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

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Ayyankali Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme in Kerala

Well Envisioned But Poorly Executed

Demands to launch an urban employment guarantee scheme similar to that of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme has been gaining traction for a while. Kerala has been a front-runner in this regard by launching the Ayyankali Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme way back in 2010. At a time when the entire country is seeking an urban counterpart of the rural employment guarantee scheme, the potential and pitfalls of its urban version need to be looked into.


Though India has a long history of urban self-employment schemes, the experience of urban wage employment is very limited. During the Ninth Five Year Plan, an urban wage employment programme (UWEP) was launched as a minor component of the Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY). The UWEP intended to provide wage employment to those living below the poverty line (BPL) within the jurisdiction of towns/cities with population up to 5 lakh, as per the 1991 Census. However, it failed to generate the expected level of employment. Finally, when the SJSRY was replaced by the National Urban Livelihoods Mission in 2013, the wage component was completely missing.

Meanwhile, 11 years ago, Kerala launched the Ayyankali Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme (AUEGS), dubbed as the urban counterpart of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to solve the unemployment in urban areas of the state. Though AUEGS was claimed to be on par with MGNREGS, the poor design and implementation along with the political and administrative apathy has dented its popularity and spoiled its potential to some extent. This paper critically reviews the potential and pitfalls of the AUEGS in the context of the current search for an urban counterpart of the MGNREGS.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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