Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: The Success of NREGA

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), a law passed in India in 2005 by the Congress Party that guarantees 100 days of paid labor to every adult member of rural households, has been the subject of enormous attention. It has been lauded for its initiative and criticized as another inefficient welfare program. Recent analysis, including a widely published AP article a few days ago, is shining a positive light on the legislation. It seems that NREGA, while expensive and imperfect, has been effective in reducing poverty across a wide swath of rural India, and has changed numerous lives for the better. As the program continues, civil society and government can do a great deal to improve its efficiency and impact.

The article that brought newfound attention on NREGA was an AP article published a few days ago entitled “One Indian Village Wins Freedom with Job Program” by Ravi Nessman. The article describes the wretched conditions in which the residents of the small town of Pipari, a small town 180 kilometers north of Lucknow, lived in before the job program:

For as long as anyone can remember, the people of Pipari have lived as virtual slaves.

The wealthy, upper-caste landlord forced them to work his fields for almost nothing, gave them loans at impossible interest rates, controlled their access to government welfare and held the police in his pocket.

They were dalits, the lowest caste, with houses made of cattle dung, clothing in tatters and barely enough food for a meal and a half a day. They were trapped below the bottom, serfs in an age-old system of exploitation that few in rural India dared question.

The “world’s largest social welfare program” helped them change their reality. The article describes how the residents demanded work under the new law in 2006, but local officials did not register them for work out of fear it would undermine their power. However, the local residents were emboldened by the law, and spent months fiercely protesting until they received their entitled work and pay.

The program has had a chain effect, allowing rural workers to use their earnings for savings instead of taking loans from the usurious landlord, and forcing the landlord to double wages to compete with the new workfare. They are able to send children to school and put food on the table, and the article ends on an inspiring note:

The men don’t pedal rickshaws in Kanpoor anymore, but stay home with their families and their fields. The women are earning money of their own for the first time. The villagers are even discussing taking on the next most powerful person in the area, the man who runs the government food shop, whom they accuse of stealing their subsidized sugar ration.

As for Shukla (the landlord), they still defer to him, but rebel in small ways. When he tells them to do work for him, they do what is convenient and ignore the rest, they said. And they have stopped touching his feet, giving him a little salute instead.

“He still acts like a king, but we don’t consider him a king anymore,” said Harpal Gautam, 37. “His rights and our rights are equal.”

The story paints a nice picture of NREGA, but is the story an anomaly or reflective of the program’s overall success? General consensus from various media and scholarly examinations seems to determine that the program has problems that need to be fixed, but, on the whole, has been surprisingly successful, especially considering the low expectations for most Indian government social welfare programs.The Financial Express has some facts about the program:

  • The average wage paid under NREGA has increased from Rs 75 in 2007-08 to Rs 90 in 2009-10 up to February 2010

  • Per household earning has increased from Rs 2,795 in 2006-07 to Rs 3,150 in 2007-08 and to Rs 4,060 (per month) in 2008-09

  • 2.10 crore households were provided employment under the Act in 2006-07; 3.39 crore in 2007-08; 4.51 crore in 2008-09 and 4.79 crore have been provided employment during 2009-10 (up to February 2010) (A crore = 10 million)

  • Participation by women has been 40 per cent in 2006-07; 43 per cent in 2007-08; 48 per cent in 2008-09 and 2009-10 (up to February 2010)

An article from the Economist in November 2009 (gated), notes how the expansion of the Act to every rural district in 2008 impressively boosted demand during the financial crisis. “Once dismissed as a reckless fiscal sop, the scheme is now lauded as a timely fiscal stimulus. Because it must accommodate anyone who demands work, it can expand naturally as the need arises.” The article also praises the act for its ability to raise incomes through setting wages at the minimum wage or above. However, it does aptly comment that “In the country’s worst-run districts, India’s villagers will only enjoy the right to work when India’s apathetic bureaucrats forfeit their right not to.”

And despite the clear success of the program, implementation has been uneven. An Economist piece about Bihar (gated) from earlier this year recounts an example of apathy and corruption:

In Jamua village in the district of Araria, an NGO called Jan Jagaran Abhiyan found that 1,710 job cards had been issued, which should entitle villagers to over 17m rupees in wages, if they had worked the full 100 days allowed. But the village had claimed less than 5% of the amount available. Of that, 43% was pilfered, by reporting ghost workers and forging bills for materials. The mystery is perhaps not the 43% that was embezzled, but the millions in central-government funds that were left on the table by a local administrative machinery too apathetic even to steal with much conviction.

