June 25, 2010

NREGA IS A GREAT DEVELOPMENTAL INITIATIVE, BUT THE GOVERNMENT HAS TO ENSURE THAT THE ADDITIONAL INCOME IN THE HANDS OF THE RURAL POOR GETS MOBILISED

TOWARDS LONG TERM PRODUCTIVE MEANS AND NOT ALCOHOL!

When NREGA was launched in the year 2006, it was one of the biggest leaps taken by the UPA government to productively engage the underprivileged rural folk and connect them to the mainstream, a move which was due for long. From Rs 11,000 crores as the initial outlay, the same NREGA has grown to Rs 40,100 crores in the current year, encompassing each and every district of the country. Although a phenomenal initiative, from the very beginning, the NREGA has been marred with delivery bottlenecks. Like in most other cases, corruption this time too at every stage robbed the poor rural folk of their dues. The only consolation being that at least something is reaching them, compared to nothing in the past! But then, I recently came across this disturbing news! It has been reported that Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) sales have been going up as an aftereffect of the NREGA scheme. On hindsight, this was clearly predictable, but this was something that should have never happened in the first place! Predictable, because this is apparently a global phenomenon, that an immediate spurt in income disproportionately increases the propensity of consumption, and if it is backed with illiteracy and lack of awareness, the outcomes are even more hazardous, like we are seeing in our case! But then, what is most unfortunate is that a scheme which had the promise to transform the rural economy is actually pushing it to a bigger crisis! And if corrective actions are not taken on an immediate basis, we ourselves would be blamed for funding this nation into becoming a nation of alcoholics!

So when the government was all set to distribute around Rs 40,000 crores through NREGA, apart from ensuring that the money reaches the targeted population and does not get eaten up by the system, the government should have also ensured that there was a serious cap on the supply of alcohol in these regions. What happened was just the reverse. In fact, over the past few years, liquor outlets have on an average doubled in the rural areas. In Bihar, for example, the number of liquor outlets in the rural areas in the year 2006/07 was around 2800, which has gone up by more than 6000 currently. And this is all set to rise further as it is reported that the Excise and Prohibition Department is about to sanction one liquor vend in every three villages. It’s tragic that state governments don’t show a similar commitment for opening schools and health centres across each village. The bigger tragedy is that the per capita consumption of cereals is reducing every year, whereas that of liquor is increasing. The per capita consumption of cereals has fallen by almost two kg in the last decade. Bihar is not the only case in point, a similar growth in liquor supplies and consumption is being observed across the country. In Andhra Pradesh too, in a recent auction of around 6500 liquor vends, the rural areas put up the highest bids!

Reports also state that the liquor traders are very upbeat about the rural economy as various developmental schemes like the NREGA are enhancing the purchasing power within the rural populace, which has been driving up their sales. The government has also been extremely helpful in providing these liquor traders the reach without any concerns about the long term impact this is creating.

As I said earlier, the government should definitely put an immediate cap on the licensing of liquor outlets, particularly in rural India. This might also trigger the supply of illicit liquor and might even create an entire black economy around liquor. So the challenge to restrict consumption of alcohol and divert the new income towards consumption of cereals, saving, and into social investments like education for their children, is going to be a tall one, both for the Centre and the state governments!

One way to arrest this challenge is to issue the NREGA cards to the female member of the family rather than the male member. Globally, it has been observed that whenever income levels go up, women fare relatively better with respect to overall family welfare, as compared to their male counterparts. Even the famous Grameen Bank, which works on a micro-finance model and has had a huge success in transforming Bangladesh, hinges on this very premise that funding women with loans is any day a better bet than providing loans to men.

All in all, I would like to reiterate again that NREGA is a great developmental and transformational initiative. But then, successfully implementing the scheme across the nation is just half of the job done. The government also needs to ensure that the additional incomes generated by the rural folk are mobilized towards long term productive means. That would be the real challenge and transformation in the real sense!

