Just how large is MGNREGA: Making sense of the numbers

The lyrically named MGNREGA is India's flagship programme and the worlds  largest employment guarantee scheme. No doubt, other superlatives can also be added to it. But just how large is India's top flagship programme? This article tries to understand the numbers.

A new rupee coin, with a weight of 4.85 gms (Image courtesy: Reserve Bank of India)It's budget for this financial year ( that of 2012-13) is Rs. 33,000 crores. If you are anything like this author, numbers that large are meaningless. One way to grasp this figure is to read it as Rs.33,000,00,00,000. Or if you wanted to transport this money by ship and were so unwise as to request it in one-rupee coins, you would be required to employ 11 of the Maersk E-class ships- the largest cargo ships available today. There are only 8 of them in existence, so that might be a little difficult. Clearly, Rs.33,000 crore is quite a large amount.

What has been done with that? NREGA related works have begun in most states and union territories to varying extents. We have another 3 months to go before the end of this financial year. Figures for employment status are available till 01 Dec 2012. The charts below illustrate the progress done till date.


Number of labour days created per person between 15-59 years living in a rural area

Number of labour days created per person between 15-59 years living in a rural area

The data used for the above figure was obtained from the NREGA website. The compiled data is available in an excel file attached below. Urban areas like Chandigarh, and areas with a resilent rural economy like Punjab and Goa predictably have low generation. States such as Maharashtra and Bihar with a need for rural employment also surprisingly feature in the lowest 17 states. With most states ranging between 0-8 days of employment per eligible person, the 6 states with a high level of employment lead by a large margin.

Number of NREGS works completed/in progress by category

Number of NREGS works completed/in progress by category

The above graphic illustrates the number of works by category. The 14 categories listed on the NREGA website have been further grouped under 5 broad heads. For the original data which includes state-wise information, please refer to the attached spreadsheet.

Answers needed:

This article has attempted to provide a broad-brush view of MGNREGA and the work carried out under it. In the process, it has raised other questions.

What explains the disparity among states when it comes to the number of job-days created?

Contrary to expectations, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Mizoram have very few projects that include renovation of traditional water bodies? What can explain this?

The data used for the illustrations in this article was obtained from the following sources

Relevant information from the various state sections has been compiled into two spreadsheets which are attached below. These are attached in both MS Excel and open document formats. We invite you to use the spreadsheets and help us glean relevant information, oddities, answers and questions. Please do share any explorations in the comments below!

Post By: chicu