Efficacy of MGNREGA in mitigating the loss in income and unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic

This paper evaluates the efficacy of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in reversing the surge of unemployment in the country during COVID-19 and presents key takeaways from India’s experience in handling the livelihood crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown disrupted the lives and livelihoods of the migrant workforce, which represents 38% of India’s total population. As a part of a series of relief measures under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, the Government of India provided employment opportunities to the distressed rural households through Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

However, the surge in demand for work, payment delays, and issues in the program design posed challenges to its efficacy. MSC’s paper assesses the program’s success in tackling the loss of income and livelihood and lists key challenges India faced in addressing the crisis.

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