FIELDWORK SEGMENT (FWS) PRM 2010-12 & FPRM 2010

Labour Markets Dynamics in Post-NREGS Rural India

A Theme Paper Based on the study in 1 Village

Rungdung, Sikkim

Submitted by: Ankit Saxena (31065), Vishnu Raghunathan (31056) Faculty Guide: Prof. Tushaar Shah and Mr. Shilp Verma

In the partial Fulfilment of the requirement of the FWS

Post Graduate Programme in Rural Management INSTITUTE OF RURAL MANAGEMENT ANAND 2010

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
I owe heartfelt gratitude to the Rural Management and Development Department, Government of Sikkim for giving me the opportunity to stay in Rungdung, Rhenock and understand the intricacies of the village life in Sikkim. I am deeply indebted to Ms Tashi Namgyal, Under Secretary, MGNREGA cell for her untiring support and encouragement during my eight ± week stay in the village. Also, I would like to mention the support and assistance provided to me by the Additional Secretary MG NREGA- Mr Sandeep Tambe for placing his trust in me to complete the designated work. I would like to thank my theme guide Prof. Tushaar Shah and Mr. Shilp Verma for their constant guidance and direction which made this study more interesting and intense. I am also thankful to Prof. Debiprasad Mishra of IRMA for having lent constant support and supervision to us before and during our fieldwork. Sikkim, being an unexplored territory, when the fieldwork is concerned, was a great experience for all of us and I would like to express our gratitude to all the teaching and non teaching staff of IRMA who made it possible. It would be a mistake not to express our sincere and heartfelt gratitude to our host family ± Mrs Renuka Bhujil and all the members of her family for their care and support. They were instrumental in making our stay comfortable and memorable with the delicious food and warmth.

Vishnu Raghunathan, 31056 Ankit Saxena, 31065

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT...........................................................................................................1 TABLE OF CONTENTS.............................................................................................................2 LIST OF TABLES.......................................................................................................................2 LIST OF FIGURES.......... ...........................................................................................................2 1. Village Profile...................................................................................................................3 2. Introduction......................................................................................................................4 3. Objectives.........................................................................................................................5 4. Method Used....................................................................................................................5 5. Implementation of MGNREGA in Rungdung..................................................................6 6. Findings of Study..............................................................................................................7 7. Reflections........................................................................................................................10

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1. VILLAGE PROFILE
³Kasto Chaa, Raamro?´ Rungdung is a small village in the Rhenock Bazaar ward of Rhenock Tarpin Gram Panchayat Unit of the Rhenock Block. The Rhenock block is in the East District of Sikkim. The village is at a height of 1050 meters, or 3450 feet above MSL. The closest town to the village is Rangpo, which is 22 km away from Rungdung and is connected by a pucca road, the condition of which is not up to the mark due to the frequent landslides. Rangpo is the border between Sikkim and West Bengal. Both the states are connected by NH 31A, which is also known as the lifeline of Sikkim as it connects Gangtok to West Bengal. The village is at a distance of 58 km from Gangtok. The road from Rangpo to Rungdung further leads to the Nathula Pass and Jelepla Pass which is the border between India and China and a major trading hub of the Indo- China trade. This route was earlier a part of the Silk route to Tibet. A map depicting the geographical position of Rhenock block is furnished on the next page.

Figure 1: Geographical Map showing the location of Rhenock

(Source: Block Administrative Centre)

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1. INTRODUCTION
Mahatma Gandhi NREGA has now completed 4 years of implementation in the State. This Scheme has been universalized and is operational in all the 163 Gram Panchayats of the State.
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With the active involvement of women in large numbers, MGNREGA in the State of Sikkim

takes on the hue of a women¶s wage employment programme. It is also rapidly emerging as the main source of employment for the rural people. This Scheme has been able to put money in the hands of the poorest of the poor on a scale that is unprecedented. When these poor households spend this additional money, they create a demand for commodities. The production of these commodities, in turn, creates demand for capital, raw materials and workers. With this level of coverage and intensity, Mahatma Gandhi NREGA is increasingly becoming a lifeline of the rural poor in the State. MGNREGA was able to dignify labour work in the villages, and provided purchasing power and bargaining power to the rural households. A grievance redressal mechanism has also been established along with transparent material purchase norms and a toll free helpline 7979 is operational. Ombudsman has been appointed by a committee headed by the Chief Secretary. The muster rolls were also read out in the Gram Sabha in Social Audits conducted by reputed NGOs in all the villages. Sikkim is amongst the few States in the country to complete the Social Audit and Labour Budget planning in all the Gram Panchayats in a time bound manner. Full time professional manpower are now at place at the Village, Block, District and State level, greatly improving the administration of the Scheme. The shelf of works to be taken up in the village are proposed by the Gram Sabha, estimation is done by the Block office, technical sanctions are done at the District level. No contractors or middle men are permitted and 100% implementation of works by the Gram Panchayat. NREGA has helped in strengthening Panchayati Raj Institutions by bringing real democracy to the grassroots. A number of new initiatives are being planned to further improve the impacts of this national flagship programme. An Estimation Automation Software (EASY) is in the final stages of being developed to automate the estimation procedure since the same types of works are taken up repeatedly.

