Non-Governmental Imagination

India Launches Massive Rural Anti-Poverty Scheme
February 4, 2006, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

India’s ruling Congress party has launched the “National Rural Employment Gurantee Scheme”, which guarantees 100 days of work anually for one person in India’s 60 million rural families. Either the family member gets work or they get the equivalent amount in welfare. Needless to say this is a pretty ambitious plan, and the BBC esitmates that it will cost between $5-25 billion.

The big question of course is whether it will work or not. A number of Indian bloggers have some pretty strong doubts. The Open Window crunches some numbers and offers a convincing argument that this is simply designed to make it look like Congress is helping the poor. Santhosh simply thinks that subsidy-driven plans never work at inspiring the entrepreunrial spirit needed to drive an economy.

As much as I would love to see this program work, their doubts seem well-founded. Corruption could cripple the program, and there doesn’t seem to be stringent enough protections against corrupt panchayat and state governments from dipping their paws into the honey pot. Here’s to hoping I’m wrong.
Cross-posted at So a Hindu, a Christian and a Jew walk into a bar….


1 Comment so far
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Great post, Seth. Sustainable infrastructure-building is much more sound policy than promising jobs for an arbitrary 100 days out of the year in a country as corrupt as India. Improving the economy, industry, and agriculture are the keys to India’s future. Santosh’s endorsement of groups like ProGreen is right-on. Social entrepreneurship yields measurable results and has minimal danger of corrupt government involvement; it will help Indian villages thrive.

Corruption is a huge concern, as mentioned by everyone. When I was in Bangalore last December, I was struck by the horrible roads running right in front of corporate technology parks. The gates separated the plush private campuses from the mismanaged public throughways. I can only imagine – like Open Window – how politicians could easily game the system and siphon off money from the Scheme.

More at my cross-post on

Comment by hinduchristianjew

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