Research Finding

PREFERENTIAL RESOURCE ALLOCATION? Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in Andhra Pradesh

ndia’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) employs about 50 million men and women every year and offers an important opportunity for in-vestigating the link between public works spending and the politi-cal allocation of funds. First of all, MGNREGS is derived from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), which grants citizens the “right to work” on local in-frastructure projects at a set minimum wage. This is one of the few if not the only program in the world to nest a government workfare program within a legal entitlement. As such, MGNREGS is ostensi-bly designed to be a self-targeting and demand-driven program, where labor is aggregated and public works are selected at the lo-cal level before final approval at higher levels of government. Sec-ondly, MGNREGS also put in place a suite of accountability and transparency mechanisms, including but not limited to publicly-available data and social audits. The extent to which these unique features of MGNREGS have eliminated avenues for taking ad-vantage the program for political gain is a question worth exploring.

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