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REPORT: Mediocre Impact Of NREGA On The Rural Scene

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By Harshal Mantri:

As we know there are many rural initiative schemes undertaken by government of India which are implemented in different rural areas. The main problem arises when these schemes are implemented but proper structuring or management is not done to make it successful.  It is very important for the government to play a vital role in rectifying the issues plaguing rural areas (such as employment generation, housing facility, education, food, health facilities, construction of basic facilities i.e. roads, hospitals, toilets, schools, etc) for better economic development. For this, the Government has implemented many schemes on national and state level and one among them is National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) – a policy of Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) which was Passed by the Lok Sabha on August 23, 2004 and signed by the President of India on September 5, 2005.


India has its 71.9% of the population is still residing in rural areas and a majority of them are poor. Among the 487 million labourers from rural areas 40 per cent are unskilled and 400 million people are below poverty line, and looking to solve this issue, the NREGA was brought up as a policy to boost rural income, stabilize agricultural production and reduce the population pressure in urban areas which occurs due to migration. The main reason was to give employment to the rural poor so they can survive and rise above the poverty line.

So, the government contribution plays a very important role for helping BPL citizens come out and live a sustainable life with their family. Both Central and State governments are still working very hard for poverty eradication and are also successful in many states in reducing the poverty through various schemes.

The southern and western states (Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu) routinely do better than most of the northern and eastern states when it comes to social policy and rural development programmes. But when it comes to NREGA, the pattern is reversed. Among the major states, the four best-performers in terms of employment generation under NREGA are Rajasthan, Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

According to the household consumer expenditure surveys between 2004-05 and 2009-10, where the number of people below the poverty line were around 400 million, and during the five-year period around 52.5 million people were pulled above the poverty line, but this still leaves around 354.7 million below it. Rural poverty fell faster from 42 per cent to 33.8 per cent during the five-year period. National Sample Survey (NSS) jobs data for 2004-05 and 2009-10 show that in this five-year period only 2.2 million jobs were created, while in the previous five-year period, 92.7 million were created. It only indicates that 7.4 per cent drop in poverty between 2004-05 and 2009-10 which we can relate how difference a job creation scheme has helped in reducing poverty.

The indicators which have measured the poverty reduction and reported that states which fall over 15 per cent between 2004-05 and 2009-10 are Orissa, Sikkim, Tripura and Goa and those in the 10-15 per cent range are Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Himachal, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh. Those who fall in 5-10 per cent range are Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kerala and West Bengal where 7.4% was observed. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, and Chhattisgarh lie in 0-5 per cent range and Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and the North East, where again poverty has increased due to no PDS reform. The only direct correlation between the reduction in poverty and official action to remove it seems to be the MGNREGA.

Social Inclusion was seen after the implementation of NREGA. As per the NSS and government data, more than 3.12 crores households are provided with employment throughout the country, around 122.45 crore person days are created and 7.32 lakh assets are built, out of which 26.14 lakh taken up under the programme are in Maharashtra. It also tells us that out of the total person days created, 50% were occupied by women labourers, 29.9% by the labourers from SC community and 21.8% by the ST community labourers. This will give contentment to socially backward groups like scheduled tribes; scheduled castes as well as women participated in the programme and also give assurance that the country is moving towards a more distributed and equitable development.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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