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Ashok Kotwal
On demonetisation
Posted on: 23 Dec 2016
On the evening of 8 November, the Prime Minister announced on national television that Rs. ... read on »
Introduction to e-Symposium: The GDP conundrum
Posted on: 16 Nov 2016
Ever since India’s Central Statistical Organisation came out with the new GDP series with ... read on »
Introduction to e-Symposium: The idea of a universal basic income in the Indian context
Posted on: 26 Sep 2016
The idea of an unconditional basic income given to all citizens by the State, has caught o ... read on »
Debate: The Aadhaar Bill
Posted on: 02 May 2016
In a debate on the Aadhaar Bill, commentators from academia and civil society will ... read on »

Tag: MNREGA

The development disconnect: MNREGA in Bihar’s Jamui district
Amrita Dhiman
Posted on: 02 Jun 2017
Topics:   Corruption , Jobs


In this note, Amrita Dhiman describes her team’s visit to Jamui district in Bihar – the district that is supposed to have generated the highest number of person-days under MNREGA in its division in 2015-16. While almost all villagers they met had MNREGA cards, there was no MNREGA work to be seen, which was paradoxical given the obvious scope of work in the area.
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Do Gram Panchayat leaders favour their own constituencies in MNREGA fund allocation?
Subhasish Dey , Kunal Sen
Posted on: 19 Dec 2016
Topics:   Political Economy


Political incentives are known to play a role in the allocation of public resources from upper- to lower-tier governments. This column seeks to examine whether ruling parties in local governments favour their own constituencies in allocating MNREGA funds, if they target their core supporters or swing voters, and if this has any electoral returns.
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Moving towards better definitions of ‘urban’ in India
Komal Hiranandani , Mudit Kapoor , Vaidehi Tandel
Posted on: 15 Sep 2016
Topics:   Urbanisation


According to the 2011 Census, 31% of the country is ‘urban’. Using definitions of urbanisation that are different from those used by the government, this column demonstrates that this figure may be an underestimate. It is important to recognise and fix the flaws in the current method of defining urban areas as it forms the basis for important policies such as eligibility for government schemes.
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How participatory is work planning under MNREGA?
Akshay Ahuja
Posted on: 26 Aug 2016

In 2014, the Ministry of Rural Development introduced the ‘Intensive Participatory Planning Exercise’ (IPPE) framework in 2,500 most backward blocks of the country, with the objective of making the work planning process under MNREGA more participatory. In this note, Akshay Ahuja, senior project officer at HCL Foundation, shares his experience of supporting the local administration of Hardoi district in Uttar Pradesh in implementing IPPE on the ground.
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When does politics work for development?
Saad Gulzar , Ben Pasquale
Posted on: 15 Jul 2016
Topics:   Political Economy


Political interference in the bureaucracy is generally viewed with suspicion. Yet, in a democracy, should we not expect politicians to push bureaucrats to work for the best interests of citizens? This column shows that bureaucrats implement MNREGA much better in places where politicians are able to claim credit for improvements. This is good news for democratic accountability, and carries important implications for the design of development programmes.
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The first two years of Modi government
Pranab Bardhan
Posted on: 11 May 2016
Topics:   Political Economy


In this article, Pranab Bardhan, Professor of Graduate School at the Department of Economics, University of California, Berkeley, provides his perspective on the performance of the Modi government in its first two years in office.
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Aadhaar and government benefits: Better targeting and reduced corruption?
Jean Drèze , Reetika Khera , Raju Rajagopal , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 04 May 2016

Supporters of Aadhaar express the hope that will reduce inclusion errors and corruption by eliminating ghost beneficiaries, say in schemes like MNREGA. Are there substantial benefits to be reaped on this account?

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Aadhaar and government benefits: Risk of increasing exclusion?
Jean Drèze , Reetika Khera , Raju Rajagopal , Bharat Ramaswami
Posted on: 03 May 2016

The Supreme Court verdict that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory to receive benefits reflects the concern that it may increase exclusion errors, either by leaving people out of the net or through technological malfunction. Is this a serious concern?

