THE INDIAN JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK Tata Institute of Volume 73,...
Tata Institute
Volume 73, Issue 4
Social Sciences
October 2012
Are Checks and Balances in MGNREGs
d. raJaSekhar, M. devendra BaBu and r. ManJula
Elite capture is likely to occur in development schemes in societies where socioeco-
nomic inequality is more pronounced and where people are unable to raise their voices
against the powerful elite. Checks and balances are, therefore, incorporated into a
development scheme such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guar-
antee Scheme (MGNREGS) to prevent misuse. This paper examines the extent to
which these checks and balances have worked. The authors argue, that, notwithstand-
ing checks and balances in the design of MGNREGS, the evidence shows misuse of
resources in several forms and makes some suggestions towards making checks and
balances effective.
D. Rajasekhar is Professor; M. Devendra Babu is Associate Professor and Head; and R.

Manjula is Research Officer; all with the Centre for Decentralisation and Development,
Institute for Social and Economic Change, Nagarabhavi, Bangalore.
Growth rates have gone up in India in recent years; but, the growth is
perceived to have excluded disadvantaged groups of Scheduled Castes
(SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), minorities and women as Indian society is
stratified in terms of social, economic and human capital endowments. It
is now believed that rapid economic growth could exacerbate pre-existing
inequalities rather than narrowing them in an inclusive way and hence,
inclusive growth (wherein people contribute to and benefit from economic
growth) policies are needed. Given the persistent inequalities in the
access to public infrastructure and social services such as education and
health, it is believed that decentralised institutions can play a significant
role in fostering inclusive growth. The Eleventh Five-Year Plan sought
IJSW, 73(4), 563–580, October 2012

564 D. Rajasekhar, M. Devendra Babu and R. Manjula
to substantially empower and use Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs), that
include Zilla Panchayat, Taluk Panchayat and Grama Panchayat, as the
primary means of delivering essential services that are critical to inclusive
growth (Government of India 2006).
Through the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act in 1992, the Indian
government has provided a framework for constituting decentralised
institutions at various levels. By adopting a three-tier model with
democratically elected governments at the village, block and district
levels, the Amendment provided for mandatory elections once in five
years, with the Grama Sabha as a mechanism facilitating participation
and accountability, reservation of seats (including executive positions) for
women and people belonging to SC/ST communities for representation of
these disadvantaged groups, transfer of powers, functionaries, finances,
and the constitution of the Finance Commission. The Amendment has
also entrusted local bodies with the responsibility for implementing anti-
poverty programmes and delivering public services. These features have
the potential to promote participation of depressed castes and women in
decentralised bodies, transparency and accountability in their functioning,
and bottom-up planning, implementation and monitoring of development
The disadvantaged groups of women and those belonging to SC/
ST communities have entered the PRIs1. But, factors such as power
relations, level of citizen organisation, participatory skills, political
will and insufficient financial resources have been acting as barriers to
participation of citizens in general and those belonging to disadvantaged
sections in particular (Gaventa and Valderrama 1999). Inbanathan (2003)
and Inbanathan and Sivanna (2010) found that dalit elected representatives
are unable to exercise effective power because of their recent entry into
decentralised governance and existing social structure.
The representation of women in PRIs has been equal to or more than
the seats reserved in these bodies not only in the country as a whole but
also in a few states. Chattopadhyay and Duflo (2004) find evidence of
beneficial effect of the policy of reservations to women. Rajasekhar and
Manjula (2012) show that women-headed gram panchayats tended to be
better in the provision of streetlight services. However, studies argue that
the political participation of women has been less than what is desirable2
(STWFD, 2008). The level of awareness among women grama panchayat
members about schemes and programmes to improve agriculture was
found to be poor (Mankar and others, 2005). Vijayalakshmi (2007) argued
IJSW, 73(4), 563–580, October 2012