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19 comments:

timeforchange said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
timeforchange said...

hi sir ,
with due respect for your views , I would like to tell you that N.R.E.G.A is another form of corruption, on ground level there is very bad implementation of this scheme. and it also weakens the farmer of this country , which Indian business personalities are trying to do from the start of independence of this country . today I m very sorry sir that there is nobody in India which I can look and say he is doing right for this country . and last but not least that if this world collapses then the reason will be so called great business tycoons of this world

timeforchange said...

and i can't see any change in rural populace purchasing power . are we living in same India ?

Adi said...

Dear timeforchange

I acquiesce with you,but sayinig no one in INDIA is oding right for his country is a little agressive phrase. There are still people who believe and are striving for the country its that we are unaware or overlooking them coz as u said business tycoons think of prmoting,advertising,blah blah of their own intersts and so called Govt. formed by few people never care for anything other than their own interests.
and how can you see a change in the rural populace purchasing power as every day is biggest challenge to get a handful to eat on other hand we are getting addicted to international brand foods like Mcdonalds... Justification has no hope....

jaspreet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jaspreet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jaspreet said...

Hi sir, there is one advice or suggestion from me to GOVT OF INDIA that "You cant improve anything, if you cant measure it". So, according to me Govt has to measure their initiatives and plans to make any difference.

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Debraj said...

@NREGA
your article on NREGA has covered all that suffice GOVT.to learn a lesson from it's adverse effect and to follow/review its post implementation part.
(the policy maker might not have even thought of its bad impact.)
it reflects well in the rural/ villages that people have gained the habit of gaining easy money (instant cash)'have left working in the fields for production which is more laborious ,takes time in converting into cash.
the other part due to lack of proper monitoring at the work site a lot of money being wasted in the name of WORK where the same is not up to that standard as it is documented/conveyed in black and white .
yes sir, you and like minded intellectuals can foresee the pros and cons such policies and their implementation and suggest /put forward opinions and find remedies for lapses.

LeatriceNay婉勇 said...

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Vihan Sharma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vihan Sharma said...

Sir, My opinion with our constition is-
Rajya Sabha (council Of States) should make for Educated people. bcuz..they aren't our representative, they r our representative's representative.Rajya Sabha have no power to pass a bill and make it act.So that, these educated leaders will not dictateing to uneducated leaders (lok sabha). But they can suggesting them (lok sabha) and right to amend the bill.

allrounder said...

NREGS IS THE BEST SCHEME TO REDUCE POVERTY IN INDIA.BUT THIS SHOULD BE IMPLEMENTED IN THE BACKWARD REGIONS OF THE COUNTRY.IF FUNDS AREAVAILADLE,NREGS CAN PROVIDE 150 DAYS OF WORK A YEAR.AS IT IS SAID IN THE STORY,THERE IS RESPECT TO NREGS ,DO WORK PROPERLY .THIS HELPS IN CURBING THE MIGRATION AND CREATING THE ASSETS IN THE BACKWARD REGIONS.WHILE THIS HAS NO RESPECT OR COMMITMENT IN THE DEVELOPED AREAS BECAUSE THEY ALREADY HAVE ENOUGH WORK .IN THESE AREAS,LOCALS AER NOT ENOUGH TO THE WORK AVAILABLE AND LOT OF MIGRATING WORKERS FLOCK TO THESE AREAS BECAUSE OF THE AVAILABILITY OF THE WORK.YOU CAN FIND THIS TO BE TRUE BY ANY SURVEY.THINKING OF EXTENDING NREGS TO URBAN POOR IS ALSO A FALLACY.AS THIS PROMOTES MIGRATIONS TO THE CITIES WHICH ARE ALREADY CONGESTED.TIME HAS COME TO PROMOTE REVERSE MIGRATION TO THEIR ROOTS AND THIS HELPS PANINDIAN DEVELOPMENT.But according to me this is a social tool but used by selfish politicians and beaurocrats as a political and money making tool.I indicate the non-relevance of this scheme in developed rural areas and urban areas.I am living in my farm near chennai.Most of the workers go to chennai for work daily.Even prior to nregs,availability of workers for agriculture is scanty.After nregs,this availability has come to nil.So,with the representation from the farmers,the local planners of nregs differed their scheme this year to the agriculture`s un- season and also the beneficiaries of this scheme started asking questions and forcing the officers for transparency. With this experience,i firmly believe nregs is better than USA giving unemployment wages as this scheme is not a charity but providing employment and thus workers employed by this scheme are not compromising thier self respect.i certaily feel that this is a scheme where finances are met by govt and if NGOS WITH IMPECCABLE RECORDS AND PEOPLE OF SOCIAL AWARENESS SPEND SOME OF THEIR TIME IN OVERSEEING THE PROPER IMPLEMENTATION AND FIGHT FOR THE PURPOSE WHEREVER AND WHENEVER IS REQUIRED AS MANY PROGRAMMES OF NGOS ARE NOT DONE TO FULL EXTENT BECAUSE OF PAUCITY OF FUNDS.TREAT THIS IS AN INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT AGAINST POVERTY AND FIGHT AGAINST THE MISUSE OF NREGS WITH COURAGE AND CONVICTION.In this context , i feel nrega is definitely the best social welfare programme but the implementation is full of lacunae andcorruption.every one in the country should consider this scheme as fight for independence from poverty.

