From Lalit K Jha Washington, Jul 7: India's rural employment guarantee programme MNREGA has been ranked as the world's largest public works programme, providing social security net to almost 15 per cent of the country's population, the World Bank has said.
India is among the five middle-income countries running the world's largest social safety net programmes, said a World Bank Group's report 'The State of Social Safety Nets 2015'.
"The world's five largest social safety net programmes are all in middle-income countries (China, India, South Africa and Ethiopia) and reach over 526 million people," it added. The combined spending on social safety nets in 120 developing countries amounted to about USD 329 billion between 2010 and 2014, it said.
But, the report said, three quarters of the poorest people in low-and lower-middle income countries, and more than one-third of the poorest people in middle-income countries, lack safety net coverage and remain at risk. India's Mid-day meal scheme has been classified as biggest school feeding programme benefiting 105 million beneficiaries.
The top honours for public works programme went to MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act) with 182 million beneficiaries or 15 per cent of India's population.
The World Bank ranked the Janani Suraksha Yojna with 78 million beneficiaries as the top-most social security programme with conditional cash transfers. Also, it ranked the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme as the second-largest unconditional cash transfer social security progamme in the world.
Initiatives such as the Unique Identification (UID) hold the potential of improving coverage, implementation, and coordination across programmes in the future, it said. In addition, there are many state-level initiatives aimed at increasing performance of social protection programmes utilising information technology and innovations.