The AP article discusses this concern, remarking how many social welfare programs in India rarely reach the poor after wielding their way through chains of bureaucratic corruption. NREGA has worked hard to get around such obstacles by encouraging rural workers to get personal bank accounts so that they could get paid directly, instead of through corrupt intermediaries, and mandating that all paperwork be taken care of at job sites to get around opportunistic middlemen. As an added bonus, the drive to encourage rural workers to get bank accounts has expanded formal finance to a new swath of the population for the first time.

In the short and medium term, there are a variety of policy papers that suggest how to further improve the implementation of NREGA. The suggestions center on the idea of increasing awareness of the law, its benefits, and its logistics to rural populations. The papers also note how nongovernmental institutions, such as NREGA Watch, are essential for corruption monitoring and awareness. NREGA has demonstrated that if people know about their right to work, and how to gain access to the right, they will certainly seize the opportunity to do so.

Five years after NREGA became law, a program that employs 50 million people, raises wages, expands the reach of formal finance, and empowers entire cross-sections of the community rightly deserves praise. The program is expensive, and not perfectly implemented by developed world standards, but has been a surprising force against poverty. Going forward, the government should continue to expand and improve the program, but should aim towards a long-term outcome where these jobs will be replaced with higher-paying private sector jobs, and this can only be done through creating conditions favorable for widespread investment and growth.

44 thoughts on “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: The Success of NREGA

  1. Ravi: Thanks for expanding upon this very good program NREGA. I posted this on the SM news section on June 26th, under the title” One Indian village wins freedom with job program”. This is money well spent and it really helps people who need the help most.

  2. India gets it all backward once again. This is an expensive program that India cannot afford with a lot of waste and corruption just to have people do useless work like digging ditches. What they should do instead is create an environment conducive to business so that they in turn can create real jobs that pay a lot better. India still ranks as one of the worst places to do business in. How hard is it to fix that? Wouldn’t it be much better to just remove some of the red tape that suppresses business creation? I guess it is not easy to let go of socialist thinking where the government directly takes care of everybody.

  3. Now only if the government would weed out corruption in the private sector by private players. Let the more competent people hang on to their jobs.

  4. THANK YOU, Mahesh! That’s the reason why Tom’s socialist-hating fantasy cannot presently work. Corruption is corruption, whether fueled by the gov’t or private sector, and it’s a largely unchecked disease in India.

  5. There is little or no corruption in the private sector. Any company that is corrupt will lose business to a less corrupt company. That is the beauty of capitalism. All the corruption in the private sector occurs at the interface between the private sector and the government. That should definitely be reduced. And moving away from socialism is the best way to do that.

  6. The Planning Commission has estimated that about a fifth of the money spent on the program reaches the intended beneficiaries. And this, too, to build dirt roads that wash away every monsoon. Funny these facts don’t enter into your narrative. How many of those workers could have been doing something productive if they didn’t have this?

    Forget the fixes you mention. The gov needs to look at Mexico and Brazil, and expand the UID program to provide electronic cash payments to the poor, with proper audits. Then, if it wants, it can build rural infrastructure properly, as Gujarat and Punjab have done.

  7. The Planning Commission has estimated that about a fifth of the money spent on the program reaches the intended beneficiaries.

    That isn’t very different from Rajiv’s 25 year old estimate that 85% of all government spending on the poor in siphoned off elsewhere. Perhaps it is the size of the spending that is making a difference this time around? Or perhaps the money that is being siphoned off is making its way back into the economy because conspicous consumption is not frowned upon post 1991?

  8. Thanks, Ravi, for an informative and well-researched look at this program. It’s been laughed at by people since it’s inception, but it seems to have legs.

  9. Rajiv Gandhi’s much abused comment referred to particular govt programmes in UP and Bihar; not the whole of govt spending. It should also be remembered that the 1980s was the decade which saw the fastest reduction in poverty in India, mostly as a result of increased spending on the rural sector.

    My doctoral thesis is on the NREGA in UP, and it has a lot of problems; of course one needs to remember that it is a programme implemented by the state govts; so states where governance is a problem or weak don’t do well and those where it is not, it does better. There are some surprises, as some poorer states like Rajasthan and MP have implemented the programme very thoroughly; the key problem aside from the technical issues such as reducing corruption and improving programme delivery; lies with the issue of why it is so difficult to mobilise the rural poor and why the NREGA hasn’t been taken up by parties such as the Left ones and the caste-based ones; whose social constituents will benefit the most from it.

