18 Days a Year

OK, so I didn’t want this point to be buried in the last post, so I will make a new post out of it. Most newspapers have pointed out that of the 100 days of employment a year that the NREGS guarantees to anyone who asks for it, the poor get only 18 days on average. This is not the true scope of the leakage in the system. In fact, if the government wanted to spend 100 rupees and the bureaucrats manage to spend only 18, then they have unwittingly saved 82 rupees of ourmoney. They should get an award for this or something.The real leakage starts after that. It is anybody’s guess how much of the 18 rupees actually reaches the poor. Given that the CAG says that the system of checks and balances does not work, it is entirely possible that the actual amount reaching the real poor is negligible.

What the 18 days figure tells us is how utterly our system of governance has broken down. It has collapsed so much that our politicians and civil servants cannot even milk the government machinery for their own benefit. That thought is really scary, and in a way gives me hope.

7 thoughts on “18 Days a Year

  1. I don’t really get the ‘cannot milk it for their own benefit’ part. Getting 18 days of employment instead of 100 is not the same thing as paying exactly 18 days – the bureaucrat in charge would have arranged for an outlay that is greater than 18, (but lesser than 100, the finance dept slowness throwing a spanner in the works). Then, 18 days of employment goes to the poor, the rest of the money either lies idle to be spent on just about anything in February just before the budget, or to be parked in a reasonable interest paying deposit somewhere. The leakages that you speak of would indeed come after 18 days, but they need not be too great for 18 by itself is not a relatively large figure. The bureaucracy in between would definitely account for some amount out of the 82.

  2. I think this is what Ravi means:

    Assuming that the % of funds that are siphoned off remains constant, the leakage (personal gains of bureaucracy – “their own benefit”) would have been much greater if the figure of 18 had been, say, 88.

    Since the bureaucracy, in a way, “failed” to do that, it gives Ravi hope because it indicates that they are so inept that they can’t even be effectively corrupt.

  3. Well, I am only an inept bureaucrat. I guess that was the best I could expect from my understanding 🙂
    But seriously, what else did the “cannot milk it for their own benefit” remark mean?

  4. There is also a possibility that only a certain amount can be siphoned off without setting off the alarm bells. What Rahul Gandhi might be complaining about is that the system’s tolerance to corruption is higher in one part under Mayawati’s regime than it was earlier. But you can read a hereditary politician’s mind only so much.

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