A study on inclusion of vulnerable sections in the MGNREGA of Karnataka
Empowerment of the socially disadvantaged, especially, women, Scheduled Castes (SCs), and Scheduled Tribes (STs) is one of the goals of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or MGNREGA (MORD&CWEPA, 2014). The MGREGA Sameeksha and other assessments note that SCSTs have participated in the scheme beyond their share of the population (MoRD, 2012). However, it is argued that there is inequitable participation of SCSTs in both employment creation and asset creation components of the scheme in Karnataka. Their study shows that the percentage of rural households having job cards is lower for SCSTs compared to other communities in the state of Karnataka.
Therefore, in the study commissioned by MGNREGS, Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, Government of Karnataka,
the true extent of SCST, women, and senior citizens' participation in MGNREGA will be examined besides studying the barriers affecting the same.
• To assess the extent of participation of SCSTs in the scheme compared to other communities
• To assess the state of participation of SCST women (who are doubly deprived) and SCST senior citizens in the scheme.
• To assess the state of participation of Persons with Disability (PWDs) in the scheme (irrespective of social category) and understand the effect of circular issued by the department for inclusion
• To assess the magnitude and duration of MGNREGA employment obtained by vulnerable sections such as SCSTs (including women and senior citizens) and PWDs compared to their expressed demand for employment and the reasons in any noticed gap between demand for and provision of employment
• To examine the enablers and barriers that influence SCST (including SCST women and senior citizens), PWDs, and transgenders’ demand for and participation in MGNREGA, including the implementation processes which shape the extent to which these groups participate in and benefit from the scheme.
• To examine the perspectives of different stakeholders regarding the enablers and barriers that are faced in providing the benefits of the scheme to the SCSTs.
• To make policy and implementation recommendations for enhancing the participation and benefits from MGNREGA to the SCSTs.
Project Result / Accomplishments:
Summary of Key
of this Impact Study on the MGNREGS is to ascertain the inclusion of the
vulnerable communities in Karnataka – the SC, ST, PWD, Senior Citizens and
women, especially in these groups or even amongst non SCSTs. The study results
therefore try to find out differences in the way MGNREGS has impacted the lives
of these communities as compared to those who are not vulnerable. The main
findings of the study are summarized below basis this backdrop.
shows that the highest degree of participation in the MGNREGS can be witnessed
by members of the SC community, followed by Non – SC/ST, ST, Senior Citizens
and finally PwDs. Much larger percentages of women - 54.48% surveyed responded
in the affirmative regarding participating in the MGNREGS program, as compared
to 45.52% of men. A very high percentage of 96.39% of women and 95.81% men
across social categories are satisfied with the nature of work.
The benefit of
locally available jobs, especially during the lean agricultural season is the
main point of attraction for MGNREGS. The essence on local makes it more
appealing to the women in the village who are in need of jobs but do not want
to travel to far of locations for work.
The manner in
which MGNREGS has impacted the different vulnerable groups are further
SC and ST
important to note that there is no difference between the nature of application
processes selected by members across different social categories. More than two
– thirds of both men and women across social categories have mentioned that
they are in possession of their job – cards. However, it is critical to note
that the survey found out that more non SCST respondents had their job cards to
themselves as compared SCs and STs; the later’s job cards were primarily with
the GP functionaries.
In terms of
awareness, the vulnerable communities like SC and ST were more aware of the
MGNREGS as compared to the non-vulnerable communities, primarily because their
need for work under MGNREGS was more, given their poorer socio-economic
condition compared to the non- vulnerable communities. Gram Sabhas are the main
source of awareness generation for both vulnerable and non-vulnerable groups,
as both groups are generally present in the Gram Sabha meetings, even though
the vulnerable groups have explicitly mentioned that they are never provided
any follow up of such meetings.
types of work demanded by the beneficiaries, it is community works that the
respondents claimed to have worked more on. For instance, as high as 83.64% of
female workers from ST groups followed by 79.83 % of females from SC women
reported that they worked for community works under MGNREGS. However, there are
differences between non-SCST respondents’ demand for individual asset creation
– both in their own and in other’s land, as compared to the same for all
categories of vulnerable communities – SC, ST, PWD and Senior Citizens. This is
true for both male and female beneficiaries. This proves that there is a
difference in the nature of work demanded and allotted to in the case of
vulnerable and non-vulnerable communities. While the non-vulnerable communities
were provided with more individual works, the vulnerable communities were
provided more community-based works.
delays come out as one of the biggest reasons for delays in sanctioning MGNREGS
works as 45.05% of the respondents (highest amongst all listed reasons) have
reported this. The survey did not find any major difference in reporting by the
vulnerable and non-vulnerable groups regarding operational delays as cause of
delayed start to projects under MGNRGES. The second important reason is the lack of planning, for which the
non-vulnerable non-SCST workers (32.00% ) reported the highest incidence as
compared to 24.07% of the SC workers. Similarly, the third important reason
reported is being lack of funds which
has been reported by the highest number of non-vulnerable groups as against the
to completion of individual assets creation, among the male workers from the
non-vulnerable sections, 90.63% of the workers agreed against 81.48% of the SC
groups. Among the women workers, 84.62% of ST workers as against 69.74% of SC
and 81.08% of non-SCST women agreed that their individual asset creation was
completed. This shows that the non-vulnerable communities get funded in the
MGNREGS more for individual asset creation than the vulnerable communities.
