Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Rajasthan are the three states that have been the biggest beneficiaries of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, which promises 100 days of manual labor to anyone who is interested.
Tamil Nadu generated 126.04 cr days of work under the scheme in the last four years, accounting for 14.94% of the total man-days of work generated under the scheme.
Given that the state has a population of only about 7 cr, or about 5.4% of the total Indian population, the high share indicates tremendous success in implementing the scheme. The number of workdays corresponds to about 8 days of work per working adult in the state per year.
Converting the workdays into wages, workers in Tamil Nadu received about 25,000 cr over the last five years through the scheme, also known as NREGA. The center spends between Rs 50,000-55,000 cr on the scheme per year.
The second biggest beneficiary during the period was West Bengal, which accounted for 98.15 cr workdays, or about 11.6% of the total.
West Bengal was followed by Rajasthan, which has also developed a notoriety for scams and scandals related to the implementation of the scheme due to reports about large-scale fraud and diversion of funds.
Rajasthan accounted for 87.75 cr of the mandays over the last four years, accounting for 10.4% of the total.
At fifth place was Andhra Pradesh, followed by Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Bihar was at the 11th place and accounted for only 3.1% of the total man-days.
Among the states that saw the lowest participation are Goa, with 0.1% contribution, Sikkim (0.16%) and surprisingly, Haryana (0.33%).
Nearby states of Punjab (0.68%) and Himachal Pradesh (0.94%) and Uttarakhand (0.94%) were also below the 1% mark, as were several states of the North East (see list).
States such as Punjab and Haryana have a flourishing, canal-fed farming sector and laborers are able to get work at much higher levels compared to NREGS in these states.
Kerala, where an average agricultural worker gets about Rs 650 per day, contributed about 3% of the total man-days and was among the mid-level states by take-up for the scheme.
This is attributed to the moribund state of agriculture in the state.