All In a Day's Work: Can India Promise Poor Households 100 Days' Work a Year?

Sohrab Hura

Villagers work at a site set up under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.

Ramkali ducks inside her front door, whisking past the ashes of breakfast's kitchen fire and a young cow nosing a basket of fodder. The morning rain has let up, and Ramkali (who, like many Indian villagers, goes by one name) points to some lemon and guava saplings in her backyard. Other residents of Kaimaha, her village in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, helped plant them. "When I can't get other work, maybe I'll be able to use some of the fruit and sell it," she says, looking at a scrawny tree.

Ramkali's neighbors, nice as...

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