Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act: a catalyst for rural transformation

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) helped lower poverty by 32 per cent between 2004-05 and 2011-12, lifting almost 14 million in this regard, says a recent survey by the National Council for Applied Economic Research and the University of Maryland. The study involved 26,000 households and used data from the two rounds of the India Human Development Survey, 2004-5 and 2011-12. In this period, though overall economic growth contributed in lowering poverty, so did the scheme, said Sonalde Desai, principal author of the study. About 53 per cent of the workers employed were women and it contributed immensely in empowering them, the study showed. In 2004–05, rural women earned only 53p for each rupee earned by men. But, with implementation of the scheme in 2006, there was at least one job where men and women were paid equally.