    The corruption arguement is just ridiculous really; pretty much every aspect of government in India has a corruption problem – I mean in UP the police are acknowledged to be one of the most corrupt institutions in the state but nobody is seriously going to argue that from this one needs to get rid of the police altogether (well, apart from the Maoists perhaps!). Such programmes need to be improved and monitored and be made more participatory.Moreover, from the ground-view in the villages, most villagers aren’t concerned with the money that gets diverted or leaked, because they don’t see it, though they know it is happening; they do however receive the benefits of such expenditure which is a concrete good, so if you ask them would they rather receive 30% of a programme like the NREGA or 0% of nothing in its absence, the answer is pretty clear. Which is why the Congress coalition has managed to win elections in many of these areas.

  10. “There is little or no corruption in the private sector. Any company that is corrupt will lose business to a less corrupt company. That is the beauty of capitalism.” And here I thought that human greed was the same everywhere. Silly me.

  11. This “one size fits all” approach, actually does not fit India because India apparently is diverse in her economy as well. This type of program might work to help break social evils in the extreme poverty stricken regions of Eastern and Northern India but it is a complete misfit for the West, North-West and South which are more industrialized and more affluent. What West and South need is more infrastructure and basic government services such as electricity and water (irrigation).

    Look at this profile in Forbes India that showed how a Green revolution is underway in Gujarat, that is increasing the incomes of rural citizens. National agri. growth is at 2.9% v/s Gujarat Agri. growth at 9.6%. This is a nation where 60% or more are still employed in Agricultural sector and a nation where inflation is rampant (especially food inflation)

  12. There’s some thought that the success of Nrega in Bihar is causing less people to need to do migrant labor work in other states, which is an interesting real world metric of how poverty is embedded in economic systems, sometimes whole economies depend on people needing the job I guess. Sounds like overall its something that’s on balance working in some places, with corruption a problem. It seems less successful in Punjab, although not sure

  13. Random comment of the day – My mother complains about the shortage of bais and the escalating nakhray of the few candidates left. They’re all going into construction. This program is changing the lifestyles of the urban middle-class too.

  14. It gives people pride that they didn’t have any before. This is a psychological boost that cannot be measured in money. How can the government make this program last and with more self-sustaining with more marketable skills?

  15. “There is little or no corruption in the private sector. Any company that is corrupt will lose business to a less corrupt company. That is the beauty of capitalism.”

    This is completely untrue. I have friends in Mumbai who are entrepreneurs, and they are quite open in discussing the various kickbacks that they have to pay private companies in order to win contracts.

  16. There is little or no corruption in the private sector. Any company that is corrupt will lose business to a less corrupt company. That is the beauty of capitalism.

    Your grasp of politics and economics is amateurish and pitifully idealized on the elitist tip. If there is gov’t AT ALL (even an idealized Corporate Fascism, which is exactly what hard capitalists strive for), there’s corruption whether your precious corporations are there or not. The only difference these corps make is that the $takes are much higher, so corruption is that much more attractive; political jockeying gets nastier, etc.

    This “one size fits all” approach, actually does not fit India because India apparently is diverse in her economy as well.

    THIS! India reflects the EU economically in many respects- some places are poor as hell, others quite wealthy. The federal government needs to acknowledge and act on that if they expect India to remain a global player. And no, I do not advocating copying the EU. They’re a mess of a bureaucracy.

  17. Aniruddha said : “This is completely untrue. I have friends in Mumbai who are entrepreneurs, and they are quite open in discussing the various kickbacks that they have to pay private companies in order to win contracts.” Where there are people there will be corruption. What I am trying to say is that the less corrupt company will do better. A company that accepts kickbacks will receive inferior products and services and in turn their products and services will be inferior. A company that does business purely on merit receive better products and will in turn produce better products and slowly steal customers from the competition. This automatic control of corruption is one reason why capitalism works.

    Darth Paul said: “Your grasp of politics and economics is amateurish and pitifully idealized on the elitist tip. If there is gov’t AT ALL (even an idealized Corporate Fascism, which is exactly what hard capitalists strive for), there’s corruption whether your precious corporations are there or not. The only difference these corps make is that the $takes are much higher, so corruption is that much more attractive; political jockeying gets nastier, etc.” I don’t recall saying that there should be NO Government. We believe in SMALL government. What this means that govt should be limited to certain areas like defense and such and not so much in other areas like health care. Government also has a role in making sure that there is a fair playing field which is necessary for capitalism to work. We do not have that in the US right now. The government has been bought by the big banks and corporations.