with good plannig,keeping the sanctity of nrega in mind,and implementation will create a lot of long term assets in rural areas of india.here it should be rembered that every sphere of indian life is affected by corruption and politicians self interest of power and money.we still live with this and are moving forward. like that,nregs wil defintely improve in implementation as this is a scheme which is in direct contact with tens of millions of people and as days pass,people will become aware and fight against the misuse,if any,and a time will come when corrupted poliicians and officers will be afraid to misuse the nregs.

so,please do ont write off this scheme and support for successful and truthful implementation of nregs.As the scheme is widely spread across the nation and corruption and manipulations are done weekly in lakhs of villages, the govt has to take and encourage the public support from social workers , NGOs ,rights activists , media people at village level and also immediate start of the criminal procedure against the offenders which should be publicised thro` media so that the offenders are subjected to shame and social hate. Another main point is this social audits and punishment to offenders must be uniform for either ruling or opposition parties from the villages to Delhi.

If govt is not able to do this ,they should stop this scheme as the money used in this scheme is afterall from the people ,paid thro various taxes. we agree to pay our taxes to the welfare and sovereignity of the nation but not to line the pockets of corrupt officers and political leaders.

allrounder said...

NREGS IS THE BEST SCHEME TO REDUCE POVERTY IN INDIA.BUT THIS SHOULD BE IMPLEMENTED IN THE BACKWARD REGIONS OF THE COUNTRY.IF FUNDS ARE AVAILADLE,NREGS CAN PROVIDE 150 DAYS OF WORK A YEAR.AS IT IS SAID IN THE STORY,THERE IS RESPECT TO NREGS ,DO WORK PROPERLY .THIS HELPS IN CURBING THE MIGRATION AND CREATING THE ASSETS IN THE BACKWARD REGIONS.WHILE THIS HAS NO RESPECT OR COMMITMENT IN THE DEVELOPED AREAS BECAUSE THEY ALREADY HAVE ENOUGH WORK .IN THESE AREAS,LOCALS AER NOT ENOUGH TO THE WORK AVAILABLE AND LOT OF MIGRATING WORKERS FLOCK TO THESE AREAS BECAUSE OF THE AVAILABILITY OF THE WORK.YOU CAN FIND THIS TO BE TRUE BY ANY SURVEY.THINKING OF EXTENDING NREGS TO URBAN POOR IS ALSO A FALLACY.AS THIS PROMOTES MIGRATIONS TO THE CITIES WHICH ARE ALREADY CONGESTED.TIME HAS COME TO PROMOTE REVERSE MIGRATION TO THEIR ROOTS AND THIS HELPS PANINDIAN DEVELOPMENT.

In the parliament,all the leaders of backward states debated about the exploitation and neglegence and demanded a special package for these states and almost threatened that the thought of united india may disappear and naxalism is spreading across this easteren belt is a strong indication.As the scheme is widely spread across the nation and corruption and manipulations are done weekly in lakhs of villages, the govt has to take and encourage the public support from social workers , NGOs ,rights activists , media people at village level and also immediate start of the criminal procedure against the offenders which should be publicised thro` media so that the offenders are subjected to shame and social hate. This NREGA is as good as the movement of independence and is the movement against poverty. Another main point is this social audits and punishment to offenders must be uniform for either ruling or opposition parties from the villages to Delhi.If govt is not able to do this ,they should stop this scheme as the money used in this scheme is afterall from the people ,paid thro various taxes. we agree to pay our taxes to the welfare and sovereignity of the nation but not to line the pockets of corrupt officers and political leaders.

