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

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Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act: Lessons from Odisha

Over the last 18 years, state governments ruled by different political parties across the political spectrum have attempted to expand the scope and vision of MGNREGA. But the case of Odisha stands out in the country in providing additional 200 days of work on and above the mandatory 100 days of work under MGNREGA and bearing the financial burden to pay the additional cost for MGNREGA workers on par with the wage for unskilled workers in the state. In this article, we analyse the implications of the Odisha government’s above decision on the income and employment opportunities for the most distressed communities in four districts and compare them with other districts of Odisha to suggest the need for such a progressive decision in other distressed districts in the country.

Agrarian Crisis and Farm Incomes in India

Farm Income in India: Myths and Realities by A Narayanamoorthy, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2021; pp 384, `1,695.

 

Did MGNREGS Improve Financial Inclusion?

Utilising household-level data, this paper investigates the impact of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme on financial inclusion. Exploiting the staggered timing of the roll-out of the programme across districts, while controlling for its non-random implementation, it is found that MGNREGS improves financial access. This is confirmed in simple univariate tests as well as in multivariate regressions that take into account several district- and household-level controls. The evidence, however, is less compelling when the use of finance is examined, although there is a differential impact for districts with higher proportion of women. The magnitudes in most cases are quite large and suggest that public works programme can positively influence financial inclusion.

Understanding the Potentialities

This ethnographic study of Dalit women from the villages of Allahabad district assesses their identification with Dalit politics, the impact that the Bahujan Samaj Party has had on their political and social aspirations, and what makes them identify with Mayawati.

Decentralising Accountability

Ensuring good governance while devolving the 3Fs— functions, funds and functionaries—is a formidable challenge. An action research conducted in Sikkim from 2010 to 2016 focused on four questions: where is the corruption, what are the different types of corruption, how much is the quantum, and how do we reduce it effectively? A set of anti-corruption tools was integrated in the programme delivery, and corruption practices were broadly grouped into “easy to prevent,” “difficult to prevent but easy to detect,” and “difficult to prevent and detect.” By applying this strategy, we found that the corruption level dropped more than three times from 1.74% to 0.55%, and the savings from sanctioned cost rose to 20% (₹30.16 crore). This reduction was achieved despite weak enforcement, highlighting that a dynamic anti-corruption strategy that increases the probability of being caught can significantly reduce corruption by decentralising accountability.

Credibility and Portability?

Examining the Centralised Online Real-time Electronic Public Distribution System reforms introduced by the Government of Chhattisgarh to understand the processes and conditions under which such reforms strengthen accountability and affect the delivery of public services, it is found that while earlier reforms have been successful, the contribution of CORE PDS has been useful but limited. A significant finding was that technological fixes for social protection programmes are only feasible insofar as they work within the political logic of the context in question. CORE PDS reforms could not address the issues of power imbalances between shop owners and cardholders which continue to shape interactions between them. Introducing transparency, accountability and quasi-market reforms in this context offered limited possibilities in what they could achieve.

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