Politics and the Right to Work : India's Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
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One of the world's largest and most innovative 'social protection' and poverty reduction initia--tives is India's National Rural Employment Guar--antee Act. Its noteworthy features include: its massive scope-it has provided two billion days of wage employment as a hedge against destitution; its rights-based framework - under MGNREGA, the state is obliged to provide jobs when the right to work is asserted; its unparalleled transparency/ accountability provisions -- all works performed are subjected to a mandatory social audit at the village level and generate an IT record accessible by all; and most significantly, its impact on pov--erty. It has had a potent impact on the material well-being of vast numbers of poor people in In--dia, especially its poorest rural-dwellers, who are notoriously hard to reach. The book is not a technical evaluation of the programme. Instead the authors focus on the crucial role that politics has played in the MGNREGA story, thus enabling them to explain many of its key features. It also yields a far better understanding of the Indian state as it attempts to upgrade - vastly -- its wafer thin social welfare provisions to something more in keeping with the country's growing economic and political profile.