Nregs Essay

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Understanding NREGS: Framework, Implementation and Outcomes ANANYA KOTIA On February 2, 2006, amid great expectations, was launched the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in 200 of the most poor rural districts of India. It covers over 600 rural districts at present and by many accounts, is the largest ever public employment programme visualized in human history. In 2010 it employed more than 37 million households (1.352 billion person days) and has undertaken over 6 million works, out of which about 193,000 have been completed[1]. Its budgetary allocation in the Union Budget, 2010-11 was a massive $8.8 billion.[2] The NREGA aims at effectively providing rural employment, arresting out- migration of rural households in search of employment to cities, improving the standard of living of the poor and developing socio-economic infrastructure in rural areas. This article explains the framework of this flagship scheme, analyses its implementation and attempts to appraise the outcomes that it has delivered over the four years of its functioning. 1 Framework The NREGA functions under a multi-tier authority framework which aims at coordination between the national government (provides funds) and various sub national governments (carry out implementation) like the state governments, district authorities, and village/block level gram sabhas and panchayats. Modeled on the lines of the Maharashtra Employment Guarantee Scheme (1979), the NREGA is a unique legislation in many aspects. The scheme differs significantly from erstwhile employment schemes, or for that matter any standard centrally sponsored scheme in India. “The most important change NREGA represents is that it gives rise to programmes that spring not from its wilful benevolence, but as a legally binding response by the state to a right to work...” [Ambasta, Shankar & Shah 2008]. Thus, what

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