The Indian state of Andhra Pradesh empowers the poor to fight corruption

by Lydia Polgreen

Villagers work at a road construction site under a government program in Andhra Pradesh, India. In decades past, fraud and waste have sapped efforts to help the poor. Rajiv Gandhi, a former prime minister, famously estimated that only 15 percent of every rupee spent on the poor actually reached them. Photo: Kuni Takahashi/New York Times

NAGARKURNOOL, India — The village bureaucrat shifted from foot to foot, hands clasped behind his back, beads of sweat forming on his balding head. The eyes of hundreds of wiry village laborers, clad in dusty lungis, were fixed upon him.