Through exposure to and taking part in the awareness campaign, the people of Kuira realize that they have ‘the power, the unity and the right’, to decide the type of work that should be undertaken in their village under the MGNREGS.
T here are two major components of the MGNREGS—wage generation and asset creation. These, along with strengthening of democracy at the grass-roots, have great importance and significance in the lives of the people. The opportunity offered by the MGNREGS for creating land and water assets in a village is vast, especially because there is no financial or physical restriction in the Act on the asset creation plans of villages and panchayats.
The present state of the MGNREGS, however, is not very encouraging in Jharkhand, specifically in the district of West Singhbhum. Even after five years of its inception, the schemes under MGNREGA are still entangled in a web of corruption and lack of awareness, technical capabilities and accountability at all levels. Contractors and middlemen still rule the roost. Even though the scope for land and water asset development is immense, the potential remains untapped because the complete process is still District Rural Development Agency-driven. The poor quality of the assets created due to lack of technical capabilities of all actors, that is, the mates, rozgar sewaks, panchayat sewaks and Junior Engineers, working at the grass-roots level is another major worry.
One of the biggest challenges to the success of MGNREGS is making the process of the schemes participatory and demand-driven. All the stakeholders such as the local bureaucracy and the panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) require an orientation in the concept of a demand-driven participatory plan. The PRI, the bureaucracy and the villagers need to develop a better understanding of the process for an effective implementation of schemes. The system suffers from a serious lack of accountability at all levels. One of the ways to rectify this is to involve the relevant institutions at the grass-roots level in the monitoring process. It is also important to strengthen the institution of the gram sabha. A bottom-up pressure is required, to increase accountability.