This refers to “Congress’ NYAY: Unanswered questions” (April 1). The minimum income guarantee scheme” is an idea worth pursuing and the debate on NYAY may survive this election irrespective of the Congress’ fortunes. In India, the system is apparently comfortable to retain a target catchment area of people below the poverty line poor and illiterate, to ensure availability of cheap labour (now rechristened as outsourced work) in different sectors.
It is in this context that we are prepared to dole out a portion of taxpayers’ money to keep a “reserve” of illiterate and idle people who will be available on call at starvation wages to do unskilled work without any demand for fair wages.
The arithmetic which is making the author Karan Thapar uncomfortable may be ignored by the common man and any word uttered against NYAY is likely to be interpreted as a criticism of the proposal for minimum income guarantee which is a “noble” concept.
Like the employment guarantee schemes already in operation, there is a case for a comprehensive scheme, if possible outside the government budgets, having a few crucial features. First, the target beneficiaries should be from outside those covered by existing statutory schemes for social security, and those who are in the employable age group, say the 20-60 bracket considering all skilled/unskilled jobs for which they will be available on call. The prospective beneficiaries can be asked to register with employment registers or special desks created for the purpose in offices of the municipal corporations or other authorities.
Second, the payment should be to unemployed members of families which have no earning members with income over a pre-decided threshold limit and limited to the real gap between the threshold level and the actual. Third, the funding could be from a corpus created by contributions from prospective employers who will benefit from the skill development initiatives.
M G Warrier Mumbai
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