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India's NREGS (Part I): Creating Jobs—on Demand—in Agriculture

R. Subrahmanyam's picture

R. Subrahmanyam is Principal Secretary of Rural Development in Andhra Pradesh, India.

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.

 Workers in field. India. Photo: © Ray Witlin / IN063S13 World Bank

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.

This post was first published on the Jobs Knowledge Platform.