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The truth behind social schemes 
(Wed, 6 Feb Pre-Open) 
 
There is many a slip between the cup and the lip - this age old adage seems to be fitting for the various budgetary allocations made by the Government in the interests of the public in our country. Mr Rajiv Gandhi once said that out of every rupee allocated by the Government of India for the various schemes, hardly 15 paise reach the actual beneficiaries. He was indeed right as one can make out from the pathetic outcome of the some of the flagship schemes for poor started by Congress with huge fanfare. Schemes such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and the farm loan waiver of 2008 endeared the Government to the public and helped it with vote bank politics. As next round of elections comes close, it is time to analyze how these schemes have performed, or rather how Congress has performed with regards to their implementation.

As per a recent report, the data on MGNREGS shows that the employment generation under the scheme has actually declined by 25% over a period of three years. What is more worrying is that the decline is more pronounced in the jobs created for the most marginalized section of the society - down by a staggering 46% over the same period.

Instead of bringing the big bang reforms, MNREG has led to inflation and distortion of labor markets. Besides, the delay in the payments has disincentivized the intended beneficiaries to participate in such schemes.

And this is not the only area where the ruling party has failed. The Government has come under attack by none other than CAG for its much glorified farm loan waiver of 2008. As per a recent report, it is the ineligible farmers and entities that have benefitted from the scheme rather than small and marginal farmers. Failing pathetically with regards to implementation, the scheme has instead offered an incentive for defaulting and is one of the reasons for the ballooning fiscal deficit.

Now that elections are around the corner, will these disclosures help the ruling alliance learn some lessons? We doubt so. Over the years, the Government's involvement with such schemes has been restricted to just the announcement. The lack of proper monitoring and implementation has done more harm than good for the system. With Congress promising further reforms including the much talked about direct cash transfer, someone needs to take the pains to avoid likely leakages and plug the loopholes.

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