Why India’s rural employment guarantee scheme is on the decline

This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com

 

The government’s flagship rural employment guarantee scheme is on the decline. On almost every key metric, the scheme drafted under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)—which promises 100 days of employment a year to every rural household that demands it and mandates payments of wages within 15 days—is showing sharply lower numbers in 2014-15.

The fall is more perceptible in states ruled by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) than the ones ruled by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

The big picture

Be it the amount of work done or the speed of payment, the numbers are down compared with the last two years.

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The declining demand

Demand for work has consistently dropped under the Narendra Modi government, which some opposition leaders attribute to intentional Total expenses (in Rs crore) delays in payments to states by the centre.

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The declining supply

Compared with earlier years, a smaller percentage worked for more than 60 days a year and a higher percentage for up to 40 days.

 

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The states and political parties

The drop in work, in general, has been sharper for the states led by the UPA constituents. They are also facing longer delays in payments.

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