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The dark side of a bright idea...
NREGA is at fault but not for the reasons stated by World Bank...
Recently in its ‘World Development Report 2009, World Bank has described the much hyped UPA’s flagship program NREGA as a social barrier. According to the report, since NREGA is confined to rural areas and promises 100 days of employment, it in turn forces the unemployed rural crowd to remain in their villages and await their turn. This eventually reduces the rural migration, which (according to the report) is very important to uplift people from poverty. Now this is where lies the fallacy of World Bank Report. One of the most important reasons for the existence of the slums in India’s urban centres is the huge influx of rural people that happen in all these places all the time. For a country as big as India, it has too few big cities. And in the absence of any vibrant economic activity or infrastructure in most parts of rural India, people over there have no option but to migrate. Yet there is a limit on how much India’s cities can withstand the pressure of the influx. Thus, it becomes important that the right kind of economic activity is created in rural India. And for that to happen it’s crucial to create infrastructure in rural India and to empower the villagers with the right kind of education and health facilities. What actually is being done with NREGA is nothing but the creation of disguise unemployment as there are several restrictions on the use of machines and raw materials in the works done under NREGA. The objective seems not to create social assets like schools and hospitals with local labour or impart skill sets to make them employable but just to keep them engaged with labour work which would never benefit rural India in the long run. This is where NREGA is at fault and not the way as World Bank states. More migration would mean more slums. It would only make those happy who otherwise control organisations like the World Bank and make films like Slumdog Millionaire.
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