This article is from Sep 07, 2021

Is the 100-day guaranteed work scheme making people lazy?

It is common to see rumours being shared across social media platforms especially in WhatsApp particularly about the 100-day employment scheme that people have become lazy because of the scheme. Several misinformation and rumours including ‘agriculture is deteriorating because of the scheme’, ‘government money goes wasted’ seems to be shared in WhatsApp establishing a negative view on the 100-day work scheme among people minds.

Sometimes, leading politicians too have supported the misinformation. A few months back, Makkal Needhi Maiam President, Kamal Haasan commented that the 100-day work scheme had become eyewash making people lazy, and the wages earned are being spent in Tasmac shops.

Recently, Naam Tamilar Katchi coordinator Seeman too has shared his view which seems to support the above misinformation. “The 100-day work scheme seem to expel the agricultural workers out of agriculture and makes them lazy. This spoils agriculture”, said Seeman in a recent press meet. Ironically, he speaks against the scheme but has an agriculture icon as his party logo. Let’s see what the 100-day work scheme is and why is it important, with statistics.

‘100-day guaranteed work’ scheme is basically a scheme for those engaged in agricultural wage work to ensure employment for at least 100 days in a year. No matter how many members are there in a family, the scheme is applicable for only one person per family. When the scheme was introduced, 100 rupees was fixed as wage per day per person. So, the total wage that a person would earn out of this scheme is Rs.10000.

The entire family would be earning an amount of Rs.10000 for one whole year using this scheme. Even this is possible only when the workers are allotted work for 100 days. Not everybody gets work for 100 days in the 100-day work scheme.

In order to run a family for a year, the said wage seems to be very low. Now, the wages have been increased a little. As per the statistics for the year 2019-2020, the wage given was 175 rupees per day per person. But when we see if the workers were allotted work on all 100 days, then the answer is NO. The average working day of a person in 2019-2020 is 38 days. They will be paid only for the days worked. Based on this logic, the total wages earned by a person in a year seems to be Rs.6,650.

Next, for the year 2020-2021, the wage given was 204 rupees per day per person. The average working day per person for the year is 42. If so, the average total amount that a person/family earned from this scheme is Rs.8,568 for the year. When it is not easy to run a family with the amount mentioned, it is ridiculous to comment that the workers are spending a major part of the wage in Tasmac shops. Only 1.2% of workers were provided 100 days of work in 2019-2020, says statistics.

The common thought that the wages are being spent in Tasmac shops is not true. Knowing other statistics would help us understand better. 78% of the workers under this scheme are women. This proves that the majority of the workers are not spending their wages in Tasmac shops.

This scheme provides work to differently-abled people. An approximate 60,000 to 70,000 differently-abled people are benefitted from this scheme per year in Tamil Nadu. Generally, work for them is denied in agricultural fields. No landlords or a person who provides work to the wage workers will engage differently-abled.

This scheme also provides work to 18% of people who are above 60 years of age. The retirement age is 58 to 60, and hence jobs will be denied for them after 60. This scheme ensures employment for this category of people and is helping them to have minimal self-esteem. The data says that workers in the age of 20 to 30 is only 2.4%.

Above all this, the major social change that the scheme has brought in is providing wage to women that is equal to the wage provided to men. In most of the places, particularly in agricultural work, less wage is provided to women workers when compared to men workers. This practice was changed and equality is ensured by this scheme. It also has created a situation for the landlords to provide equal wages to both men and women.

There are few basic important reasons behind this scheme. Agriculture as a business is uncertain. It is possible to have good yield and profits only if the natural situations and other situations help. Harvesting thrice a year is uncertain. Hence, work for workers on agricultural land is not possible for 365 days. The crops also can be spoiled because of floods, cyclones, low water levels in the river and other such natural reasons. The agriculture wage workers too face loss as equally as the landlords during such difficult situations which remains unspoken for years.

The agriculture wage workers struggle a lot with no job, commits suicide due to loss of work and also travels from one place to another seeking jobs. The 100-day work scheme was introduced to prevent such difficult situations. The statistics show a reduction in the suicide rate after the introduction of the scheme. This scheme pays approximate 7000 to 8000 rupees per person/family per year.

The workers who earn 8000 rupees in a year is blamed as lazy, spending money in Tasmac shops. Those who blame the agriculture wage workers refuse to speak about the corruption in the scheme that has happened recently. An advocate from Rasipuram, Nalvinai Vishwaraju brought out the illegal activities that took place in the 100-day work scheme through RTI last year. The activities included preparing a fake employment list to submit fake expense details, accomplishing works using machines but reporting it as if the workers have done it, deploying minimal manpower resources but accounting a higher number. It is seen from the news articles that a total of Rs.4200 crore has been misappropriated by doing the mentioned activities.

When Periyakaruppan, Tamil Nadu Rural Development Minister speaks to reporters on this a few days back, ”There have been irregularities in the 100-day work scheme during the last regime, and will be investigated”.

Seeman also has said, “An additional wage should be provided to the agriculture wage workers by the government in addition to what the landlords pay them for doing the work”. The intention of this scheme is not to provide excess wages, but to ensure employment for the agriculture wage workers during the difficult times when they do not have work due to poor yield. If what Seeman requested is implemented, what is the guarantee that the landlord will pay his wage workers when the government is providing a separate wage? It has a lot of such issues.

This scheme seems to improve the life of agriculture wage workers, prevents them from committing suicide and displacements. Moreover, women, senior citizens and the differently-abled are the most benefitted ones from this scheme. This scheme is to be welcomed for several such reasons. We should seek for the statistics to know the truth and not just forward the WhatsApp messages.

How will a scheme that provides less than 10,000 rupees to a person/family per year spoil and make him lazy? Is it reasonable to blame the scheme or the worker who earns around 10,000 rupees per year? Is it possible for the worker to run a family by working under this scheme alone? Is it even possible for the workers to think about the amount that the people blaming them are spending on the fuel prices for their vehicles? The worker and his family are using the very minimal amount for one complete year. There is no logic behind blaming it as laziness or spending in Tasmac shops. It is pure hatred to blame the scheme that provides half stomach food to a family, that changes their life slightly, that deploys those who are above 60 years of age around 18%, that deploys women around 80%

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Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act

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