The government’s ambitious rural job scheme MNREGA has not only unleashed a revolution in rural India but has also established the country as a model of inclusive development worldwide, says a new World Bank report.

Hailing MNREGA, ‘The World Development Report 2014 (WDR 2014), Risk and Opportunity – Managing Risk for Development’ says the scheme illustrates how good governance and social mobilisation go hand-in-hand.

Citing that the Act also provides for social audits and redress of grievances, the report says the demand for work is massive, mostly from poor and disadvantaged groups, and at times of the year where no other work is available.

One of the key achievements of the scheme has been that it has provided the rural poor with a safety net during times of adversity such as droughts, floods or a failed harvest.

“Not only does the programme offer a useful safety net, but it also helps spread awareness of rights and promotes dignity,” it says.

The report also says that implementation varies across states.

“A state such as Rajasthan, which promotes transparency and accountability and has a long history of popular mobilisation, performs relatively better. In Rajasthan, 84 percent of job seekers report being successful (against 56 percent nationwide), receiving 71 days of employment (against 37 nationwide), on average,” it says.

The fact that the law is organised as a right motivates job seekers’ collective action to hold authorities accountable for supplying employment instead of siphoning off allocated funds, says the report.

(This article was published on October 10, 2013)
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