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Rethinking clientelism: Politics of service delivery in rural India
Aditya Dasgupta
Posted on: 19 Apr 2016
Topics:   Political Economy


Clientelism is often blamed for public service delivery failures in developing countries. While the top-down drivers of political support in exchange for service delivery for specific constituents is well-documented, local grassroots influence and the effect of democratic mobilisation by local communities are less well-understood. This column looks at the value of combining top-down influence with bottom-up community mobilisation to exert stronger pressures on improving anti-poverty programme outcomes.
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Asking the right question to get the right policy
Eric Dodge , Charity Troyer Moore , Rohini Pande
Posted on: 04 Apr 2016
Topics:   Political Economy
Tags:   MNREGA , data


There is consensus in the development community on the importance of bridging the gap between researchers and practitioners; however, misaligned incentives underlie this gap. In this article, Pande, Moore and Dodge of Harvard Kennedy School, explain how bringing policymakers together with researchers to work more iteratively ensured that data from MNREGS - the world’s largest public works programme - became accessible and relevant to those who use it.
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Afterword: What lies ahead for MNREGA?
Farzana Afridi
Posted on: 18 Mar 2016
Tags:   MNREGA


In an afterword to the e-symposium on ‘10 years of MNREGA and the way forward’, I4I Editor Farzana Afridi contends that the evidence summarised in the e-symposium suggests that MNREGA is not merely a poverty alleviation programme. Given its multiple potential benefits, MNREGA needs more than mere lip service or it risks dwindling into irrelevance.

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MNREGA, 10 years on: Glass half-full or half-empty?
Kunal Sen
Posted on: 18 Mar 2016
Tags:   MNREGA


In this article, Kunal Sen, Professor of Development Economics and Policy at the University of Manchester, evaluates whether MNREGA has achieved its broader development objectives. He further analyses why the programme’s implementation has been challenging, and what the implications of weak implementation have been for its objectives.

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MNREGA: Technology vs. technocracy
Reetika Khera
Posted on: 17 Mar 2016

In this article, Reetika Khera, Associate Professor of Economics at IIT Delhi, argues that for MNREGA to flourish in the future, technologies that empower workers should be encouraged, and the tendency to over-centralise the implementation of the programme should be reversed.

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Four key administrative reforms to strengthen MNREGA
Ashwini Kulkarni
Posted on: 17 Mar 2016

In this article, Ashwini Kulkarni of NGO Pragati Abhiyan, discusses four key administrative reforms that can strengthen the implementation of MNREGA, and enable the programme to fulfill its objectives more effectively.

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MNREGA: Vision and reality
Martin Ravallion
Posted on: 16 Mar 2016
Tags:   MNREGA , Bihar


In this article, Martin Ravallion, Professor of Economics at Georgetown University, contends that the main proximate reason for MNREGA’s disappointing performance is that many people in poor areas of rural India who want work under the scheme have not been able to get it. To match the reality of MNREGA with its grand vision, poor people need to be made more aware of their rights and entitlements under the scheme, and the supply side needs to be more responsive.

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How has MNREGA impacted the lives of women and children in India?
Subha Mani
Posted on: 15 Mar 2016

In this article, Subha Mani, Professor of Economics at Fordham University, summarises evidence that shows that MNREGA has mostly positively impacted the lives of women and children in India.

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MNREGA and its assets
Sudha Narayanan
Posted on: 15 Mar 2016

Critics of MNREGA believe that the programme is a dole to dig a hole and hence, a huge waste of resources and that it would be better to simply provide cash. In this article, Sudha Narayanan, Associate Professor at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, argues that evidence from various states on the quality of MNREGA assets suggests that this ‘dole-hole’ view of is largely unfounded.

