New Delhi: The UNDP has highlighted India`s rural employment
guarantee scheme, popularly known as NREGA, for its impact on
reducing poverty and reversing inequality.
"Such robust social protection and employment programmes
... reduce poverty and reverse inequality," the UN agency said
in its progress report on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),
citing the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
The UNDP, in its report, "What Will It Take To Achieve
The Millennium Development Goals," said the scheme is known
for improving livelihoods through the legal guarantee of up to
100 days of paid work per annum for landless labourers and
marginal farmers, with almost half being women.
"The state is legally bound to provide unskilled manual
work for households. Failure to provide work within 15 days of
application entitles applicants to automatic unemployment
benefits," the report notes.
The scheme, renamed as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural
Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), has benefited some 460
lakh households, the UN agency said.
"... Besides providing employment, (MGNREGS) regenerates
the rural sector through improving infrastructure and
enhancing agricultural productivity," the report said.
The work includes water conservation, irrigation canals,
flood control, road construction and similar work.
The report went on to say that the scheme created a
significant number of jobs in about 530 districts between 2006
and 2008, benefitting about 46 million households.
Furthermore, 46 per cent of the beneficiaries were women.
"The daily wage rate under the programme is estimated to
have been nearly 50 percent more than the wage rate just
before the programme was implemented," UNDP added.
The UN agency, through its report, launched an extensive
assessment of what must be done to advance sustainable
development and reduce global poverty.
It has put forward an eight-point action agenda to reduce
poverty and has said the MDGs can be achieved based on
evidence from 50 countries.
The MDGs are eight internationally-agreed targets which
aim to reduce poverty, hunger, maternal and child deaths,
disease, inadequate shelter, gender inequality and
environmental degradation by 2015. V