Are Checks and Balances in MGNREGS Effective? 565
that the political participation of women depends on the socio-cultural
constraints which manifest in gender inequalities, differences among
women, and how they deal with their multiple identities.
In this context, the distinction between administrative and political
decentralisation (Hansen 1999) becomes relevant. While the administrative
decentralisation approach claims that mere structural changes lead
to a higher degree of development, the political approach argues that
mobilisation of people and devolution of powers are necessary to obtain
real decentralisation. Viewed from this perspective, the 73rd Constitutional
Amendment can be questioned on the grounds that reservations cannot
break the traditional patterns of socioeconomic and political structures in
the countryside and bring awareness and power overnight to marginalised
It is in this context that the policy-makers have incorporated checks
and balances in the design of the programmes such as the Mahatma
Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)
to prevent misuse of resources under these schemes. In this paper, the
authors document the checks and balances that have been incorporated in
the MGNREG scheme, and review the literature to discuss the extent to
which these have worked in the past.
In view of the employment insecurity faced by agricultural labourers in
India (Rajasekhar and Suchitra 2007), the National Rural Employment
Guarantee Act (NREGA), 2005, is both timely and significant for the poor
including rural wage labourers as it has an in-built targeting mechanism.3
In 2006, the Act came into force in 200 of India’s most backward districts,
and was extended to all of rural India in the following two years.
This Act provides for the enhancement of livelihood security of rural
households by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment
in every financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to
do unskilled manual work. In addition, every applicant is entitled to a daily
unemployment allowance when s/he is not provided employment within 15
days of receipt of her/his application seeking employment. This allowance
will be at least one-fourth of the wage rate for the first 30 days during the
financial year and at least half of the wage rate for the remaining period
(Government of India, 2008). This Act is a step forward in India’s history
IJSW, 73(4), 563–580, October 2012

566 D. Rajasekhar, M. Devendra Babu and R. Manjula
of wage employment generation programmes because for the first time, the
state has a legal responsibility to provide employment to those seeking it4.
MGNREGS has now become one of the largest social protection
programmes in the world. In 2011-12, the total expenditure on the scheme
was Rs. 3,763,766 million. With this amount, a total of 7.4 million works
were undertaken in rural India; of which 1.50 million (20.26 percent) were
complete. Given that there were 6,41,000 villages in India in 2011, the
average number of works undertaken and those completed are 12 and
2, respectively, in 2011-12! In this year, 99.04 percent of 50.38 million
households demanding for work were provided with employment. The
total persondays of employment generated in the country was 2,117
million in this year; of these, 40.26 percent were provided to SC and ST
households, and 48.17 percent were provided to women. This is truly a
creditable achievement.
Checks and Balances in MGNREGs
According to the Webster Dictionary, checks and balances is a system
that allows each branch of a government to amend or veto acts of another
branch so as to prevent any one branch from exerting too much power.
The term checks and balances is not explicitly used in the Act. It can be,
however, argued that the following NREGA guidelines (Government of
India, 2008: 2) act as checks and balances in the same manner as defined
Job cards
Adult members of rural households willing to do unskilled manual
work can register with the Gram Panchayat (GP) through an oral
or written application. The GP must issue job cards within fifteen
days of an application. The job card, which is free, will bear the
photograph of all adult members of the household willing to work
under MGNREGS.
Provision of work and payment of wages
When a job-cardholder applies for work, the GP has to issue a dated receipt
of the written application for employment. Employment will be given
within 15 days of an application; if not, daily unemployment allowance
must be paid.
Wage rate should not be less than the mandated minimum wages.
Wages, which are equal for both men and women, are to be disbursed on a
IJSW, 73(4), 563–580, October 2012

Are Checks and Balances in MGNREGS Effective? 567
weekly basis (but not beyond a fortnight) in the form of cheques and shall
be deposited in banks and post offices.
Numbered Muster Roll
Numbered Muster Rolls (NMR) should be maintained on the work-site
and no katcha muster roll is to be used. A 60:40 wage and material ratio
has to be maintained. No contractors and machinery are allowed.
Social Audit
MGNREGS makes a provision for social audit, which involves the
checking and verification of the implementation of schemes by primary
stakeholders including the beneficiaries (Singh and Rajakutty 2007: 1).
Accounts and records relating to the scheme should have open access so
that the public can scrutinise the same.
Different states have adopted different models of ensuring that checks and
balances work. In Rajasthan, civil society plays an important role in seeking
information through the Right to Information Act and conducting social
audits. In Andhra Pradesh, the state government takes a more pro-active
step by appointing village auditors for social audit. In Karnataka, district
and taluk social audit coordinators are appointed for conducting social audit.
It appears that the design of MGNREGS is good in incorporating checks
and balances to counter elite capture. It has been noted that MGNREGS
was initially successful in Rajasthan, Assam, Madhya Pradesh and
Chhattisgarh (Dreze and Oldiges, 2007). A recent review of the scheme
conducted by MoRD (2012) shows that the programme has been successful
on a number of counts.
MGNREGS has had unintended positive consequences regarding
empowerment of rural women. Women have benefited as the scheme has
provided an opportunity to earn independently. The data from the official
website shows that about 49 percent of the total persondays of employment
generated by the scheme in 2010-11 have been provided by women.
“Independent and monetised earnings have increased consumption choices
and reduced economic dependence. This has helped women in registering
their tangible contribution to the household’s income. The overall effects
of these have translated into an increased say for women in household
affairs” (Pankaj and Tankha, 2010: 54). Narayanan (2008) also finds that
the scheme has brought a major change in the lives of women.
IJSW, 73(4), 563–580, October 2012

