Date of Submission


Date of Award


Institute Name (Publisher)

Indian Statistical Institute

Document Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Subject Name

Quantitative Economics


Economics and Planning Unit (EPU-Delhi)


Chetty, V. K. (EPU-Delhi; ISI)

Abstract (Summary of the Work)

Manohar athanna is one of the remotest parts of Jhalawar District (Rajasthan, India). In the month of June it offers a striking contrast of scenic beauty and economic destitution. Agricultural activity is at a virtual standstill. The soil is very arid, irrigation practically non-existent, and by then the villagers (many of them tribals) have resolved to wait upon the good will of the rain gods.. Hence they have very little to do, or at least so they believe. Some gather wood to sell it in Manohar, walking miles under the scorching sun for a meagre reward, and adding slowly but perceptively to the already a cute deforestation problem in the region. Others cling to traditional and often perishing village crafts, such as rope-making; or perhaps they sit and drink. Many join the rural public works schemes, when these are active. In those lean days, hunger stands at many of their doors. Whether they are happy, however, we do not know; to the passing. foreigner they usually manifest a typical blend of amusement and hospitality.When I went there in the summer of 1980, a great part of the country was suffering from the after-effects of the terrible drought of 1979.The magnitude of the 1979 drought, and its impact on agricultural production, were of a phenomenal severity. The net per capita availability of foodgrains (after allowing for imports and changes in government stocks) fell by more than 13% compared to 1/ a rather alarming figure considering the low the previous year, amount of fat storing which an average Indian diet permits. And yet there is no evidence of starvation following this disaster, which largely escaped international attention.How starvation was averted, how the necessary austerity was distributed, why the relative price of foodgrains remained fairly stable, are all challenging questions which will hopefully one day deserve a more carefully written piece of economic history. How- ever, one can scarcely doubt the important role played in the process by the massive Food-for-Work (FFW) programme of rural public works, which in the year 1979-80 provided (according to official statistics) as many as 1 billion man-days of employment at a 2/ subsistence wage to the poorest segment of the rural population; enough, in principle, to help 17 million poor households, or about 100 million individuals, through the 60 worst days of the lean season (in practice, of course, the available employment is not so well distributed).To me, Manohar Thanna in June 1980 offered a very convincing ( though definitely not typical) picture of what public works programmes can achieve in such situations. No doubt the prospects for Food-for-Work were particularly favourable in Jhalawar District: mass poverty and unemployment in the lean season combined with a great scope for public works (irrigation works, roads, community buildings such as schools and wells, etc.), and, last but not least, Ã dedicated and energetic District Collector. In June 1980, most of the works consisted of building smallanicuts An anicut is simply a small wall (perhaps 60 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 12 feet high, in a typical case: though its size can very very much) built across a natural dale, which is dry most of the year but battered with rain during the monsoon.


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