Re: Talking with Architect of NREGA: Dr Jean Dreze at Ranchi
I really wonder at the support these type of programmes and their originators get.
If one word is fit to describe such programmes , it is 'absurd'. Now, don't go into the scrutiny mode to find out my whereabouts to look for my 'motives'. The reasons are plain enough.
1. The NRGEA is a euphemism for 'free dole'. Whether one works or not, the pay is guaranteed. Whether there is work for 160 days or not, they will get employment.
2. I assume we are not in Ethiopia. Today (or even a decade earlier) we have a opportunity filled society where the demand fixes the pay. For example, a city mason gets RS 350.00 per day and a town mason gets close to Rs 250.00. The situation in even Tamilnadu villages is that masons are imported from far off Orissa and Bihar.
3. There is another side to it. An agricultural labourer in Tamilnadu usually worked from 7 am till 1.00 pm and got about Rs 80.00. Enter NRGEA and the labourers went off to such peripheral works such as digging canals in far off places and tank bund work. The work was usually light, with no proper supervision and attended with massive syphoning of money.
4. Whoever was willing to work in fields demanded more. The casuality was agriculture itself since there was no personnel, no scope for increased sale price of the produce however much we spend on labour and seeds.
5. Another direct fallout was the market price of the produce. Though the farmer did not get little or not at all from this, the trader got the bulk (assuming the farmer spent so much). Recently our FM Mr P Chidambaram, was on record stating that the increase of prices of essential commodities was a direct fallout of the NRGEA.
6. Innocent working people were introduced, perhaps for the first time, to cheat. That is cheating is legal. They were made to believe that cheating is approved by the government. They can either choose to worki or not and still get the pay. Thw elfare state is condoning their jugglery.
7. The government , has made ineptitude and laziness as official symbols of governance through free doles. The average citizen has started looking at his government at a new angle. The more one gives free the more they are good.
To work is the aim of your life. Do not forget that this is the land of Bhagavad Gita, the fountainhead of ultimate knowledge. It says, "you have only the right to work, you are not entitled to think of the results, for you have no control over its outcome". But what is happening in this Gandhi's land , the apostle of Self Help ?