March 25, 2013 | Contribution by
R. SUBRAHMANYAM R. Subrahmanyam Principal Secretary of Rural Development Andhra Pradesh, India
Workers in field. India. Photo: © Ray Witlin / World Bank
In 2006, India launched the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) to tackle underemployment and unemployment in the agricultural sector. The program guaranteed a minimum of 100 days of work every year to anyone who requested it. How is it doing? What are its strengths and weaknesses? We examine these questions in a two-part series.
In Part I, we talk with R.Subrahmanyam, Principal Secretary of Rural Development in Andhra Pradesh. He says that since 2006, the program has been extended to 1 million villages, providing employment to more than 2.5 billion households, at a cost of $33 billion. However, he stresses that the program's impact is far greater than the jobs created because it also addresses the requirements of sustainable livelihoods, such as forest replanting. A program of this magnitude, he explains, wouldn't have been possible without a very strong IT setup. As for other countries that might want to replicate the program, he says success hinges on strong political will and statutory entitlements.
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