By sylviahammond, 25 May, 2011

A Legally Enforceable Right to Work:

 Lessons from India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme

 Prof. James Manor

(Emeka Anyaoku Professor of Commonwealth Studies, University of London)

 Discussant: Mr. Zwelinzima Vavi

(General Secretary, Congress of South African Trade Unions)


India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act provides every one of the country’s rural households with a right to 100 days of employment per year.


This is the largest anti-poverty programme in history. Since 2006, it has provided over two billion person-days of work. The scheme has reduced hunger, raised self-esteem, advanced women, strengthened civil society, increased the popularity of government, and introduced new mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability. Yet major problems have been encountered, notably fraud.

The lecture provides a critical assessment of the scheme. It also opens a comparative conversation. In this country, we have greater levels of joblessness and higher average incomes.


Could a similar rights-based scheme provide a way forward in South Africa?

Professor James Manor has done research in South Africa and four other African countries, but he is mainly an India specialist. He has been doing research on NREGA in Indian villages since 2007 and is consulted by the Indian government. He will soon be publishing a book on NREGA and is developing a new project comparing anti-poverty initiatives in South Africa, Brazil and China, as well as India.


Venue: University of Johannesburg, Humanities Common room, CRing 319, Auckland Park Kingsway Campus.

Further information: Lucinda Becorny, [email protected], 011 559 4251.

 Co-sponsors: South African Research Chair in Social Change, Centre for Study of Democracy, Centre for Social Development in Africa.



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