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Employment Guarantee Scheme

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

14 replies on “Employment Guarantee Scheme”

I fully agree with u Pegasus, in state like bihar there are many farmers who don’t have enough land to cultivate, neither do monsoon support them all the time, flood and less rain is a common problem. In this circumstance if government take this measure then it will definitely help the poor farmers. The land lords might be complaining not because they have less people to work but because they might have to pay better than what they were paying in order to get people do the same work.

@rash..
I totally agree with u. in india a politician who is trying to fulfill the promises is alone… deserted by the very people he is trying to help.
worse the Hindu only cares to sensationalize the news. they will cry when farmers commit suicide due to no work… and when govt gives them work they will cry again saying it is Anti-farmer…

You finally got to writing about this. I agree, EGS is a great policy with good intentions. And it’ll definitely help those who need livelihood the most. But the delivery mechanism has be be improved. I heard that in Orissa ppl employed under EGS aren’t getting their due, it’s been eaten up by corrupt officials. Great idea, needs better implementation.

@roshan… today’s lunch was wonderful.
agreed no scheme is perfect and corruption is rampant…. RTI has reduced fudging of muster rolls dramatically… and soon other mechanisms to check the corruption will be in place. NGOs can play a vital role in ensuring transparency and keeping the local panchayats answerable.
but what appalls me is that nobody is talking about/supporting such a massive effort which GOI has undertaken..

If you actually look at the amount of funds spent by the Government on its various programs, these are quite substantial. What does happen is the venal nature of our babudom and local politicians, where the money gets diverted.
Unless that is taken care of, pushing money down a welfare path is never going to realize its full potential. RTI is a very good step down that path.

Hey Pegasus…
I have seen the neglect of rural areas in Andra Pradesh during the TDP rule when ‘CEO’ Naidu was busy beautyfying Hyderabad and bringing about the IT revolution.
The poor farmers and land-lords with small holdings could not survive it and there were multiple suicides in villages.
But, even after a change in the Govt., though there are a few freebies given to the farmers( like power)..there is not much growth .
This scheme is a welcome one as it gives an oppurtunity for employment.
But //rich Landlords will no longer be able to exploit the poor// is only a minor issue as the landlords have long since stopped expecting any return from their lands and are looking forward to the hike in land prices as their gain.
Apart from all this, unless the Agricultural sector is given its due importance…every effort to uplift the rural India would be in vain

yes Chandrababu Naidu and most leaders of NDA were highly criticized for neglecting the poor and common man. And that is why a simple question paved way for congress victory.

freebies do not help… it only makes people dependent.. the major labor requirement in farm is only during the harvest season.

the problem now is what will the man do during the lean period?
one major aim of EGS is the to implement irrigation so that farmers can grow 4 crops a year (2 grain/cash.. and 2 seaasonal vegetables/flowers) construct road so that the perishable produce can be transported seamlessly to the cities without most of it being lost to middlemen etc etc.
I agree that with 1-2 crops agriculture is on basic sustainable mode… but when the number of crops increase the extra income actually improves the finances. still the fact remains the productivity of the land is highest when you put a factory/shop on it rather than a farm.

regarding sub-minimum wages… although banned this practice is prevalent in area with excess employment. this is how it happens… 1) excess labor means wokrers have no choice.
2) landlord are typically expected to provide for breakfast, lunch and tea to those who till their land… and they deduct half the wages for those lumps of rice.

Hi Pegasus,
Good article … easy to grasp the essence…
P.S: (a lengthier one though)
It seems that it is not Hindu’s opinion as such…..(Hindu’s opinions are mostly expressed in their OP-ED page). As a reporter, he has given both sides of the coin is what I feel – just before that shortage para, he has explained the benefits obtained and u should notice that it has been given more space and attention….just my point of view….

@Saravanan..
Thanks for dropping by.

Yes I agree that my anger was more towards the fact that in the past one year no major coverage has been given to this revolutionary scheme and less against the reporting style of the reporter.
BTW NREGA guarantees only 100 days of daily wages of only 1 member of a poor family. (that too broken in multiple duration between the harvest seasons) while even in areas where 2 crops are grown, there are no substantial labor demands for more than a 150 days in a year…. So the design of the scheme ensures that as long as fair wages are being paid, the labor supply is not very adversely reduced. So if the reporter would have crosschecked any of the claims of the rich landlords… he would have known the truth

true…..I agree.
And you are right in ur claim that no major coverage was given in press/media for schemes like EGS….
ToI is more concentrating on page 3 stuff and what Big B is doing, all the news channels are busy covering Ash-Abhi stuff or some sensational breaking news and Hindu is as usual a bit left oriented….
Before coming across some articles like this, even I was of the opinion that such schemes are a farce and just for politicians/bureaucrats to earn more….

well media cannot be entirely blamed… they give what the people want.
However if you have some good articles… please share. I would love to see you and all other readers using this blog as a forum to highlight a social/economic problem.

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