The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is not only a pioneering livelihood security programme but also a great example of proactive disclosure of information through its Management Information System (MIS). It is the first transaction-based real-time system for any public works programme in the country that is available in the public domain. There has been a digitisation of all the processes in MGNREGA — right from a worker registering demand for work, to work allotment, to finally getting wages for completed works. Another notable feature of the MIS is the availability of information through online reports at various levels of disaggregation. This has enabled any citizen to monitor the implementation of the programme and has consequently charted a new paradigm of transparency since the enactment of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The sheer scale of information available on implementation is also no mean achievement. Individual worker details from around 2.5 lakh gram panchayats are available in the MGNREGA MIS.

 

While computerisation of all transactions is a welcome move, officials are passing the baton of accountability. One should be mindful that an information system doesn’t end up controlling the legal rights. There are several situations when a written request for work by a worker is not entered in the MIS till funds for work allocation are made available from the Centre. This is illegal as the Act mandates provision of work within a stipulated time of requesting for it. Similarly, the generation of the FTO is withheld till funds for wage payments are released. There are other instances when the FTO is not generated if a worker fails to furnish his or her Aadhaar number. Some are harder to locate as there is no paper trail or stated intention but realised only retrospectively once the workers are affected. There are other such examples illustrating how the IT infrastructure becomes a tool prioritising administrative needs as opposed to being a programme enabler. In this regard, it is instructive to recall the phrase “code is law” popularised by the Harvard Law professor, Lawrence Lessig. Code, as in software, and code, as in law, can both be instruments of social control. To quote him: “We can build, or architect, or code cyberspace to protect values that we believe are fundamental. Or we can build, or architect, or code cyberspace to allow those values to disappear. There is no middle ground. Code is never found; it is only ever made, and only ever made by us.”

Questions

  1. Which of the following word is OPPOSITE to the word proactive?
  • Farsighted
  • Prescient
  • Visionary
  • Myopic
  • Forward

2. Which of the following statements is true with respect to the given passage?

  • MGNREGA is a livelihood security programme
  • There has been a digitisation of all the processes in MGNREGA
  • Individual worker details from around 2.5 lakh gram panchayats are available in the MGNREGA MIS.
  • Right to Information (RTI) Act enables any citizen to monitor the implementation of the programme
  • All of the above statements are correct

 

  1. What does the author mean by sighting the phrase “code is law” in the passage?
  • A computer code can be used to formulate a law
  • Digitisation of all the laws in form of a computer code
  • A computer code and a law of land can be used for social control
  • It’s a book written by Lawrence Lessig
  • None of the above

 

  1. What is the central theme of the passage?
  • It gives an introduction about MGNREGA
  • It talks about evolution of social development schemes
  • It talks about digitization of governmental schemes
  • It appreciates computerization, however also shares concerns of accountability
  • It talks about illegality in the system

 

  1. What is the tone of the author in the passage?
  • Critical
  • Appreciative
  • Neutral
  • Appreciative, then critical
  • Need more of the content to find it out

 

 

Answers and analysis:

Question 1.

Correct Answer: D: Myopic

 

The meaning of word proactive is controlling a situation by preparing for possible future problems. If you knew the meaning of this word beforehand, you don’t even have to look for it in the passage. Secondly, even if you did not know the meaning of this word, you can compare the options where except for ‘myopic’ all the other words mean the same. So, even in this case, you don’t have to look for it in the passage.

The problem arises when all the options mean differently and you have no idea what is the meaning or the opposite of the given word. In that case, you must look for the in the passage, and try to derive its meaning out of the context.

Here, the proactive word appears in the third line. Read the first three lines,

MGNREGA is not only a pioneering livelihood security programme but also a great example of proactive disclosure of information through its Management Information System (MIS).

Here, we can figure out that these lines are talking about MGNREGA and at the same time tone of these lines seem positive, as there seems to be a possibility of a little appreciation. The second line is continuation of first line’s appreciation, so its tone also has to be slightly positive. Hence we can decipher that proactive is basically a positive word. Thus, we can know by looking at the options what can be its possible antonym.

Question 2.

Correct Answer:E: All of the above statements are correct

This is a reference based question i.e. it is fact based. You have to read the passage in order to know these facts. This is an easy question, as all the options are directly given as facts in the passage. In such questions, even if you become sure of any two options, you can mark option ‘All of the above’ as the correct one.

There is another possibility where such question may include all the options where certain inferences need to be derived out of the given statement, you need to have thorough understanding of the passage in that case, and you might even have to refer to the passage a multiple times. This slight variation in the question make it very time consuming and difficult, you must be wise enough to know whether to invest time in the question or just leave it.

Question 3.

Correct Answer:C : A computer code and a law of land can be used for social control

This is another reference based question. First you have to look for the phrase “code is law” in the passage. Once you find it, you must try to know its meaning by reading it in the context. At the same time you must also look for whether its meaning has been explained in the passage directly. You will find that the option C is closest to what has been said in the passage, and hence the right option.

Question 4.

Correct Answer:D : It appreciates computerization, however also shares concerns of accountability

This is an inference based question. You have to know what the author is basically trying to say in order to find out what the central theme of the passage is. You must read the whole passage for this and try to link the flow of ideas in the passage. Once you do this, you will be able to derive an inference or a short summary in your head.

There are two ways to solve this question. First, read the entire passage carefully and form linkages of author’s ideas. Doing this will help you solve all the questions in the passage which are reference based as well as inference based. This is a very effective way.

Second, you do a quick reading of the passage and try to focus on the initial and last part of it. Authors usually summarize their pieces both in the beginning and at the end.

Here, in this RC, author is appreciating the MGNREGA program, and it is evident in the first 3-4 lines of the passage. Then, in the second part of the passage, you would see that author is being a little critical by sighting the cons involved in the setup.

Considering these points together would make you understand that digitization is being praised but the accountability factor in this direction is also being highlighted.

Question 5.

Correct Answer: D: Appreciative, then critical

This is another type of inference based question. Here, you will see that entire passage is being asked to sum up in just one word. This is called as the ‘tone’ of the passage i.e. how does it look like to author, what is author trying to be after writing this.

The key to solve this question is to read the entire passage, and try to figure out how sincere is author in trying to project his idea to others. Refer to the analysis of Question 4 to get more clarity on it. This question can be solved with the same approach.