The minimum income support plan of ₹6,000 per month, i.e ₹72,000 per year, to about five crore poor families will be deposited in the bank accounts of women, said former finance minister P Chidambaram on March 27. He added that the Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) scheme will be rolled out in phases and the beneficiary families will be covered in phases.
Addressing a press conference in Chennai, the senior Congress leader said that enough economists and experts on the subject have been consulted and they broadly agree with the view that India has the capacity to implement the scheme. “Mahatma Gandhi’s goal was to wipe out every tear from every eye and the scheme is aimed at making his dream true,” Chidambaram said.
Tried and tested
Explaining the possibilities of implementing the scheme, Chidambaram said that India, with an economy of ₹200 lakh crore and whose size will double in the next six years, will be able to implement the scheme in the five years — between 2019 and 2024.
“We have taken all the factors into account, including incomes of different sections of people, consumption patterns of people, and what is required to keep a family above poverty. After considering all the factors, we have come to a conclusion that the central and state government should provide an income support of ₹6,000 per month to a family,” he said.
Former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan has said the implementation of the scheme is possible, Chidambaram added. “Our calculation shows that the scheme will not cross 2 per cent of the GDP; it will be 1.8 per cent of the GDP at any given point of time. It will be rolled out in phases,” he said.
The senior party leader said the scheme has to be tested in the field and then rolled out.
An expert committee will be set up for its implementation and it will design the scheme at every stage and “we will consult the committee before we move to the next stage,” he said.
There is enough data to identify the five crore families, Chidambaram said. When the 100 days employment scheme (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) was implemented in 2009, BJP leader Arun Jaitley had said it was not possible to implement it. Jaitley, however, forgot to say that doubling income for the farmers was not possible when Modi announced it, he said. “MNREGA eradicated hunger, the income scheme will root out poverty.”
The Congress alone cannot be blamed for not eradicating poverty, he said, adding the party had taken several measures to root it out and succeeded in several of them as well.
“To eradicate poverty, a minimum income is needed otherwise poverty will not end.”
Like the Minimum Wages Act, which stipulates minimum wages, every family should have a minimum income and the government cannot provide the entire income and that is why the scheme is called the ‘Minimum Income Support Scheme.’
An amount of ₹72,000 a year, a standard amount ₹6,000 per month, is proposed to be transferred to the account of beneficiaries if the Congress is voted to power in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
Time for change
He said his party was aware of the challenges involved in implementing the scheme and added that “we will overcome these challenges.” “We will insist that every family should open an account in the name of the woman in the family and the money will be transferred to her account.”
Poverty eradication should be accepted as an aram (meaning dharma in Tamil), it is dharma, it is a moral duty of every government in the 21st century,” he said. He added, “Dont compare Kisan Samman Scheme with this scheme and trivialise our scheme,” he said, alleging that the BJP rolled out the farmers’ plan for elections. Had the scheme been important for the BJP-led NDA, Chidambaram wondered why it was not implement in “full five budgets,” and rolled out at the fag end of the party’s tenure. He indicated that the Congress manifesto is likely to be released on April 2.
On March 25, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said 20% families of the poorest of the poor category will receive ₹72,000 each annually as a minimum income. Gandhi touted the promise as a “groundbreaking” measure to end poverty.
(With inputs from agencies.)