This article introduces a set of papers on the Employment Guarantee Scheme in Maharashtra. The papers present research conducted by the Department of Sociology, University of Pune that assesses the successes and failures of Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) over the last forty years. This research goes beyond an evaluation of EGS in economic terms i.e. whether it reduces poverty, whether it is implemented properly and whether it caters to the target groups. They assess its role as an instrument of social change through three aspects in its design that makes it unique among all poverty alleviation schemes. These are (a) the provision that work will be given on demand to all (b) that this is a statutory right, protected by law and (c) separate and autonomous EGS fund, accrued from taxes levied on urban professionals. It is argued that these provisions make EGS an instrument of social change.