Institute for Social and Economic Change

Working Paper: 493

 Interests and Participation of Elites in MGNREGA:
Lessons from Elite Capture in Karnataka

Sanjiv Kumar
S Madheswaran
B P Vani



In spite of no such claims in the Act, MGNREGA remains the largest poverty elimination programme. If the poverty elimination goals of this programme were important, its design should have adequate safeguards on the demand side, and initiatives and provisions on the supply side to focus and ensure the poor accessed the programme and benefited from its wage employment and asset components. In this context, this paper attempts to study the interests and status of participation of elites in the wage employment and asset components of MGNREGA and tries to examine the extent of elite capture of wage employment and assets. The study developed an Elite Index based on the socio-economic attributes of the households (HHs) and through the categories of poor, sub-elite, elite and super-elite HHs and primary survey, and the case studies find diverse interests of elites in the programme. The study finds substantial elite capture of wage and more extensive capture of asset components of the programme. The study finds lack of poverty focus in the programme design, where rights and universalism are over relied upon and operational rationing is completely ignored, and finds there was no visible solution against elite capture or preferential

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