National Rural Corruption Guarantee Scheme

Over two years ago, in Aug 2005, I had written that the national rural employment guarantee scheme (NREG) will ultimately end up increasing the number of poor and deepening poverty — which of course was easy enough to predict since the policy is “pro-poor” and like all policies “pro-” something do, increases that something.

The NEGS is not novel. Maharashtra has had an employment guarantee scheme for decades. According to Sharad Joshi, it “has produced few permanent assets. And the EGS in Maharashtra is synonymous with corruption. Government officials concoct false registers of attendance.”

Corruption is not unexpected when money is involved and the transaction is between officials who have the power and control over the money, and the poor unemployed labor who would be willing to take only a share of whatever is due to him or her. It has been variously estimated that only about 25 percent of any relief money actually reaches the intended beneficiary. Politicians and bureaucrats steal the majority of funds.

Now reports are surfacing that the damned scheme is beset with corruption. That news would surprise you if you are in the habit of being surprised to learn that bears shit in the woods, or that astrologers prey on the gullible.
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