568 D. Rajasekhar, M. Devendra Babu and R. Manjula
Another unintended effect was the positive impact on wages of
agricultural labourers employed outside the MGNREGS. By using data
from Agricultural Wages in India on month- and district-wise agricultural
wages for 19 major states in India for the period 2000-2011, Berg and
others (2012) found that MGNREGS had led to a 5.3 percent increase in
the real agricultural wages. Imbert and Papp (2012) analysed NSSO data
and found that public employment increased by 0.3 days per prime-aged
person per month after the introduction of MGNREGS, especially in those
districts where the scheme was introduced during the first phase. Azam
(2012) shows that MGNREGS has had a positive impact on labour market
outcomes, especially women’s labour market participation and wages.
However, the data compiled from the official website of MGNREGS
shows that the average number of days of employment provided in a
year was only 42.43 in 2011–2012 as against the minimum of 100 days
guaranteed by the Constitution (as provided in ‘DMU report’ in www. Added to that, only 7.81 percent of the households (obtaining
employment under the scheme) have worked for 100 days during 2011–
2012. The proportion of households obtaining 100 days of employment
has sharply declined from 14.45 percent in 2008–2009 to 7.81 percent
in 2011–2012. The question that needs to be addressed, therefore, is the
following: are checks and balances incorporated into the scheme working
in practice? With the help of studies on MGNREGS the authors have
attempted to answer this question in the ensuing paragraphs.
Issue of job Cards and Provision of Work
In the past, public works programmes failed in the enrollment of needy
workers and provision of work because there were fewer mechanisms in
the design to promote the interests of the poor. The job cards introduced by
MGNREGS work as a safeguard against unemployment.
On the most positive side, the proportion of households obtaining
job cards under the scheme has been increasing (World Bank 2011: 74).
Primary surveys confirm that the proportion of households having job
cards to total households in a village is also high; at times, it is close to 100
percent, thus raising doubts on whether the programme is able to target the
needy or not. While all the needy households do not possess a job card,
those that do not depend on wage employment have come to possess them.
Anecdotal evidence shows that some of the households obtain a job card
under the misconception that it would provide access to the other welfare
schemes of the government. Though the number of job cards has been
IJSW, 73(4), 563–580, October 2012

Are Checks and Balances in MGNREGS Effective? 569
increasing, the proportion of job cards issued to total persons registered
under MGNREGS has stagnated around 32 percent in Maharashtra during
the period 2006-07 to 2009-10 (Shah and Mohanty, 2010).
Although the registration of households into MGNREGS is quite high,
there is a widening gap between those registering for the programme and
those demanding work. This could be positively interpreted as the tendency
of rural households to have some form of risk mitigation measures.
However, this could also be due to the inability of the government to
provide employment to those registered with the programme. Dutta and
others (2012) analysed NSSO data for 2009-10 and found considerable un-
met demand for work in all the Indian states, especially in the poorer ones.
This is also supported by the low average number of days of employment
provided under the scheme. Interestingly, there is not much difference
between those demanding work and those actually provided with the work.
This can be attributed to the lack of awareness among MGNREGS
beneficiaries (Bhatia and Dreze, 2006; PAC 2008; Kumar and Maruthi
2011; Rajasekhar and others, 2012; Devandra Babu and others, 2010; Pani
and Iyer, 2011). These studies also show the lack of accountability and
poor maintenance of records. The other anomalies highlighted by these
studies are non-compliance of maintaining the required records, denial of
registration to eligible applicants, participation of workers in MGNREGS
activities without job cards, maintenance of fake muster rolls (in the name
of non-workers, migrants, school children and dead people), underpayment
of wages, and discriminatory payments to women.
In Rajasthan, however, things appeared to be different from the
beginning. Bhatty’s (2006) account based on reports of social audits
conducted in Dungarpur district shows that job cards were issued, works
were started on time and publicly displayed, and muster rolls were accurate.
However, the awareness of entitlements was found to be low.
Bank accounts
Learning from the experiences of past schemes wherein the wages in
cash did not reach (or partially reached) the beneficiaries, the central
government, in 2008, directed that wages under MGNREGS must be
paid through banks and post offices. By introducing this measure, the
government sought to separate the implementing agency from the payment
agency with the hope that this would reduce (if not end) the embezzlement
of funds. Mehrotra (2008) advocates payment of wages through banks and
post offices as an important measure to combat corruption.
IJSW, 73(4), 563–580, October 2012

