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Day 67 – Q 4.Critically evaluate the effectiveness of the MGNREGA as a poverty alleviation programme.

4. Critically evaluate the effectiveness of the MGNREGA as a poverty alleviation programme.   

गरीबी उन्मूलन कार्यक्रम के रूप में मनरेगा की प्रभावशीलता का समालोचनात्मक मूल्यांकन करें।


National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) is a demand-driven social security measure that provides a minimum of 100 days of unskilled work per household in a financial year. 

It is hailed as world’s largest anti-poverty program.

Founding pillars of the program

  • Asset creation
  • Social security
  • Social inclusion
  • Gender parity
  • Equitable growth 


Effectiveness of the MGNREGA as a poverty alleviation programme 

  • Increased rural wages – The average wage per person-day has gone up by 81 per cent since the Scheme’s inception, with state-level variations.
  • Reduced distress migration – On an average, 5 crore households have been provided employment every year since 2008.
  • Successful in its targeting
  • Risk mitigation mechanism – non-normative rainfall during the agricultural season leads to higher overall participation in NREGS
  • Agriculture
    • Usage of barren areas for cultivation
    • creation of assets on lands of small and marginal farmers
    • Aided small and marginal farmers in moving to dual and multi-cropping.
    • MGNREGS has contributed to improved or sustained groundwater levels, increased water availability for irrigation, increased irrigated area and finally, improved drinking water availability for humans and livestock.
  • Empowerment of the weaker sections  – As per a NSSO report
    • Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) have accounted for 51 per cent of the total person-days generated.
    • Women for 47 per cent, well above the mandatory 33 per cent as required by the Act. 
    • FRA beneficiaries are entitled to 150 days of employment. In states like Rajasthan, communities like the Sahriyas have been given an entitlement of 200 days
    • Financial inclusion – Payments under the scheme are by way of Direct Benefit Transfers.
  • Human Development Indicator – 
    • Improvement in food security and nutrition.
    • Availability and work by adult household members in MGNREGS inversely affects child labour and positively impacts children’s schooling.
  • Areas with low consumption expenditure have higher MGNREGS demand as compared to areas with higher consumption expenditure.
  • After ALP, women, SC and ST workforce increased under MGNREGS during times of economic distress.

Limitation of the MGNREGA as a poverty alleviation programme

  • Delay in payments – less than a third of the payments were made on time.
  • While women’s participation rates in MGNREGA are satisfactory, women are excluded from planning.
  • Grievance redress and having an ombudsperson remain a challenge for the administration.
  • While, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Sikkim have been able to institutionalize social audits, the other states are fast catching up.
  • A study by National Council of Applied Economic Research, found that implementation is linked with local administration. 
    • Chhattisgarh – 60% participation of poor (strong program implementation)
    • Bihar – 11% poor participation of poor. 
  • Up-skilling the MGNREGS Workers and accelerated upliftment from poverty is not happening. Convergence with Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY), involvement of SHGs is not taking place. 
  • Micro financial benefits like micro credit, micro insurance, using the JAM trinity has not been planned yet. 


The NREGS may still be the best immediate policy option to protect the poor, landless, vulnerable, rural poor.  

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