Often, the implementation of anti-poverty programmes has been evaluated
on the basis of their outcomes rather than the process of
implementation. Such methods of evaluation assume that good outcome
indicators are the result of good implementation. This evaluation
methodology assumes that the programme was 'prescribed' as a solution
to a problem (the 'rational' approach), and better the outcome
indicators, more is the problem reduction. However, with the emergence
of public choice theories, 'policy process' has been the key point of
inquiry. In developing economies, where the public authorities
responsible for designing and implementing redistributive interventions
are not sufficiently independent from the interests of the dominant
sections of society, the approach of investigating policy process can
yield to useful results. Such an approach also can help us to understand
the deficit of theory and practice of social protection programmes.
This paper looks into process deficits of income maintenance programmes
designed for agricultural labourers in the Indian state of Maharashtra,
and its impact on people in persistent poverty. Process deficits have
been studied not merely as 'lapses of government programmes'. They are
critically examined in the contexts of the political conditions that
perpetuate these deficits.
Loyalty to local elites over the span of one's work life increases the
possibility of income maintenance at times when work is not available.
This enables local elites to avail cheap and instant labour for their
private works. Protesting voices of the poorest people are well-managed
by elites through the provision of such incentives.
The conclusion of the paper is that anti-poverty programmes, at the
implementation stage, strengthen local elites' capacity to wield power
and support their own private interests. On the other hand, at the
evaluation stage, outcome indicators are used to bolster the legitimacy
of the state. Above all, the ability of local elites to manufacture
outcome indicators point to a need for rethinking evaluation methods.
Process deficits or political constraints? Bottom-up evaluation of non-contributory social protection policy for rural labourers in India, CPRC Working Paper No. 54, Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), Manchester, UK, ISBN 1-904049-53-2, 23 pp.
Process deficits or political constraints? Bottom-up evaluation of non-contributory social protection policy for rural labourers in India, CPRC Working Paper No. 54