NB: Amended 2 Feb 2013
Using official data this paper evaluates India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) according to the following criteria: a) average number of days of employment per household; b) percentage of households completing 100 days of employment under NREGS; c) percentage of expenditure against total available funds; and d) percentage of work completed. Performance across the first two criteria has been disappointing and has deteriorated over time. Percentage of expenditure against total available funds has risen sharply, particularly since 2010–11 and has been consistently higher than work completed as a percentage of work planned. Further, the two trends have begun to diverge since 2010–11. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the NREGS has not performed well. The paper makes a number of policy suggestions to improve the performance of the NREGS.