ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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NREGS: Interpreting the Official Statistics

The performance of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, even as revealed by government statistics, has been disappointing and, if anything, has deteriorated over time. Using offi cial data, this article evaluates the NREGS according to the average number of days of employment per household, the percentage of households completing 100 days of employment, the percentage of expenditure against total available funds, and the percentage of work completed. The performance across the fi rst two criteria has been disappointing and the average number of days of employment per household has declined over time. The percentage of expenditure against total available funds has risen sharply, particularly since 2010-11, and has been consistently higher than the work completed as a percentage of the work planned.

Reviewing the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme

This article presents results on the participation of rural workers in the National Rural Employment Guarantee programme based on a pilot survey of three villages in Udaipur district in Rajasthan. Its focus is on participation in the nreg programme of different socio-economic groups and the determinants of the participation of these groups. It is found that the mean participation was 59 days and that targeting was satisfactory. The performance of the programme has been far from dismal.

Use of Local Knowledge in Impact Assessment

While local knowledge matters in impact assessment, it is also important to identify issues and concerns, which given budgetary and time constraints, could be addressed more meaningfully through such knowledge. This paper, through a review of certain development projects, illustrates the specific advantages of drawing on local knowledge for design and implementation of projects. The examples cited point to a substantial gain in terms of richness of analysis and cost reduction. However, local knowledge from different sources needs to be tapped more efficiently.

Does the Right to Food Matter?

Contrary to assertions that the right to food is both 'undefinable' and 'undeliverable', an attempt is made here to clarify its nature and content, and the obligations it entails. The right to food is a right to policies (or, is a right to a right) that enable individuals to produce or acquire minimum food entitlements. From this perspective, it is evolving into an enforceable right. Its potential for channelling food aid from donors more effectively, enabling governments to do what they should, and sharpening the focus of NGOs in a strategy to eliminate hunger, malnutrition and famines is likely to be substantial. While the realisation of this right is slow and difficult, it would be a mistake to discard it on the ground that too many rights make it harder to enforce them.
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