The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) was notified on 5 September 2005 and was implemented in rural districts of India in 3 phases starting 2006 to 2008. The Act mandates “enhancing livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work”. The primary objective of the Act is augmenting wage employment for the poorest of the poor while the secondary objective is to strengthen natural resource management through works that address causes of chronic poverty, like drought, and thus encourage sustainable development. The Act is an attempt to provide a legal guarantee of employment to anyone in rural areas willing to do casual manual labour at a statutory minimum wage. What makes the MGNREGA distinct from any other public employment programme is that it is a universal and enforceable legal right concurrent with some of the provisions of Article 39 and Article 41 of the Directive Principles of State Policy in the Indian Constitution that enshrine the ideals of the Right to Work.
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