570 D. Rajasekhar, M. Devendra Babu and R. Manjula
Although state governments agreed to follow the suggestion of the
central government, there were many practical problems at the ground
level. First, the sudden demand to open thousands of bank accounts created
considerable workload, and led to the inability on the part of bank officials
to open bank accounts on time. Second, the banks that managed to open
accounts realised that they could make the system of payment of wages
through cheques fully operational, only if these were computerised. Third,
the administration had to rely on post offices because of insufficient number
of rural bank branches in some parts of the country such as Chattisgarh,
Bihar, Jharkhand and Rajasthan. Fourth, post offices presented a number of
problems such as lack of sufficient staff, insufficient number of passbooks,
lack of computerisation, and so on. All these problems resulted in a
situation where the process of opening accounts has remained incomplete
and that some payments had to be made in terms of cash (Khera, 2010).
Even in those cases where bank accounts were opened, vested interests
devised their own ways to corner the benefits meant for the poor. The
vested interests cheated the system by either colluding with workers
or illegally operating bank accounts of workers or forcibly extracting
wages after they withdrew money (Khera, 2010). Based on their study in
Orissa, Vanaik and Siddhartha (2008) argued that bank payments are not a
foolproof system to check corruption.
Passbooks with identity photographs can prevent wrong people claiming
money from post offices and banks (Mehrotra, 2008). Mehrotra (2008)
notes that the Act, however, does not make/provide safeguards against
the malpractices of non-payment of wages, non-distribution of job cards
and non-preparation of muster rolls. In such cases, how does the labourer
get his grievances addressed? To examine such grievances and provide
justice, the authors suggest the appointment of an official (along the lines
of Lokayuktas) at the sub-district level.
Adhikari and Bhatia (2010) found that although bank accounts are indeed
substantial protection against embezzlement, especially where commercial
banks are involved, this system is far from foolproof. They note that the
cases of embezzlement through ‘deception’ and ‘exploitation’ will come
down as workers gradually gain more familiarity with the banking system.
However, the possibility through ‘collusion’ remains. They suggest
measures such as bringing MGNREGS bank related documents in the
public domain, proactive disclosure of GP bank accounts, distribution of
cheques in public and `ultimately the empowerment of NREGA workers’
(Adhikari and Bhatia, 2010: 37).
IJSW, 73(4), 563–580, October 2012

Are Checks and Balances in MGNREGS Effective? 571
Muster Roll Manipulation
Despite the fact that MGNREGS has very good operational guidelines
relating to the maintenance of muster rolls and reduction of corruption,
primary studies suggest violation of guidelines and misuse of funds leading
to corruption (Mehrotra, 2008). Shah (2008a: 79) writes “displaying
remarkable ingenuity, the old order is already finding ways to side-step
the radical provisions of the Act. Contractors deploy machines with
impunity, even as forged muster rolls are filled up with fictitious names
and thumb-marks of workers to show as if the work was done by labour.
The ostensible purpose is to overthrow the old contractor raj but little has
been done to offer an adequate replacement.”
The Numbered Muster Rolls (NMR) is a tool to check fraudulent
practices. Aakella and Kidambi (2007) provide interesting insights
on how the muster rolls are fudged by the rural elite and the funds
embezzled. These authors note that social audits, if conducted on a
regular basis, would ensure the transfer of power from the hands of those
implementing the scheme to the beneficiaries of the scheme, ending ‘the
stranglehold not challenged before’ (Aakella and Kidambi, 2007: 19).
Shah (2008b) narrates the chilling incident of the brutal murder of a
social activist from Jharkhand, who resisted the massive corruption in
the MGNREGS funds and was murdered just a day before the social
audit was to take place.
An evaluation study of MGNREGS by NIRD (2008) in 19 districts of
Orissa states that the fudging of muster rolls and inefficient social audits
have led to huge corruption in the scheme. The study, however, cautions
that the data presented include the verbal statements of workers, who had
difficulty recalling the exact number of days of their employment and
wages received.
Berg, Rajasekhar and Manjula (2012) have analysed the extent of
muster roll manipulation with the help of data from 150 villages in
Karnataka. They found that 56.2 percent of the sample workers figuring
in the official website, as those taking part in MGNREGS works and
receiving payment did not actually work, and most of them have not
received any wages. These were ghost workers. Close to 34 percent of
the sample workers stated that they have worked and obtained all the
payment. Another 10 percent of the sample workers received amounts
that fell short of wages due to them. Manipulation of muster rolls led to
widespread corruption.
IJSW, 73(4), 563–580, October 2012

