Battling Corruption: Has NREGA Reached India's Rural Poor?

By Shylashri Shankar and Raghav Gaiha
OUP India
2013

In an attempt to respond to the needs of the country's poor, the Indian government launched an ambitious workfare scheme, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in 2005, which guaranteed hundred days of employment in unskilled manual labour at a minimum wage to every rural household each year.

The book assesses the effectiveness of formal and informal mechanisms-political representation, community social audits, access to information, membership in networks, political competition-in reducing corrupt practices and enabling NREGA to reach its intended beneficiaries in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan. The book tests several intuitions and finds that, among other things, political representation for scheduled castes and tribes, and women has produced dividends in the form of higher participation and higher earnings in the scheme by these groups. Low access to information, on the other hand, has hindered the effective functioning of these mechanisms. Written in non-technical language, it is one of the few studies of its kind that blends econometric and ethnographic analyses towards a better understanding of the effective implementation of the scheme.