As migrant workers return to their villages, rural India’s dependence on NREGA is likely to increase. Here’s how it can effectively reduce rural distress.

On April 15th, 2020, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order allowing select activities to be restarted from April 20th onwards. This included activities related to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) or NREGA. Since the partial lifting of the lockdown in some parts of the country, various state governments have started NREGA activities in some measure.

As migrant workers across the country return to their villages, rural India’s dependence on NREGA wages for survival is expected to increase manifold. If we expect NREGA to effectively reduce rural distress, some changes will have to be made in its design and implementation—for as long as rural communities grapple with the economic aftershocks induced by the pandemic.

Drawing on our experience at PRADAN, we recommend the following reforms to effectively strengthen the role that NREGA can play in responding to the COVID-19-induced crisis.

Source: IDR