Under Nyay scheme 5 crore poor families will receive Rs 72,000 per year
GN Bureau | April 3, 2019
“Today is a historic day.. It is on this day that the Congress party launched its final assault on poverty. 5 Crore of the poorest families in India, will receive Rs. 72,000 Per Year #NyayForIndia is our dream & our pledge. The time for change has come.” -- Rahul Gandhi, Congress chief
First, a clarification: the promised Congress scheme is not a universal basic income scheme, in which everyone, regardless of income or job, gets a certain amount, no questions asked. Experts have praised the idea of a universal basic income and pilot studies have borne out that it works: the assurance it provides, rather than encourage laziness, prods people into making changes that improve their lives. What the Congress promises, however, is yet another hand-out to an ill-defined target group: the poorest 20 percent of the population. Enumerative exercises can be impracticable as people are bound to underreport incomes and cross-checking will take even more time. Leakage will be rampant, the deserving may get left out, low-level government functionaries will either corner sizeable amounts or induldge in rent-seeking. Besides, the Congress has been unclear about whether or not the other subsidies being paid out currently will be subsumed under this scheme.
Politics apart, many experts have been suggesting alternatives revolving around an idea that Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has been propagating throughout his career. Governments have always agreed to the wisdom of his idea but never got down to implementing it: that governments should provide high quality healthcare and education for all, preferably free, and the rest will fall into place. To that some have added the idea of a pension for all, whether or not they have had government jobs. This, they say, would be cheaper than proposals such as the Congress’s and prove more effective in improving people’s lives.
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