Monday, April 4, 2016

Chandrahas Choudhury — In India, a 'Workfare' Program [partial JG] That Works

Over the last 10 years in India, perhaps no other law has sparked such sustained debate as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, universally known as "Narega." Passed by the previous Congress government in February 2006 and upheld by the Narendra Modi administration, it's given rise to the world’s largest livelihood-security or “workfare” program.
The law guarantees up to 100 days of employment at the state minimum wage on local public-works projects -- road-building, well-digging, reforestation and the like. Today it counts about 100 million active (if unevenly distributed and irregularly employed) participants.…
Bloomberg View
In India, a 'Workfare' Program That Works
Chandrahas Choudhury

Bill Mitchell previously blogged on the program, India’s national employment guarantee hampered by supply constraints


Dan Lynch said...

And yet India's gini coefficient has gone up, not down.

Googling turned up very little about the nature of the work done. Several sites showed pictures of women digging holes in the ground -- apparently cleaning out ponds during the dry season. OK, but that task could more easily be performed by heavy equipment, so it's just make-work.

This 2015 article claims that politicians have deliberately sabotaged the program by starving it of funds. Surprise, surprise!

"The MGNREGA came into being not because of a benevolent government, but because of pressure from social movements and rural workers. Much more pressure will be needed now to save it.

And there you have it.

Conservatives will attempt to sabotage any social program that benefits the poor, including job programs. The two favorite tactics are to reduce funding (because they're running out of money!) and appoint incompetent political cronies to manage the program (atta boy, Brownie!).

For that reason I favor social programs that are easy to administer. I.e., Social Security is easy to administer because the government is good at issuing checks. Alas, Social Security still has to contend with the "we're running out of money" attacks.

James said...

People aren't mules that need to be put to work. If people want private property, and a market economy, then people have got to be compensated for the loss of the right to live a self sufficient life off the land. No group of either public, or private citizens has the right to demand servitude from anyone.