Bookmark and Share

India’s Rural Employment Guarantee scheme leads to greater Bargaining Power for Rural Laborers

1 Comment

India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme or MGNREGA as it is popularly known is leading to labor shortages around the country.The NREGA scheme which guarantees 100 days of employment to rural workers around the country with a minimum wage of Rs 100 (~$2 per day) has led to higher bargaining power for workers.Earlier workers from poorer states in India like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh used to migrate to richer agricultural states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.The work was seasonal in nature and used to take place at harvest time.With no possibility of work or food in their home villages,these workers had little option but to work for whatever wages they could get from the rich farmers in these states.However the advent of the NREGA has changed the scene dramatically for many of these workers.

Rich States finding it difficult to attract Migrant Labor

With guarantee of 100 days of employment at a  decent wage,laborers have stopped going to the rich agricultural states.With decent amount of work available at home,workers no longer find it attractive enough to leave home and families to work in pitiful conditions at marginally higher wages.Punjab which is one of the grain bowls of India has been facing a labor shortage condition ever since the MGNREGA began in 2005.Now even other states like Himachal Pradesh are facing the same predicament.While NREGA has been criticized heavily for leakages due to corruption,it has achieved success in achieving its objective of improving the lot of Rural India.

Labour crisis throws wet blanket over HP apple – FE

The labour crisis has come as an anti-climax for a majority of the apple growers in the state, who were otherwise on cloud nine due to the record production. Himachal Pradesh is popularly known as the ‘apple bowl of the country’. Helped by good rain and snowfall, particularly in high altitude areas, apple cultivation in Himachal Pradesh has increased substantially this year.Ravinder Singh Chauhan, president of Apple Growers Association of India, said that the shortage of Gurkha labourers is also being felt in other apple-producing states such as Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand. Besides Gurkhas, labourers from Bihar and Jharkhand used to come to Himachal to harvest apples. However, with the successful implementation of the UPA government’s flagship scheme MGNREGA in those states, they don’t feel the need to seek employment in Himachal.

Punjab farmers reap bitter NREGA harvest – TOI

It’s a labour camp in the heart of rural Punjab, where signs of pampering are evident. For, the times have changed. It is peak paddy sowing season and unlike previous years, labourers to work in the field are scarce. The prosperous Punjabi farmer, who had labourers coming in hordes from impoverished villages of central India to work on his fields, now has a tough competitor — the NREGA. With jobs being created back home under the scheme, few are now willing to undertake back-breaking work, literally, involving hours of bending to plant saplings, submerged knee-deep in the paddy fields in the middle of scorching heat and searing moisture. This has made retaining migratory labour force a big problem for Punjab, which is heavily dependent on farmhands from central India.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

One Response so far | Have Your Say!