    Mr X said. “And here I thought that human greed was the same everywhere. Silly me.” Human greed is everywhere. But we are talking about corruption. You will agree that corruption is not the same everywhere. Thats in part because some political systems are designed to limit it.

  18. Tom, “What I am trying to say is that the less corrupt company will do better.” The evidence on the ground does not bear out your theory. Entrepreneurs who are willing to pay kickbacks and indulge in corruption are the ones who succeed. If a business takes the high moral ground and chooses not to be corrupt they will fail in the market – that is the “magic of capitalism.” “A company that accepts kickbacks will receive inferior products and services and in turn their products and services will be inferior. A company that does business purely on merit receive better products and will in turn produce better products and slowly steal customers from the competition.” Once again, this is not the reality on the ground. If you are a businessman in India, however good your products are, unless you bribe your customers’ purchasing officers your goods are not going to sell. Also, please keep in mind that I am specifically talking about corruption in the private sector. Many of the corrupt purchasing officers’ I have heard stories off serve private companies.

  19. 17 · Tom on June 29, 2010 4:59 PM
    What I am trying to say is that the less corrupt company will do better. A company that accepts kickbacks will receive inferior products and services and in turn their products and services will be inferior. A company that does business purely on merit receive better products and will in turn produce better products and slowly steal customers from the competition. This automatic control of corruption is one reason why capitalism works.

    funny; if you compare Boeing with Airbus , why do you think some companies prefer one over the other… of course no kickbacks n’est pas?

  20. also as a long time lurker of this site,allow me to say this: posts concerning development issus and arts rarely get more than a dozen or so comments; talk about skin colour or religion, they might soar upto hundreds. Do ABDs feel so insecure ?

  21. Aniruddha said: The evidence on the ground does not bear out your theory. Entrepreneurs who are willing to pay kickbacks and indulge in corruption are the ones who succeed. If a business takes the high moral ground and chooses not to be corrupt they will fail in the market – that is the “magic of capitalism.” You are right that entrepreneurs who PAY kickbacks will do better. I was talking of a company with a Purchasing Officer who TAKES kickbacks. Their companies will not do as well as one with a PO who does not take kickbacks.

    Aniruddha said: “Once again, this is not the reality on the ground. If you are a businessman in India, however good your products are, unless you bribe your customers’ purchasing officers your goods are not going to sell. Also, please keep in mind that I am specifically talking about corruption in the private sector. Many of the corrupt purchasing officers’ I have heard stories off serve private companies.” Really? You want me to believe that the PO’s of well run companies like TATA and Infosys will not buy anything without a kickback? I would think that event the hint of corruption from a PO in a halfway decent company is grounds for termination – even in India. As i said before there is corruption everywhere but the well run companies will do everything they can to minimize it and they will do better. The corrupt ones will fade away.

    rora-hasso said: “funny; if you compare Boeing with Airbus , why do you think some companies prefer one over the other… of course no kickbacks n’est pas?” Do you have any proof that private airlines choose one or the other because of kickbacks? Of course when governments choose it is another matter.

  22. You can’t talk about NREGA without talking about RTI. It is RTI which has made NREGA successful this time. Schemes such NREGA have existed for a decade in one form or other. Also the grassroots ngos are lot more networked and organized today than before. I haven’t heard a successful NREGA story without an NGO being mentioned alongside.

  23. The market seems to incentivize profit. On what basis does this insure any behavior necessarily beside that necessary to profit making? Also, has the performance of economic actors in the last decade provided a sense is what behaviors and outcomes to expect from the oft invoked invisible hand of the market?

  24. politics said: “The market seems to incentivize profit. On what basis does this insure any behavior necessarily beside that necessary to profit making? Also, has the performance of economic actors in the last decade provided a sense is what behaviors and outcomes to expect from the oft invoked invisible hand of the market?”

    Yes the market does incentivize profit. But in a fair/non-corrupt capitalistic system the only way to make a bigger profit is to create a better product at lower cost. So this does insure good behavior; The “invisible hand” at work.

