Skip to main content

NREGA workers protest 'persistent delay' in wage payment, no redressal on injury, death

By Our Representative 

About 500 workers who have been regular users of the rural guarantee jobs scheme, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), have protested in New Delhi against “persistent delays” in wage payments. Sitting on a dharna organised by the civil rights group NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, many of them gave testimony of how they did not get work when they demanded it, and how no compensation was provided when they were injured or killed at workplace.
Hailing from 15 states, mainly from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka, they gathered in Jantar Mantar. Many of them raised concern regarding the introduction of the NMMS app for attendance at worksites and other technological interventions making it difficult to work in NREGA.
Several workers’ delegations visited the MPs of their states to share their grievances and demands. Memoranda and the charter of demands were presented to R Krishnaiah (YSRCP), Uttam Kumar Reddy (INC), Dhiraj Sahu (INC), Diya Kumari (BJP) and Jagannath Sarkar (BJP). The documents were also submitted to the Samajwadi Party office.
“Some of the MPs received the charter of demands and some of them expressed their support and assured to raise it in Parliament”, an NREGA Sangharsh Morcha communique said. D Raja, General Secretary of the CPI. and Kavita Krishnan of the CPI-ML attended the dharna and endorsed all the demands.
Currently, said the communique, more than Rs 21,850 crore of wages are pending since April 2020 1. This year’s pendency is already Rs 6,800 crore. In particular, no wages for West Bengal have been processed since December 2021 and current dues are above Rs 2,500 crore.
The Morcha said, an analysis done of 18 lakh wage invoices of the first half of FY 21-22 showed that only 29% of payments were processed within the mandated seven day period by the Government of India (GoI).
Pointing out that there is enough evidence suggesting that inadequate funds allocation lead to wage delays, it added, as of July 31, 66.4% of the budget has already been spent with eight months remaining in the FY. Corruption in NREGA is a genuine concern and social audits have been mandated primarily to curtail corruption.
Speaking on the occasion, Rakshita Swamy of NGO Safar and Karuna M of PHM Tamil Nadu highlighted how funds for social audits have been curbed by the GoI themself. In a circular dated 5th January 2022, the Ministry of Rural Development said that social audits are a “pre-requisite” for fund release to States. On the one hand, the GoI is curtailing funds for NREGA on grounds of increased corruption and on the other, it has curtailed funds for social audits.
They added, the alarming situation of food insecurity in the country and the need for greater investments in food entitlement was highlighted. Workers spoke about the difficulties in affording even two meals a day due to high inflation with a gas cylinder costing more than Rs 1,000. Mandvi, a worker from Bihar, asked to end the “Ram Mandir politics” and ensure food security. 
Demands were raosed to universalise the public distribution system (PDS) and have quotas for the National Food Security Act (NFSA) based on 2022 population projections to be in compliance with Supreme Court orders. Further PDS must include pulses, millets and oils. Also, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY) must be extended till such time that the pandemic continues.



'Very low rung in quality ladder': Critique of ICMR study on 'sudden deaths' post-2021

By Bhaskaran Raman*  Since about mid-2021, a new phenomenon of extreme concern has been observed throughout the world, including India : unexplained sudden deaths of seemingly healthy and active people, especially youngsters. In the recently concluded Navratri garba celebrations, an unprecedented number of young persons succumbed to heart attack deaths. After a long delay, ICMR (Indian Council for Medical Research) has finally has published a case-control study on sudden deaths among Indians of age 18-45.

SC 'appears to foster' culture of secrecy, does not seek electoral bond details from SBI

By Rosamma Thomas*  In its order of November 2, 2023 on the case of Association for Democratic Reforms vs Union of India contesting constitutional validity of electoral bonds, the Supreme Court directed all political parties to give particulars of the bonds received by them in sealed covers to the Election Commission of India. SC sought that information be updated until September 2023. 

How national chauvinism 'overtook' sport despite cricketing glory of World Cup 2023

By Harsh Thakor*  The recently-concluded cricket World Cup was a testimony or manifestation of the thrills, intensity, twists and turns in sport and evolution of the game of cricket. It carried on the trend of the World Cups of yesteryears. Possibly, this was the best ever Indian team in a World Cup, and arguably amongst the best ever to contest a World Cup.

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. 

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.

Only 12% of schools RTE compliant: Whither 6% budgetary allocation for education?

By Ambarish Rai* Despite Indian state’s commitment of 6% GDP on education, the Finance Minister completely ignored right to education for children and strengthening implementation of RTE Act which makes education a fundamental right in her budget speech . The Right to Education (RTE) Forum, which is a collective of different stakeholders in education, condemns this neglect of a legal entitlement, which is unconstitutional and demand for overall increase in the budget to ensure improvement in learning outcomes and overall enhancement of quality education.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

'Ambiguous policy': India late in advocating EVs as energy storage in national grid

By Shankar Sharma*  This is regarding the points raised by the Chief Electricity Authority’s (CEA's) advocacy for usage of electrical vehicles (EVs) as energy storage technology, and few associated issues . An objective reading of what he states should reiterate the enormously growing importance of battery energy storage systems (BESS) in our need to transition to a net-zero carbon scenario for the country.

Union Health Ministry, FSSAI 'fail to respond' to NHRC directive on packaged food

By Our Representative  The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has expressed deep concern over the adverse health effects caused by packaged foods high in salt, sugar, and saturated fats. Recognizing it as a violation of the Right to Life and Right to Health of Indian citizens, the quasi-judicial body called for a response from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) regarding its selection of front-of-pack labels aimed at providing consumers with information to make healthier choices.