Poverty & Inequality

Introduction to e-Symposium: 10 years of MNREGA and the way forward

  • Blog Post Date14 March, 2016
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Farzana Afridi

Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi Centre

fafridi@isid.ac.in

India's Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme – the largest public works programme in the world – completed a decade in February 2016. As a contribution to the discussions, I4I Editor Farzana Afridi is hosting an e-symposium to summarise the existing evidence on various aspects of the programme, and to discuss the future of the programme.

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The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS)1completed a decade in February 2016. This has been a landmark public programme in many respects – it is the first rights-based public programme in India and the largest in the world in terms of potential demand; it is the first public programme that mandates community-led monitoring of local expenditures and reservation of 1/3rd of programme beneficiaries for women; finally, it envisages a bottom-up approach in public programme implementation.

MNREGS has, thus, understandably created huge interest amongst social activists and academics alike, generating significant research on its impact and design.

The objective of this e-symposium is two-fold: first, to bring to our readers a summary of research findings on various aspects of the programme and second, to discuss the future of the programme.

What has the programme achieved so far? To assess the impact of the programme on employment generation and rural wages, see the exhaustive survey piece by Laura Zimmermann. Subha Mani analyses the research on the effect of the programme on women's empowerment and children's education.Sudha Narayanan summarises the evidence from various states on the quality of assets created under the programme

What lies ahead for MNREGS? We present views from all sections of the debate. Martin Ravallion, Kunal Sen, Reetika Khera and Ashwini Kulkarni discuss the programme's past while suggesting the way ahead from their vantage points in this section of the e-symposium.

Notes:

  1. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), 2006 guarantees 100 days of employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adults members are willing to do unskilled manual work at the minimum wage.
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