Berojgari in BIHAR: Insights from MGNREGA data 2019-20

Has MGNREGA  helped in employment generation in Bihar? Can this scheme solve migrant problems? Will this become the thought of voter in the polling booth?

The migrant crisis amid COVID lockdown has brought back Bihar and its unemployment issues in the limelight. Upcoming Bihar assembly has added 'political flavor' in the long-existing problem: unemployment. Opposition parties see an opportunity in making this a prime agenda in election and question government. PM Narendra Modi has also tried the grab this crisis and turn into the electoral gain. 'PM Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan" was launched in Bihar through video-conference on the 20th of June 2020. This scheme aims to provide jobs to migrants who have returned to selected 116 districts of 6 states, Bihar, UP, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh with a total budget of 50000 crores on 'mission mode' for 125 days.
How much MGNREGA has helped?
MGNREGA is already running a scheme that aims to provide 100 days of work in a year. The schemes have been widely criticized for its "backward nature", "corruption" that we are still digging land to provide jobs in the 21st century. It used to provide 182 rs per day as wage, which is further increased to Rs 202 from April 2020. Due to the nature of the scheme, it is expected that MGNREGA may not be able to generate an adequate number of jobs to employ a significant fraction of the population. It can only provide jobs to a small fraction of a state.
The estimated population of Bihar is about 12crore in 2019. This projects that Bihar has about 2.5 crore households. We analyze MGNREGA FY 2019-2020 data to check the dependence of people on this scheme for the job.
As per 2019-20 data available on the official website, 2.58 crores people from 1.83 crores households are registred under MGNERGA. This suggests that at least 73% of families in Bihar seek jobs from this scheme.
Are all of them being provided a job?
Bihar govt was able to provide work to only 38.73 lac people under the umbrella of MGNREGA that for just 36.65 days in the whole year on average. 38.73 lac out of 2.58 crores person, amounts to just 15% . Six out seven-person were not provided any work, even though being registered for the scheme.
Such a large population seeking a source of income in MGNREGA, then not being provided for limitation of the scheme. This speaks for a high level of unemployment in Bihar, as people have no other option than registering for MGNREGA and are getting disappointed there too then ultimately opting out for migration.

As of today, unemployment seems the main agenda on the ground among the public for the upcoming assembly election in Bihar. Various youth groups are trying to raise these issues both on-street and ready for 'political fight' as well. A recent report of NEWS18 also talks about this. Let's hope, this issue lasts till the voting day and forces policymakers to do significant changes in this regard.
We have also prepared the map of India indicating the fraction of registred workers provided job under MGNREGA in states of India.

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