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Congress' Nyay scheme a surgical strike on poverty: Influential British weekly The Economist

By Our Representative
Top British weekly "The Economist" has praised Congress' Nyay scheme, which seeks to provide an extra Rs 6,000 to poor households, quoting a woman health worker, Rajmati, in a village in Haryana as saying, “It will also mean that you can survive without a husband,” insisting, her "enthusiasm is shared by the other villagers gathered in her back room, where she provides health checks, postnatal care and immunisations."
Calling the scheme promised by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi if the party comes to power as a “surgical strike” on poverty, the influential weekly says, it only escalates the “alms race” between the national parties, which are competing to show their generosity to the poor by offering health care, debt forgiveness and cash.
The weekly adds, "After the ruling BJP lost three state elections in December, it rushed to alleviate rural disgruntlement, pledging to pay 6,000 rupees a year to farmers with less than two hectares (five acres) of land. By the end of March some 47m had received their first instalment, according to the government."
According to the weekly, "Such ambitious efforts are imaginable for two reasons. First, India has become a (lower) middle-income country with a GDP that will soon cross $2,000 per person (and $10,000 per household). Nyay will cost no more than 1.2% of India’s rapidly growing output, says one of its architects — a slightly, but not wildly, optimistic estimate."
And second, "India’s payments system has greatly improved. More than 350m people, over half of them women, have benefited from the government’s effort to open no-frills bank accounts, and most people now have an official means of identification."
Thus, according to the weekly, "All the women in Rajmati’s back room have an Aadhaar card (which gives them a unique identity number) and a bank account, although they complain about the cost of travelling to the nearest branch in a town over 5km away."
"Where possible", continues the weekly, "Nyay will be paid into bank accounts held by women, not their husbands. 'If it goes to the men, they’ll take it away and never come home until they’ve drunk it all'," it quotes Rajmati as saying, "raising an imaginary bottle to her lips."
The weekly cites Arvind Subramanian, the former chief economic adviser to the NDA government, as proposing to pay "a near-universal basic income of roughly half the amount proposed by Congress (about 700 rupees per person, which would amount to over 3,000 rupees for the average household) to all but the richest quarter of Indians."

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