The International Labour Organisation (ILO) said the public employment programme can accelerate the transition to a greener economy

Hours after finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said migrant workers were returning home to more work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the government programme came in for praise by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in its newest analysis of social protection coverage in developing countries, which was released on Thursday.

Even as the ILO analyses pointed to “devastating gaps in social protection coverage in developing countries”, which were exposed in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, it cited the instance of MGNREGS as a public employment programme that can be used to “accelerate the transition to a greener economy as part of an infrastructure-led investment for recovery”.

“India’s Mahatma Gandhi national rural employment guarantee schemes help to mitigate the impact of climate change through water conservation, drought prevention, reforestation and flood control activities,” the ILO brief said.

The report also lavished praise on Kerala, for containing the spread of coronavirus through an “integrated response” despite high population density and high levels of international migration.

“Kerala...with a population of 35 million, has followed a coordinated and effective COVID-19 response. Its state government was among the first to introduce precautionary state-wide measures against virus threat as early as January 2020, building on its experience with epidemic outbreaks in the past....With a relatively high level of public health expenditure (5.5% of total expenditure in 2020 –2021), Kerala’s health care system is ranked the best India and has the second-highest concentration of health workers after the capital city New Delhi,” the report said.

Kerala has 66 health workers per 10,000 population as compared to the national average of 29 per 10,000.

The report also said Kerala’s robust healthcare system was able to offer a more coherent response to coronavirus than other states. It’s “all-of-government, all-of-society approach”, which included local governance bodies, community networks and trade unions, and the special attention to economic and social repercussions of coronavirus, ensured good communication and involvement of social partners and other relevant actors across levels. ILO also lauded Kerala’s relief package containing food to all households, income support like advance payments of old age, widow or disability pensions, transfers to self-employed and informal workers, loans through women’s cooperatives and jobs through MGNREGS.

Courtesy: The Times of India

The Times of India