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MNREGA’s impact on rural labour markets
Laura Zimmermann
Posted on: 14 Mar 2016
Tags:   MNREGA , wages


In this article, Laura Zimmermann, Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Georgia, provides an overview of the research on the impact of the initial phase of MNREGA on rural labour markets in India. The evidence suggests that the programme has served as an important short- and long-term safety net, and has had some employment generation effects during the agricultural off-season. However, the effect on rural casual wages is less clear.

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Introduction to e-Symposium: 10 years of MNREGA and the way forward
Farzana Afridi
Posted on: 14 Mar 2016

India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme – the largest public works programme in the world – completed a decade in February 2016. As a contribution to the discussions, I4I Editor Farzana Afridi is hosting an e-symposium to summarise the existing evidence on various aspects of the programme, and to discuss the future of the programme.

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Union Budget 2016: A UPA-III Budget
Maitreesh Ghatak
Posted on: 04 Mar 2016

In this article, Maitreesh Ghatak, Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, contends that the Modi government presented a reasonably good United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-III Budget that tinkers at the margin. However, in his view, minor tweaks may not suffice in the current growth scenario.
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Access to information and the poor
Martin Ravallion
Posted on: 19 Feb 2016
Tags:   IT , MNREGA


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India recently ruled against charging different subscribers different prices for data services. In this article, Martin Ravallion, Edmond D. Villani Chair of Economics at Georgetown University, contends that we certainly need to improve access of the poor to knowledge about public services that can help them, but such efforts should be explicitly targeted at them. Relying on prevailing processes of knowledge diffusion may simply reflect and even reinforce existing inequalities.
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Bringing global evidence into the MNREGA discourse
Inayat Sabhikhi
Posted on: 12 Feb 2016
Tags:   MNREGA


MNREGA – the largest public works programme in the world – completed 10 years this month. In this article, Inayat Anaita Sabhikhi, Project Officer, United Nations Development Programme, at the Ministry of Rural Development, summarises evidence on MNREGA from four recent reports of international and national organisations. She contends that MNREGA’s high global rankings among social security programmes and the positive evidence on its impact should boost efforts to strengthen its implementation.
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How a corruption scam brought MNREGA to a standstill in Nanded
Sangita Jadhav , Ashwini Kulkarni , Aysha Shamsuddin
Posted on: 28 Jan 2016
Topics:   Corruption , Jobs


Nanded district in Maharashtra demonstrated exemplary performance in MNREGA until 2012-13, when the exposure of a corruption scam brought the programme to a virtual standstill. In this note, researchers from the NGO Pragati Abhiyan show how the manner in which the incident was dealt with discouraged local authorities from actively implementing MNREGA and hence, adversely affected villagers that had earlier benefitted from the programme.
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From the top to the bottom of MNREGA
Megan Sheahan
Posted on: 08 Jan 2016

MNREGA – the world’s largest public works programme - is intended to be demand-driven and has local implementation at its core. In this note, Megan Sheahan, Research Support Specialist at Cornell University, shares her experience of visiting MNREGA work sites in some of the most deprived communities in Andhra Pradesh. She finds that while the scheme has enabled a jump in earnings and created useful assets for villagers, beneficiaries have little control over the timing or type of work allocated to them.
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Is the MNREGA fund crunch making the programme clientelistic?
Upasak Das , Diego Maiorano
Posted on: 02 Sep 2015
Topics:   Jobs


Fund allocation for MNREGA has seen a steady decline in real terms over the last few years. Analysing official MNREGA data along with survey data from Rajasthan, this column shows that in the face of limited financial resources, local implementers are more likely to allocate MNREGA jobs based on discretion and political motives.
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Maoist violence and MNREGA
Gaurav Khanna , Laura Zimmermann
Posted on: 15 Apr 2015
Topics:   Jobs , Conflict


The spate of Maoist attacks on security personnel in Chhattisgarh this week serves as a reminder that Moaist insurgency is the single biggest internal security threat faced by India. This column analyses the impact of MNREGA on Maoist violence and finds a spike in police-initiated attacks on Maoists following the implementation of the job guarantee scheme in 2006. This is possibly because MNREGA provides credibility to the government’s commitment to development, making the local population more willing to share information on Maoists.
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Transforming landholding agricultural workers into farmers
Ravi Kumar
Posted on: 07 Jan 2015