572 D. Rajasekhar, M. Devendra Babu and R. Manjula
social Audits in MGNREGs
Social audit is the process of reviewing official records to determine whether
the reported expenditure reflects the actual money spent on the ground. It
seeks to enable the participation of beneficiaries or stakeholders at every
stage—from implementation to monitoring and evaluation of the project.
Social audit aims to improve transparency and accountability, and expose
corruption. The Right to Information Act 2005 is also expected to help the
process of social audit. MGNREGS assigns considerable importance to
social audit to act as checks and balances to prevent corruption.
Many studies have brought out the implications of social audit on the
corruption and mismanagement of funds. Aakella and Kidambi (2007)
note that since the start of social audit in Andhra Pradesh, as much as Rs.
60 lakhs embezzled by corrupt officials have been returned to the system
or to wage workers cheated by officials. However, Gopal (2009) points out
subsequent adjustment of financial frauds identified in the social audits.
He provides evidence from Ananthapur district in Andhra Pradesh where
the recovery was substantially lower than frauds identified in the public
Social audits conducted by an NGO in several villages of Mandya
district in Karnataka brought out the misuse of funds and corruption. The
audit revealed fraudulent practices in the implementation of MGNREGS
such as fudging of muster rolls, fictitious names of job-seekers and inflated
wages. The officials, however, have not taken any firm action against
the concerned individuals. In a GP meeting held in Karnataka to discuss
social audit, a villager spoke about the misappropriation of funds in a
MGNREGS work implemented around a year ago. The response of the
nodal officer was shocking: projects implemented only six months prior
to the soical audit meeting could be discussed. This not only discourages
people from raising questions, but also raises doubts about the credibility
of officers! Gopal (2009) indicates how the lack of remedial action on the
issues raised in the social audit meeting can lead to frustration among the
people. Afridi (2008: 39) also emphasises that unless substantive action is
taken against corrupt officials, the credibility and effectiveness of public
monitoring would be insignificant.
Farzana Afridi (2008) terms the Rajasthan model of the social audit process
as a grass-root or bottom-up aproach as the social audits are conducted by
the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) along with local NGOs and
local citizens. The MKSS and the local NGOs first obtain the official records
IJSW, 73(4), 563–580, October 2012

Are Checks and Balances in MGNREGS Effective? 573
on MGNREGS through an RTI. A thorough scrutiny of a randomly selected
work of each GP will be done by the MKSS, the NGO and the local citizens.
Testimonies are obtained from the labourers on persondays and wages
received. In addition, verification of data on materials used is conducted
at the worksite. The findings of the audit are presented in a public meeting
called Jansunwai at the GP. Necessary steps are taken to ensure maximum
people’s participation to testify the findings and report anomalies (Afridi,
2008). Mukhopadhyay (2005: 5) endorses that “Jansunwais have touched
a social chord…the willingness of people to testify at Jansunwais against
persons in power who often belong to a higher caste with a social standing
that is intimidating, is in stark contrast to the phenomenon of witnesses
turning hostile at formal court hearings”.
This suggests that the involvement of the civil society is a key factor
in the success of social audits. In fact, the report of the Comptroller and
Auditor General of India (2010) recognised the benefits of involving civil
societies in the conduct of social audits and recommended that “summary
of the social audit reports of grama sabhas and civil society groups
could be incorporated (either to provide a different perspective and/or
to strengthen/ supplement our audit findings) in our performance audit
reports” (Comptroller and Auditor General of India, 2010: 8)
However, efforts of civil society agencies need not necessarily yield
fruitful results. Vaddiraju and Mehrotra (2004) note that despite the efforts
of the Society of Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) in mobilisation
of people for GP meetings, people did not turn up because of the inability
of the GP to convene proper meetings, and the lack of awareness among
people about their rights and duties. Similarly, Lakha (2011: 15) cautions
that mere presence of the civil society in the conduct of social audits would
not ensure accountability from below. This is because the motivations and
objectives of civil society actors may vary and driven by donor guidelines.
In another study conducted in Andhra Pradesh, Aiyar and Samji (2009)
argue for an arrangement where civil society agencies are given the
responsibility of increasing awareness levels of labourers, enhancement of
labourer confidence and self-respect and, more importantly, the ability to
engage with the officials (which may give less space for corruption) and
maintain transparency and accountability in MGNREGS. Observations
from Karnataka, however, show that NGOs are not free to submit a report
reflecting the reality on the ground. The payment to NGOs is made by the
taluk panchayat. Where office-bearers at the taluk panchayats are involved
in corrupt practices, they cause difficulties for the NGOs if the social audit
IJSW, 73(4), 563–580, October 2012

