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Networks and Anti-poverty Programs: Experience of India's National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme


  • Shylashri Shankar

    (Centre for Policy Research, Dharma Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, India.)

  • Raghav Gaiha

    (Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health, and University of Delhi, Delhi, India.)


Governments struggle with the reality that the beneficiaries of anti-poverty programs are powerless to influence policies and prevent the possibility of capture of benefits by the non-poor. Networks – social and political – are supposed to increase the ability of the less-powerful to access their entitlements. This article assesses whether socially and politically networked households do in fact have better awareness of the components of the program and of the processes of decision making, and whether such networking makes them more likely to vocalise their dissatisfaction when their entitlements are threatened. India's national rural employment guarantee scheme's institutional design (mandating village assemblies to authorise decisions on the projects) makes it a good test case. Our results show that links to social and political networks significantly increase the beneficiary's awareness of the program's components and enhances the ability to seek redress.Les gouvernements doivent faire face au fait que les bénéficiaires de programmes anti-pauvreté n’ont aucune influence sur leurs politiques sous-jacentes, et peinent à empêcher les non-pauvres de s’approprier ces aides. Appartenir à des réseaux – sociaux et politiques – est censé aider ceux qui ont peu de pouvoir à accéder aux aides auxquels ils ont droit. Cet article cherche à déterminer si les ménages faisant partie de réseaux politiques et sociaux sont réellement plus au fait des composantes des programmes et des processus de décision qui les déterminent, et si leur appartenance à de tels réseaux augmente leur probabilité d’exprimer leur mécontentement lorsque leurs droits sont menacés. Le plan national de garantie d’emploi rural mis en œuvre en Inde, et son organisation institutionnelle – le pouvoir de décision concernant les projets est donné aux assemblées de village – constituent un bon cas d’étude. Nos résultats montrent que l’appartenance des bénéficiaires à des réseaux sociaux et politiques améliore sensiblement leur connaissance des composantes des programmes ainsi que leur capacité à demander réparation.

Suggested Citation

  • Shylashri Shankar & Raghav Gaiha, 2012. "Networks and Anti-poverty Programs: Experience of India's National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 24(4), pages 550-569, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:eurjdr:v:24:y:2012:i:4:p:550-569

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