Some believe that MNREGA has negatively impacted agriculture by reducing the supply of labour available for farm work. This column refutes this view and argues that MNREGA has enabled agricultural workers with small and marginal landholdings to move up the social and occupational ladder – from wage workers to farmers - by complementing their farm income and providing for start-up investments in agriculture.
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Impact of MNREGA on labour markets
Clément Imbert , John Papp
Posted on: 22 Dec 2014

There is an active, ongoing debate on whether MNREGA should be retained in its current form. This column reports on research which suggests that MNREGA increased rural and urban wages and reduced seasonal rural-to-urban migration. It argues that the effect of MNREGA on labour markets should play a role in the discussion on whether and how to reform the scheme.
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An economist’s view on the new government’s initiatives
Pranab Bardhan
Posted on: 19 Dec 2014
Topics:   Finance


In this article, Pranab Bardhan, Professor of Economics, University of California, Berkeley, provides his perspective on some of the initiatives of the new Indian government at the centre in their first six months in office – Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Jan Dhan Yojana, ‘Make in India’ campaign, and the proposed changes to MNREGA. In his view, inefficient subsidies must give way to a basic monthly income for all citizens.
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Response to the Bhagwati-Panagariya rejoinder on MNREGA
Dilip Abreu , Pranab Bardhan , Maitreesh Ghatak , Ashok Kotwal , Dilip Mookherjee , Debraj Ray
Posted on: 14 Dec 2014
Tags:   MNREGA


In a recent article, Abreu et al. refuted the Bhagwati-Panagariya argument for phasing out MNREGA in favour of cash transfers. In this article, Abreu et al. respond to claims in a rejoinder by Bhagwati-Panagariya, regarding net benefits of MNREGA employment, the self-selection feature of the programme, and rural asset creation.
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Workfare as an effective way to fight poverty: The case of India´s MNREGA
Shamika Ravi
Posted on: 11 Dec 2014

The fundamental appeal of a workfare programme, vis-à-vis a welfare programme, is that it helps in targeting the beneficiaries. This column assesses the welfare impact of MNREGA on poor rural households. It finds that the programme had a significant effect on extreme poverty in the first few years of implementation by improving food security, financial inclusion and mental health.
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Assessing the quality and usefulness of MNREGA assets in Maharashtra
Upasak Das , Ashwini Kulkarni , Sudha Narayanan , Krushna Ranavare
Posted on: 05 Dec 2014

Questions have been raised regarding the quality and usefulness of assets created under MNREGA. To examine the validity of the scepticism, this column reports results from a study of MNREGA assets in Maharashtra. While the assets are largely found to be useful and durable, the study suggests that greater attention to design and maintenance, and local participation in the decision-making process can lead to further improvement.
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Building state capacity for better programme implementation: Lessons from the Andhra Pradesh Smartcard Programme
Karthik Muralidharan , Paul Niehaus , Sandip Sukhtankar
Posted on: 03 Dec 2014

Biometric payment systems are posited to reduce leakages in public welfare programmes but there is limited evidence on their effectiveness. This column presents evidence on the impact of the Andhra Pradesh Smartcard Programme on MNREGS and Social Security Pension beneficiaries, based on a large-scale randomised controlled trial. It finds substantial economic benefits, and concludes that using biometric payment infrastructure to deliver welfare payments can be a game changer for governance in India.
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What´s the plan for MNREGA?
Abhijit Banerjee
Posted on: 02 Dec 2014
Tags:   MNREGA


The new government’s plans to scale back MNREGA have elicited a mixed response. In this article, Abhijit Banerjee contends that both supporters and critics, and indeed the entire nation, deserve to be told why this is the one programme of the previous government that has been singled out for the axe, if for no other reason than to inform our views about the design of future programmes.
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How gender inclusive is MNREGA in practice?
Upasak Das
Posted on: 21 Nov 2014