574 D. Rajasekhar, M. Devendra Babu and R. Manjula
report brings out the misuse of funds and fraudulent practices. The NGOs
are, therefore, forced to submit a moderate report to the government
(Lakha, Rajasekhar and Manjula 2012).
Ambasta and others (2008) state that social audit has become a mockery
in the hands of elites in several regions of India. A study of MGNREGS in
a village in Kolar district in Karnataka state reveals that a person belonging
to the Scheduled Castes with a degree in Law and an ex-member of the
GP submitted a bill for Rs.17.5 lakh to the GP by submitting fictitious
names which included dead people, old age people, school-going children,
persons working in the organised sector in far off places (Devendra Babu,
Rajasekhar and Manjula, 2010). This incident was brought to the forefront
because of an intervention by the local NGO. The case was still pending
at the time of this survey.
MGNREGS is powerful because it gives the right to work that is demand-
driven and has an inbuilt targeting mechanism. To ensure that the benefits
of MGNREGS reach the poor, checks and balances are introduced in the
design of the scheme. Available literature shows that despite checks and
balances in the issue of job cards, payment of wages, implementation of
work, MGNREGS funds have been embezzled because of the capture of
the programme by the rural elite with political backing and official support,
lack of voices from below, and the absence of civil society agencies
backing the rural poor.
It is, therefore, important that the following corrective steps are taken.
First, there is a need to adopt innovative methods to generate awareness
among the intended beneficiaries on the entitlements of MGNREGS and
how to avail the benefits. Second, the planning process adopted in the
preparation of MGNREGS works is seldom participatory. There is no
consolidated and integrated plan exclusively for MGNREGS at the district
level due to poor devolution of financial powers. Third, the GP is an
important mechanism to demand for accountability for the implementation
of MGNREGS. However, GP meetings are rarely held. This should be
addressed. Finally, the dependency of the local poor on local elites makes
the marginalised weak when it comes to raising questions on MGNREGS
implementation. People compare rural elite as ‘high-voltage electrical
line’, the touching of which will have disastrous consequences for the
poor. Hence, the civil society has to back the poor and marginalised in
demanding accountability, and ensuring that checks and balances work.
IJSW, 73(4), 563–580, October 2012

Are Checks and Balances in MGNREGS Effective? 575
1. The proportions of women, SC and ST representatives in all Panchayats in India were
36.9 per cent, 18.5 per cent and 11.3 per cent, respectively, as on July 1, 2011 (Alok
2011: 19).
2. For a useful survey of women participation in PRIs, see the discussion paper by
UNDP (nd).
3. Besley and Coate (1992) show that programmes such as NREGS have an in-built
targeting mechanisms that would help the poor.
4. As stated in Schedule 1 of the NREGA Act. For instance, see NREGA operational
guidelines 2008 on the website
Aakella, K.V. and
: Social Audits in Andhra Pradesh: A Process in Evolution,
Kidambi, S.
Economic and Political Weekly, 42 (47). 18–19.
Adhikari, A. and
: NREGA Wage Payments: Can We Bank on the Banks?,
Bhatia, K.
Economic and Political Weekly, XLV (1), 30–37.
Afridi, F.
: Can Community Monitoring Improve the Accountability of
Public Officials?, Economic and Political Weekly, 43(42),
Aiyer, Y. and
: Transparency and Accountability in MGNREGA: A Case
Samji, S.
Study of Andhra Pradesh, AI Working Paper No. 1, February
2009, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.
Available online at
uploads/publicationfiles/31_1244199489.pdf (Accessed on 24
September 2009).
Alok, V.N.
: Role of Panchayat Bodies in Rural Development since 1959.
Theme paper for 55th Members’ Annual Conference, New
Delhi: Indian Institute of Public Administration.
Ambasta, P., Vijay
: Two Years of NREGA: The Road Ahead, Economic and
Shankar, P. S. and
Political Weekly, 43 (8), 41–50.
Shah, M.
Azam, M.
: The Impact of Indian Job Guarantee Scheme on Labor
Market Outcomes: Evidence from a Natural Experiment,
Discussion Paper No. 6548, Berlin: IZA (Institute for the
Study of Labor).
Berg, E.,
: Can Rural Public Works Affect Agricultural Wages? Evidence
Bhattacharya, S.,
from India, CSAE Working Paper 2012-05, Oxford: University
Rajasekhar, D. and
of Oxford.
Manjula, R.
IJSW, 73(4), 563–580, October 2012

