGS. So, special awareness drive should be planned for their Inclusion in the programme.
· Wherever possible skill oriented trainings should be provided for these groups.
· In Eastern India, Muslim women participation is next to nil. The main reason is stigma attached to some MGNREGS works. Whereas, for some other works such as horticulture, nursery development etc., their participation levels are impressive. Therefore, the scope of MGNREGS works should be enlarged so that these women may also participate
· Had all women groups are supervised by women may encourage Muslim women to participate in MGNREGS activities.
· There needs to be more work days allocated to the minorities as well an increase in the number of employment days under MGNREGS for the minorities should not only increase the average wage rate for these communities, but will also have an impact on decreasing the migration of labor outside the Gram Panchayat and the Mandal.
· Bureaucracy and elected representatives are exploiting the minorities and indulging in corrupt practices, because of minority’s ignorance, illiteracy. So there must be reforms in the existing bureaucracy at the grass root level.
· If the benefits of MGNTEGS are to reach the poor and especially the minorities, the government has to bring about structural and administrative changes in the present set up.
Government stand on Minority Development under MGNREGS
1. Recently in a significant move the Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has proposed to “live fence” grave yards, Dargahs and Eidgahs under the Land Development and Plantation works category of MGNREGA for the development of Minorities.
2. Answering a Question in Parliament the Government t of India made it clear there is no special quota of providing Job Cards for minorities under the MGNREGS.
Question in Parliament
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
MINISTRY OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT
DEPARTMENT OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT
UNSTARRED QUESTION NO.1951
TO BE ANWSERED ON 11.08.2011
Minority Participation in MGNREGS
1951. SHRI D.B. CHANDRE GOWDA:
SHRI ABDUL RAHMAN:
Will the Minister of RURAL DEVELOPMENT be pleased to state?
(a) Whether participation of Muslims in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) is very low or negligible as compared to their population;
(b) If so, the details thereof and the reasons therefore;
(c) Whether the Government has taken steps to ensure participation of all communities in MGNREGS;
(d) If so, the details thereof; and
(e) If not, the reasons therefore?
MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT
(SHRI PRADEEP JAIN ‘ADITYA’)
(a) to(e): Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) provides a legal guarantee for at least 100 days of wage employment to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work subject to an overall ceiling of 100 days of employment per household in every financial year. The Act uniformly applies to all rural households irrespective of the community they belong to. Mahatma Gandhi NREGA is demand based. Job cards are issued to the households who register themselves for issue of the same. Thereafter, they need to apply for work and get employment as per the provisions of the Act. Separate data for job cards issued or employment provided to people belonging to minority communities under the scheme is not maintained.