Employment and Unemployment
WP 06 Tomas Forman Decentralization, Equity, and Inclusion: An Overview and Sociolegal Analysis of India's Mahatma
Tomas S. Forman*
Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
This paper is primarily a sociolegal analysis of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). It focuses less on the quantitatively-measurable performance of the Act and its macroeconomic impacts, and more so on the way in which the Act explicitly delegates resources and discretionary powers to state and local governments. Such dissemination, I show, in turn facilitates more comprehensive, inclusive, and equitable decision-making processes in local development; specific focus is directed at the environmental and climate implications of the program. Drawing from social scientific research, legal scholarship, and the legislation itself, I demonstrate that despite some notable shortcomings, the Act's legal and administrative framework can be seen as a global model for linking state resources with localized challenges and priorities, enabling not only a legally-enforceable availability to a vital social safety net, but also a framework of bottom-up accountability through which small scale development and environmental remediation projects can be undertaken through the lens of the needs of local people.
*Composed as a final individual project in the OSUN Course Right to Employment in May 2021, led by EDI Director Pavlina R. Tcherneva.
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