MD Writes...

Right from December 2012, India has been shaken by graphic accounts of violence against women, girls and even female infants. Surprisingly, these transgressions take place despite the apparently increased security, laws and judicial processes. What personally pains me the most is the total disregard for human rights in such cases. Our wallpaper of this month is a poignant reminder of this grim reality - and an attempt to increase awareness for respecting women. - Ashwajit Singh

Editorial

Dear Subhashish
Hello. This month’s newsletter doesn’t seem to bring much cheer. CAG’s caustic observations on MGNREGS, tougher laws to rein in crime against women, U5 mortality still high and several research papers on directing growth. All these remind us that the challenge of development continues to mount. Learning lessons from these and making changes, albeit uncomfortable, are perhaps the need of the hour. Stay Inspired. Stay Ahead!! - Abdul Rahim & Anindita Roy
 
NREGS Performance: Fact or Fiction?
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), has presented its second Performance Audit report (Read Executive Summary)  on Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the largest public wage employment programme in the world, in the Parliament in April, 2013. The report covering the period 2007-2012, has revealed serious lapses and irregularities in implementation of the scheme across the country. In brief, the CAG finds that employment under the MGNREGS has declined (from 54 days in 2009-10 to 43 days in 2011-12), funds were being diverted for other use and possible irregularities related to wage payments occurred.











The MGNREGS is a legislation based scheme (based on the MGNREG Act, 2005 and recent Operational Guidelines, 2013) enacted with the objective of enhancing livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year, to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
The scheme has had its share of detractors but the government's recent Sameeksha (Review) of MGNREGS performance from 2006-12 claims that more than 1,100 crores has been disbursed as wages, 146 lakh works have been taken up and the scheme has benefited SC/STs (51% of person-days) and women (47% of person-days) significantly.
Read the CAG Second Performance Audit Report (2013)
Read the CAG First Performance Audit Report (2008)

MGNREGA- Report to the People (2013)
 Sameeksha: Read Online or Download (10 MB)

India Acts Tough on Crimes against Women
The President of India has accorded his assent to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill-2013 on 2nd April 2013, brought against the backdrop of the country-wide outrage over Delhi gang rape. The Bill was based on the Verma Committee Report, a three member committee headed by former Chief Justice J.S. Verma.  
     
 Key features of the Act are as follows :                                          

Rural-Urban Dynamics and the MDGs
The Global Monitoring Report 2013: Rural-Urban Dynamics and the Millennium Development Goals was released jointly by World Bank and IMF on April 17, 2013. With less than 1,000 days remaining until the end of the 2015 target date for achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), this report highlights the essence of  improving the lives of the poor in both rural and urban areas. Read  Report.
Digital Krishi Card launched in Goa
Goa Government on 29 April 2013 launched a digital Krishi Card which will help farmers to avail benefits such as subsidies and loans given by the State Government.The Krishi Card will introduce a mechanism to identify all Goa farmers and maintain a history of their land holdings. Read it here. 
India's first e-payment for procurement
In April, 2013 Kerala has become the first State in the country to implement the e-payment facility in tendering processes, ensuring total confidentiality and transparency in the business transactions and thus reducing the scope of corruption. Read it here.
Macroeconomic impact of the Great Recession
This World Bank Working paper is an attempt to assess the macroeconomic impact of the Great Recession of 2008 in developing countries. The focus here is on the policy responses by sub-national governments in India and a comparative analysis of the three largest developing economies (Brazil, China, and India).This paper reviews recent research and draws on the lessons learned from practical experience in advising policy makers of developing countries. Read paper here.
Global threat for children U5
Globally, Pneumonia and Diarrhoea account for 29% of deaths of children U5 and result in the loss of 2 million young lives each year. India is among the countries that account for half such deaths.  The Lancet Series on childhood deaths from pneumonia and diarrhoea released in April, 2013 expedited WHO and UNICEF to release the Global Action Plan for tackling these deadly diseases.
Read papers (Paper-I, Paper-II, Paper-III, Paper-IV).
World Bank's strategy for reducing poverty in India
World Bank's Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for the period FY2013-17 is to support poverty reduction and shared prosperity in India. That objective is closely aligned with the vision for development outlined in the country's 12th Five-Year Plan (FY2013-17). Read here.
Plastic Note on trial basis
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in April 2013 hinted that it would start the introduction of Plastic Notes in the market on trial basis.It would first start with notes of Rs.10 denomination and continue with other small denominations.Read article.
Walk n Talk
Nilofer Merchant, an author, corporate director and speaker, in her TED talk suggests a small idea that  might have a big impact on your life and health. She speaks about the advantages of a “walking meeting”. A walking meeting will not only reap the inherent rewards but also help better flow of ideas according to her. It also reduces risk of  Cancer, diabates and heart disease. Watch her Teld Talk here.
Courtesy : www.ted.com
Cabinet approves National Policy for Children 
The Union Cabinet   in  April, 2013 approved the National Policy for Children, 2013 that aims for development, education and protection of children. The policy was approved to reaffirm the Government's commitment to the rights based approach in addressing the continuing and emerging challenges in the situation of children in the country. Read Policy here.
First Village Monitoring System launched
In March 2013  Kurukshetra has become the first district in India to launch the Village Integrated Monitoring System, developed by District Informatics Centre. It was designed to bring transparency to development works  at the village level and help better financial management of PRIs. Read here.
Penalty of higher relative food prices in Rural India
This World Bank Working paper considers the welfare and distributional consequences of higher relative food prices in rural India through the lens of specific-factors, general equilibrium, trade model applied at the district level. Read paper.
Growth Performance of India
In this EPW paper (April, 2013), Prachi Mishra analyses the growth performance in India over the past two decades. She uses several statistical and economic methodologies to estimate the growth rate of potential output.  Most of the methodologies indicate that the output gap continues to be positive, suggesting caution in further loosening of the monetary policy stance. Read paper.