NREGA to focus on self-employment soon: Agatha Sangma

Microfinance Focus, Oct. 28, 2009: Agatha Sangma, Indian Minister of State for Rural Development, said on Wednesday that NREGA would soon transform from its current wage-based program to facilitate self-employment among the rural population.

Releasing the “State of India’s Livelihoods (SOIL) Report 2009″, the second in series prepared by ACCESS Development Services, the minister underscore the need for sustainable progress in rural sector.
Ms Sangma, the youngest member of the Indian council of ministers, also pointed out the need for providing market access to the rural population and sought the private sector to take lead in it.

Keeping aside her prepared speech, Ms Sangma said the government’s popular rural employment guarantee program NREGA has seen increasing criticism but assured to make it more effective and transparent soon. Further, she said NREGA will eventually be transformed from its current wage-based employment program to self-employment program for the rural people.
To achieve this objective, the government has been holding Saras Melas every year providing platform to rural artisans and farmers to exhibit and sell their articles or produce. But these are short term programs and invited the private sector, especially practioners in the field to facilitate rural employment on sustainable basis.
The SOIL report weighed both positive and negative trends in the sector especially from the NREGA program last year and noted major concerns in the light of global crisis as well.

The report said the NREGA with sufficient cash inflow succeeded to cap migration of rural population but nonetheless, it was beset with reports of corrpution and transparency during implementation.