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

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NREGA: Absence of Ownership

It was quite interesting to go through the field observations on the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in Jharkhand (July 22, 2006), which suggest that the NREGA programme may well follow the same path as the earlier wage employment programmes. The involvement of students from Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University in the field investigation should be appreciated. It may be a trendsetter for involving students in a similar exercise in other parts of the country.

We are convinced that the “absence of owning by the political parties” is an important issue that needs to be addressed. Our field experiences on the pre-launch preparedness of NREGA in Kerala have thrown up similar observations. The authors’ point that the “absence of gram panchayats and gram sabhas in the state” has created an institutional vacuum at the field level is also revealing. We agree with their argument that the institutionalisation of the panchayati raj system is required for better administration of the NREGA. However, this may not be a single precondition for better implementation of NREGA, as evident from our Kerala experience. There are larger issues of political economy involved. An analysis of political economy may bring out a possible explanation for the current status of NREGA administration in different parts of the country.

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