MNREGA mandates that a third of all workers under the programme should be women. But how gender inclusive has the implementation of the Act been? This column uses nationally representative data to analyse participation of women in MNREGA. It finds that while the programme has performed well overall in terms of providing opportunities to women, there is significant variation across states and sub-populations.
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Politics and MNREGA: A limited Link in Andhra Pradesh
Christopher B. Barrett , Yanyan Liu , Sudha Narayanan , Megan Sheahan
Posted on: 19 Nov 2014

The Ministry of Rural Development claims that MNREGA needs to be changed in order to reduce politics and corruption in the scheme. One of the studies cited by the Ministry is an analysis of the extent of political manipulation of MNREGA funds in Andhra Pradesh. In this column, the authors of the study assert that while politics may influence programme expenditure in some places and to a small extent, this is not universally true and does not undermine the effective targeting and good work of the scheme at large.
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MNREGA´s swan song: Not everyone´s idea of ´achche din´
Amitava Gupta
Posted on: 14 Nov 2014
Tags:   MNREGA


Over the last few months, the central government announced a set of measures to restrict MNREGA. The rationale essentially revolves around corruption in the scheme and lack of economic viability. In this article, Amitava Gupta refutes this justification and argues that the attack on MNREGA is a attack on the rights of the poor to a fair share in the nation’s prosperity.
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(Mis)Leading attack on MNREGA
Dilip Abreu , Pranab Bardhan , Maitreesh Ghatak , Ashok Kotwal , Dilip Mookherjee , Debraj Ray
Posted on: 12 Nov 2014
Tags:   MNREGA


Bhagwati and Panagariya have argued for phasing out MNREGA in favour of cash transfers. In this article, Abreu et al. contend that the argument is based on inflating the costs of the programme and deflating the benefits. While they do not claim that all is well with MNREGA, they believe it needs better governance, not slow suffocation.
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Slow and steady: Lessons from MNREGA
Anindita Adhikari , Inayat Sabhikhi
Posted on: 10 Nov 2014
Topics:   Political Economy


As the new government in India is considering changes to MNREGA, it is timely to reflect on its implementation trajectory so far. In this note, Adhikari and Sabhikhi discuss five aspects of programme delivery under MNREGA pertaining to management information systems, financial inclusion, fund management, state capacity and participatory planning. In their view, the programme has made massive strides in strengthening public service delivery.
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Saving people’s livelihoods
Sudha Narayanan
Posted on: 28 Oct 2014
Topics:   Jobs , Agriculture


The new government is seeking to alter the essence of MNREGA based on the premise that it is not useful in its current form. In this article, Sudha Narayanan criticises the move and argues that despite its shortcomings, MNREGA is the best available institutional mechanism to preserve the resource base for food production and build resilience of Indian agriculture.
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Is the proposed restructuring of MNREGA desirable?
Ashwini Kulkarni
Posted on: 20 Oct 2014
Tags:   MNREGA


The rural development ministry plans to restrict MNREGA to the 200 most backward districts, and reduce the wage component of the total expenditure of the programme. In this article, Ashwini Kulkarni - a member of the National Consortium of Civil Society Organisations working on MNREGA - argues against the proposed changes.
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To decentralise or not to decentralise? The dilemma of MNREGA in Andhra Pradesh
Diego Maiorano
Posted on: 14 Oct 2014
Topics:   Political Economy


Employment generated under MNREGA has been on the decline in recent years across India. This column analyses whether political dynamics influence the implementation of MNREGA by contrasting the implementation models of two of the top performing states – Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. It concludes that a combination of the top-down, supply-driven approach of AP and the demand-driven Rajasthan model is required.
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Can MNREGA buffer negative shocks in early childhood?
Aparajita Dasgupta
Posted on: 29 Aug 2014