KrisDev said...

NREGA should become a great developmental initiative. Instead it appears to be a damp squib as it is felt more as a dole distribution scheme in another name, not truly adding value to the local community in terms of creating long term assets for the over all economic development and prevention of migration. It is a big drain on the scarce resources of the Government and it may now be too late to reverse the damage done by NREGA as the rural poor cannot now imagine living without free money from NREGA, so much so the agriculture productivity has come down drastically. Please see the below links on the initiatives to streamline NREGA:

Villagers get digital identity - Biometric tracking gives a tamper proof identity to villagers http://www.indianexpress.com/news/aids-counsel-a-call-away/21904/2

Bihar shows smart card way to cleaner rural job scheme - http://www.indianexpress.com/story/33365.html

NREGA going hi-tech in Bihar - Vidya Vishwanathan - Civil Society Online - June 2007
http://www.civilsocietyonline.com/June07/india07ngrea.asp

The 'BSC' of Identity - A Biometric Smart Card Device can be a fool-proof ID for citizens, says this ICT Consultant - http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/ew/2007/03/19/stories/2007031900110300.htm

ID Cards get smarter - http://www.business-standard.com/india/storypage.php?autono=326049

4Ps Business and Marketing Magazine - A Plan Media Publication, New Delhi, India - Special Feature - COLUMN CITIZENRY - A prescription to end corruption - Unique identification of every citizen will help kill the corruption malaise in developing economies http://www.4psbusinessandmarketing.com/17072008/storyd.asp?sid=2112&page....

Backward Bihar goes for the smartest cards - Times of India – April 04, 2010
http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Swaminomics/entry/backward-bihar-goes-for-the#comment-form


Unique ID - Letters Column - Deccan Chronicle, Chennai - Monday, April 12, 2010.
There is no doubt that Unique ID can be the panacea for most evils of modern society, if implemented correctly. It can help the government to save crores of tax payers’ money year after year lost on account of leakages in the system. UIDAI should ensure compliance with International Data Security Standards and be vested with the responsibility of registering every citizen and resident in India and issuing Biometric Smart Card with multi modal biometrics (finger prints, iris, facial, palm vein and DNA). All transactions of all individuals and organizations must be mandated through the use of the Biometric Smart Card. This can help to plug all the loop holes in the system and ensure transparency and accountability. http://www.dc-epaper.com/DC/DCC/2010/04/12/INDEX.SHTML?ArtId=010_030&Search=Y

KrisDev said...

NREGA should become a great developmental initiative. Instead it appears to be a damp squib as it is felt more as a dole distribution scheme in another name, not truly adding value to the local community in terms of creating long term assets for the over all economic development and prevention of migration. It is a big drain on the scarce resources of the Government and it may now be too late to reverse the damage done by NREGA as the rural poor cannot now imagine living without free money from NREGA, so much so the agriculture productivity has come down drastically. Please see the below links on the initiatives to streamline NREGA:


Bihar shows smart card way to cleaner rural job scheme - http://www.indianexpress.com/story/33365.html

NREGA going hi-tech in Bihar - Vidya Vishwanathan - Civil Society Online - June 2007
http://www.civilsocietyonline.com/June07/india07ngrea.asp

The 'BSC' of Identity - A Biometric Smart Card Device can be a fool-proof ID for citizens, says this ICT Consultant - http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/ew/2007/03/19/stories/2007031900110300.htm


4Ps Business and Marketing Magazine - A prescription to end corruption - Unique identification of every citizen will help kill the corruption malaise in developing economies http://www.4psbusinessandmarketing.com/17072008/storyd.asp?sid=2112&page....

Backward Bihar goes for the smartest cards - Times of India – April 04, 2010

http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Swaminomics/entry/backward-bihar-goes-for-the#comment-form

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