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Sikkim MGNREGA website. URL: http://nrega.nic.in/homest.asp?state_code=28&state_name=SIKKIM

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To ensure quality monitoring of the assets created on a regular basis, retired government officers will now be empanelled as State Quality Monitors, and they will be conducting regular quality monitoring of the process and outcomes of this programme. The plan of action this year is to shift the emphasis to those activities that enhance ³rural household incomes´ and ensure rural water security. 2. OBJECTIVE To explore the effect on MGNREGA on the local labour market by understanding the dynamics of the following factors: y y y Availability of labour during various seasons Socio economic impact of MGNREGA on the lives of the local Effective wage rates of work.

3. METHODS USED
The data presented in the report has been gathered by using the following techniques: y Primary Data o Focussed Group Discussions with MGNREGA workers o Structured interviews with employees of BAC MGNREGA Cell, NREGA Mate and labourers o Informal chats with labourers and Sarpanchs of the Panchayat. y Secondary Data o MGNREGA MIS, developed by Govt of India URL: http://nrega.nic.in/netnrega/home.aspx o Block Administrative Centre NREGA Cell o Muster Rolls The report follows a question answer pattern to understand the depth of individual issues in more details. A general overview has been provided which makes the case for realities in Rungdung.
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4. IMPLEMENTATION OF MGNREGA IN RUNGDUNG
From the Rungdung village, a total of One forty Eight (148) households have been registered in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and from the above households two eighty eight (288) persons has registered themselves for the employment. The breakup of caste wise distribution of the registered households is as follows: Villages No. of SCs STs Others Male Female Registered H.H Persons H.H Persons H.H Persons H.H Persons 148 288 13 25 13 19 122 244 146 142 (Source: BAC)

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Due to Sikkim being a Scheduled state, there are no General category labourers. The projects which are being undertaken as a part of NREGA work can be categorized under the following heads: y y y y y Rural Connectivity Drought Proofing Flood control Irrigation Canal Plantation ± Tea and Broom

Most of the applicants who have demanded for the job in the year 2010-11 have been provided the employment in one or more project mention above. Most people have till now completed their quota of 100 days of 2010. The wage rates at Rungdung are as follows: y y y Skilled Worker : Rs 130 Mate/ Supervisor : Rs 115 Unskilled Worker : Rs 100

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5. FINDINGS OF STUDY

I.

General attitude of people towards MGNREGA

The people of the village Rungdung, of Rhenock GPU in East district of Sikkim were very happy with NREGA. It has provided a stable source of livelihood for the locals as well as creation of good quality infrastructure which are essential for the village. By the time we reached the village, most of the people had completed their 100 days of work or were close to it. Hence, there was not a lot of attendance at the NREGA sites. There were around 10 workers, out of which 7 were females and 3 males. II. Overall fit of NREGS in the village context

The village is not a poor village and majority of the people have decent monthly earnings through tertiary sector and primary sector. But, there are certain landless poor families who work as labourers or enter into an arrangement with the landlords. NREGA has been a lifeline for them as it ensures an income of Rs 10,000 per year. They can work during the non-agricultural season when they don¶t get work in the agricultural sector. The wages of the agricultural labour has increased considerably because of introduction of NREGA in the village, which has again increased the earnings of these villagers. III. Non-Wage expectations from NREGS?

The non-wage benefits like shelter and crèches were absent but people didn¶t complain about them as they prefer leaving their children with other family members. But there is availability of drinking water near the work site. The non wage expectation would also include the delivery of cash on time and the distance from where it is being disbursed. IV. Degree to which non-wage expectations fulfilled?