    But this pursuit of profit has to be circumscribed by certain rules that it is the government’s role to enforce. Some rules below: 1. No breaking the law: This is obvious but companies often break the law and get away with it because of a corrupt government. 2. No special treatment for any company – an even playing field: The US government broke this rule with “Too big to fail”. Also corruption is an example of special treatment of a company because they paid up. 3. Concern for the environment. This is a special case of rule 1. Don’t break any environmental laws. 4. Try to prevent the formation of monopolies and cartels. When there is no competition, corruption and rot sets in. 5. A government that is not corrupt. It is the job of the government to enforce these rules. A corrupt government wont. Those are the main rules although there may be a few others.

  25. voiceinthehead said: “You can’t talk about NREGA without talking about RTI. It is RTI which has made NREGA successful this time. Schemes such NREGA have existed for a decade in one form or other. Also the grassroots ngos are lot more networked and organized today than before. I haven’t heard a successful NREGA story without an NGO being mentioned alongside.”

    I agree. NREGA is taking the credit for work by NGO’S

  26. RTI actually hasn’t really penetrated the rural areas much, especially the poorer ones; if you actually look at the RTI applications being filed; most are from the urban areas and not that many relate to the NREGa or other rural development schemes. Literacy in the villages is still quite low, as is education, so the access isn’t there. As for NGOs some are good, but the joke is in places like UP, that if you have a son that can’t make it into any career you either set him up with a small business or start an NGO. Many NGOs are nothing more than business enterprises and have an accountability problem/corruption problem even worse than the State.

  27. So then the organization of the government is only to allow better products to be created at lower cost? What kind of society comes out is this organizing goal? As purely a way to regulate parts of a society, ok, but should there be more to a society than simply a goal to ensure better products at a lower price? Or will other social goods flow from this one? Also, in application ensuring profit will come if and only if better products are created at lower cost may, or has, proven difficult. This may be part but doesn’t seem like all a government could do

  28. Sorry there are a number of typos due to autocorrect and a small touch screen. is — of

  29. politics said “So then the organization of the government is only to allow better products to be created at lower cost? What kind of society comes out is this organizing goal? As purely a way to regulate parts of a society, ok, but should there be more to a society than simply a goal to ensure better products at a lower price? Or will other social goods flow from this one?”

    The kind of society that you have is a role of religion. Not economics. But yes, being richer allows you to have more options. You can use your money to improve the state of society.

    politics said ” Also, in application ensuring profit will come if and only if better products are created at lower cost may, or has, proven difficult. This may be part but doesn’t seem like all a government could do”" In some cases, this is true. But not in the general case. The role of government is much more than creating “good products” as i have said before.

  30. If government is pared down as suggested in the economic sphere, this has a significant effect on the society as a whole. Also, in a society of multiple religions as well as groups that prefer secularism, would there be means to foster a coherent society, or would society atomize and would pursuit of profit remain one of only a handful of ways to participate in the broader society?

  31. Above you said govt should be involved also in defence, and left unspecified other activities it could be involved in. Also, what to do if creating better products at lower prices has no salutory effect on jobs or income of significant numbers of people , or.actually if creating better products at lower prices is related to fewer jobs or lower incomes for significant numbers of people?

  32. Tom, “you are right that entrepreneurs who PAY kickbacks will do better. I was talking of a company with a Purchasing Officer who TAKES kickbacks. Their companies will not do as well as one with a PO who does not take kickbacks.” Maybe, but this hardly supports your original position that there is “little or no corruption in the private sector.” “You want me to believe that the PO’s of well run companies like TATA and Infosys will not buy anything without a kickback?” I don’t know about TATA and Infosys, I haven’t heard about corruption about these companies specifically but capitalism isn’t only about Tata and Infosys. If you are going to defend free markets and capitalism you can’t pick and choose your evidence. Theories must explain general trends, not exceptions.

  33. Also, what defines the general case and how and when does it come about in practice?

  34. politics said “If government is pared down as suggested in the economic sphere, this has a significant effect on the society as a whole” Holy cow! Mr politics. Obviously, you are not some random blog poster.

    politics said “Government should be pared down.” Yes, But not in dollar terms but in the areas the government controls.”

    politics said “:Also, in a society of multiple religions as well as groups that prefer secularism, would there be means to foster a coherent society, or would society atomize and would pursuit of profit remain one of only a handful of ways to participate in the broader society?” While i approve the separation of church and state, that only means that cardinals or mullahs should not be running the country.But ultimately, all politics is about religion. Our values as a country are derived from the religion of the majority. So a country of multiple religions only exists in theory. ultimately,it is about the religion of christianity.

