Forum global sur la sécurité alimentaire et la nutrition • Forum FSN

Re: From economic growth to food security and better nutrition

Shambhu Ghatak
Shambhu GhatakPlanning CommissionIndia

Dear friends,

In order to check how social protection impacts nutrition and food security, I would like to quote here some portions of the report entitled: Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guaranty Act (MGNREGA) and Empowerment of Women in Rural Areas by Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women (2011-12), Fourteenth Report, Lok Sabha Secretariat, May, 2012,

NREGS and Women Empowerment

•           Percentage share of employment availed by women under MGNREGS was 40% during 2006-07, 43% in 2007-08, 48% in 2008-09, 48% in 2009-10 and 48% in 2010-11. Hence, the percentage of women beneficiary under MGNREGA has been much higher than provided under the Act (i.e. 33% of total employment).

•           Out of total 26.69 crore registered workers under MGNREGA for whom job cards have been issued so far, 11.62 crore (43.53%) are women. In 2010-2011, out of the total of 8.73 crore workers who requested for work, 3.92 crore (44.9%) were women.

•           A closer look at the state-wise women participation rate during 2010-11 gives an impression that in some states it has been either abysmally low or significantly high. While states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu register 90.39% and 82.59% women participation in MGNREGA, respectively, Uttar Pradesh shows just 21.42%, Assam 26.51% and Bihar 28.49%.

•           Main reasons for low participation of women in MGNREGA have been non-revision of Schedule of Rates**, socio-cultural constraints and low awareness. Some of the States including Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and West Bengal have revised their SORs to make them work and gender sensitive

•           As per a study conducted by National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), New Delhi, there is an emergence of women's identity and their empowerment with the coming of MGNREGA as an economic opportunity provider.

•           Due to MGNREGS, women have also started to appear more actively in the rural public sphere as they take up their work and responsibilities. There is a general trend of low migration in the areas where assessment was carried out and workers have started to repay their debts.

•           As per a study conducted in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, there was a substantial jump in earning potential for women. Out of total sample, 69% workers said MGNREGA helped them avoid hunger. MGNREGA also provided easy access to credit.

•           Ministry of Rural Development has not conducted any specific study on the issue of wages earned by women. However, the 64th Round survey by the National Sample Survey (NSSO) in 2007-08 had found that there was no difference between wages earned by men and women under MGNREGA as compared to other public works and that there was a reduced difference in the normal male-female wage rates for casual labour in rural areas vis-à-vis urban areas.

•           A Study titled as “Concurrent Evaluation of National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in the State of Uttarakhand” by IIT Roorkee, conducted in the districts of Udham Singh Nagar and Chamoli found that Women's participation in decision making process had increased after the introduction of MGNREGS, mainly due to their increasing wage earnings. The study further stated that participation of women is higher in the hill district of Chamoli than the plain district of Udham Singh Nagar. Apart from the lesser socio- economic constraints, non-availability of the male workers due to their significant migration to plains could be the basic reason for the larger participation of women under the Scheme.

•           A “Research study on changing gender relations through MGNREGS” in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu done by NIRD Hyderabad found that MGNREGS acted as social security measure to the aged women, widows, divorced/deserted women. The study further stated that female dependency level has declined after the execution of MGNREGS.

•           A study of “NREGA process and practices in Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh: Appraisal cum research study”, by Centre for Educational Research & Development found that NREGA helps the women in general and lactating women in particular, to meet their basic needs, like food by ensuring regular income.

•           When asked about the performance of women mates, the Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women (2011-12) have been informed that the district administration of Jalore in Rajasthan focused on training of women for deploying them as mates at worksites. This would ensure an increase in women persondays, participation and economic empowerment as well as better monitoring at worksites. The training was phase-wise and women were given calculators, bags, diaries, measurement kits, medicine kits. The model has now been adopted by the remaining districts of Rajasthan, districts in Uttarakhand, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.