Exposure to negative shocks such as drought during early childhood is known to have lasting, detrimental effects on human development outcomes. This column examines whether a household’s access to MNREGA, later in the life of the child, can offset the impact of early childhood shocks. It finds that programme access, although incapable of correcting for past deficiencies, does mitigate the impact of recent shocks.
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Political clientelism in MNREGA: Evidence from West Bengal
Upasak Das
Posted on: 25 Jun 2014
Topics:   Gender


The problem of political clientelism becomes imminent in decentralised systems where certain individuals or groups associated with the political party locally in power, get preferential access to scarce public resources. This column investigates the link between political affiliation and/ or activity with the likelihood of receiving benefits under MNREGA, in the state of West Bengal.
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MNREGA: Populist leaky bucket or successful anti-poverty programme?
Dilip Mookherjee
Posted on: 28 May 2014
Tags:   MNREGA


MNREGA – the world’s largest workfare programme - formed the backbone of the UPA government’s anti-poverty programme, and may well represent its most important legacy in the long run. This column reviews various studies on its performance, and provides a perspective on its broader macroeconomic effects. It argues that while MNREGA was far from perfect in terms of implementation, it was much more effective than other existing schemes in benefitting the poor.
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Can workfare programmes moderate violence?
Thiemo Fetzer
Posted on: 05 May 2014
Topics:   Conflict
Tags:   MNREGA


It is widely known that income shocks may trigger spurts of violence. This column explores whether workfare programmes can help mitigate support for violent movements. It finds that MNREGA has had a moderating effect on the intensity and incidence of terrorist violence in India, through the provision of more stable incomes - even for those who do not directly participate in the programme.
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Can MNREGA improve credit worthiness of participating households?
Subhasish Dey
Posted on: 11 Apr 2014

Based on household survey data from West Bengal, this column analyses the impact of MNREGA on economic outcomes of participating households. It finds that the ‘local’, ‘guaranteed’ and ‘government-related’ nature of MNREGA work helps improve credibility of workers with potential lenders such as grocery store owners, if they participate in the programme in a sustained manner. Access to informal credit helps improve consumption.
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Has community monitoring helped reduce corruption in public programme delivery?
Farzana Afridi , Vegard Iversen
Posted on: 12 Mar 2014
Topics:   Corruption


MNREGA mandates social audits of public work projects undertaken under the Act in order to empower beneficiaries to scrutinise programme expenditures, and monitor programme delivery. Has community monitoring helped reduce corruption and improve programme delivery? This column presents results from the first study that rigorously assesses the impact of India’s only large-scale community monitoring initiative - in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
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UID project: Does evidence matter?
Reetika Khera
Posted on: 05 Feb 2014

The Indian government has been pushing to make UID compulsory, and is now moving towards charging for use of authentication services. This article asserts that the three key selling points of UID – corruption control, inclusion and portability – have been achieved in several states in major welfare programmes, by creatively using simpler technology that is free of the hassles attached to UID.
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Short-term migration and child welfare
Diane Coffey
Posted on: 07 Oct 2013
Topics:   Education , Jobs


While much has been said about the poor working and living conditions of short-term migrants, relatively little is known of the impact of short-term migration on child welfare. This column finds that although short-term migration does not lead to child labour, children of migrants have poorer educational outcomes.
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What explains the steep poverty decline in India from 2004 to 2011?
Ashok Kotwal , Pronab Sen
Posted on: 29 Jul 2013

Ashok Kotwal, Editor-in-Chief, Ideas for India, interviews Pronab Sen on the recent poverty figures that show a steep decline in poverty in India between 2004 and 2011. According to him, the shift in terms of trade in favour of agriculture and higher rural wages accelerated the trickle down of the fast economic growth to the poor.
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Turn Right or Left? Or is there a middle way?
Dilip Mookherjee
Posted on: 25 Jul 2013
Topics:   Economic Growth


Dilip Mookherjee shares his perspective on the recent Bhagwati versus Sen debate. While Sen represents the pro-state-led assistance stand and Bhagwati is seen as pro-market, what India requires is the right combination of prescriptions from both camps to effectively combat poverty.
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A success story from Keonjhar
Chandrasekhar Bhuyan
Posted on: 12 Jul 2013