About 40.0% of non-SCST group women as against 34.78% of the SC group women
respondents revealed that lack of own funds has been the reason for their
incomplete individual assets. In addition, 17.39% of the SC women workers also
confirmed that unavailability of land documents as a reason for incomplete
In the wake of
making the MGNREGS more inclusive and more specifically, more participatory by
including, women workers, PwDs and senior citizens, it is expected that women’s
association with this program would eventually open up new vistas for the most
vulnerable groups. The aim should be to also include more marginalized workers
such as senior citizen, PwDs and transgender workers going forward.
worksite facilities provided to these workers, it is only the drinking water
facility that the respective local authorities have been able to provide. This
is reported by the workers – as high as 75.98%, followed by first-aid medicine
(40.67%) to be used to treat any minor injury or any mild illness at the
helped the vulnerable households claim back their livelihoods during the
distress times, especially for women folk who are both vulnerable and immensely
under pressure to work within and the outside the households. This is very
crucial given the significance of majority of female workforce contributing to
the agriculture and allied activities in the rural economy.
It must be
understood still that the MGNREGS is implemented like a supply driven
programme, even though it is considered to be demand driven in approach and in
its suggested implementation mechanism. Nevertheless, despite this purported
drawback, it is still considered as one of the largest social security programs
in the world, primarily given its scale and reach.
reference to PVTG (Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups):
not being given special job cards, even though this is envisaged by the MGNREG
Act and the guidelines. The picture on the participation of STs other than
PVTGs is mixed. Some STs are willing to participate in the scheme, while others
are less willing. Unwillingness is shaped by reasons such as higher wage from
other sources such as working on coffee plantations and the perceived
inadequacy of the MGNREGA wage amount, lack of timely wage payment, and
preference for forest-department work over MGNREGA work. For women, however,
participation in MGNREGA was positively shaped by market rate wages being lower
than the MGNREGS wage.
study, the members of the tribal communities largely said that there was no way
for them to pro-actively ask for work or register demand. On the other hand,
MGNREGA functionary responses indicated that people could indeed express and
register demand, and that there were various demand registration channels
available. ST villagers were unsure about whether they could ask for work, or
get such work if they applied for it. They had a sense of dependence on the
discretion of the GP. MGNREGA seems to be largely understood by the community
as a supply-driven scheme and not a demand-driven scheme. The number of days of
work made available was almost always far less that the stipulated minimum of
100 days per household.
though PVTGs are supposed to be prioritized for individual asset provision
under MGNREGA, such prioritization was not being done by all the GPs.
Individual assets such as soak pits and cattle sheds were provided to some ST
and PVTG families. However, delay in the arrival of funds meant that the
impoverished beneficiaries had to bear the initial investment on individual
assets out of their own pockets, and the delay also created the problem of
incomplete assets. Some ST villagers and workers were not aware of how they
could obtain individual assets. Land documentation issues also hindered access
to individual assets for some members of forest-based tribes. Some ST villagers
complained of not being given assets in spite of multiple requests to the
panchayat. Such factors shape the perception of the STs towards the scheme.
· The findings reveal a preference for
forest-based work among the members of forest-based tribes such as the Soligas.
However, there are some challenges in incorporating forest-based works under
MGNREGA such as the fragile nature of forest ecosystem and the restrictions on
making changes in the forest habitat through works. Furthermore, not all forest
department officials are open and responsive to convergence with MGNREGA.
· Notably, social audit was not specially
or specifically examining the extent to which STs were benefitting from
MGNREGA. Social audit functionaries faced obstacles in conducting social audits
such as lack of cooperation from the GPs in organizing the social audit Gram
Sabha and sharing documents/files for examination, political pressure from
influential persons and limited capacity of Village Resource Persons to conduct
social audit. In spite of such limitations, social audit was having positive
consequences such as beneficiaries applying pressure for works completion, and
questioning elite capture of scheme benefits.
· Under MGNREGA, grievance redressal
mechanisms such as the district level Office of Ombudsman and the toll-free
helpline have been instituted. The study findings indicate that awareness of
the office of Ombudsman among vulnerable sections such as STs, who live in
remote areas, is low. It is also difficult for them to come to the headquarters
of the district to register complaints at the Ombudsman’s office.
reflections of the findings of the household survey conducted in the study
districts indicate that there exist gaps in demand side aspirations as against
the supply-side provisions under the study.
notion of inclusion in the MGNREGS is not been felt as a preamble to carry
forward but is an exceptional policy option that needs be taken forward and
needs to be attached to the core principles of the program. While the existing
research studies equally attest the significance of the benefits of the program
on rural distress prevention and improvement of livelihoods, at the ground
level, the demand side aspects are hugely influenced by the awareness levels of
the beneficiaries, where the state needs play a big role. When it comes to the
supply side system of the government functionaries, there exist certain
lacunas, that the policy makers need to pay attention. The policy
recommendations for the existing gaps found in the study forcefully highlight