  35. Absolutly am a random poster. You placed a few lines on quotes above not written by me, probably a typo. Take issue with your view on religion and values in a society, seems non-obvious its the case

  36. but should aim towards a long-term outcome where these jobs will be replaced with higher-paying private sector jobs, and this can only be done through creating conditions favorable for widespread investment and growth.

    The NREG “jobs” aren’t really “jobs.” The effect on actual infrastructure development has been pretty modest. The “employment” in this case isn’t to give people jobs as it is to give them a dole. The “job” part of it mostly functions as a good way to screen for people who value that wage enough to be willing to stand out in the Indian sun melting tar all day. That probably wasn’t intentional by design but it happened to work out that way by happy coincidence. If they didn’t have the employment component you’d just have the same old paper-pushers signing on to draw a dole even though they didn’t really need it.

    It would be nice if we actually had something useful for them to do, but most of these people aren’t really all that employable in higher-paying (generally understood to mean higher-skill) private sector work. At a bare minimum you need to get them to functional literacy and numeracy. You can’t even get hired as a household servant if you can’t add and subtract. Hopefully we can have the money brought into households going towards educating some of the younger children in the family towards that end. We will see how that works out over the next 5-10 years.

  37. Tom @ 17

    Mr X said. “And here I thought that human greed was the same everywhere. Silly me.” Human greed is everywhere. But we are talking about corruption. You will agree that corruption is not the same everywhere.

    Pardon me, but is not corruption human greed? I do not see animals taking bribes or looking the other way. Let us agree that greed is the distortion of something in exchange for an incentive. How would you differentiate that greed is not corruption?

  38. NREGA isnt a dole, if it was you will have to explain why its uptake has never exceeded 60% of the estimated demand and money set aside for it – it isn’t as if we face tight labour market where people will turn down unemployment assistance. There is actually an unemplyoment grant component written into the NREGA but it is only triggered under specific circumstances and is barely used – most people haven’t actually read the act, so don’t really know what they are talking about.

    It is difficult to measure the infrastruture impact of the NREGA, because few systematic assessments have been made and because the projects vary a lot depending on the district. Most of the concrete physical infrastructure projects are handicapped by the fact that there has to be a 60:40 labour to material ratio in the total cost, which means that building all whether roads can’t come under the NREGA – and as we know spending on rural road construction is the most effective way of increasing incomes and is very cost effective; most recent estimates by the WB claim that every rupee spent here generates another 10-15 in additional multiplier income effects. What is built under the NREGA are the red brick roads, which can’t stand heavy rain and are not very suitable for vehicles.

    There is plenty of scope for employment-intensive projects in the country side, it is odd to assert otherwise but they need to be carefully planned and thought out.

  39. Some thoughts on NREGA:

    1. From what I have seen first hand in Andhra Pradesh, the NREGA scheme has contributed to a phenomenal increase in consumption of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) in rural areas. The State Govt’s recent auction of liquor licenses saw exorbitant amounts being bidded for owning liquor shops even in remote villages in AP.By owning just 1 liquor license, one is entitled to setup dozens of belt shops (small outlets that could be run from even a hut).Travel outside urban areas in AP, and we may find many villages without proper water supply or roads, but every village will have a few belt shops.

    2.NREGA is very much a dole and even the dole distribution is controlled by local politicians.It does not focus on building skills and making people employable.All it has done is increase the cost of agricultural labor in some areas, thus impacting small and middle class farmers.A much better way would have been a direct cash transfer scheme to women to their personal bank accounts.The cash transfers could be supplemented by food or education vouchers.

    3.The biggest ‘successes’ in implementing NREGA are all from non-Congress, especially BJP ruled States.There is no evidence whatsoever that this scheme has benefited Congress in the elections.

    4.Lastly, all kinds of surveys in the last few years have shown that poverty has increased in India.A simple look at the number of BPL families being covered under various schemes across the country will tell us this.I think some people are being too lazy and correlating the NREGA with an assumed reduction in poverty.

    Here’s a look at NREGA by some one who has taken the trouble to Google for data.

