NREGA vs MGNREGA: What is the Difference and Why Does it Matter?

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NREGA and MGNREGA are two acronyms that are often used interchangeably to refer to the same scheme, but they are not exactly the same. NREGA stands for National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, while MGNREGA stands for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. Both are government schemes that aim to provide guaranteed employment and livelihood security to the rural poor in India.

History of NREGA and MGNREGA

NREGA was enacted in 2005 as a landmark legislation that promised to provide 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. The scheme was initially implemented in 200 districts in 2006, and was later extended to all the districts of the country in 2008.

On 2nd October 2009, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, an amendment was made in the NREGA to change its name to MGNREGA. The amendment was made to honour the contribution of Mahatma Gandhi to the cause of rural development and empowerment. The amendment also added some new provisions to the scheme, such as social audit, grievance redressal mechanism, and convergence with other schemes.

Objectives of NREGA and MGNREGA

The main objectives of both NREGA & MGNREGA are:

  • To enhance livelihood security of the rural poor by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year.
  • To create durable assets and infrastructure in rural areas that can improve the quality of life and productivity of the rural population.
  • To protect the environment and promote ecological balance by undertaking works related to water conservation, soil improvement, afforestation, etc.
  • To empower the rural people by strengthening participatory democracy and decentralised planning through gram sabhas and gram panchayats.
  • To reduce rural-urban migration and distress migration by creating employment opportunities in rural areas.
  • To promote gender equality and social inclusion by ensuring equal wages and participation of women, SCs, STs, and other marginalised groups.

Benefits

The main benefits of both NREGA and MGNREGA are:

  • The scheme provides income security and livelihood support to millions of rural poor who depend on casual labour for their survival.
  • The scheme creates productive assets and infrastructure in rural areas that can enhance agricultural productivity, irrigation facilities, connectivity, etc.
  • The scheme improves the human capital and skill development of the rural workers by providing them with training, capacity building, exposure visits, etc.
  • The scheme boosts the rural economy by increasing the purchasing power and consumption expenditure of the rural households.
  • The scheme reduces poverty, inequality, hunger, malnutrition, indebtedness, etc. by improving the living standards and well-being of the rural poor.

Difference between NREGA and MGNREGA

The main difference between NREGA & MGNREGA is that:

  • NREGA is the original name of the scheme that was launched in 2005 as a flagship programme of the UPA government.
  • MGNREGA is the revised name of the scheme that was introduced in 2009 as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his birth anniversary.
  • MGNREGA added some new provisions to NREGA such as social audit, grievance redressal mechanism, convergence with other schemes etc.

Also Read: EPFO

Conclusion

NREGA and MGNREGA are two names of the same scheme that aims to provide guaranteed employment and livelihood security to the rural poor in India. The scheme has been a successful and transformative intervention that has benefited millions of rural households in terms of income, assets, empowerment, and dignity. The difference between NREGA and MGNREGA is mainly in the nomenclature and some additional features that were added in 2009.

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