Democratic Decentralisation and poverty reduction; Kerala’s experience

Posted on:19-12-14

The experience of Elapully Panchayat in Kerala, which tweaked the NREGA programme to ensure that scarce labour benefited both from agriculture and wage employment in the off- season, indicates that local governments can effectively implement anti-poverty programmes, finely tuned to the needs of their citizens. Kerala abounds with such examples.
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Decentralising poverty reduction programmes

Posted on:15-12-14


I ended last week’s blog with asking the question whether it might not be better to repackage NREGA into two parts, namely, a largely untied grant for infrastructure building to the Panchayats, and an unconditional cash transfer to the poor. The infrastructure building component would reduce the temptation for Panchayats to divert NREGA funds by preparing false attendance records. The cash transfer would be a simple substitute to the complex process of paying people wages for unskilled work, and enabling them to use that financial cushion for further progress, such as upgrading their skills and becoming more employable. Read more »

India’s Giant Cash Transfer System; the NREGA

Posted on:06-12-14


A lot of people, particularly in the NGO world, look upon the idea of cash transfers in India with deep suspicion. They see this as a suggestion emerging from neo-liberals, aimed to make poor people lazy and blow up easy money on things that the rich make, to sell to them.

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The Unconditional versus Conditional Cash Transfers Debate

Posted on:28-11-14

This week, I intended to write on India’s experience with cash transfer programmes. However, last week’s blog triggered off some vigorous debate and I think I must dwell a little longer on explaining the idea of cash transfers, lest we continue the debate while harbouring entirely different ideas of what we mean by it. Read more »

A Clash of Three Compelling Ideas

Posted on:21-11-14

 Nearly three years back, I was invited to make a presentation at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, on Indian fiscal federalism and anti-poverty programmes. Read more »

Poverty Reduction and the Tyranny of Mindsets

Posted on:14-11-14


Last week’s blog ended by seeking answers to three questions. First, is it possible to substantially increase the pace of poverty reduction? Second, is it possible to better target approaches to the poorest of the poor? Third, is it possible to make poverty reduction a one-way street? Read more »

An exploration of poverty

Posted on:08-11-14

“Daddy”, asked my son, “ Why are people poor?” Read more »

Transparency in Transfers – an Utopian Dream?

Posted on:31-10-14


‘Can I meet with you?’ said the cheery voice on the inter-com. Read more »

The Wealth and Family Hellfare Department

Posted on:24-10-14


 After my brief tenure of twenty eight days in the Department of Personnel, where I was totally at sea as I could not remember people’s castes, I was transferred to the Department of Health and Family Welfare as a Deputy Secretary. My heart sank as I saw my little room. There was  construction going on upstairs and the contractor had not received his payment in time. That meant that he had been at the job for two years. He had just cast the ceiling of the next floor and generously cured it with water.

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Whispers Turning Louder

Posted on:17-10-14


 It is easy to presume that my transfer out of the Food and Civil Supplies Department was due to my uncivil behaviour in not accommodating my Minister’s reasonable request for a few transfers of his choice. However, that was not the case; moving me into the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms to handle the responsibility of postings and transfers of senior government officers was as random a decision as any other in the government.

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