  40. 1) I can’t see how generalising consumption of IMFL in AP and somehow linking it with the NREGA is a viable arguement; you will have to demonstrate so many other things first. Apart from anything else, people just consume locally made liqour as a substitute, instead, which in many cases is more lethal than IMFL. One would need to look at why alcohol consumption is so high in the first places and causes here. AP with its history of a temperance movement may not be typical of the rest of India.

    2) This is just false and complete bullshit, sorry; the NREGA isn’t a dole, if anyone thinks it is either obviously don’t understand what a dole is. One of the problem of the NREGA has been underpayment – because for most schemes wage rates are calculated on a piece-rate basis – ie a certain amount of earth being dug or moved per day as based on what a healthy male labourer could do. Now because many labourers are either malnourished or women or old people, they are getting paid less than the minimum wage simply because they can’t perform to the standards of what a healthy male labourer would do. This isn’t like sitting at home and getting a dole. Secondly, much of the power of the fund distribution still lies with the district administration which basically means the BDO, PR secretary and at the top the SDO and DM; local politicians are only involved at the village level and they certainly don’t control funds disbursal. One reason why the NREGA is not as popular with local politicians compared to other contractor based schemes like the PMGSY.

    3) That is really old hat and true of the first 2 years of the NREGA; the reason for that also is that for a number of technical reasons the NREGA was rolled out in a bigger way in backward, isolated regions dominated by adivasis which were controlled by the BJP at the time. This was mainly due to the initial selection of districts where it would be first phased in. The problem is who would get credit for the scheme – both the SP and the BSP in UP specifically decided not to implement* the NREGA rapidly because they felt it would benefit the Congress – Mulayam Singh actually launched a number of competing schemes aimed at unemployed graduates and Maywati rubbished the scheme several times in public speeches. One also needs to understand that people no longer vote the same way in national elections as they do in state elections; therefore it is quite possible for the Congress to benefit from the national elections for creating this scheme, while at the state elections different parties may benefit from implementing it. One thing is clear, it is very much associated with the other 7 rural development programmes rolled out by the UPA coalition under the so-called aam admi programme.

    4) Who assumed that the NREGA reduced poverty? It wasn’t designed to do that but to act as a safety net. OF course poverty has increased – in fact the same economists like Jean Dreze who argued for the NREGA have been arguing that poverty is being undercounted in India – mainly because for ideological reasons in the mid-90s the NSSO changed the way poverty lines would be calculated so that neo-liberal fantasists like Bhalla and TN Srinivasan could claim that the reforms had reduced poverty. Now the Planning Commission has accepted the Tendulkar Commission’s findings that poverty is about 10% higher than the govt claimed and has been that way for a decade at least.

  41. I would like to say that ” nrega ” could be faliure in future because They have appoint ‘that person’can give bribe naturally ‘that person’ will take bribe and system is going to dull

  42. This is just false and complete bullshit, sorry; the NREGA isn’t a dole, if anyone thinks it is either obviously don’t understand what a dole is.

    I don’t think you’re understanding the sense it’s being used. The NREG, from an economic development standpoint, functions as a dole. The point isn’t that people get to sit there and get money for free. The point is that you’re handing money out to people without any expectation of return. The objective of the program is to hand out money. The “employment” bit is a screening mechanism to only get the most desperate applicants.

    Infrastructure development from the program has been paltry and there isn’t anything going towards improving the total productivity of the work-force. So how is that functionally any different from just handing out money? Just because you’re giving people busy-work in exchange for the money doesn’t mean we’re building anything worthwhile. We might as well hire them to dig ditches, fill them back up, and then dig them out again and again.

    Now the Planning Commission has accepted the Tendulkar Commission’s findings that poverty is about 10% higher than the govt claimed and has been that way for a decade at least.

    I always find these studies comical because it generally just comes down to semantic arguments as to what constitutes “poverty.” Then again I’ve never been a big on getting headcounts of the poor just for the sake of having a number. As an ordinal measurement to inform how we distribute our resources sure, but as some kind of cardinal census thing it strikes me as a pointless exercise in futility. Let’s just learn to understand that there are a lot of poor people out there and do something about that instead of fussing over exactly how many.

  43. one shoot only if nrega play good role if it success ful there is only one reason that MBA PO’s but govt and othere officers who are older than PO’s and they have more experiene than PO’s they don’t want MBA PO manage this Scheme. so that govt of rajasthan gave order to remove the all PO’s but they are not aware this scheme is successful becoz of one reason that MBA PO’s now they fire many PO’s, against of this order u can see the affect in rural area. now nrega is going to died.