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

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Caste in MGNREGA Works and Social Audits

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is known as a demand-driven programme introduced with the legislative backing of Parliament of India. It has contributed significantly to provide the “freedom of choice” of work and dignified work opportunities along with rights and entitlements especially for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, women, landless, and other marginalised groups that depend on traditional caste-based occupations and agricultural landlords in the villages for their livelihoods. This has largely contributed to protecting their self-respect and dignity in workspaces and helped control migration. However, the deep-rooted caste system as well as the caste-based political domination in villages affects the implementation of MGNREGA severely. This paper examines the caste-based exclusion in the implementation of MGNREGA, and the social audit and follow-up action taken by the vigilance wing.

Impact of MGNREGA on Consumption Expenditure of Households

This study attempts to quantify the impact of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act programme on the level and pattern of consumption expenditure of rural households at the national level using a difference-in-differences method. The findings indicate an increase in the monthly per capita consumption expenditure of participant households and a change in their consumption patterns with the share of high-value and nutrient-rich food in their consumption basket going up. Further the participant households have also smoothened their consumption by investing in assets such as durable goods.

Fifty Days of Lockdown in India: A View from Two Villages in Tamil Nadu

Villagers in Tiruppur district in Tamil Nadu, India’s largest knitwear manufacturing and export hub, face different levels of hardship due to the lockdown in the wake of COVID-19. This article details the coping strategies of garment, power loom, and agricultural workers in two villages—Allapuram and Mannapalayam.

Women in MGNREGS in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh

Based on secondary data from the National Sample Survey Office and a household-level survey of four villages in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the study found that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme has a number of direct and indirect benefits. Overall, it was found that, in both rural Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, women’s participation in the MGNREGS has been encouraging and beneficial.

What Does the Rural Economy Need?

The agricultural sector has performed worse than the other sectors over the years. The shares of non-agricultural employment and output have increased, while70% of agricultural householdscannot meet their low consumptionneeds even after diversification of sources of income. An analysis of budgetary provisions for the rural economy suggests that the government has not done enough to address some of these well-documented problems, and does not have the required vision to substantially increase rural employment opportunities.

Macroeconomic Impact of Social Protection Programmes in India

Generally, the fiscal implications of social protection programmes are evaluated, but not so much on the economic impacts these schemes have on macro aggregates such as output, employment, income and revenue. This motivated us to evaluate the economic impact of three major social protection programmes, namely, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Indira Awaas Yojana, and the National Social Assistance Programme in 2011-12 using a social accounting matrix. It is found that these programmes have significant impacts on output across different sectors of the economy, on income generation and distribution of different household classes in urban and rural areas, on employment across different sectors of the economy, and even on government revenue generation.

Well Worth the Effort

More than 1,00,000 wells were sanctioned for construction under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in Jharkhand during the last few years. This study evaluates the outcome of this well-construction drive through a survey of nearly 1,000 wells in 24 randomly selected gram panchayats. A majority of sanctioned wells (60% with parapet and 70% without) were completed at the time of the survey. Nearly 95% of completed wells are being utilised for irrigation, leading to a near tripling of agricultural income of those in the command area. The real rate of return from these wells in Jharkhand is estimated to be close to 6%, a respectable figure for any economic investment. However, well construction involves some out-of-pocket expenses and this investment is risky: nearly 12% of the wells were abandoned midway.

Evolving Centre–State Financial Relations

After the Fourteenth Finance Commission award, aggregate transfers as a percentage of gross domestic product has increased, while grants as a percentage of GDP has declined. The centre is resorting to cess and surcharges that are not shared with the states. This would mean denial of revenue to states, which goes against the spirit of the Constitution. Further, the states have a reduced untied fi scal space, with the union’s share in Centrally Sponsored Schemes in 2016–17 (BE) being reduced. Finally, in the absence of plan transfers, post 2017–18, the focus should be to develop a framework for non-fi nance commission grants to states which is predictable and certain.

Rural Push in Budget 2016-17

Budget 2016-17 recognises that the rural economy is in crisis; however, it fails to address this with sufficient targeted rural spending. A perusal of budget documents reveals exaggerated expenditure claims, achieved through reclassification of budget heads. There has been an enduring neglect of agriculture, which is further exacerbated by this year's reduced subsidies for fertiliser and food. This will induce further vulnerabilities in the rural economy.

Centrist Polity, Decentred Politics

How has Telangana fared in the last two years? The author’s field visit suggests that water and agrarian distress continue to be an issue, with Muslims and the youth disillusioned with the government in the new state.
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