A lot has been made about Rahul Gandhi’s first intervention in public policy. The freshly minted general secretary of the Congress Party is getting loads of orchestrated credit for the government’s decision to extend the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) to all districts in India.
The scheme was kicked off in 200 districts in February 2006; 130 others were added later. The law clearly states that the scheme would go nationwide within five years of its launch, or by early 2011. Gandhi’s act has perhaps pulled that deadline ahead by a year or so. So why the fuss? We would have been far more impressed if the young scion had raised tougher questions about the impact of this landmark scheme on the rural economy. Has money really reached the beneficiaries? Have higher wages in the implementing districts pushed up inflation there?
But then, Gandhi’s first move is not about analytical rigour. It is about image building, isn’t it?