At a time when corporate world is pruning work forces to brave the economic downturn, job opportunities in rural India appear to be looking up. Atleast the ministry of rural development figures suggest so.
Thanks to the UPA’s government’s mega National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), more than 2.69 lakh people have been recruited by the state governments for providing vital assistance to the implementation of such a huge scheme where more than Rs 39,000 crore have been spend during the last three years.
Rural development officials say number of people getting employment would go up further over the next few months as an implementation of job guarantee scheme, which for the first time guarantees minimum 100 days of wage employment to each of the rural poor families.
A major chunk of recruitments comes at gram panchayat-level for Gram Rozgar Sahayak, who assists the head of the gram panchayat in implementation of the scheme. NREGA stipulates that atleast 50% of works need to be executed by gram panchayats. As many as 2.3 lakh Rozgar Sahayaks or assistants at village levels have joined the state governments workforce on contract basis.
Significant number of engineers or technical assistants have also been appointed at block-level. The latest government figure says 38,619 engineers, mostly diploma holders, have joined the NREGA implementation team across states. “Within a year or two, there would be is big team of engineers with vital work experience available to the corporate sector,” Amita Sharma, ministry of rural development joint secretary and in charge of implementation of NREGA, told FE.
The rural development ministry, the nodal agency to implement NREGA, is mandated to allocate 90% of the funds to states for taking up various works related to water conservation at the rural areas of the country.
For ensuring transparency and accountability in the implementation, information technology is being widely used. “Recruitment of large number of people at village-level definitely brings in transparency in the process of implementation,” Amir Ullah Khan, economist, India Development Foundation, a Gurgaon-based think tank said.
Due to extensive use of information technology, 8,519 computer assistants at district-level