Policies should be flexible, says PM


New Delhi : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday said that policies should be flexible, scientific and have a community-based approach to meet local needs.

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“The challenge before policy makers is to design more flexible, scientific and community-based approaches that encourage implementing agencies to be innovative and responsive to local needs and circumstances,” the prime minister said here.

He said this while releasing a review report on rural job guarantee scheme, MGNREGs Sameeksha. It was brought out by the rural development ministry.

Speaking on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the prime minister said: “Panchayati raj institutions have to gear themselves up to play the central role assigned to them under the scheme and we have to provide resources to equip the panchayats to perform these functions effectively.”

“If these local bodies can rise to the challenge, the Mahatma Gandhi NREGS can very well become a silver bullet for India’s rural renewal,” he said.

The MGNREGS, with “potential to revitalise agriculture by creating durable water assets and improving productivity, has to be fully exploited”, the prime minister said.

The safety net provided by this scheme helped rural India cope with the frequent distress and natural disasters, he said.

He said that “the combined effect of expanded agricultural production, demand for labour from the construction sector and the effect of NREGA has led to a tightening of the market for agricultural labour and a steady rise in real wages. Farmers sometimes complain about this”.

But rising demand for labour was the only way to help the landless improve their standard of living. The income support provided under the NREGA had increased the bargaining power of agricultural labour to some extent and helped to put a floor under rural poverty as well, he said.

Saying that not every thing was alright with the implementation of the scheme, the prime minister said: “All this is not to say that we are fully satisfied with the way the scheme is working.”