576 D. Rajasekhar, M. Devendra Babu and R. Manjula
Berg, E.,
: Talking to Ghosts: Quantifying Forged Employment Records in
Rajasekhar D. and
MGNREG. Paper presented at a workshop on ‘Public Service
Manjula, R.
Delivery in Developing Countries’ held at University of
Bristol, UK on April 3, 2012.
Besley, T. and
: Workfare Vs. Welfare: Incentive Arguments for Work
Coate, S.
Requirements in Poverty Alleviation Programs, American
Economic Review, 82(1), 249–61.
Bhatia, B. and
: Employment Guarantee in Jharkhand: Ground Realities,
Dreze, J.
Economic and Political Weekly, XLI(29), 3198–3202.
Bhatty, K.
: Employment Guarantee and Child Rights, Economic and
Political Weekly, 41(20), 1965–67.
Chattopadhyay, R.
: Women as Policy Makers: Evidence from a Randomised Policy
and Duflo, E.
Experiment in India, Econometrica, 72(5), 1409–1443.
Devendra Babu, M,
: “Dominance and Capture in the Implementation of MGNREGS:
Rajasekhar, D. and
A Case Study in Karnataka”. Paper presented in the seminar
Manjula, R.
on ‘Barriers to Participation and Inclusion in Panchayat Raj
Institutions: The Case of Elite/ Program Capture’, held at
ISEC, Bangalore, on June 28, 2010.
Dreze, J. and
: How is NREGA Doing?
Oldiges, C.
September 19, 2009).
Dutta, P.,
: Does India’s Employment Guarantee Scheme Guarantee
Murugai, R.,
Employment?, Policy Research Working Paper 6003,
Ravallion, M. and
Washington DC: The World Bank Development Research
van de Walle, D.
Gaventa, J. and
: Participation, Citizenship and Local Governance. Background
Valderrama, C.
note prepared for workshop on ‘Strengthening Participation
in Local Governance (June 21-24)’, Sussex: Institute of
Development Studies.
Gopal, K.S.
: NREGA Social Audit: Myths and Reality, Economic and
Political Weekly, XLIV(03), 70–71.
Hansen, S. D.
: NGO’s Role in Increasing People’s Participation in Local
Decentralised Government. In D. Rajasekhar (Ed.) Decentralised
Government and NGOs: Issues, Strategies and Ways Forward,
New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company, 71–96.
Imbert, C. and
: Equilibrium Distributional Impacts of Government
Papp, J.
Employment Programs: Evidence from India’s Employment
Guarantee, Working Paper 2012–14, Paris: Paris School of
Inbanathan, A.
: Affirmative Action and Dalits: Political Representation in
Panchayats, ISEC Working Paper No. 138, Bangalore: Institute
for Social and Economic Change.
IJSW, 73(4), 563–580, October 2012

