Bringing alive the spirit of MGNREGA as being a legislative guarantee that the citizens have from the government, a collective effort is being made in Gumla to change it from a programme doled out by the government to one that is owned and run predominantly and successfully by the women in villages
I n Gumla district, and possibly in all of Jharkhand, the most common slogan used by the community about the National Rural Employment Generation Act is ‘NREGA marega’, meaning that anyone who works with NREGA is doomed. However, the walls of the district administration office, the block campus or the panchayat building have a different message painted on them, “NREGA mein avaa, kaam paava (Join NREGA and get work)”; “Har haath ko kaam miley, kaam ka pura daam miley (Every hand will get work and every worker will get payment).”
The administration, the bureaucrats and the NREGA functionaries say that there is no need for employment and that the people are no longer interested in NREGA. The community and the labourers believe the scheme failed because of untimely payments, lack of clarity, influence of the contractors and the middlemen, and the inactive and corrupt panchayats. The elected representatives of the panchayat have a different perspective. They say that they are powerless. They want to implement NREGA but are impeded by frontline functionaries, who are dishonest and not at all supportive.
With time, the community became so frustrated that they avoided any discussions on NREGA. Women Community Based Organizations (CBOs) would not discuss NREGA as they considered it beyond their scope