Till now the India Shining has been restricted to metros and big urban centers. Cities like Delhi, Bombay and Bangalore are growing by leaps and bounds while rural areas are lagging behind or growing at a minuscule 1-2%. Villages, which are predominantly dependent on the agriculture and farm produce, have been neglected for decades now. As a result marginal farmers all over the nation have been left with 2 choices: Leave the ancestral lands and move to cities or commit suicide.
Mr Manmohan Singh has a small dream, a dream of All-Inclusive growth of the country. So instead of sitting in a posh AC office, he rolled up his sleeves and attacked the root of the problem. Last year he launched one of the boldest Government Program The Employment Guarantee Scheme (E.G.S.). This year he increased the fund allocation to 120 billion Rupees extended the program to 300 of the country’s poorest districts.
Idea is simple: The government guarantees employment to one able bodied member from each family residing in the district. It is the Panchayat and the State Government’s responsibility to find within 15 days a minimum wage employment for the applicant or else pay a huge fine/compensation.
What does it mean:
1) Ms Sonia Gandhi and Mr Manmohan Singh won this election with a simple question “What has India Shining meant for you?” With the schemes like EGS and mid-day meals, the architect of India’s liberalization today has makes sure that the fruits of the development reaches to the needy.
2) The work involved is strenuous manual labor that too for minimum wages. So only those who are poor, unemployed and are ready to earn their daily bread is benefited from the program.
3) The funds are enough to sponsor 20 billion man hours of employment each year for the remotest and most backward regions of the country. My God.. you can build the Great Wall of China all over again. Even after accounting for pilferage, corruption a village can build god knows how many roads, irrigation projects, schools and infrastructure.
I feel that this audacious program is the biggest boast to the rural economy in the Modern India. However Hindu seems to disagree with me.
They are oblivious to the fact that EGS will definitely reduce suicides/crime rates, increase child literacy, reduce malnutrition and slow down emigration to cities. Instead these pompous journalists at Hindu, who have never ventured out of their Air-Conditioned offices, take great pride in branding EGS as Anti-Farmer. Since the rich Landlords will no longer be able to exploit the poor and pay them below the Statutory Minimum Wages, this scheme should be withdrawn.
I know ECS is far from perfect, but if you feel that what I say is even partially true, then please do write a letter/email to the Hindu.
A detailed impact analysis and the employment opportunities generated under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) can be found at EPW. Do open this pdf in IE instead of firefox. and this