Topic: General Studies 2 & 3:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
- Indian Economy and challenges with regard to resource mobilization
Employment Guarantee Programme
Context: Due to crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic, workers especially belonging to informal sector have been the worst affected. They are being forced to stay in camps or cramped accommodation, foregoing the comfort of family, food, and mental peace.
What should government do now?
- They should treat labour force not in utilitarian terms but in human terms
- They should facilitate migrant workers to go home
- Government should come up with policies assuring all Indians a measure of livelihood and income security. For Ex: Expanded MGNREGA
- It stands for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005
- It guarantees 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to a rural household whose adult members (at least 18 years of age) volunteer to do unskilled work.
- It has unique legal architecture of being demand-driven, and not budget constrained.
- It is social security and labour law that aims to enforce the ‘right to work’.
- It has provision for unemployment allowance, when the state cannot provide work
- The central government bears the full cost of unskilled labour, and 75% of the cost of material (the rest is borne by the states).
- Agriculture and allied activities constitute more than 65% of the works taken up under the programme.
- MGNREGA has helped build rural infrastructure through approximately 10 crore families.
Solution to Pandemic: Expanded Employment Guarantee Act
- Government should use the MGNREGA budget to pay full wages to all active job card holders during the lockdown
- MGNREGA must be expanded to allow access to any adult seeking any number of days of work during the period of recovery from the COVID crisis.
- Utilizing the existing provision in act (in the event of calamities) to expand the MGNREGA work by at least another 50 days
- Work must be guaranteed on demand – No delay in process
- Payment of part of the wages in subsidised foodgrain enabling cost efficiency for government
- An Urban Employment Guarantee should also be put in place
- Home-based activities can be permitted in the expanded employment guarantee programme: making masks, soaps and sanitisers
- Following Kerala’s success, panchayats and local government units should be empowered and involved in disbursal of funds.
- This will act as human response to this epidemic
Did You Know?
- In 1975, Maharashtra passed an employment guarantee law with no restrictions on the number of days or people.
- To fund this, the legislature identified four taxes to be put into a dedicated employment guarantee fund.
- A professional tax on all salary earners,
- Tax on petrol
- Sales tax surcharge and
- Tax on the income of three-crop irrigated farms
- The Maharashtra Act served as a model for the MGNREGA although its innovative funding pattern was not adopted
Connecting the dots:
- Rights based governance framework
- Union Government’s Four Labour Codes