Skip to main content

No compelling reason why NREGA workers should get minimum wages as stipulated by Act: Govt of India panel

By Rajiv Shah
In a move that has shocked farm workers’ activists, a high-level Government of India committee headed by a senior bureaucrat has recommended that the wages paid under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) cannot be on par with minimum agricultural wages law for rural farm workers.
In its report, the Committee on Alignment of NREGA Wages with Minimum Agricultural Wages, set up by the Ministry of Rural Development, has said a major reason why there should be divergence is, “There is a major difference in the work done by the agricultural labourers and the work performed by NREGA workers.”
Headed by additional secretary Nagesh Singh, the committee, which has given its recommendations in July 2017, believes, this is necessary, as “the wage rate for agricultural labourer is basically a time rate”, while “wages under NREGA are for piece rate work with fixed schedule of rates for work which is measured and only then payment is made.”
Even otherwise, says the committee, the workers under NREGA “by and large” work less than other rural workers: “An agricultural worker is expected to have a nine hour work day with eight hours of work and one hour of rest”, adding, on the other hand, an NREGA worker “is expected to have an eight hour work day with 7 hours of work and one hour of rest.”
The committee’s recommendation is based on section 6(1) of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, which said, “Notwithstanding anything contained in the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Central Government may, by notification, specify the wage rate for the purposes of this Act.”
Another major reason why the committee rejects the idea of going according to the minimum wages, it says, is that “state governments follow different methods for fixation of minimum wages for agricultural labour” and “wages also differ for different agricultural activities”.
Insisting that NREGA wages are, in fact, based on “scientific principles of indexation”, the committee, even as asking states “to follow a uniform and scientific policy for indexation”, underlines, “r.”
Pointing out that, as payments under NREGA “depend on the work accomplished and the schedule of rates (SORs)”, the committee recommends setting up of a technical team consisting engineers from
“reputed” institutes to work out “templates for preparing SORs for major items of work” taken up under NREGA.”
Interestingly, the committee rejects the recommendation another panel NREGA wage fixation headed by Prof Mahendra Dev, director, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, which said in 2015 that “the baseline for NREGA wage indexation” should be the current minimum wage rate for unskilled agricultural labourers fixed by the states under the Minimum Wages Act, or the current NREGA wage rate, “whichever is higher.”
Taking strong exception to the committee’s recommendations, the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, which is the apex body of tens of organizations seeking to link NREGA wages with minimum wage rate, has accused it of “perpetuating” the violation of the Minimum Wages Act.
“The constitutional courts have repeatedly stated that the Minimum Wages Act cannot be violated under any circumstances”, the Morcha says in a statement, adding, “The High Courts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and legal experts have clarified that Section 6(1) of the NREGA does not allow for the overriding of the Minimum Wages Act.”

Comments

TRENDING

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Wedding of the century': What does Mukesh Ambani want to prove by such extravaganza?

By NS Venkataraman*  Mukesh  Ambani,   a renowned Indian industrialist who is said to be the richest person in India and  one of the richest persons in the world,   has just now conducted the wedding celebration of  his son in Mumbai,   with unheard level of lavishness in India.

'28% rise in sedition cases': Top global NGO alliance rates India's civil space 'repressed'

By Rajiv Shah Rating India's civic space as repressed , Civicus, a global civil society alliance, in its new report submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) on the state of civic space in the country has said that the use of sedition law against the Modi government’s critics continues. "Under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sedition cases have increased by 28 per cent with over 500 cases against more than 7,000 people", it says.

'Anti-poor stand': Even British wouldn't reduce Railways' sleeper and general coaches

By Anandi Pandey, Sandeep Pandey*  Probably even the British, who introduced railways in India, would not have done what the Bhartiya Janata Party government is doing. The number of Sleeper and General class coaches in various trains are surreptitiously and ominously disappearing accompanied by a simultaneous increase in Air Conditioned coaches. In the characteristic style of BJP government there was no discussion or debate on this move by the Indian Railways either in the Parliament or outside of it. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How embracing diversity enriched my life, brought profound sense of joy

By Mike Ghouse*  If you can shed the bias towards others, you'll love the connections with every human that God or his systems have created. This gives a sense of freedom and brings meaning and joy to life. Embracing and respecting how people dress, eat, and practice their beliefs becomes an enriching experience.

Banned Maoist party protests in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, claims support across globe

By Harsh Thakor*  Despite being a banned and designated as terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act since 2009, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) is said to have successfully implemented a one-day bandh across Kolhan division in Jharkhand on July 10th, with repurcussions in the neighbouring Chhattisgarh. The bandh was called to protest against alleged police brutality in the Kolhan-Saranda region.

Post-poll mob lynching spree, bulldozer justice: NAPM seeks united resistance

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls "the horrific spree of mob lynchings across the country after the Lok Sabha election results", India's premier civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has called for "united resistance" against "hateful communal politics, mob lynching of religious minorities and caste-based oppression".

Hindutva economics? 12% decline in manufacturing enterprises, 22.5% fall in employment

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The messiah of Hindutva politics, Narendra Modi, assumed office as the Prime Minister of India on May 26, 2014. He pledged to transform the Indian economy and deliver a developed nation with prosperous citizens. However, despite Modi's continued tenure as the Prime Minister, his ambitious electoral promises seem increasingly elusive.