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The Indian Express today carried an editorial commending the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme to date while supporting the idea of extending the scheme countrywide. Amid much fanfare intended to give a pro-poor aam aadmi spin to Rahul Gandhi’s induction into the upper echelons of the Congress Party, the UPA Government announced the extension of the scheme to the rest of the country. The Indian Express while noting that the BJP ruled Rajasthan was the best performer was also critical of the paradox ofÂ Left ruled Kerala and Bengal doing not so well.
While the Express eulogized the NREGA based on general observations, its closing remarks left the door open for a more incisive look at what the NREGA funds have been applied towards.
As for assets built, auditing has to assess the usefulness of the roads, bunds, dams, etc. To ignore this aspect would condemn the programme to becoming a quasi-dole scheme
So how do we make a determination if the NREGA has not been abused to be another quasi-dole scheme that is further perpetuating the culture of entitlement ?
Offstumped has done some digging around to get a measure of the same. Offstumped has specifically examined the data around “Work Status” to examine how funds were spent and how much work was accomplished with these funds. For the purpose of analysis Offstumped picked
- 2 large Congress ruled states Andhra and Maharashtra
- 2 large allied states Tamil Nadu, West Bengal
- 2 large BJP ruled states Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan
- 2 small states Jharkhand and Chattisgarh
and then contrasted all of the above with data from Gujarat which usually ranks high on most development indices.
To measure if a given state was perpetuating a culture of entitlement Offstumped looked for instances where States had spent more money to accomplish the same measure of work across completed and ongoing projects.
Applying the same yardstick Offstumped also looked for instances where States had spent less money to accomplish the same measure work to signify better productivity while not perpetuating entitlement.
With the worst productivity and over the top expenditure to accomplish the same measure of rural connectivity Congress ruled Andhra appears to be doling out NREGA funds to perpetuate the culture of entitlement. Maharashtra on the other hand seems to have expenditure under control while showing improving productivity. Communist ruled Bengal ranks second worst when it comes to productivity with expenses at almost more than 10 times the best performing states. DMK ruled Tamil Nadu has very impressive productivity with a very tight control on expenditure however in what appears to be growing entitlement expenses have doubled to achieve the same level of productivity. TN however continues to be best performing. Jharkhand which started with good productivity is showing a trend of higher costs to accomplish the same measure of work. Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat while maintaining median productivity have all shown a trend of reducing expenditure to accomplish the same measure of work with Gujarat reporting the best achievable productivity.
Flood Control and Protection
Congress ruled Andhra continues to demonstrate the worst productivity with the most expenditure for the same measure of work. Data from Maharashtra was not very reliable and hence has been left out of this analysis for this category. Communist ruled Bengal which started with very good productivity has registered an increase in expenditure by more than a factor of 100. TN while demonstrating median productivity is showing a trend of increasing expenditure. Jharkhand did not have any data to report. Rajasthan mirrored TN with median productivity and increasing expenditure. Madhya Pradesh which started with high expenditure has improved productivity to second best achievable performance. Chattisgarh has expenses twice that of the median with an increasingÂ trend. Gujarat once again is best performing starting with median productivity and reducing expenses dramatically by a factor of 5.
Water Conservation and Water Harvesting
Andhra ranks worst on productivity and expenses compared to all other states by a factor of 10. Bengal, Maharashtra, RajasthanÂ and Jharkhand which started with high expenses seem to have them under control. Tamil Nadu which started with median productivityÂ is showing a trend of increasing expenses but remains the best performing state in this category. Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh have shown median productivity with decreasing expenses. Gujarat which started with the best productivity showed a trend of increasing expenses but still below the median.
The data from the different states showed too wide a gap in productivity and expenses and may not be reliable. The general trend however was Congress ruled AP with worst productivity and highest expenditure while the BJP ruled states had far lower expenditure with median productivity.
Of the remaining categories only one had reliable data across the states to make for meaningful analysis. In the category of Renovation of Traditional Water Bodies all the states performed comparably including Andhra.
Offstumped Bottomline: As the Congress celebrates the NREGA largesse being extended across the country a closer look at the data confirms fears expressed by the Indian Express. The NREGA is perpetuating a culture of entitlement in some states.
While the YSR lead Congress in Andhra is guilty of doling out tax payer funds with low productivity the Narendra Modi lead BJP in Gujarat seems to have the best track record in spending less to produceÂ more.