This paper contributes to the empirical understanding of the concept of commitment and the role it plays in shaping India’s social policy implementation. Taking the case of the landmark policy, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the paper analyses in-depth qualitative information from four states – Chhatisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Assam.
The paper examines the puzzle of differing outcomes in these four states, despite the same design and implementation mechanisms, through a political economy lens. It presents a nuanced and rich analysis of the characteristics of commitment that can be seen in different states, linking these to how they play out in shaping the implementation dynamics of MGNREGA from a comparative lens. The paper contributes to the existing body of literature on policy implementation and the role that commitment plays at the level of the sub-national state in delivering welfare policy in India.