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Privatization and informalization of production, land fragmentation and the agrarian crisis in India has forced a significant fraction of rural households to underconsume and widened the income gap at a time of relatively high economic growth. Despite the significant role of the state in precipitating and intensifying this crisis, and in vindicating Polanyi’s notion of a double movement, the state has also invested in social schemes such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). Seven years after this scheme was first implemented, there is growing evidence of a seemingly contradictory picture of the NREGS. This paper reviews current literature on the performance of the scheme. The paper aims to answer two questions. First, how has the program performed in mitigating underconsumption in rural areas? Second, how has it changed social relations?


This paper was presented at the Eastern Economic Association in New York, May 9th – 11th, 2013 and Allied Social Science Associations Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, PA, January 3-5, 2014.

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