The final narrative in our three part series on what development means to real women comes from Keonjhar in Odisha. In spite of facing deprivation and setbacks early in life, today Basanti Naik successfully oversees the implementation of MNREGA projects in her village. Her life gives a very positive feedback about the success of government run programmes, but there are still thousands of women waiting to create their success stories.
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Empowering women for development
Belmati Jonko
Posted on: 05 Jul 2013

In conversation with a Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellow, Bahrin Bhuyinya, a resident of the Khunti district in Jharkhand shares her story. While she feels that the village has significantly benefitted from government schemes in the past decade, it is the increased involvement of women in the village panchayat that has truly empowered Bahrin and others like her. This is the second narrative in our three part series on what development means to women in some of the most remote parts of the country.
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Use of technology to improve public service delivery
Chandrasekhar Bhuyan , Animesh Ghosh , Kshovan Guha , Dipti Paridhi Kindo , Priyanka Kumari , Ankush Singh , Sushma Taywade , Sweta Trayambak
Posted on: 06 Feb 2013

How is technology being used to improve public service delivery at the grass root level? In this Note from the Field, the Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellows that are working with district administrations across the country, share their experiences.
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Does political reservation for women improve programme delivery?
Farzana Afridi
Posted on: 17 Jan 2013

This column outlines results of a study that assesses the impact of women leaders on corruption and other aspects of the quality of delivery of MNREGA. It argues that administrative experience, training and institutional support are essential for making women’s political participation and affirmative action policies more effective.
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Cash Transfers – through the postal system or the banks?
Ashwini Kulkarni
Posted on: 20 Dec 2012

The central government has announced the conversion of 29 poverty schemes to Direct Cash Transfers. Should this be implemented through banks or the postal system? This article assesses the pros and cons, and recommends experimenting with different systems.
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The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act: is it working?
Participants: Jean Drèze , Ashwini Kulkarni , Neelakshi Mann , Varad Pande , Martin Ravallion
Posted on: 29 Nov 2012

MNREGA is one of the government´s largest flagship schemes, and is the largest job creation programme of its kind in the world. Supporters believe that it is necessary to help rural workers smooth income in times of distress and increase labour market access for marginalised groups, whereas critics argue that it is taking labour from the troubled agricultural sector and doing more harm than good. What does the evidence really tell us - is MNREGA working or would resources be better spent elsewhere?
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Agricultural wages and MNREGA: Exploring the myth
Kanika Mahajan
Posted on: 05 Nov 2012
Topics:   Jobs , Agriculture
Tags:   MNREGA


The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, India’s flagship programme that guarantees 100 days of minimum wage employment to rural households, has come under attack for pushing up the wages demanded by hired hands in agriculture. This column argues that most of these attacks fail to account for changing productivity in agriculture and the consequences of this for agricultural wages.
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Cutting delays in MNREGA wages
Saloni Chopra , Reetika Khera
Posted on: 10 Oct 2012

Officials in charge of paying MNREGA wages in the state of Andhra Pradesh can now expect to receive fines if there are delays. This column shows how this move was made possible by a simple automated system, how effective it has been, and how the rest of India should follow suit.
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Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme: Falling demand or funds crunch?
Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay
Posted on: 08 Aug 2012
Topics:   Jobs
Tags:   MNREGA


The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) – India’s flagship job guarantee scheme - provides every rural household in India with a guaranteed 100 days of work in a year at minimum wage on public projects. Yet many commentators argue that there is falling demand among rural workers for these jobs. This article challenges this view and calls on better data collection to avoid wrongly taking away the right to work.
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Corruption and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
Sandip Sukhtankar
Posted on: 16 Jul 2012
Topics:   Corruption


Corruption continues to strangle India’s public finances. This column presents evidence of embezzlement in India’s flagship rural employment programme and suggests new ways policymakers can test what works in the struggle against corruption.
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