Back home in their villages, it was drudgery, but Tuesday was a memorable day for a handful of beneficiaries of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. They were part of the celebrations organised to mark the completion of four years of the scheme, since renamed after Mahatma Gandhi. The function was attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
A handful of women workers shared their experience at the MNREGS Sammelan 2010.
A woman took security officials by surprise, dashing to the dais and walking up to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who interacted with her with a smile.
Officials of the Ministry of Rural Development and the Special Protection Group rushed to the rostrum and it took some persuasion before the woman got off the stage.
A woman from Bihar expressed her gratefulness to Mahatma Gandhi, attributing the formulation of the scheme to the Father of the Nation.
Almost all women workers who spoke demanded that work be provided for at least 50-100 more days every year. They maintained that 100 days of work guaranteed under the MNREGA was not sufficient to make both ends meet.
Ms. Gandhi, along with Dr. Singh, distributed awards to officials for excellent implementation of the MNREGS in their districts.