Demand for raising MGNREGA wages to Rs.600 | Countercurrents


By   Himanshu Raj    7 July 2020    7 July 2020


The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is a business ensure plot that ensures work for 100 days at a compensation pace of INR120 every day (as fixed in 2009). These advantages can be made sure about by any family whether or not they fall beneath or above national neediness line. The focal government delinked MGNREGA wage rates from State explicit Minimum compensation rates in January 2009 when states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra changed and expanded their lowest pay permitted by law rates. This had direct ramifications on Central Government’s spending put in a safe spot for MGNREGA plot. The move of freezing MGNREGA plot made a change of discontent in different parts and segments of India as the move was considered to penetrate Minimum Wages Act, 1948.

India introduced the Minimum Wages Act in 1948,[i] giving both the Central government and State government jurisdiction in fixing wages. The act is legally non-binding, but statutory. Payment of wages below the minimum wage rate amounts to forced labour. Wage boards are set up to review the industry’s capacity to pay and fix minimum wages such that they at least cover a family of four’s requirements of calories, shelter, clothing, education, medical assistance, and entertainment. Under the law, wage rates in scheduled employments differ across states, sectors, skills, regions and occupations owing to difference in costs of living, regional industries’ capacity to pay, consumption patterns, etc. Hence, there is no single uniform minimum wage rate across the country and the structure has become overly complex. The highest minimum wage rate as updated in 2012 was Rs. 322/day in Andaman and Nicobar[ii] and the lowest was Rs. 38/day in Tripura. In Mumbai, as of 2017, the minimum wage was Rs. 348/day for a safai karmachari (sewage cleaner and sweeper), but this was rarely paid.[iii]

Since its inception, the scheme has become the largest employment generation program in India. In 2009-10, it generated employment for more than 50 million men and women and has spent ` 25,579 crores as wages paid to MGNREG workers. Be that as it may, even MGNREG, a fruitful work age program isn’t liberated from reactions. In the previous scarcely any months, media has given an account of neighborhood level debasement, anomalies in allocation of work, delay in wage installments and inappropriate upkeep of records under the MGNREG plot. Be that as it may, of late the plan pulled in political, financial and lawful consideration by virtue of the equation embraced to pay compensation.

The wage policy of the MGNREG scheme has been regulated under Section 6 of the MGNREG Act, 2005. A section has been alleging that the government itself has been violating the provisions of Minimum Wages Act, 1948 and Article 23 of the Indian Constitution – both of which gives a worker the right to get paid a legal minimum wage.


Obviously the plan’s compensation strategy accommodates two particular techniques for wage obsession.  Till 2008, MGNREG laborers were paid the equivalent “least wages” as advised by the state governments under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. They were paid least wages appropriate for rural workers. In any case, during 2007-08 and 2008-09, visit upward update of the lowest pay permitted by law rates by certain states, especially Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh had noteworthy money related ramifications on Center’s spending plan, in this way expanding its volatility[iv]. Accordingly in January 2009, the Central Government delinked Minimum Wages Act with MGNREG Act, by practicing its capacity under segment 6(1) and solidified the compensation rates pertinent to MGNREG laborers in various states. Be that as it may, this activity pulled out in the open and political analysis and charges about infringement of nice work conditions on the grounds that in trading from area 6(2) to 6(1) of the Act, the Center Government was subverting the Least Wages Act, a significant focal enactment. MGNREG Act, in its current system ensures 100 days of work as well as a genuine compensation of Rs. 100, as guaranteed by the Finance Minister in the spending discourse of July 2009. While in 19 state MGNREG wage rates were not exactly the particular states the lowest pay permitted by law rates and in 5 states they were even underneath the National Floor level of the lowest pay permitted by law


An advisory group of specialists set up by the Union rustic improvement service has prescribed that the wages paid to untalented rural workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) ought to be the lowest pay permitted by law fixed by the individual state or the current pay according to the customer value list for farming workers (CPI-AL), whichever is higher. The board additionally prescribed connecting the wages to the Consumer Price Index, Rural (CPI-R), for ensuring MGNREGA compensation against expansion.[v]

The board has suggested that MGNREGA compensation can’t be not exactly the lowest pay permitted by law of a state, which is modified on a yearly premise. The lowest pay permitted by law fixed by province of Bihar for horticulture workers, for instance, is Rs 162 per day while it is Rs 500 in Kerala, the most noteworthy fixed by any state in the nation.


It is unrealistic to give a chance of work except if the work quality or essential work rights are guaranteed. In spite of the fact that under the new strategy MGNREG compensation expanded, yet at the same time in 10 states it is not exactly the told least, and here laborers are denied their protected right. The discussion outlines a situation where the legislator itself is abusing the law, by affronting a Court request. It’s anything but a battle between two pay strategies, but instead two enactments both made to ensure laborers’ privileges. Connecting MGNREG compensation to value record was certainly required to shield the poor rustic family units from rising swelling. Simultaneously the administration ought to likewise understand that however it has the ability to revise the law and encourage social upliftment and rule of law, yet it ought not challenge the law for tight political additions.[vi]

[i] Biju Varkkey and Khushi Mehta. “Minimum Wages in India: Issues and Concerns” (PDF). Wage Indicator Foundation

[ii] Paycheck India. “Minimum Wages in Andaman & Nicobar”. Wage Indicator Foundation

[iii] “Interview with Mr. Milind Ranade (Kachra Vahtuk Shramik Sangh Mumbai)”. TISS Wastelines official website. Tata Institute of Social Sciences

[iv] Referred Ministry of Rural Development notification no. J-11011/5/2008-NREGA

[v] Refer to page 55-58 of Minimum Wages and Mazdoor Haq Satyagrah booklet.


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