Important Study Notes on MGNREGA

By Dhruv Kumar|Updated : August 17th, 2020

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA/MNREGA ) is  Indian labor law and social security measure that aims to guarantee the 'right to work.' It is the largest and most ambitious social security and public works program in the world that covers all districts of India except ones with the urban population.


A pilot scheme-Employment Assurance Scheme (Predecessor of MGNREGA) was launched by P.V Narashima Rao government in 1991, with the following goals:

1.Generation of employment for agriculture labour during the offseason

2.Development of Infrastructure at the village level

3.Ensuring food security

In the early 2000s, Employment Assurance Scheme was merged with the Food for Work Programme, and NREGA Act, 2005, came into existence. Later its name was changed to MGNREGA or MNREGA.


  • This Scheme Creates livelihood opportunities for citizens living in rural areas and sets a minimum wage threshold for low-income earners.
  • This Scheme is a legal right to work and guarantee-100 days of employment and 150 days of employment in drought-prone areas.
  • If the person doesn't get work within 15 days of application, the person is eligible for an unemployment allowance.  


Eligibility for MGNREGA

  1. Must be Citizen of India to seek MGNREGA benefits.
  2. Jobseeker has completed 18 years of age at the time of application.
  3. The applicant must be part of a local household (i.e., the application must be made with local Gram Panchayat).
  4. The applicant must volunteer for unskilled labour.

Nature of work

The productivity of Indian agriculture is low, because of the mismanagement of natural resources, and most of the work under this Scheme is related to the management of Natural resources like the construction of ponds, irrigation canals, etc. In lean season this Scheme not only provides work to sustain livelihood but also provides work related to the management for the natural resources, which helps agriculture productivity in the future. This Scheme is implemented by Gram panchayats on the advice of district panchayats, NGO's and government departments.


Achievements of Scheme

  • MGNREGA has been very successful in creating livelihood opportunities for our citizens and sets a minimum wage threshold for low-income earners.
  • It has altered the nature of the rural labour market. It gave the opportunity to rural households to earn minimum wage.
  • While the poor have used it to escape from poverty, the not-so-poor used it as a measure to supplement their income by working during lean agriculture periods.
  • The Scheme is inclusive with higher participation of deprived sections including women and SC and ST. About one in two jobs created under the Scheme is for women and about 40 percent for SC/ST.
  • The payments under this scheme are mostly done by way of direct transfer of money into beneficiary accounts, which in turn opportunity to people to open new bank or post office accounts.


  • The success of the programme is very much related to the way of governance in the state.
  • Delayed measurement of the work leads to delayed payment to the worker.
  • Fake muster rolls are created to show the demand while there is none.
  • Poor targeting: 65% of beneficiaries from the Scheme belongs to non-poor households
  • The biggest problem associated with this programme is the infrastructure created by MGNREGA workers is not good enough.
  • There is also an allegation that the Scheme has not been able to produce the amount of actual labour that is being demanded by the people.


This act has been running successfully and has improved the purchasing power of citizens, primarily by providing semi or un-skilled work to people living below the poverty line in rural India. It attempts to secure the livelihood of the poorest of the poor poor people of the country. In times of lockdown, the migration has increased from urban to rural areas; this Scheme can play an important role in ensuring minimum wage to people facing economic hardship. 

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