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MGNREGA, power politics, and computerization in Andhra Pradesh

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posted on 19.07.2017 by Silvia Masiero, Diego Maiorano
The link between e-governance and accountability of state administrations for service provision has been problematized in the literature to date. However, little is known about its application to anti-poverty programmes, of which public workfare schemes are an increasingly important subset. In this paper we fill the gap with a study of MGNREGA, India’s largest workfare scheme, as it is being computerized in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. A state-level information system was devised to ensure transparency of transactions, and hence combat the illicit diversion of the programme’s funds to non-entitled recipients. But while doing so, the system carries a policy of centralization, which concentrates decision-making power in the hands of a limited set of actors rather than distributing it across the programme’s stakeholders. In particular the Field Assistants, appointed officials responsible for the village-level management of the scheme, have direct control on the information inputted in the system, which reinforces their position of authority rather than challenging it in favor of greater empowerment of wageseekers. Furthermore, wage payments are traced by the information system till they reach the disbursement agencies, but are prone to capture in the “last mile” where workers collect their salaries, which results in greater vulnerability for them. As a result, MGNREGA workers are constructed by the new information system as sheer beneficiaries rather than active participants in the programme, which concurs to crystallizing existing power structures rather than resulting in wageseekers’ empowerment. Lessons are drawn for other states currently computerizing their social safety nets.

History

School

  • Business and Economics

Department

  • Business

Published in

Forum for Development Studies

Volume

45

Issue

1

Pages

1-24

Citation

MASIERO, S. and MAIORANO, D., 2017. MGNREGA, power politics, and computerization in Andhra Pradesh. Forum for Development Studies, 45 (1), pp.1-24.

Publisher

Taylor and Francis © Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI)

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Acceptance date

20/06/2017

Publication date

2017-07-03

Copyright date

2018

Notes

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Forum for Development Studies on 3 July 2017, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/08039410.2017.1345785.

ISSN

0803-9410

eISSN

1891-1765

Language

en

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