As mentioned above there were not many non wage expectations and people were happy with the existing working conditions provided to them. People were unhappy with the wage disbursement mechanism as there was some problem with the Central Bank of India internet
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facility, due to which the wages were not disbursed from July to September. This had caused a major problem amongst the labourers. V. Overall quality of work-seeker experience

Almost all the applicants for work under NREGA got their due but there were problems. In one particular case, in the Upper Tarpin Village, NREGA employees were not paid their dues since July (we spoke to them in October). The reason for the delay was an internet problem in the Central Bank of India which was located in that village. All this time, the people were buying essential commodities on credit from the shopkeeper. During the festive season, the BDO intervened and made sure that they got some parts of their earnings in cash.

VI.

Perception about reach and distributional equity of NREGS benefits

NREGA¶s benefits in terms of money have been distributed among the needy people in the village. But, there was no evidence of Non wage benefits provided to these people. As

mentioned earlier, there was no evidence of any sort of discrimination on the basis of caste or class. VII. Opinion about the physical quality of assets created

The assets that were created under NREGA were generally CC footpaths, jhora works and protective walls which generally required maintenance. They were incidences of the CC footpath going down but that was attributed to the hilly terrain as even the roads built under other schemes of the government required regular maintenance. Almost all the works were of good quality but still the maintenance work demanded lot of resources. The jhoras built have helped a lot to avoid landslides. VIII. Extent of corruption

Though people mentioned about corruption during our interaction with them, we could not establish anything. Overall all the works were carried out effectively. On the contrary, there was some really efficient work going on which we found counterintuitive. The BDO was very active and took the extra effort to make the people comfortable.
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IX.

Which works are better executed and (likely to) perform better in the long run.

The works that come under the Common works had a tendency of better execution as the benefits were distributed to all sections of the society. The villagers had a sense of pride when they built a CC foot path as they were doing something for the community. On the other side, the private land owners ensured that work was done in an effective way in their lands. X. Awareness about NREGS (provisions, rights, procedures) and preparedness of village Awareness level was high among the Panchayat members, but villagers are not worried about the plans to be implemented under the scheme as most h had plenty of resources. Also, the labourers are unaware about any sort of non wage entitlements which they can benefit from. Hence, there is a strong need to make the people conscious of their rights. XI. Power structures, local politics and its (positive and negative) role in NREGS

Local power bodies were absent in our village. NREGA is run by Panchayat and all issues are discussed in the Panchayat. There is no significant influence of any power body, even though some favouritism might be there when it comes to deciding about the beneficiaries. The projects are proposed and passed during the Gram Sabha and only then can a particular work be started. XII. Involvement (or, lack of) of NGOs / CBOs in NREGS implementation and its impact. NGOs do not have a role in NREGA as the Panchayat is the sole authority. All others institutions are generally not required as the BDO office takes good care of the issues raised by the NREGA employees. BDO is easily accessible. XIII. Role played by Gram Sabha, Block Administration, District Administration

The block administration inspects all the sites were NREGA work can be taken up. They study the technical feasibility of the work and forward a proposal to the Gram Sabha. However the authority lies with the Gram Sabha whether it wants to take up a particular project. The BDO himself once confessed that he is powerless if the Gram Sabha rejects their proposal. The BDO made sure that certain projects are implemented under NREGA, as if those projects are put under other schemes then there is a high probability that they will not be completed. The Gram Sabha
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discusses all the proposals and then arrives at a final conclusion taking into consideration the technical aspects of the project. XIV. Future outlook, pathways to improvement

The Sikkim Government has introduced an Adult Literacy Mission whereby every person working under NREGA should attend the classes and learn how to read and write. Some people have complaints that they cannot concentrate on other works as attendance is compulsory. The shortcoming is that there is a sufficiently large number of school leaving cases especially after the age of 16 and above. Because of the poor family background, children of such families are leaving school and are applying for the jobcard and prefer to earn for the family as the workers. Also, NREGS works continue during agriculture season making agriculture labour difficult to find.

6. REFLECTIONS
People, who initially used to perform the agricultural works for their living, have become quite lazy in character with the introduction of NREGA. Villagers have become more interested to work as NREGA Workers rather than to cultivate their own field. This might be because of the wages the workers receive within the very short time, earlier they used to receive the cash only once after selling their product at the end of the season. The rural people have stated the habit of using money everyday which is not possible while engaging them in agriculture. This is the one reason why the demand for jobs in NREGA is increasing every day. Apart from this, the labour force number has increased with the inception of this scheme.

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