Are Checks and Balances in MGNREGS Effective? 577
Inbanathan, A. and
: Scheduled Castes, Legitimacy and Local Governance:
Sivanna, N.
Continuing Social Exclusion in Panchayats, Working Paper
No. 257, Bangalore: Institute for Social and Economic
India: Ministry of
: The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA)
Rural Development
2005, Operational Guidelines 2008 (3rd edition), New Delhi.
India: Planning
: Towards Faster and More Inclusive Growth: An Approach to
the 11th Five-Year Plan. Planning Commission (2007 to 2012),
New Delhi.
India: Office of the
: Report of the Task Group on Social Audit, Office of the
Comptroller and Auditor Comptroller and Audit General of India, January.
General of India
Available online at
(Accessed on January 21, 2013).
: MGNREGA Sameeksha: An Anthology of Research Studies on
the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee
Act, 2005, 2006-2012, New Delhi: Orient BlackSwan
Khera, R.
: Wages of Delay, Frontline, 27(10), May 8–21.
Kumar, P. and
: Impact of NREGA on Wage Rate, Food Security and
Maruthi, I.
Rural Urban Migration in Karnataka (Mimeo), Bangalore:
Agricultural Development and Rural Transformation
Centre, Institute for Social and Economic Change,
Lakha, S.
: Accountability from Below: The Experience of MGNREGA
in Rajasthan (India), Asia Research Institute Working Paper
Series No.171, Singapore: National University of Singapore.
Available online at
wps11_171.pdf. (Accessed on February 5, 2013.
Lakha, S., Rajasekhar, D. : What is Happening to Social Audit under MGNREGS?
and Manjula, R.
Observations from Karnataka (Mimeo), Bangalore: Institute
for Social and Economic Change: Bangalore.
Mankar, D.M.,
: Knowledge Level and Role Performance of Women Panchayat
Hirevenknagoudar, L V. Members About Improved Agriculture, Karnataka Journal of
and Manjunath, L.
Agricultural Sciences, 18 (2), 193–197.
Mehrotra, S.
: NREG Two Years On: Where Do We Go from Here?, Economic
and Political Weekly, 43(31), 27–35.
Mukhopadhyay, A.
: Social Audit.
Available online at
January 21, 2013).
Narayanan, S.
: Employment Guarantee, Women’s Work and Childcare,
Economic and Political Weekly, 43(9), 10–13.
IJSW, 73(4), 563–580, October 2012

578 D. Rajasekhar, M. Devendra Babu and R. Manjula
National Institute of : Evaluation of Implementation of MGNREGA in Orissa: Social
Rural Development
Audit Report, Hyderabad: Centre for Monitoring, Planning and
Available online at
html (Accessed on March 26, 2010).
Pankaj, A. and
: Empowerment Effects of the NREGS on Women Workers:
Tankha, R.
A Study in Four States, Economic and Political Weekly,
XLV(30), 45–55.
Public Affairs Centre : Pilot Social Audit of MGNREGA in Gulbarga District,
Karnataka, Bangalore: Public Affairs Centre.
Available online at (Accessed on May
7, 2010)Pani, N. and Chidambaran, G. I
: Evaluation of the Impact of Processes in the Mahatma Gandhi
National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in Karnataka,
Bangalore: National Institute of Advanced Studies.
Rajasekhar, D.,
: Elite Capture in Grama Panchayats of Karnataka (Mimeo),
Devendra Babu, M. and Bangalore: Institute for Social and Economic Change.
Manjula, R.
Rajasekhar, D. and
: Affordability of Streetlight Services by Gram Panchayats in
Manjula, R.
Karnataka: Status, Determinants and Ways Forward, Journal
of Rural Development, 31(4), 419–434.
Rajasekhar, D. and
: Employment Insecurity: Evidence on Agricultural Labourers
Suchitra, J.Y.
from Karnataka’. In Jayasheela and V. Basil Hans (Eds.), Rural
Karnataka, New Delhi: Serials Publications, 73–87.
Shah, D. and
: Implementation of NREGA during Eleventh Plan in
Mohanty, S.
Maharashtra: Experiences, Challenges and Ways Forward,
Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 65(3), 540–555.
Shah, M.
: Direct Cash Transfer: No Magic Bullet, Economic and Political
Weekly, 43 (34), 77-79.
: The Real Radicalism of NREGA, The Hindu, 22 May.
Available online at
html (Accessed on 26 March 2010).
Singh, S. and
: Social Audit: A Peoples Manual, Hyderabad: National Institute
Rajakutty, S.
of Rural Development. Available online at
so_audit.htm (Accessed on November 3, 2012).
Society of Tribal
: Impact of Bottom-up Planning under PRIs and Women
Women for
participation therein in the States of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa,
Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand and Maharashtra, New
Delhi: Planning Commission.
: Decentralisation in India: Challenges and Opportunities,
HDRC Discussion Paper Series 1, New Delhi.
Vaddiraju, A. K. and : Making Panchayats Accountable, Economic and Political
Mehrotra, S.
Weekly, XXXIX(37), 4139–41.
IJSW, 73(4), 563–580, October 2012

Are Checks and Balances in MGNREGS Effective? 579
Vanaik, A. and
: Bank Payments: End of Corruption in NREGA?, Economic
and Political Weekly, XLIII(17), 33–39.
Vijayalakshmi, V.
: Differences and Identities: Women and Political Participation.
In T.M. Joseph (Ed.), Local Governance in India: Ideas,
Challenges and Strategies, New Delhi: Concept Publishing
Company, 429–461.
World Bank, The
: Social Protection for a Changing India ( Volume 2), New Delhi.
IJSW, 73(4), 563–580, October 2012