Reflections from the ground

PACS encourages voices and opinions from the field which reflect the change process. The most empowering aspect of this exercise has been a strong sense of solidarity and collective voice for entitlements.

Age no bar for work in MGNREGA
Gumla Jharkhand MGNREGA


Dibla Oraon, a resident of Haruwatoli village in Gumla district, who looks much older than his 54 years, did not even bother to apply for a job card because he was sure that he was ineligible for it. An awareness camp by Naya Sawera Vikas Kendra (NSVK), a local non-government organisation in his village made all the difference.

Recalls Dibla, "When everyone was applying for a job card, someone in the village told me that I was not eligible because I was too old. Even the gram sabha members did not seem to know. But now I know that MGNREGA is available for every adult who wants to work. I will now make sure I get a card issued in my name. Dibla, who has always worked as an agricultural daily wager, is now looking forward to earning some extra income through the rural job guarantee programme. "I may be 54, but I work hard in the fields, so constructing a well or a pond in the village will not be difficult for me. I just want some extra employment to earn a little better," he says.

This is a story of social transformation in an area where illiteracy and the threat of Maoist insurgency have cast a shadow on the lives of people. But they would have had very different endings without effective awareness and information delivery. As he put it, "With a greater understanding about all aspects of MGNREGA, we can effectively demand our rights."

Lack of information and awareness about the provisions of the MGNREGA is still one of the major hurdles in its effective implementation. A common misconception that people harbour is that if one looks too old or frail, one will not be given work under this programme. PACS rights based approach has enabled CSO partners like NSKV to spread awareness about the rights and entitlements under MGNREGA Act so that people like Dibla are able to access their rights and benefit from such schemes.