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Strategies for Synergy in a High Modernist Project: Two Community Responses to India’s NREGA Rural Work Program

Rajesh Veeraraghavan

World Development, 2017, vol. 99, issue C, 203-213

Abstract: This article asks what led to the successful implementation of the National Rural Employment guarantee program (NREGA) in Andhra Pradesh. In particular, the article ethnographically examines the implementation of the program in two different village panchayats (Dalit and Tribal) in Andhra, with a focus on underprivileged communities and it finds dramatic differences in the outcomes of the program. Both outcomes can be considered successful for the workers of the NREGA, although perhaps in ways that could not have been anticipated by the planners of the program. Theoretically, the analysis is situated between two strands—pessimistic critiques of the high-modernist state and more optimistic visions of state-society synergy. The pessimistic analysis underestimates the possibility a community will take advantage of the opportunities that a high-modernist state can provide. On the other hand, the overly optimistic account of the state-society literature assumes what I am calling “joint intentionality” between state and community is necessary for success, and empirically rules out successes that do not have such joint intentionality. The article shows that high-modernist state actions can create a structural context that opens up avenues for local successes, while local factors—namely the caste, class and livelihood strategy of villagers—determine the distinct avenues through which success is achieved. Top-down centralized implementation characterized by a high-modernist state does not rule out the realization of local goals. State and society can interact to produce positive outcomes even if these outcomes are not jointly intended.

Keywords: rural development; NREGA; state-society synergy; high-modernism; joint intentionality; corruption (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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