Positive Impacts of NREGS

•           A study conducted by the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong on the Implementation of MGNREGA in six districts has indicated that Mahatma Gandhi NREGA has sufficiently added to household income of the people who worked/ are working in Mahatma Gandhi NREGA. The workers were of opinion that they have been able to arrange their households' daily food requirements.

•           A study conducted by Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad has indicated that the earnings from Mahatma Gandhi NREGA are used as a supplementary income source during non-agricultural seasons.

•           A study conducted by the Institute of Human Development has noted that the earnings from Mahatma Gandhi NREGA has contributed 8 percent of the total income of the households in Bihar and about 2.41 percent of the total annual income of a household in Jharkhand. It has contributed more to the income of the SCs (11%), OBCs (9%), landless (9%) and marginal landholders (8%). In both the states (Bihar and Jharkhand) beneficiaries have spent a substantial part of their earnings on food and daily consumption items, health, social ceremonies and education of the children. Debt repayment has also been formed as a component of expenditure from NREGA earnings.

•           A study entitled, “Supporting the Operationalization of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA in Khasi Hill, Megahlaya”, by Martin Luther Christian University has noted increase in cash flow at the household level during the month of employment under the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA and the increase in the cash flow ranged from 13 to 32%.

•           A “Research study on changing gender relations through MGNREGS” in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu done by NIRD Hyderabad stated that MGNREGS became primary source of income for one third of households. Household?s average income has increased significantly in all the three States, according to the study.

•           A study entitled as “NREGA process and practices in Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh: Appraisal cum research study”, by Centre for Educational Research & Development stated that beneficiaries of the Scheme in both the States reported that the Scheme increased their income by more than one fourth.

•           A study entitled as “Concurrent Evaluation of National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in the State of Uttarakhand” by IIT Roorkee, conducted in the districts of Udham Singh Nagar and Chamoli found that the employment in the post-MGNREGS period had increased between 12 and 18 percent in both the districts.

•           A study entitled, “Socio-Economic Impacts of Implementation of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA” by Council for Social Development in tribal areas of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh noted that the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA has contributed in increasing the food security of the rural masses and a major portion of increased income earned through NREGA was spend on food consumption. The beneficiaries have been able to construct house on their own land due to additional income from Mahatma Gandhi NREGA work.

•           A study on “Impact Assessment of NREGA in Bankura and Purba-Medinipur Districts of West Bengal” by IIT Kharagpur found that villagers consider Mahatma Gandhi NREGA a boon for improving rural livelihood. The availability of works within the village is an encouraging factor, especially for women.

Note: ** The value of work done by a worker is estimated using the Schedule of Rates (SoR) prepared by State Governments. In States there are Schedule of Rates Committees entrusted with the task of preparing SoRs. Schedule of Rates are arrived at based on the All India Standard Schedule of Rates 1986 published by Ministry of Urban Development in association with National Building Organization. For commonly used completed items for which the standards are not available, standards are decided by the Chief Engineer. SoRs are revised yearly on the basis of inflation and calculation of cost of material/ labour at the market rate of material and labour.


 I am also sharing below links of a number of success stories pertaining to agriculture, livelihood and nutrition:

Farmville in the real world -GS Unnikrishnan, The Hindu, 10 October, 2012,

Magic of millets-Ananda Teertha Pyati, Deccan Herald, 9 October, 2012,

Getting malnourished children back on the right track-Firoz Rozindar, The Hindu, 16 July, 2012,

Chhattisgarh's smart move-Sreelatha Menon, The Business Standard, 1 July, 2012,

Grow and let grow-Baba Mayaram, The Hindu, 6 May, 2012,


Please check the following study so as to know how Public Distribution System (PDS) was improved in the state of Chhattisgarh (India) through political will:

Reforming the Public Distribution System: Lessons from Chhattisgarh by Raghav Puri,

Economic and Political Weekly, February 4, 2012 Vol xlvIi, No. 5,



Shambhu Ghatak

Inclusive Media for Change

Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS)